Genesis 20: Abraham and Sarah Trick Abimelech

pregnant women belliesHebrew-English Text

I. Summary

Abimelech king of Gerar takes Sarah when Abraham tells him she is his sister. Yahweh appears to Abimelech and tells him not to touch Sarah, lest he and the members of his household die. Abimelech returns Sarah to Abraham along with land, silver, and cattle, and Yahweh allows the women of Gerar to give birth again.

II. Photo

The women of Gerar are no longer barren: “Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children.” (v. 17)

III. Select Verses

1-2: Abraham journeyed from there to the region of the Negeb and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was sojourning in Gerar, Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

6-7: And God said to him in the dream, “I knew that you did this with a blameless heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. That was why I did not let you touch her. Therefore, restore the man’s wife — since he is a prophet, he will intercede for you — to save your life. If you fail to restore her, know that you shall die, you and all that are yours.”

11-12: “I thought,” said Abraham, “surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. And besides, she is in truth my sister, my father’s daughter though not my mother’s; and she became my wife.

14-16: Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. And Abimelech said, “Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” And to Sarah he said, “I herewith give your brother a thousand pieces of silver; this will serve you as vindication before all who are with you, and you are cleared before everyone.”

17-18: Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children;  for the LORD had closed fast every womb of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.

IV. Outline

1. Abraham’s group travels to Gerar

2. Abraham introduces Sarah as his sister, and king Abimelech takes her

3-7. God warns Abimelech to release Sarah, lest he and his people die

8. Abimelech informs his servants, who are terrified

9-10. Abimelech confronts Abraham about his lie

11-13. Abraham reveals his distrust of Abimelech and his own paternal kinship to Sarah

14-16. Abimelech gives Abraham Sarah, cattle, silver, and land

17. Abraham prays and Abimelech’s women are able to give birth

18. Note: Yahweh had closed the wombs of Abimelech’s women on account of Sarah


V. Comment

No comment today. Stay tuned.

Note: a number of commentators suggest that v. 18, which provides the context for v. 17, is either a gloss or that it originally had another place in the narrative.

VI. Works Used

(see “Commentaries” page)

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