Chapter 20

Introduction

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham lived between Kadesh and Shur in Gerar. There again he used the protective cloak of Sarah being his sister. As expected, Abimelech (maybe a title not his name), king of Gerar, took Sarah as his own, just as Abraham was afraid would happen. God steps in again. Abimelech tries to plea with God. He felt he should be considered blameless because he had no way of knowing that Sarah was married to Abraham. Abraham had told him that she was Abraham's sister. Abimelech also did not know Abraham was a prophet of God. Abimelech talks to God successfully. Then, Abimelech talks to Abraham. Abimelech was put into a sinful situation. Like the pharaoh, Abimelech returned Sarah. He told them to go and live wherever Abraham wished. God agrees with Abimelech. Abimelech had integrity and honesty within his heart. Besides, God had prevented Abimelech from touching Sarah and, therefore, prevented his sinning.

Gen. 20:1-7:

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham traveled south (Negeb "the south country") and lived between Kadesh (Qadesh "a sacred place in the desert") and Shur (Shur "a desert region S.W. of Palestine. on the Eastern border of Egypt"). He traveled to Gerar (Gerer "a place just south of Gaza"). There again, he used the protective cloak of Sarah being his sister. One might think by now he would have trusted in God enough to claim Sarah as his wife. The first time Abraham pulled this facade, God sent a plague onto the Pharaoh's house. This time Abimelech appeared to be threatened by a death. As we find out later in the chapter, the death of Abimelech was probably the death of the heir line of Abimelech, which, in effect, kills Abimelech. As expected, Abimelech (maybe a title not his name), king of Gerar, took Sarah. God steps in again. The first time He sent a plague onto the Pharaoh's house. Abimelech was told by God in a dream that Abimelech was a dead man. Later in the chapter we find that God had cut off having children thus ending or causing to die the Abimelech heir line. Abimelech tries to plea with God that he did not have any idea Sarah was married. How was he to know? Abimelech had not yet slept with her so no harm has been done yet. Abimelech also did not know Abraham was a prophet of God, although Abraham had not been acting as a prophet of God.

Gen. 20:8-13:

Abimelech now knows Abraham as a prophet of God. He is genuinely concerned about his livelihood; so, he wants to stay on the good side of Abraham. He calls his servants together to tell them what happened. All of the men were frightened.

Abimelech then meets with Abraham and asks Abraham why he did this thing to Abimelech. After all Abimelech was kind to Abraham by making him rich. Abraham gives the same story he gave pharaoh. Sarah was about 89 years old. However, as we have already found out, she was very "fair". So, even at her age, she would be a desirable woman because of her beauty. Abraham was concerned that if he admitted he was married to Sarah and Abimelech "wanted" Sarah for his own (which, as the king, he had the power to do), then he would have killed Abraham. However, if Abraham admitted he was only a brother, the king would take Sarah and present Abraham with rewards like land, livestock, property, and money. This would be something like a dowry for the woman. That is exactly what happened; Sarah was taken.

It is interesting to note that Abraham actually admits the actual lineage of Sarah to him. Actually, Sarah IS his sister. This was brought out earlier in the study of Abraham (family intermarriage). He even tells Abimelech that he planned to do this deception even before they got there.

Gen. 20:14-18:

Just as the pharaoh did, Abimelech gave much riches to Abraham. He gave Abraham sheep, oxen, and male and female servants. In addition, Abimelech did not send him away. He told him to settle anywhere in his own kingdom. Abimelech tells Sarah that he also gave Abraham (her "brother") 1000 pieces of silver. These "pieces of silver" were probably shekels which were about 0.4 ounces of pure silver each. At this time, silver was considered even more valuable than gold. It was about the time of Daniel that gold began being a value greater than silver. He totally forgives Abraham for the deception. When one thinks about the situations and kingdoms of the time, it was very normal for kings, pharaohs, etc. to exert their power in the ways about which Abraham was driven to deceive. Abimelech knew of the conditions and sympathized with Abraham.

Now, as verse 7 says must happen, Abraham prays for the healing of Abimelech's family and servants. Where they were "cursed" by God with the inability to reproduce, they now had that inability lifted by God.

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