Genesis 20

Written and compiled by Gary Kukis

Genesis 20:1–18

Abraham Deceives Abimelech


These studies are designed for believers in Jesus Christ only. If you have exercised faith in Christ, then you are in the right place. If you have not, then you need to heed the words of our Lord, Who said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten [or, uniquely-born] Son, so that every [one] believing [or, trusting] in Him shall not perish, but shall be have eternal life! For God did not send His Son into the world so that He should judge the world, but so that the world shall be saved through Him. The one believing [or, trusting] in Him is not judged, but the one not believing has already been judged, because he has not believed in the Name of the only-begotten [or, uniquely-born] Son of God.” (John 3:16–18). “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life! No one comes to the Father except through [or, by means of] Me!” (John 14:6).


Every study of the Word of God ought to be preceded by a naming of your sins to God. This restores you to fellowship with God (1John 1:8–10). If there are people around, you would name these sins silently. If there is no one around, then it does not matter if you name them silently or whether you speak aloud.


Document Navigation

Quotations

Preface

Outline of Chapter

Charts, Graphics, Short Doctrines

Doctrines Alluded to

Chapters Alluded to

Dictionary of Terms

Introduction and Text

Addendum


Links to the word-by-word, verse-by-verse studies of Genesis (HTML) (PDF) (that is what this document is). This incorporates 2 previous studies done in the book of Genesis. However, much of this material was thrown together without careful editing. Therefore, from time to time, there will be concepts and exegetical material which will be repeated, because there was no overall editing done once all of this material was combined.

 

There is a second, less complete set of weekly lessons of Genesis (HTML) (PDF). Every word of that study can be found in the word-by-word, verse-by-verse studies.

 

This study makes reference to a wide-range of sources. There are quotations from doctrinal teachers, of course; but from Catholic commentaries and from other sources as well. Wherever I found relevant truth, I quoted from it or was inspired by it. Even though it is clear that some churches have a better concept of our reason for being here, that does not mean that there is no truth to be found anywhere else. So, from time to time, I will quote from John Calvin, even though I do not subscribe to 5-point Calvinism; I will quote from some Catholic sources, even though I believe that they are very wrong regarding Mary, the pope, apostolic succession and other such doctrines. The intention is for this to be the most thorough and accurate study of Genesis available anywhere.

 

Also, it is not necessary that you read the grey Hebrew exegesis tables. They are set apart from the rest of the study so that you can easily skip over them (based upon the suggestion of a friend). However, if you ever doubt the translation of a word, phrase or a verse, these translation tables are then available.


J. Vernon McGee: Chapter 20 seems about as necessary as a fifth leg on a cow. It is a chapter that you feel as if you would like to leave out, because in it Abraham repeats the same sin which he committed when he went down into the land of Egypt and lied concerning Sarah, saying, "She is my sister."  As an aside, this seemed to be the opinion of many commentators who barely spoke about this chapter, if at all.

 

Coffman: There are the best reasons why this deplorable episode from the life of Abraham SHOULD appear exactly here. The...narrative, at this point, stands poised to relate the birth of the promised "seed" of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. And it was imperative that the wonder of God's amazing grace should not appear as being the result of merit or sinlessness on Abraham's part...[that] Abraham's faith, as evidenced here, was weak and inadequate, inexcusable doubt and fear having, for a while, taken possession of him. And yet, Abraham was the best human specimen available. And God would see to it that His promise through Him would, in time, be fulfilled.

 

On lying:

 

Mark Twain: If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

 

S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders: I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.

 

Benjamin Disraeli: There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics.

 

Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged: People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I've learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one's reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one's master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person's view requires to be faked. The man who lies to the world, is the world's slave from then on. There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.

 

Robert Brault: Every lie is two lies - the lie we tell others and the lie we tell ourselves to justify it.

 

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg: The most dangerous untruths are truths moderately distorted.

 

Edgar J. Mohn: A lie has speed, but truth has endurance.

 

Bill Copeland: When you stretch the truth, watch out for the snapback.

 

Yiddish Proverb: A half truth is a whole lie.

 

Col. 3:9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put away [the conduct of] your old person with its practices. (AUV-NT)

 

On Abraham’s failure:

 

H.C. Leupold: On the very eve of the fulfilment of the long-hoped-for promise, Abraham, largely through his own sins, imperils the precious hope. So once again, as so often in Genesis, the sovereign mercy of God is made to stand forth as supreme, that no flesh may glory before God.

 

Prov. 24:16 The righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. (ESV)

 

Eccles. 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. (ESV)

 

And when it comes to explaining Gen. 20:16, Adam Clarke comments: And unto Sarah he said - But what did he say? Here there is scarcely any agreement among interpreters; the Hebrew is exceedingly obscure, and every interpreter takes it in his own sense.


Preface: Once again, Abraham will tell a half-truth about his relationship to Sarah, and the king of Gerar, the authority of the land where Abraham has moved to, will take Sarah as his wife.


I have to admit that, based on a precursory glance, I wondered if there would be anything in this chapter that was really important (as we have a similar narrative in two other places). However, I have come to find that this is a powerful, information-packed chapter.


This is a deceptive little chapter. First of all, it seems very similar to the time that Abraham went to Egypt and lied about Sarah. Later on, in Gen. 26, Isaac will lie to Abimelech about his wife. So, at first we might think this chapter to be repetitive and perhaps even disconcerting to those of us who believe in the inspiration of Scripture (is this merely a tradition handed down from 3 different sources?). And it is a scant 18 verses long. For these reasons, a great many commentators chose not to even comment on this chapter. That is a big mistake.


One of the most important aspects of this chapter is, Abraham is clearly set up as a type of Christ, both as a man who represents God to man, and as a man who represents man to God. He will intercede on behalf of Abimelech, and heal him. In all of this, Abraham illustrates the Messiah to come. Not only is this quite amazing, but I do not believe that many commentators fully appreciated this.


Fundamental to this chapter is the concept of grace. God is about to bless Abraham and Sarah with a child—a child who will be a type of Christ—who begins the line of promise and is a sign of the good things to come (that is, the fulfillment of God’s many blessings which He has promised to Abraham). And what does Abraham do, literally a month or so before his wife is to conceive—he gets himself into a jackpot in Gerar by lying to the king, and exposes his wife to another man. Abraham puts everything at risk. What Abraham potentially has done here is put his position as father of the Jews into question for all time. He could not have done anything more stupid or dishonorable. All of a sudden, Abraham is doubting God and God’s protection, despite the fact that God has been with Him for all this time. But, despite Abraham’s failure, God does not withdraw His blessing from him. God pours on the blessing. If you understand grace, you are fine with all this. If you do not understand grace, then this chapter becomes confusing. Abraham fails again, and yet, God still blesses him? And Abraham is already a rich man, and God blesses him more. This chapter should rock the world of the legalist. Furthermore, it ought to rock the world of those who believe in covenant theology. They believe that God finally just gave up on the Jews and gave their inheritance away to us, Church Age believers. Then why didn’t God do that right here? Why didn’t God say to Abraham, “Look, you are not the man I thought you were; you have failed me again and again. You just hang out here and do whatever and I will find someone else worthy of My blessings.” But God does not do that. God not only blesses this failure (and right after he failed too), but God later calls Abraham His friend.


Outline of Chapter 20:

 

Introduction

 

         vv.     1–2           Thinking That Sarah Is Abraham’s Sister, King Abimelech Takes Her to Wife

         vv.     3–7           God Warns Abimelech of His Sin

         vv.     8–16         Abimelech Returns Sarah to Abraham

         vv.    17–18         Abraham Prays for God’s Judgement to be Lifted from Abimelech’s House

 

Addendum


Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines:

 

         Preface               Quotations

         Introduction         Parallels between Genesis 19 and Genesis 20

         Introduction         The Prequel of Genesis 20

         Introduction         The Principals of Genesis 20

         Introduction         The Abrahamic Timeline for Genesis 20

         Introduction         A Synopsis of Genesis 20

         Introduction         Matthew Henry’s Outline for Genesis 20

         Introduction         Hajime Murai Organizes Genesis 20:1–18

 

         v.       1              The Negev; a Graphic and Explanation

         v.       1              A map of Abraham’s journeys

         v.       1              Map of Gerar, Shur and Kedesh-barnea

         v.       1              Kedesh of Judah (a.k.a. Kadesh or Kadesh-barnea)

         v.       1              Map of Gerar and Beersheba

         v.       1              Map of Shur, the Negev and Gerar

         v.       1              Map 12: of the Arabah, Negeb, Wildernesses of Zin and Paran

         v.       1              Speculation: Why did Abraham move?

         v.       2              So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah (a painting)

         v.       2              Summarizing logical points of speculation from Genesis 20:2

         v.       2              Alan Carr: Sin Cannot Derail God's Plan

         v.       3              The 20 Dreams of Scripture

         v.       3              The Bible Query on, Why didn’t Abimelech die?

         v.       3              Doctrine of The Sin Unto Death

         v.       3              How Shem’s Lifetime Overlapped Abraham’s Lifetime

         v.       5              The Poetic Nature of Abimelech’s Words

         v.       6              Examples of God’s protective, overruling will

         v.       7              Commentators on the Use of the word “Prophet” in Genesis 20:7

         v.       7              The Parallels Between the Coming Savior and Abraham in Genesis 20

         v.       8              The Little Prince Meets the King

         v.       8              Had Abimelech believed in the Revealed God?

         v.       9              Abimelech Rebukes Abraham (Graphic)

         v.       9              Whedon Notes the Poetic Nature of Abimelech’s Words

         v.      10              What is fundamental to a good nation?

         v.      10              What is not fundamental to a good nation?

         v.      11              The Abbreviated Doctrine of Fear of the Lord

         v.      11              Did Abraham believe the people of Gerar to be like the Sodomites?

         v.      11              Speculation about Abraham and his lying to the King of Gerar

         v.      13              Coffman on Abraham’s four-fold excuse

         v.      13              Goettsche on How we should view our confessed sins

         v.      13              Goettsche on, Know your weaknesses and avoid them

         v.      14              Abraham receives Sarah from King Abimelech, a painting by Nicolaes Berchem

         v.      14              When Christians Ask— “Why did God let Abraham prosper by lying?”

         v.      16              Commentators Explain Genesis 20:16

         v.      16              Summarizing the Meaning of Genesis 20:16

         v.      16              What Abimelech gives to Abraham

         v.      18              Keeping the dream alive: Abraham and Sarah (Painted by Lars Justinen)

 

         Addendum          Comparing Genesis 12 to Genesis 20

         Addendum          What We Learn from Genesis 20

         Addendum          Why is Genesis 20 in the Word of God

         Addendum          Josephus’ History of this Time Period

         Addendum          Edersheim Summarizes Genesis 20

         Addendum          The Testing of Abraham

         Addendum          Gen. 1–22 Genesis a retrospective

         Addendum          Jesus Christ in Genesis 1–22

         Addendum          A Complete Translation of Genesis 20

         Addendum          Word Cloud from a Reasonably Literal Paraphrase of Genesis 20

         Addendum          Word Cloud from Exegesis of Genesis 20


Chapter Outline

 

Charts, Graphics, Short Doctrines

Beginning of Document

Doctrines Covered or Alluded to

Chapters of the Bible Alluded to

Definition of Terms

Introduction and Text

Addendum

www.kukis.org

 

Exegetical Studies in Genesis


Doctrines Covered or Alluded To

Abraham's spiritual life

Fear of the Lord

Heathenism

Revolution

 

The Spiritual Life of the Believer in the Church Age

 

The Three Kedesh’s

Additional doctrines and links are found in Definition of Terms below.


Chapters of the Bible Alluded To and/or Appropriately Exegeted with this Chapter

Gen. 1

Gen. 2

Gen. 3

Gen. 4

Gen. 5

Gen. 6

Gen. 7

Gen. 8

Gen.11

Gen.12

Gen.13

Gen.14

Gen.15

Gen.17

Gen.19

Gen. 20

Gen. 21

Gen.22

 

 


Many who read and study this chapter are 1st or 2nd generation students of R. B. Thieme, Jr., so that much of this vocabulary is second nature. One of Bob’s contributions to theology is a fresh vocabulary along with a number of concepts which are theologically new or reworked, yet still orthodox. Therefore, if you are unfamiliar with his work, the definitions below will help you to fully understand all that is being said. Also, I have developed a few new terms and concepts which require definition as well.

In addition, there are other more traditional yet technical theological terms which will be used and therefore defined as well.

Sometimes the terms in the exegesis of this chapter are simply alluded to, without any in-depth explanation of them. Sometimes, these terms are explained in detail and illustrated. A collection of all these terms is found here: (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Definition of Terms

Blessing by Association

Friends and relatives and associates of a spiritually mature believer receive some overflow of blessing from that believer. People in the same geographical area of a mature of maturing believer receive blessings through their association. Blessing by Association (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Chiasmos

A chiasmos (also spelled chiasmus) is the way that some portions of the Bible are organized. It takes its name from the Greek letter chi (χ). The first section matches with the last, the second with the second-to-the-last, etc. It is called a chiasmos, because the inverted parallelism looks like a chi (actually, half a chi) when one looks at it from its organizational standpoint.

Client nation

The client nation is a nation where there are a lot of believers and a lot of mature and growing believers. This nation is known for its evangelization, for its Bible teaching, its Bible scholarship, and missionary activity. The government and leaders may or may not be supportive of such activity. However, generally speaking, such activity is allowed within the national entity. It is this activity which preserves such a national entity. Doctrine of the Client Nation (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Laws of Divine Establishment

Since the world appears to be made up of mostly unbelievers, God must have some kind of plan for the unbelievers while they are alive. These are called the laws of divine establishment, and they are applicable to both believers and unbelievers. These are the laws which protect the freedom of a nation, and allow for evangelism and for the teaching of the Word of God. See the Laws of Divine Establishment (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Pivot

In nearly any nation, there will be believers and there will be mature believers (which is called a pivot. If these groups are large enough, a nation will be preserved and, in most cases, greatly prospered. If the pivot is small, or if there are very few mature believers in this pivot, then that nation will go down. The concept of a pivot of believers preserving a nation is found in Gen. 18:22–33 Matt. 5:13. For more information, see Bible Doctrine Resource or R. B. Thieme, Jr. (these appear to be identical).

Rebound (Restoration to fellowship with God)

In the New Testament, this is naming your sins to God, so that you are both restored to temporal fellowship with God and are then filled with the Spirit of God. In the Old Testament, naming your sins to God would result in a restoration of fellowship and, in some cases, the empowerment of the Holy Spirit once again (the Holy Spirit was not given to all Old Testament believers). See the Doctrine of Rebound (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

The Revealed God (or, the Revealed Lord)

We do not look within ourselves or do we build up some concept of God based upon our own experiences, but we first understand God as He has revealed Himself. Throughout the lives of the saints who have gone before us, God revealed Himself through the written Word and sometimes through direct contact. Once a foundation is laid, then we can see how God is understood through various experiences in our lives.


We do not look within to find God and we do not go out and search for God. He will reveal Himself to us. Those who look to other gods are simply worshiping that which others have defined as God; or, in many cases, they incorporate their own norms and standards into their belief of the God they choose to believe in. Essentially, such a person is making God in his own image.

Scar Tissue on the Soul

Scar tissue of the soul is also called hardness of the heart, the uncircumcised heart, and stubbornness of heart. It is a divine judgment of the soul that restricts capacity for life and love. Unlike divine discipline that produces temporary suffering with no lasting side effects, scar tissue of the soul leaves a debilitating loss of capacity for life or love. However, since it is part of the soul's immaterial essence like emotion, it has no known physical properties. However, it does restrict the capacity of the soul. It blocks Spiritual light, which leads to affinity to the Cosmic System as well as soulish and physical ailments. Psychosis and psychopathic personality are examples of scar tissue of the soul. Although behavior can be altered by psychotherapy and psychiatric drugs, the only cure for such problems is the divine solution, which requires Rebound and application of Bible Doctrine. See Bible Doctrine Resource for more information.

Type, Antitype, Typical

A type is a preordained representation wherein certain persons, events, and institutions of the O.T. stand for corresponding persons, events, and institutions of the N.T. Types are pictures or object lessons by which God has taught His redemptive plan. They are a shadow of things to come, not the image of those things (Col. 2:17 Heb. 8:5 10:1). See the Doctrine of Typology (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

Some of these definitions are taken from

http://www.bibledoctrinechurch.org/?subpages/GLOSSARY.shtml

http://rickhughesministries.org/content/Biblical-Terms.pdf

http://www.gbible.org/index.php?proc=d4d

http://www.wordoftruthministries.org/termsanddefs.htm

http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics.html

http://www.theopedia.com/


An Introduction to Genesis 20


I ntroduction: In Gen. 20, Abraham and Sarah move, temporarily, to Philistine territory, to Gerar. Abraham makes it known that Sarah is his sister—he does not claim that she is his wife—in order to protect himself. Consequently, King Abimelech of Gerar claims Sarah, calling for her to come to him and to marry him. While Sarah is in the king’s palace, God comes to Abimelech in a dream, and tells Abimelech that he is a dead man for taking another man’s wife. Abimelech protests to God, saying, “I did this innocently! Abraham told me that she is his sister!” God agrees that Abimelech did this innocently, and tells him to return Sarah immediately, because Abraham is a prophet and that Abraham would pray on behalf of Abimelech, so that he might live.


Abimelech tells his servants and they are afraid; then he calls in Abraham and complains to him for his lies. Abraham offers the excuse that he did not believe that there was a fear of God was in this place, and that he would be killed and Sarah taken from him. Then Abraham gives the excuse that she is actually his half-sister.


Abimelech returned Sarah to Abraham, along with many sheep and oxen, as well as male and female servants, by way of apology. He also gave Sarah 1000 pieces of silver to show that she is an innocent party in all of this.


Abraham does pray on behalf of Abimelech and his country, and his wife and female servants are able to bear children again (God had stopped up their wombs while Sarah was in Abimelech’s harem).


Chapter 20 places Abraham in a similar situation to Gen. 12, when Abraham failed a test of trusting in God. God has made many promises to Abraham concerning his seed; and, if this chapter is in order, concerning the seed of his wife, Sarah. Therefore, Abraham cannot be killed without having sired a son by Sarah. These two situations will be compared in the addendum.


It is worth noting that Abraham does not come off looking too good in this chapter. The purpose of a chapter like this is that, God has promised Abraham great things in previous chapters. These promises are related to Abraham’s obedience to God. However, it is important to recognize that Abraham never achieved some semblance of sinless perfection. This chapter records one of his failures, so that we are not ever confused by the fact that after salvation, we will sin. There is no one who has lived at any time who did not sin after they were saved (unless they died 30 seconds later).


There is an extremely important truth to remember from this chapter: God is about to bless Abraham and Sarah with a child—the child of promise that they have been waiting decades for—and immediately before this blessing, Abraham fails, and he fails big-time. Yet God still blesses them. That is grace.


At this point, in Gen. 20, we would expect it to be 1–3 months later, and either Sarah has not yet conceived, or she is barely pregnant with Isaac (but she is obviously not showing yet). We would expect Abraham and Sarah to be dealing with her pregnancy. We would have expected Gen. 17 (where God promises a year from then that Isaac would be born) to go straight to Gen. 21 (the chapter where Isaac is born). However, for whatever reason, Gen. 18–20 is thrown into the middle of this. Gen. 20 is the oddest insertion of them all.

 

I believe that this chapter is placed in chronological order. Most commentators do not speak to this issue, but Coffman writes: ...this chapter is exactly where it belongs in the first book of Moses, and is not displaced chronologically. Efforts to move it around in the Book of Genesis do not derive from any solid evidence, but from the intention of trying to make it some kind of variant. "We see no reason for insisting that Genesis is not in its proper chronological position."  I have not read a commentator yet who placed this chapter elsewhere and with any reason to (I check about 30 commentators when wrapping up this study).

 

Coffman goes on: There are the best reasons why this deplorable episode from the life of Abraham SHOULD appear exactly here. The Mosaic narrative, at this point, stands poised to relate the birth of the promised "seed" of Abraham, through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. And it was imperative that the wonder of God's amazing grace should not appear as being the result of merit or sinlessness on Abraham's part...The current theory that Abraham was possessed of some glorious kind of "saving faith" at this period of his life is contradicted and destroyed by the events of this chapter. Abraham's faith, as evidenced here, was weak and inadequate, inexcusable doubt and fear having, for a while, taken possession of him. And yet, Abraham was the best human specimen available. And God would see to it that His promise through Him would, in time, be fulfilled.


Gen. 17:19, 21 was quite clear: God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year." This means at this set time next year. Therefore, Gen. 20 cannot be too far in the future (assuming that it is in chronological order).


In Gen. 18:10–14 The LORD said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?" The LORD said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?' Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." (ESV)


Now, even though the ESV translation of about this time next year sounds almost like an exact year, that is not necessarily the exact amount. The Hebrew allows for this to be more than a year, but, given the information about Abraham’s age, at most, we are looking at 14–16 months down the road. Probably the child would be born in the same season that they were in, in the following year. However, Gen. 17:21 is more precise (in the Hebrew).


After making this promise in Gen. 17 and then in 18, God and two angels spoke to Abraham of the impending destruction of Sodom. Abraham intercedes for his nephew Lot who is living there, and we learn about the concept of intercessory prayer as well as the concept of a pivot of believers whose presence preserves a geographical area. In Gen. 19, we have the actual destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah followed by the incest of Lot’s daughters (which acts of incest could have occurred any time after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, unrelated to the birth of Isaac, which birth is yet future in our study).


However, Gen. 20 is an even odder chapter to find, because in this chapter, Abraham and his wife move to another area—and yet, we do not even know whether or not she is pregnant yet. Her pregnancy would occur a few months or so after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, assuming that these chapters are in chronological order (and there is no reason to think that they are not). Furthermore, this chapter appears to take place over a period of a month or two at least.


God has promised Abraham that he would have a son, Isaac, through his wife Sarah, and, God put a time frame on this. God told Abraham back in Gen. 17:21: “My covenant I establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this set time in the next year." And then all of these things happen—the meal with Abraham and our Lord, the warning of God’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the move in this chapter—all of these things falling in between this promise, which has a fairly short timetable, and the fulfillment of this promise.


Gen. 20 is the one more thing that happens to seemingly slow down the promise of God (it doesn’t actually, but it seems to). Abraham and company will pull up stakes and move, finally settling in Gerar. At some point, he is questioned about Sarah and he says that Sarah is his sister. When Abimelech, the king of Gerar is told this, he takes Sarah as his wife, but never consummates the marriage. God comes to Abimelech in a dream and warns him of impending death if he does not return Sarah to Abraham. So he does, but he first chews out Abraham for deceiving him as he did.


When studying the Bible—particularly the psalms—the key to understanding a passage often goes beyond interpreting the verses themselves, but setting up a theme or an outline or a structure. Once that has been established, everything else seems to fall into place. One of the keys to Gen. 20 is in how it parallels Gen. 19, although that is not obvious at first.

Gen. 20 belongs here in the book of Genesis thematically as much as it does chronologically. There are many important parallel themes found in both Gen. 19 and 20, even though they may not be obvious at first. . So, it is possible that the final editor of Genesis, throws Gen. 20 in at this point simply as a contrast to what was found in the previous chapter.

Parallels between Genesis 19 and Genesis 20

Genesis 19

Genesis 20

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah occupied the land that Israel would one day control.

The people of Gerar were a people in an area that Israel would someday control.

Lot lived in Sodom for over 20 years, and yet was still treated as an outsider.

Abraham has only lived among the Philistines for a month or two, and yet he is afforded great respect.

The people of Sodom lacked establishment morality. They desired the two angels, who appeared to them to be men, and they were going to rape these men, even if they had to kill Lot to get to them.

The men of west Canaan (along the Gaza strip) were very concerned about marriage, and would not have disturbed Sarah had they known that she was Abraham’s wife.

We might ask ourselves, after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, “If the rest of Canaan is like this, should it not be destroyed as well?” In Gen. 19, we saw the great degeneracy of Sodom and how that affected the souls of Lot’s daughters, even after Sodom and Gomorrah had been destroyed (they committed incest with their own father in order to perpetuate their name). They showed absolutely no fear of God, no understanding of God’s power and the concept of destiny; they just did what was right in their own eyes. This was after witnessing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah while two angels led them to safety. As an aside, this tells us that a great experience does not advance a person spiritually; what occurs in your soul is what advances you spiritually.

Not all of the people of Canaan were like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. An example of this that comes to the mind of the person compiling this material is the people of Gerar. The king of Gerar and most of his servants will clearly present themselves as believers in the Revealed Member of the Trinity, Jehovah Elohim in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New. God even reveals Himself to this king in a dream. How can God reveal Himself to someone who does not believe in Him?

There is another thematic parallel between this and the previous chapter (actually, previous chapter and a half): Abraham will act as a mediator between the people and God in both chapters. At the end of Gen. 18, Abraham spoke to God about preserving Sodom because of the number of righteous people in Sodom. Abraham began at 50 righteous and continued speaking to God until he was down to 10 righteous people, and left it at that, expecting that Lot and his family totaled 10 believers.

Here in Gen. 20, Abraham will also intervene on behalf of the people of Gerar. In Gen. 19, God will honor the desire behind Abraham’s prayer, but not the actual prayer; and in Gen. 20, God will honor both the request and the desire behind the request.

A third parallel theme is, Abraham was more than willing to excuse the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (about which he knew very little at the time). He prejudged them not to be reasonably destroyed.

At the same time, Abraham was willing to prejudge the people of Gerar (he will again lie about his relationship with Sarah, thinking these men to all be heathen).

Abraham prayed to God not to simply preserve Lot and his family, but to preserve Sodom, which was wholly given over to great degeneracy.

However, Abraham simply took it for granted that the people of Gerar—their king in particular—were godless souls which lacked any true concept of morality.

Finally, we will note a contrast between the way Lot interacts with the men of Sodom and how Abraham interacts with Abimelech, king of Gerar. Lot knew the people of Sodom for over two decades and even had a position of authority in this city; and yet, when they were overcome with lust, they were ready to kill him.

Abimelech barely knew anything about Abraham. He took his “sister” to wife. However, when God spoke to Abimelech, he snapped to and he will become more than accommodating to Abraham.

To put it simply, there were no establishment norms and standards in Sodom; just their lusts, to which they were subject. They had no fear of God in an ultimate judgment.

Abimelech took the dream from God very seriously, as did the rest of his cabinet. They understood how serious the judgment of God was.

Abraham interceded on behalf of Sodom, but Sodom was not preserved. There were not enough believers in Sodom to preserve it.

Abraham interceded on behalf of Abimelech, and God healed him and gave his line life (and, therefore, prosperity).

The insertion of this chapter seems to be very much in keeping with the Hebrew mind. The content of Genesis is as important to them as is chronology. This is reflected in the very way that their language is structured. In the English, we have a clear emphasis on time; our language is based upon a past, present and future verb structure. If a politician sins, we often ask, “What did he know and when did he know it?” The mind of the ancient Jew is not like this. Past, present and future is not the foremost thing in his mind; and the very verb tenses of this language reflect that (perfect, imperfect, and imperative).


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This does not mean that the Jewish writers of Genesis were confused about chronology. The writer of Genesis often puts a time frame on a chapter. In Gen. 15:1, we begin with the phrase after these things. We find similar phrasing in Gen. 22:1, 20 39:7 40:1 and 48:1. We have several places in the history of Abraham where the action is tied to Abraham’s age: Gen. 12:4 16:16 17:1, 17, 24 21:5. So, it is not that Jewish writers were oblivious to time and chronology; it simply was not their first consideration or the defining structure for their writings.


It is also important to recognize that this chapter is tied directly to the chapter which follows, which chapter describes and defines much of Abraham’s life while living in the land of the Philistines. We learn about Abraham’s first encounter with Abimelech, how Abraham manages to make the very worse first impression that a believer can make on another person; and yet, God, in His grace, allows Abraham to get past this. In the chapter that follows, we will see another meeting between Abraham and Abimelech, and this meeting will be the result of a very important dispute (important to those involved in the dispute). This will actually define Abraham’s life for several decades, so much of this chapter is the setup for that.


There are questions whether the people along the coast are the same Philistines that the judges, Samuel, Saul and David concerned themselves with. According to Kidner, The Philistines arrived in Palestine in force in the early twelfth century; Abimelech's group will have been early forerunners, perhaps in the course of trade. This will be discussed in detail in Gen. 21 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).


So that there is no misunderstanding, I have not solved the problem of whether this chapter is chronological or simply placed here for thematic reasons. However, we will eventually come to the conclusion that Gen. 20 is correctly placed in time, because of where Abraham is before Gen. 20 and where he is afterwards. Gen. 20 is consistent with Abraham’s geographical moves, which follow a certain chronology. Before Isaac is born, much of the Abrahamic narrative takes place in east-central Judah; and after Isaac is born, Abraham will be living in southwestern Judah. Isaac will be born in Gen. 21:1–4 and the very end of Gen. 21 will confirm that Abraham is living among the Philistines. That suggests that this chapter is correctly placed time-wise.


There is one more thing that this and the previous two chapters accomplish: they make it seem as if a very long time passes between the promise of a uniquely-born son the Abraham and Sarah and the fulfillment of that promise. There is enough which happens in Gen. 18–20 to nearly forget about God’s covenant with Abraham and about his soon-to-be-born son. This is one of many parallels between the birth of Isaac and the birth of our Lord.


What is happening in Gen. 20 is, Abraham is going to go to a new area where heathen (in his opinion) are in charge, so he will lie about who Sarah is—again—presumably to protect himself. He did this before back in Gen. 12:11–13 and this reveals that Abraham really did not learn anything from that incident.


One of the interesting things that we find in the Bible narrative is, these many parallel incidents which are found throughout the Bible. Over and over again, some incident will occur; and then, 10 years (or 100 years or 1000 years) later a very similar incident would occur, and be recorded in Scripture. As a result, there have been all kinds of theories—the most common among liberal scholars (those who do not believe that the Bible is the Word of God) is, we are seeing the same narrative, but recorded at different times by different people as a result of a different oral tradition; and that this accounts for the differences. However, in our own lives, we have parallel situations which occur. That in no way means that we remember the same incident in two different ways in later life.


Gen. 20 is one of those parallel situations. Abraham had been in this situation before and he mishandled the situation, and, this time, he will make the same mistake. However, what we are to understand is, the Bible is filled with parallels. The relationship between a father and a son parallel God’s relationship with us. When Abraham offers up his uniquely-born son as a sacrifice to God (this is coming in Gen. 22), that was a parallel to Jesus offering up Himself on the cross to God. In the psalms, we come across remarkable passages, where the writer seems to be recording his thoughts and feelings about one incident; but that the words that he writes actually look forward to a parallel situation (for instance, Psalm 22, which appears to both describe David when deathly ill and, at the same time, describe our Lord on the cross).


Therefore, God wants to get our attention with these parallel situations in Scripture, so that we are able to recognize other parallels which are pertinent to our lives and our relationship with Him.


You know that Jesus taught in parables and He is the Living Word of God (John 1:1–3, 14). So it is logical that the written Word of God contain real life situations which have meaning beyond the narrative given.


One more thing: it is important to realize that, Abraham has not reached some pinnacle of sinlessness so that God can now bless him with a child. Although, as we get older and more spiritually mature, it is likely that our sins will reduced; but that does not mean that we will ever enter into some kind of sinless perfection. So, what appears to occur right before Sarah gives birth is, there is again another attack upon the line of Abraham and another failure on the part of Abraham.


It is important to understand what has gone before.

The Prequel of Genesis 20

For a long time, God has been promising Abraham that he will have a son, and that son would be the beneficiary of all the promises of God (which have been numerous). However, just recently, God has told Abraham, “Next year, you and Sarah will have a son and I will see you then.” Gen. 17:15–17, 21 18:10


However, right after that, there have been all of these detours. In the latter half of Gen. 18, God told Abraham about the destruction of Sodom, and Abraham bargained with God about this destruction; and God agreed that, if there were 10 righteous people in Sodom, that He would not destroy it.


Then, because there were not 10 righteous people in Sodom, God destroyed that city along with Gomorrah and 2 other smaller cities in Gen. 19.

Gen. 20 will begin with Abraham and Sarah will move their compound first to the south, and then up northwest to Gerar.


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We need to know who the people are who populate this chapter.

The Principals of Genesis 20

Characters

Commentary

Abraham

Abraham is the father of the Jewish race, who has had a child by Hagar, Sarah’s Egyptian maid, but he has not yet fathered a son by Sarah, his wife. This takes place during a period of 2 or 3 months before Abraham actually impregnates Sarah.

Sarah

Sarah, in this chapter, picks up and moves with Abraham and their compound. When the Angel of the Lord said that she would bear a child, she laughed at hearing that. Here, she will tell the representatives of Abimelech, king of Gerar, that she is Abraham’s sister (as they has agreed to).

Abimelech

Abimelech, the king of Gerar, will take Sarah into his harem in this chapter, expecting to marry her, as she is a single woman who is probably reasonably attractive.

Elohim (God)

God will come to Abimelech in a dream and warn him that he has taken another man’s wife, and tells him that he will die if he does not return her to Abraham.

The servants of Abimelech

These are probably Abimelech’s cabinet members or his underlings who carry out his bidding. He gathers them together and tells them of his dream, and they are all afraid.

Abimelech and his servants are believers in the Revealed God.


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The Patriarchal Timeline for Genesis 20


Legend

Birth or death

God speaks with Abraham

Historical incidents (most of which are related to Abraham)

Parenthetical dates (2065 b.c.) simply refer to taking the date assigned by the chronologist and using Scripture to determine the next date.

The entire Abrahamic Timeline (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).

The entire Patriarchal Timeline (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).


Brent MacDonald

Age of Abraham

Reese’s Chronology Bible

Scripture

Event/Description

2164 b.c.

0

1967 b.c.

Gen. 11:26–27

Abraham (Terah’s son) and Lot (Haran’s son) born in Ur of the Chaldeans. Abram would be the 43rd generation from Adam. Gen 11:26 Terah lived 70 years and fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Reese occasionally supplies 2 dates in his Chronological Bible; the first is his and the second is Klassen’s.

 

 

1907 b.c.

1927 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 11:28, 20

Abram’s family travel from Ur to Haran, although their original intention had been to go to the land of Canaan. Gen 11:28, 20 Haran died in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans, during his father Terah's lifetime. Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot (Haran's son), and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram's wife, and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.

 

 

1892 b.c.

Gen. 11:32

Death of Terah, Abram’s father. Gen. 11:32 Terah lived 205 years and died in Haran.

2089 b.c.

75

1892 b.c.

Gen. 12:1–4

Abraham leaves for Promised Land from Haran, after being so instructed by God. Gen 12:4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran.

 

 

1891 b.c.

1892 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 12:10–20

Abraham & Sarah in Egypt (Goshen, Memphis), return to the Land of Promise (Genesis 12:10-20:1)

 

 

1891 b.c.

Gen. 13:1–4

Abram returns to Bethel in the land of Canaan, returning as a very wealthy man.

 

 

1891 b.c.

1889 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 13:5–13

Abram and Lot separate from one another.

 

 

 

Gen. 13:14–17

God renews His covenant with Abram.

 

 

 

Gen. 13:18

Abram moves to the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron.

 

 

1884 b.c.

1888 b.c. (Klassen)

Gen. 14:5–16

Lot is taken captive and Abram delivers Lot.

 

 

1883 b.c.

Gen. 14:17, 21–24

Abram speaks with the King of Sodom after his victory.

(2065 b.c.)

99

1868 b.c.

Gen. 17:1–22

God renews His covenant with Abram and renames him Abraham. Gen 17:1 When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to him, saying, "I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be devout. The time that Sarah would give birth is revealed; at a set time in the next year. Gen 17:21 But I will confirm My covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at a set time next year."

(2065 b.c.)

 

(1867 b.c.)

Gen. 18:1–15

Jehovah and two angels come to Abraham and promise that Sarah would have a child in a year’s time. Gen 18:10, 14 The LORD said, "I will certainly come back to you in about a year's time, and your wife Sarah will have a son!" Now Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent behind him. Is anything impossible for the LORD? At the appointed time I will come back to you, and in about a year she will have a son."

(2065 b.c.)

 

(1867 b.c.)

Gen. 18:16–33

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is promised. Abraham intercedes on behalf of Sodom.

(2065 b.c.)

 

(1867 b.c.)

Gen. 19:1–23

The angels visit Lot and warn him of the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

2065 b.c.

 

(1867 b.c.)

Gen. 19:24–29

Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela are destroyed by fire and sulfur and possibly by volcanic eruptions. Reese suggests that this is when the Dead Sea is formed.

 

 

 

Gen. 20:1–18

Abraham lies again about his wife to King Abimelech in Gerar, in southern Judah. Although some believe that this chapter is placed here in Genesis due to thematic elements rather than because it belongs here chronologically, we find Abraham in Gerar in the next chapter, which suggests that this chapter is correctly placed.

Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge puts this at 1897 b.c. If this chapter is in Chronological order (which appears to be the case), then MacDonald would have this date as 2065–2064 b.c. and Reese would have it at 1867–1866 b.c.

Coffman writes: ...this chapter is exactly where it belongs in the first book of Moses, and is not displaced chronologically. Efforts to move it around in the Book of Genesis do not derive from any solid evidence, but from the intention of trying to make it some kind of variant. "We see no reason for insisting that Genesis is not in its proper chronological position." 

2064 b.c.

100

 

Gen. 21:1–7 1Chron. 1:34

Isaac born to Abraham. Isaac would be the 44th generation from Adam. Gen 21:5 Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

 

 

1867 b.c.

Gen. 19:30–38

Lot’s daughters bear sons to their father Lot.

1989 b.c.

175

1792 b.c.

Gen. 25:7–10

Abraham dies. Gen 25:7 This is the length of Abraham's life: 175 years. He is buried in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Nephron (this would be with Sarah).


Bibliography

MacDonald’s timeline is from: http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna63.htm accessed October 11, 2011.

See http://www.bibleistrue.com/qna/qna63dating.htm for his justification of his timeline.

From: http://www.christianshepherd.org/bible_study_guides/abram_to_the_exodus.pdf (Christian shepherd)

The Reese Chronological Bible; KJV translation; Editor: Edward Reese; ©1977 by Edward Reese and Klassen’s dating system ©1975 by Frank R. Klassen; Ⓟ1980 by Bethany House Publishers, South Minneapolis, MN; pp. 18–19, 54–74.


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Here is what to expect from Genesis 20:

A Synopsis of Genesis 20

Abraham leaves Mamre, and, after having lived at Kadesh and Shur, and settled in at Gerar (Gen. 20:1). Abimelech takes Abraham’s wife Sarah, because acknowledged her only as his sister (Gen. 20:2).

Abimelech is warned by God in a dream to restore Sarah to Abraham (Gen. 20:3). Abimelech asserts his innocence (Gen. 20:4–5). Nevertheless, he is clearly warned (Gen. 20:6–7).

Abimelech speak with about this situation (Gen. 20:8–10) and Abraham attempts to vindicates his conduct (Gen. 20:11–13).

Abimelech restores Sarah, and also makes Abraham a present of sheep, oxen, and male and female slaves (Gen. 20:14). In addition, Abimelech offers him a residence in any part of the land (Gen. 20:15); and he reproves Sarah (Gen. 20:16).

At the intercession of Abraham, the curse of barrenness is removed from Abimelech and his household (Gen. 20:17–18).

Like all chapters of the Word of God, you need more than just the simple plot outline to understand what God wants us to know.

This was mostly taken from Adam Clarke, Commentary on the Bible; from e-Sword, Gen. 20 chapter comments.


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Coffman presents a short summation: This whole chapter deals with another incident in the lives of Abraham and Sarah in which Sarah was represented by both of them as being the sister of Abraham and not his wife. It appears here that this subterfuge was a definite characteristic of the modus operandi adopted by the patriarch as a maneuver which both of them doubtless considered to be a protective device, designed to prevent Abraham from being killed by someone who coveted his beautiful wife.


This is not too different from mine.

Matthew Henry’s Outline for Genesis 20

I.      Abraham's sin in denying his wife, and Abimelech's sin thereupon in taking her (Gen. 20:1–2).

II.     God's discourse with Abimelech in a dream, upon this occasion, wherein he shows him his error (Gen. 20:3), accepts his plea (Gen. 20:4–6), and directs him to make restitution (Gen. 20:7).

III.    Abimelech's discourse with Abraham, wherein he chides him for the cheat he had put upon him (Gen. 20:8–10), and Abraham excuses it as well as he can (Gen. 20:11–13).

IV.    The good issue of the story, in which Abimelech restores Abraham his wife (Gen. 20:14–16), and Abraham, by prayer, prevails with God for the removal of the judgment Abimelech was under (Gen. 20:17–18).

Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible; from e-Sword, Gen. 20 chapter comments.


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I have made a few changes on Murai’s excellent work. This is known as a chiasmos. ESV is used below.

Hajime Murai Organizes Genesis 20:1–18

Structure

ESV Text

A       Abimelech takes Sarah (vv. 1–2)

From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

         B       God warns Abimelech of impending death and says that Abraham must intercede for him. (Vv. 3–7)

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife." Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this." Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours."

                  C      The words of Abimelech (vv. 8–10)

So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done." And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What did you see, that you did this thing?"

                            D      Abraham’s apology (vv. 11–13)

Abraham said, "I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. And when God caused me to wander from my father's house, I said to her, 'This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, He is my brother.'"

                       The words of Abimelech (vv. 14–16)

Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you." To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated."

              Abraham prays to God, interceding for Abimelech (v. 17a)

Then Abraham prayed to God,...

     God heals Abimelech for taking Sarah (vv. 17b–18)

...and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.

From http://www.valdes.titech.ac.jp/~h_murai/bible/01_Genesis_pericope_e.html accessed September 8, 2014 and edited.


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——————————


This is one of the oddest chapters in the Bible. We have been expecting the birth of Isaac since Gen. 17 (the text seemed to indicate that 1 years from that time, Sarah would give birth to a boy), and yet, 3 chapters later, and it has not occurred yet (his birth will occur in Gen. 21).


Just as interesting, this chapter is quite similar to Gen. 12 and 26 (which involves Isaac and Abimelech). In this chapter, the Philistines are in contrast to the Sodomites of the previous chapter; and in Gen. 26, there will be a contrast drawn between the Philistines of this generation and those of the next generation.


Perhaps because of the similarities between this and Gen. 12, many commentators had very little to say about this chapter of Genesis.

 

Coffman presents a short summation: We confidently reject the unproved speculative assertions of alleged scholars to the effect that, "It is impossible to doubt that the two accounts (here and in that recorded in Genesis 12:10-20) are variants of the same tradition."These episodes are far more dissimilar than similar. In fact, about the ONLY correspondence between them lies in the fact of Abraham's passing off his wife as his sister. They occurred at different periods of the patriarch's life, involved different kings, of different countries, resulted in different treatment of Abraham, were marked by different forms of restraint upon the royal intentions, were distinguished by different forms of rebuke to Abraham, and different responses from Abraham; one event took place in Egypt, the other in Gerar, a city of the Philistines; in one Abraham was expelled from the country, and in the other he was kindly treated and invited to remain; one ruler did not believe in the true God, the other did; in one episode, Abraham did not pray for the king; but in the other he did so, resulting in the restoration of perfect health for the beneficiaries of his prayers; in one, Sarah's beauty resulted in Pharaoh's taking her, and in the other, it was the desire to form alliance with Abraham that seems to have been the reason. How could anyone ever believe that these are variant accounts of the SAME episode? 


These two accounts will be studied side-by-side at the end of this chapter.


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Thinking That Sarah Is Abraham's Sister, King Abimelech Takes Her to Wife


Driver, perhaps with a smile, entitled this: Sara’s adventure at the Court of Gerar.


Slavishly literal:

 

Moderately literal:

And so sets out from there Abraham land-ward, the Negev. And so he stays between Kadesh and between Shur. And so he resides in Gerar.

Genesis

20:1

Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev, and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Therefore, he was temporarily residing in Gerar.

Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Therefore, he resided temporarily in Gerar.


Here is how others have translated this verse:

 

Ancient texts:                       Note: I compare the Hebrew text to English translations of the Latin, Syriac and Greek texts, using the Douay-Rheims translation; George Lamsa’s translation, and Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton’s translation as revised and edited by Paul W. Esposito, respectively. I often update these texts with non-substantive changes (e.g., you for thou, etc.). I often use the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible instead of Brenton’s translation, because it updates the English text.

 

The Septuagint was the earliest known translation of a book (circa 200 b.c.). Since this translation was made before the textual criticism had been developed into a science and because different books appear to be translated by different men, the Greek translation can sometimes be very uneven.

 

When there are serious disparities between my translation and Brenton’s (or the text of the Complete Apostles’ Bible), I look at the Greek text of the Septuagint (the LXX) to see if a substantive difference actually exists (and I reflect these changes in the English rendering of the Greek text). I use the Greek LXX with Strong’s numbers and morphology available for e-sword. The only problem with this resource (which is a problem for similar resources) is, there is no way to further explore Greek verbs which are not found in the New Testament. Although I usually quote the Complete Apostles’ Bible here, I have begun to make changes in the translation when their translation conflicts with the Greek and note what those changes are.

 

The Masoretic text is the Hebrew text with all of the vowels (vowel points) inserted (the original Hebrew text lacked vowels). We take the Masoretic text to be the text closest to the original. However, differences between the Masoretic text and the Greek, Latin and Syriac are worth noting and, once in a great while, represent a more accurate text possessed by those other ancient translators.

 

In general, the Latin text is an outstanding translation from the Hebrew text into Latin and very trustworthy (I say this as a non-Catholic). Unfortunately, I do not read Latin—apart from some very obvious words—so I am dependent upon the English translation of the Latin (principally, the Douay-Rheims translation).

 

Underlined words indicate differences in the text.

 

Bracketed portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls are words, letters and phrases lost in the scroll due to various types of damage. Underlined words or phrases are those in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not in the Masoretic text.

 

The Targum of Onkelos is actually the Pentateuchal Targumim, which are The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel. On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee by J. W. Etheridge, M.A. Taken from http://targum.info/targumic-texts/pentateuchal-targumim/ and first published in 1862.

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so sets out from there Abraham land-ward, the Negev. And so he stays between Kadesh and between Shur. And so he resides in Gerar.

Dead Sea Scrolls                   Unfortunately, what was recovered the Dead Sea Scrolls of Genesis, with very little of the second third of the book being preserved. Nothing of Gen. 20 survives.

Targum of Onkelos                And Abraham went on from thence to the land of the south, and dwelt between Rekam and Chagra, and had his habitation in Gerar.

Latin Vulgate                          Abraham removed from thence to the south country, and dwelt between Cades and Sur, and sojourned in Gerara.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    AND Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and settled between Rakim and Gadar, and Abraham sojourned in Gadar.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abraham journeyed from there to the southern country, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

 

Significant differences:           Two of the targum and Syriac city names do not match the Hebrew.

 

Gill: Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase the words between Rekam and Chagra, or Hagra, the same place where the angel of the Lord met with Hagar at the well.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Abraham and Sarah visit Gerar

Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the arid southern plain, and he settled as an immigrant in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur.

Contemporary English V.       Abraham moved to the Southern Desert, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur. Later he went to Gerar, and while there...

Easy English                          Abraham and Abimelech

Abraham went from that place to the area called the Negev. He lived between the cities called Kadesh and Shur. And he stayed in Gerar for some time.

Easy-to-Read Version            Abraham left that place and traveled to the Negev. [111] Abraham settled in the city of Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur. While in Gerar,...

Good News Bible (TEV)         Abraham moved from Mamre to the southern part of Canaan and lived between Kadesh and Shur. Later, while he was living in Gerar,...

The Message                         Abraham traveled from there south to the Negev and settled down between Kadesh and Shur. While he was camping in Gerar,...

New Berkeley Version           Abraham moved from there to the South country and lived between Kadesh and Shur; then he lived for a time in Gerar. Gerar is 6 miles south of Gaza, on the Philistine boundary

New Living Translation           Abraham Deceives Abimelech

Abraham moved south to the Negev and lived for a while between Kadesh and Shur, and then he moved on to Gerar. While living there as a foreigner,.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Thereafter, AbraHam moved to the southern part of the country and took up living between Cades and Sur, staying for a while in GeraRa.

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abraham journeyed from there to the land of South-Canaan, and dwelled between the rest-stop and the trade-route. When he stayed in Gerar,.

Christian Community Bible     Abraham and Sarah at Gerar

Abraham left there for the territory of the Negeb, and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he stayed for a time in Gerar..

NIRV                                      Abraham and Abimelech

Abraham moved away from there into the Negev Desert. He lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar.

New Jerusalem Bible             Abraham left there for the region of the Negeb, and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While staying in Gerar,...

New Simplified Bible              Abraham moved from Mamre to the southern part of Canaan and lived between Kadesh and Shur. Later, while he was living in Gerar,...

Revised English Bible            Abraham journeyed by stages from there into the Negeb, and settled between Kadesh and Shur, living as an alien in Gerar.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             And Abraham went on his way from there to the land of the South, and was living between Kadesh and Shur, in Gerar.

Conservapedia                       Abraham traveled from there toward the Negev, and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed as a guest in Gerar.

The Expanded Bible              Abraham Tricks Abimelech

Abraham left Hebron [13:18] and traveled to ·southern Canaan [Lthe Negev; 13:1] where he stayed awhile between Kadesh [16:14] and Shur [16:7]. When he ·moved to [sojourned/lived as an alien in] Gerar [Cnorth of Kadesh and Shur; present-day Tell Abu Hureirah], he said to people about Sarah his wife, "She is my sister" [12:10-20; 26:1-11]. Abimelech king of Gerar heard this, so he sent some servants to take her. V. 2 is included for context.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Abraham and Abimelech

Abraham then removed quietly from there landward, and settled between Kadesh and the Wall, and resided at Gherar.

NET Bible®                             Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev [Or "the South [country]"; Heb "the land of the Negev."] [Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.] region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident [Heb "and he sojourned."] in Gerar. When it comes to making an actual material change to the text, the NET Bible® is pretty good about indicating this. Since most of these corrections will be clear in the more literal translations below and within the Hebrew exegesis itself, I will not continue to list every NET Bible® footnote.

NIV – UK                                Abraham and Abimelech

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,...


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Avraham traveled from there toward the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. While living as an alien in G'rar,...

exeGeses companion Bible   ABRAHAM PULLS STAKES

And from there

Abraham pulls stakes toward the south land

and settles between Qadesh and Shur

and sojourns in Gerar.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Abraham journeyed from there to the region of the Negeb and settled between kadesh and shur. While he was sojourning in Gerar,...

Kaplan Translation                 Sarah and Abimelech

Abraham migrated from there to the land of the Negev, and he settled between Kadesh and Shur [This would be the area around Beer Lachai Roi, see note on Genesis 16:14.]. He would often visit Gerar [On the southwest border of the Holy Land, see note on Genesis 10:19. The Midrash identifies it as Gerdike or Gerarike (Bereshith Rabbah 52), which is this Gerar. It is a city some 55 miles north of Kadesh, so although Abraham's primary dwelling was to the south, he would often visit Gerar, perhaps for supplies (cf. Radak). Some, however, suggest that this Gerar was Wadi Gerur, some 13 miles southwest of Kadesh, literally between Kadesh and Shur. See Genesis 26:17. (Also see Yov'loth 16:10).]. The Kaplan Translation, particularly in Exodus through Deuteronomy, takes note of historic rabbinic opinions.

The Scriptures 1998              And Araham set out from there to the land of the South, and dwelt between Qaĕsh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                NOW ABRAHAM journeyed from there toward the South country (the Negeb) and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur; and he lived temporarily in Gerar. "Primitive geographic expressions such as 'the South country (the Negeb)' (Gen. 12:9; 13:1, 3; 20:1; 24:62) and 'the east country' (Gen. 25:6) are used in the time of Abraham... After the time of Genesis they have well-known and well-defined names; I submit that they were written down in early days, and that no writer after Moses could have used such archaic expressions as these" (P. J. Wiseman, New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis).

Concordant Literal Version    And journeying thence is Abraham to the south-rim. And dwelling is he between Kadesh and Shur, and is sojourning in Gerar.

Green’s Literal Translation    And Abraham pulled up stakes from there to the land of the Negeb, and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.

Heritage Bible                        And Abraham pulled up from there toward the land of the Negev, and sat down between Kadesh and Shur, and resided temporarily in Gerar.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    Sarah Again in Danger

And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. From the grove of Mamre at or near Hebron Abraham gradually journeyed, with all his possessions, to the extreme southern part of Canaan, very likely in search of better pasturage. The region where he tented was, roughly speaking, between Kadesh and Shur, and in his wanderings he encamped also at Gerar, in the land of the Philistines.

Modern KJV                           And Abraham moved from there toward the south country, and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.

NASB                                     Abraham's Treachery

Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev [I.e. South country], and settled [Lit dwelt] between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar.

New RSV                               From there Abraham journeyed towards the region of the Negeb, and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While residing in Gerar as an alien,....

Syndein/Thieme                     {Disillusion, Degradation, Decoration - Verse 1 - Disillusion} And Abraham kept on journeying from there toward the south country {Abraham leaving the land is always a picture of a believer out of fellowship - see Chapter 19:26-28 for the reason why}, and kept on dwelling in prosperity {yashab} between Kadesh {name means prostitution - picture of idolatry or eyes off the Lord} and Shur {name means 'to stir up dust' or 'get excited' - emotions now rule Abraham}, and kept on 'dwelling temporarily'/sojourning in Gerar {name's meaning comes from its sound (ana-poetic) - means sawing and came to mean 'dragging away' - so here Abraham is 'dragged away' and is 'out of fellowship}'.

Webster Bible                        And Abraham journeyed from thence towards the south country, and dwelt between Kadash and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

Young’s Updated LT             And Abraham journeys from there toward the land of the south, and dwells between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourns in Gerar.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham travels down south to Gerar.


A great deal has happened. God promised Abraham and his wife a son in one year’s time. Sodom has been destroyed, and, for all Abraham knows, so has his nephew Lot. Without being given a reason, Abraham pulls up stakes and he moves to Gerar, which is a Philistine controlled area. These may not be related to the Philistines which interfere so much with Israel in the time of the Judges and Samuel and David.


Genesis 20:1a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

nâçaʿ (נָסַע) [pronounced naw-SAHĢ]

to pull up [stakes], to pull out, to break camp and move out, to set out, to journey, to march, to depart

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #5265 BDB #652

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

shâm (שָם) [pronounced shawm]

there; at that time, then; therein, in that thing

adverb

Strong’s #8033 BDB #1027

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4

ʾerets (אֶרֶץ) [pronounced EH-rets]

earthward (all or a portion thereof), on [toward, upon] the earth; on [upon, toward] the land [territory, country, continent; ground, soil]

feminine singular noun with the directional hê

Strong's #776 BDB #75

negeb (נֶגֶב) [pronounced ne-GHEBV]

south, south-country; southern portion of Judah, southern district of Palestine; often transliterated Negev or Negeb

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #5045 BDB #616


Translation: Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev,... Abraham had apparently lived in Mamre for about 20 years; which can be surmised from Gen. 13:18 18:1 and the Abrahamic Timeline Now, he is suddenly picking up and moving.

genesis20.gif

The Negev; a Graphic and Explanation, from newsyoucanbelieve.com, accessed August 29, 2014.

 

Peter Pett: [Abraham] had been established many years by the Oaks of Mamre but now he moves on, although he would later return to the area. There Sarah died and was buried (Genesis 23:19), and he himself was buried there (Genesis 25:9). Isaac later returns there (Genesis 35:27) and Jacob was also buried there (Genesis 50:13).

 

Matthew Henry: In a world where we are strangers and pilgrims we cannot expect to be always in the same place...Wherever we are, we must look upon ourselves but as sojourners.


We’re not really given any reason for Abraham picking up stakes and moving on, but there are several reasons that come to mind: trading groups that usually pass through there may no longer come through because the entire Sodom and Gomorrah area has been destroyed. And, Abraham has livestock and they need to be constantly attended to and moved about to those greener pastures. However, I think that the actual reason is, Abraham was somewhat disillusioned with God. He believed that he had successfully argued for Sodom to be spared, and yet he saw it destroyed, and probably thought that Lot and his family were dead as well.


At some point, someone knew that Lot was still alive. Since we don’t really know anything about Lot after his daughters had sex with him, it is likely that Abraham did not know if Lot was still alive at this point in time. However, at some point, perhaps a few generations later, the presence of the Ammonites and the Moabites became better known; and, obviously, their origins became known as well.


Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev,... I don’t know what Abraham was thinking or feeling at this time, as it was clear the whole area where Lot lived had been devastated, as there was billowing smoke coming from there (Gen. 19:27–28). We don’t know if Abraham went down there to investigate and found out or if he wrote Lot off as dead, and simply moved to the southern part of Judah. Abraham could have gone through or near that area traveling in the direction that he does. He would have seen all of the devastation as he traveled east of Sodom and Gomorrah; and it is highly unlikely that he would have seen Lot. Furthermore, just seeing this land, as destroyed as it was, with smoke and strange gases billowing up, probably caused Abraham to move more toward the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Clarke: It is very likely that...[Abraham] was so deeply affected with the melancholy prospect of the ruined cities, and not knowing what was become of his nephew Lot and his family, that he could no longer bear to dwell within sight of the place.


Abraham is moving southwest; south, would have been the direction of Lot and the destroyed cities. Now, whether Abraham chose to go this route to first look for Lot, we are not told. If they ever saw one another again, we are not told. It seems unlikely.


Abraham would have gone by the area within a week of Gen. 19, when God destroyed the 4 cities, and it would have appeared to Abraham, from the west view, that no one has survived. If everyone was destroyed, then it would have appeared unsafe even to travel on the ground that had been destroyed and was probably covered with burning oils and sulphur.


Normally, the amount of movement described in this verse would take place over a period of 5 or 10 years. However, if this is in chronological order, then this movement would have taken place in the space of a few months. This may have simply been the right time for Abraham to try new pastures for his animals; and he may have been looking for a new place the settle down to, not wanting to remain at a place from which he could see the smoke of Sodom.


Genesis 20:1b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

yâshab (יָשַב) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV]

to remain, to stay; to dwell, to live, to inhabit; to sit

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #3427 BDB #442

bêyn (בֵּין) [pronounced bane]

in the midst of, between, among; when found twice, it means between

preposition

Strong's #996 BDB #107

Qâdêsh (שקָדֵ) [pronounced kaw-DAYSH]

sacred, holy, set apart; transliterated Kadesh, Kedesh

proper noun; location

Strong’s #6946 and #6947 BDB #873

This city is in the extreme southern portion of Judah and is the same as Kadesh-barnea.

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

bêyn (בֵּין) [pronounced bane]

in the midst of, between, among; when found twice, it means between

preposition

Strong's #996 BDB #107

Shûwr (שוּר) [pronounced sher]

wall, fortress and is transliterated Shur

proper noun, location

Strong’s #7793 BDB #1004

A place southwest of Palestine on the eastern border or within the border of Egypt; the Israelites passed through the wilderness of Shur after crossing the Red Sea


Translation: ...and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Shur is the desert region along the Mediterranean coast between Egypt and Palestine. Kadesh is a city about 50 miles southwest from the southern tip of the Dead Sea.


genesis201.gif

So far, this is what we have: Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev, and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Logically, given what has taken place in previous chapters, it seems unlikely that this is a trip that Abraham has made prior to Gen. 17. Abraham moves toward the land of the Negev, meaning that he is moving south-southwest from the Oaks of Mamre. At first, Abraham stops between Kadesh and Shur and the text here seems to indicate that Abraham was considering staying there. However, he seems to backtrack somewhat and go back up towards Gerar. In all, if Abraham and company actually stay for a week or so between Kadesh and Shur, this journey could have taken 1–2 months. Timing, at this point, is critical, because we are in a countdown to the conception and then birth of Isaac.


The map of Abraham’s journeys is from

http://cw.routledge.com/textbooks/0415236614/resources/maps/map3.jpg accessed March 5, 2013.


What appears to be the case is, Abraham first went between the Desert of Shur and the city of Kadesh, and then he circled back up into the land of the Philistines.


Although I found several graphics based upon Gen. 20, it was surprisingly more difficult to find a map of exactly Abraham’s route. The one above more or less gives his movement over several years, the bottom portion covering where Abraham journeyed in Gen. 20. It was difficult to simply find maps with Shur, Kadesh and Gerar.


If you look at the map to the right, Abraham has lived in Mamre for an extended period of time. In order for him to go south between Shur and Kadesh, he would be traveling west or northwest of Sodom and Gomorrah. He would not be able to see the small city that Lot escaped to; he would have no idea at this time that Lot is still alive. All that Abraham can see if great devastation.


Then he moves north-northwest toward Gerar. He would be moving away from Sodom and Gomorrah, which no doubt have tons of noxious fumes spreading out from ground zero. Moving to Gerar will take Abraham and his compound away from the fumes and the sight of a God-destroyed region.


genesis202.gif

This Map of Gerar, Shur and Kedesh-barnea is from:

http://www.christian-knowledg e.com/images/canaan.jpg (Accessed March 5, 2013).


The overall map is one of the better, more detailed maps of Canaan, mostly during this time period.


So far, v. 1 reads: Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev, and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. So Abraham originally moves south (which is what Negev means). He apparently does not go as far as Kadesh, but stops between Kadesh and Shur. The verb here is the Qal imperfect of yâshab (יָשַב) [pronounced yaw-SHAHBV], which means to remain, to stay; to dwell, to live, to inhabit; to sit. Strong's #3427 BDB #442. An imperfect verb can view action as extended over a period of time or as future. However, here, we have 3 wâw consecutives with 3 imperfect verbs. This suggests the order in which things were done. He sets out, he stays and then he resides. In a construction like this, the period of time is not in view, just the succession of actions. So this could describe something taking place over 10 years time or over the period of a month. Given everything else that we know (the series of events on both sides of this chapter), this probably all took place over the period of a month.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Hagar, when she left Abraham and Sarah, was on the road to Shur when God spoke to her (Gen. 16:7).


Here is some basic information about Kedesh.

Kedesh of Judah (a.k.a. Kadesh or Kadesh-barnea)

Kedesh of Judah (with this spelling) is mentioned twice in Scripture. It is a city given over to Judah in Joshua 15:23 where it is described, with several other cities, as being a city at the extremity of the tribe of Judah toward the border of Edom. This would place Kedesh in far southwestern Judah, possibly as far as the wilderness of Zin (which is pretty much on the border of Judah and Edom).


It is very likely—that this is equivalent to Kadesh-barnea. The difference in spelling simply comes down to vowel points, which were added two millenniums after Joshua 15 was written. The reason that I believe these cities to be equivalent is that Kadesh-barnea is given in the description of the border of Judah (Joshua 15:3), but is never mentioned as one of the cities given over to Judah (Joshua 15:21–62). Given that Kadesh-barnea is one of the more famous of the cities of Judah, I would think that it would have been named separately as a city which was given by lot to Judah. I am not aware of any event recorded in Scripture which would contradict this identification.


If we understand Kedesh of Judah to be equivalent to Kadesh-barnea (also called Kadesh), then this city is mentioned a number of times. Originally, Kadesh was known as En-mishpat. A later writer of Genesis so identified the city in Gen. 14:7.


Abraham’s Egyptian mistress was dismissed from Abram’s household by Sarai, and she got about as far as Kadesh when God came to her and turned her around and sent her back to her mistress. Gen. 16:7–16


Abraham travels by Kadesh when he leaves Mamre, but then turns around and heads northward to Gerar. Gen. 20:1


Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the desert, and they stop right around Kadesh to assess their situation and to send spies into the Land of Promise prior to invading that land (which they will not do). Num. 13:26


When Kadesh is next mentioned (in Num. 20:1), 38 almost silent years have passed (Deut. 2:14). Most of gen X (the generation of adults to leave Egypt with Moses) has been killed off (they had been adult slaves in Egypt). They were the rebellious ones of Israel, whose sons were saved by the pleading of Moses. It was in Kedesh that Miriam died and was buried.

This is taken from The Three Kedesh’s (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines

 

Gill: [Kedesh and Shur are the] two wildernesses, as Jerom says, one of which joined to Egypt, to which the people of Israel went when they passed over the Red sea, and the other, Kadesh, reached to the desert of the Saracens.


Genesis 20:1c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

gûwr (גּוּר) [pronounced goor]

to temporarily reside, to sojourn; to gather together with, band together with

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #1481 BDB #157

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

Gerâr (גְּרָר) [pronounced gher-AWR; possibly gerawr]

a lodging place, dwelling; transliterated Gerar

proper singular noun; location

Strong’s #1642 BDB #176

 



Translation: Therefore, he was temporarily residing in Gerar. Gerar is a city in southern Philistia, and it appears that Abraham would have circled back to get to it.

 

Keil and Delitzsch: Here he dwelt between Kadesh (Gen. 14:7) and Shur (Gen. 16:7), and remained for some time in Gerar, a place the name of which has been preserved in the deep and broad Wady Jurf el Gerâr (i.e., torrent of Gerar) about eight miles S.S.E. of Gaza, near to which Rowland discovered the ruins of an ancient town bearing the name of Khirbet el Gerâr.

 

genesis203.gifFrom:

http://www.genesisfiles.com/Maps/Gerar/Gerar_MR.jpg

Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge: Gerar was a city of Arabia Petrea, under a king of the Philistines, 25 miles from Eleutheropolis beyond Daroma, in the south of Judah. From Gen. 10:19, it appears to have been situated in the angle where the south and west sides of Canaan met, and to have been not far from Gaza. Jerome, in his Hebrew Traditions on Genesis, says, from Gerar to Jerusalem was three days’ journey.


Genesis 20:1 And Abraham moved from there toward the south country [or, the Negev], and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.


All of this is in what would later become southern Judah. In fact, Shur refers to the desert which is between Egypt and Israel. Kedesh here refers to Kedesh-Barnea, which is about 100 km south-southwest of Beersheba on the boundary line below, below the southern portion of the map below.


Map of Gerar and Beersheba. So Abraham has moved far into the south. Even though this is within the territory of Philistia, Abraham is still within the geographical will of God, because God gave Abraham a huge amount of land, in which Abraham was to walk (Gen. 13:17).


So far we have examined Gen. 20 overall and have concluded that it belongs here both thematically and chronologically. And we have studied the first verse:


Genesis 20:1 And Abraham moved from there toward the south country, and lived between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.


This move could have taken anywhere from 2 weeks to a month or two. I mention the time, as we are in a countdown to the conception and birth of Isaac. Abraham has moved from the east central part of Judah to the southwestern part of Judah. The land that he has moved to is controlled by Philistines.


All the land that Abraham travels on is controlled by peoples that the Jews would later defeat—initially under Joshua and also under King David.


genesis204.gif

Map of Shur, the Negev and Gerar. Taken from My Bible (on News You Can Believe); accessed August 29, 2014.


This would put Abraham southwest of the Dead Sea. We are not always told exactly why Abraham picks up and moves from point A to point B, except that God had commanded him some time ago to walk the length and the breadth of the land which He had given him (Gen. 13:17). What will occur is another test; Abraham failed this test the first time and he will, essentially, fail this test again. However, it might be important to point out that when we fail a test, we have not necessarily completely failed that test. Abraham will fail the test here; he will be corrected severely by an unbeliever; and, if he ever was faced with the same choice again, Abraham would have made the correct choice.


genesis205.gif

This map is from the Bible Atlas Maps in e-sword. It is Map 12: of the Arabah, Negeb, Wildernesses of Zin and Paran. This can also be found online here and here. You can see from the map where the people of Esau (the son of Abram and his wife’s personal servant) settled (called Edom). You can also see where the Moabites (descendants of Moab, the son/grandson of Lot) took up residence. It is also helpful to see the topological aspects of this region.


Commentators love to speculate.

Speculation: Why did Abraham move?

Commentator

Opinion

John Gill

Canaan: the reason of this remove is not certain; some think, because he could not bear the stench of the sulphurous lake, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were become; and others, because of the scandal of Lot's incest with his daughters, which prejudiced the idolatrous people in those parts more against the true religion; neither of which are likely, by reason of the distance; but the better reason seems to be, that it was so ordered in Providence that he should remove from place to place, that it might appear that he was but a sojourner in the land.

David Guzik

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham moved. Perhaps he did not want to live in the hills overlooking the destroyed region any longer, and be reminded of those people and the judgment visited upon them.

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown

In the neighborhood of Gerar was a very rich and well-watered pasture land. Isaac will move to the same land, when he finds himself in the midst of a drought (Gen. 26).

Keil and Delitzsch

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham removed from the grove of Mamre at Hebron to the south country, hardly from the same fear as that which led Lot from Zoar, but probably to seek for better pasture.

Gary Kukis

He could not bear to be so close to Sodom which had just been destroyed. This allowed him to travel by Sodom to get a better look at what had happened.

Given the time that this occurred, it is most likely that Abraham moving was related to Sodom and to the supposed destruction of Lot.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


——————————


And so says Abraham unto Sarah his wife, “My sister, she.” And so sends Abimelech king of Gerar and so he takes Sarah.

Genesis

20:2

And Abraham said regarding Sarah his wife, “She [is] my sister.” Therefore, Abimelech the king of Gerar sent [for her] and he took Sarah.

And Abraham said, regarding Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Therefore, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, sent servants for Sarah and took her.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so says Abraham unto Sarah his wife, “My sister, she.” And so sends Abimelech king of Gerar and so he takes Sarah.

Targum of Onkelos                And Abraham said concerning Sarah his wife, She is my sister. And Abimelek, king of Gerar [JERUSALEM. King of Arad.], sent and took Sarah.

Latin Vulgate                          And he said of Sara his wife: She is my sister. So Abimelech the king of Gerara sent, and took her.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister; and Abimeleck king of Gadar sent and took Sarah.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abraham said concerning Sarah his wife, She is my sister, for he feared to say, She is my wife, lest at any time the men of the city should kill him for her sake. So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

 

Significant differences:           The Greek has a lot of additional text.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       ...he told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

Easy English                          And Abraham said that Sarah was his sister. So Abimelech, the king of Gerar, sent for Sarah. And he took her into his *household.

Easy-to-Read Version            Abraham told people that Sarah was his sister. Abimelech, king of Gerar, heard this. Abimelech wanted Sarah, so he sent some servants to take her.

New Berkeley Version           About Sarah, his wife, Abraham said, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her.

New Century Version             ...he told people that his wife Sarah was his sister. Abimelech king of Gerar heard this, so he sent some servants to take her.

New Life Bible                        Abraham said about his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." So Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her for his wife.

New Living Translation           Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, "She is my sister." So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          And [there], AbraHam said concerning SarAh his woman, 'She's my sister.' He didn't want to tell them 'She's my woman,' for fear that the time would come when men of that city would kill him because of her.

So AbiMelech (the king of GeraRa) sent for SarAh and took her [to be his woman].

Beck’s American Translation Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister.” Anbd so Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent men who took Sarah away.

God’s Word                         Abraham told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar sent men to take Sarah.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Conservapedia                       Abraham said about his wife Sarah, "She is my sister." Then Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah to marry her. "Abimelech" means "my father the king."

The Expanded Bible              ...he said to people about Sarah his wife, "She is my sister" [12:10-20; 26:1-11]. Abimelech king of Gerar heard this, so he sent some servants to take her.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Avraham was saying of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister"; so Avimelekh king of G'rar sent and took Sarah.

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abraham says of Sarah his woman,

She is my sister:

and Abi Melech sovereign of Gerar

sends and takes Sarah:...

Kaplan Translation                 [There] he announced that his wife Sarah was his sister, and Abimelekh [Literally, 'father-king.' This was a title given to Philistine kings, much like Pharaoh was given to Egyptian monarchs (Psalms 34:1, Rashi ad loc.; cf. Sefer HaYashar 65,66). Persian kings were given the title Padi-shach, which also means 'father-king.' In Hebrew, av means master as well as father. So the designation Avi-melekh may mean 'master-king' or arch-king. See note on Genesis 41:43.], king of Gerar, sent messengers and took Sarah.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah [into his harem].

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is Abraham concerning Sarah, his wife, "My sister is she,for he feared to say, "My wife is she,lest he be killed by the men of the city because of her. And sending is Abimelech, king of Gerar, and taking Sarah.

Context Group Version          And Abraham said of Sarah his woman { or wife }, She's my sister. And Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    And Abraham said of Sarah, his wife, She is my sister; and Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took Sarah. As in Egypt, Gen. 12:13, Abraham did not tell the exact and complete truth when he stated that Sarah was his sister. So the king of Gerar, whose standing title was Abimelech, acted in good faith when he added her to his harem. Either the transformation worked in Sarah as a result of God's promise had renewed her youth, or Abimelech found it to his advantage to be related to the rich Abraham by marriage.

LTHB                                     And Abraham said with regards to his wife Sarah, She is my sister. And Abimelech the king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

Syndein                                  {Disillusion, Degradation, Decoration - Verse 2 - Degradation}

And Abraham kept saying {'amar} of Sarah his wife, 'She is my sister'. And Abimelech king of Gerar kept on sending and taking { laqach - for his wife} Sarah. {Note: When God restored Sarah's womb, apparently her physical beauty was also restored. So, Abraham is afraid that he will be killed so they can 'have' Sarah.}.

Young’s Updated LT             And Abraham says concerning Sarah his wife, “She is my sister;” and Abimelech king of Gerar sends and takes Sarah.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abraham has continued to tell folks that Sarah is his sister. The king of Gerar, Abimelech, sends men to bring Sarah to him.


Genesis 20:2a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾAberâhâm (אַבְרָהָם) [pronounced ahbve-raw-HAWM]

father of a multitude, chief of a multitude; transliterated Abraham

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #85 BDB #4

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to, in respect to; because of; according to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); expanded meanings given

Strong's #413 BDB #39

Sârâh (שָׂרָה) [pronounced saw-RAW]

princess, noble woman; transliterated Sarah

proper noun; feminine singular

Strong’s #8283 BDB #979

ʾîshshâh (אִשָּה) [pronounced eesh-SHAW]

woman, wife

feminine singular noun with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #802 BDB #61

ʾâchôwth (אַחוֹת) [pronounced aw-KHOWTH]

sister, half-sister; relative; beloved [bride]; figuratively of intimate connection; metaphorically for relationship between Israel and Judah; another

feminine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #269 BDB #27

hîyʾ (הִיא) [pronounced hee]

she, it; also used as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person feminine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

The Greek adds to this: ...for he feared to say, She is my wife, lest at any time the men of the city should kill him for her sake.


Translation: And Abraham said regarding Sarah his wife, “She [is] my sister.” When Abraham went to Egypt, he had this same agreement with Sarah. She would identify herself as his sister. He had assumed the heathenism to be at a stage where, if they knew she was his wife, they would kill him and take her. Quite obviously, this shows a lack of faith in God, as God has made specific promises to her and Abraham. Let me suggest that Abraham observed the destruction of Sodom and might had been disheartened by it.

 

Matthew Henry: [Abraham’s] sin in denying his wife, as before (Gen. 12:13), which was not only...a lie, and which, if admitted as lawful, would be the ruin of human converse and an inlet to all falsehood, but was also an exposing of the chastity and honour of his wife, of which he ought to have been the protector...[Furthermore,] he had been guilty of this same sin before, and had been reproved for it, and convinced of the folly of the suggestion which induced him to it; yet he returns to it. Note, It is possible that a good man may, not only fall into sin, but relapse into the same sin, through the surprise and strength of temptation and the infirmity of the flesh. Let backsliders repent then, but not despair (Jer. 3:22).

 

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown: [Abraham’s] conduct was highly culpable. It was deceit, deliberate and premeditated––there was no sudden pressure upon him––it was the second offense of the kind [see on Gen. 12:13] ––it was a distrust of God every way surprising, and it was calculated to produce injurious effects on the heathen around. Its mischievous tendency was not long in being developed.


Genesis 20:2a And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.”


Abraham is near a large city and the king there, Abimelech, has become aware of Abraham’s arrival. He did not know Abraham or anything about Abraham, other than he is said to be traveling with a very beautiful woman (Sarah is apparently quite beautiful despite her age).


This sort of action by a ruler appears to be customary. He would send for the most prominent woman of a caravan, and such an action would apparently establish a peace between the two parties. He got the women and the caravan were at peace with him in the land that he controlled. People who have power tend to take advantage of possessing this power.


Now, this ought to also strike us as unusual: Sarah is still attractive enough to be desired at age 90. Recall that the age of man was higher then than it is now; and that Abraham will live to be 175. Now, my recollection of Suzanne Somers is that, at around age 70, she is still very attractive. This suggests that it is possible, in that day and age, for Sarah to be attractive at age 90. As you will recall, man’s age began to fall after the flood from living 800–1000 years, and, with Abraham, we are down to 175 years. Sarah will live to be 127 years old.


In our day and age, it is typical for a woman to enter into menopause between the ages of 40 and 61. Sarah became menopausal around age 85–90, as she clearly does not see herself as having children when the Revealed Lord told her that she would (Gen. 18:11–12). However, this narrative suggests to us that she does not look like any 90 year old woman that we have ever seen.


Stephen Cole approached this proportionally. Sarah, at age 90, is comparable to a woman who is 53 and will love to be 75. It is very possible for a woman at age 53 to be attractive.


Genesis 20:2a And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.”


This is the second time that Abraham has done this. It suggests that whenever he and Sarah went anywhere where there was a prominent ruler, he take this approach. He continued with human viewpoint. Recall that God has promised him a son by Sarah, and that was going to occur in the very near future. We are talking mere months away. And yet, with this deception, Abraham appears to doubt the protection of God.


This tells us that Abraham vacillated between very strong faith (when he allowed himself to be circumcised) and no faith, e.g. here, where he thinks that lying is the best solution. in a previous chapter, we learned his reasoning: that some heathen leader would simply kill him and take his wife (Gen. 12:11–13). The Greek text contains this thought as well; it appends this portion of v. 2 with ...for he feared to say, She is my wife, lest at any time the men of the city should kill him for her sake.


I want you to notice just who is put at risk here: Sarah. This has happened before. If a ruler takes a liking to Sarah or if a ruler decides to take Sarah, Abraham figures that, if they are brother and sister, he will be preserved and Sarah would go into a harem. However, you will recall in the previous chapter that God’s promise to Abraham would be fulfilled in Sarah. She will bear his son. She cannot bear a son to Abraham if she is in the harem of some foreign prince. This would forever call into question Isaac’s paternity.


Abraham should have continued to exercise faith in God; yet he chooses not to.


What is in the making is one of the most important births in human history, and it was designed to not just move the Jewish race ahead to a second generation, but to foreshadow the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ as well. Therefore, Sarah being in a harem is not a part of God’s plan.


Application: What Abraham does here is clearly wrong. However, as you will find in life, God will use you, despite your many failures. I can personally testify to that.


Let’s take a moment and think this through. At some point, messengers from Abimelech of Gerar would have stopped Abraham’s very large caravan and inquired as to the nature of the people there, their intentions, and a number of other questions which were standard. They would have ascertained from the beginning, who was in charge (Abraham), and they would have checked out his wife/sister Sarah. It is clear that she has great status within this large caravan—making her suitable for a king. It is likely, as suggested above, that she is also beautiful. So, Abimelech’s messengers, always on the lookout for the king, tell him about Sarah.


Abimelech, hearing all of this, sends for Sarah. Gill suggests that Sarah is taken by force; however, there is no indication of that. Now, there may have been some slight intimidation involved, but only because soldiers of the king had come to Abraham. Again, remember that Abraham and his men put down in military action one of the greatest powers known in that era (Gen. 14), so it is not as if Abraham could not have mustered his troops into action. However, things like this can go down in a much congenial fashion. No threat needs to be stated or even implied, as Abraham and his caravan are on the land of the king. Abraham has made no personal claim upon Sarah, and now the king has called for her. Abraham essentially set himself up here for all of this to happen.


All of this is legitimate in the minds of the messengers from Gerar because Abraham presents Sarah as his sister; and kings in that era (men of power in many eras) had several wives. However, as we will find out, Abimelech is not at immoral as Abraham supposes him to be.


Very likely, Abimelech viewed this as making an alliance with Abraham. He has just promised to take care of Abraham’s sister Sarah for the rest of her life.


What would have been the proper approach by Abraham? Clearly, honesty; and, given what we know about the king, later on in this chapter, he would not have called for Sarah—but he may have called for Abraham and Sarah for a meal or a discussion. Let’s say that the messengers from Gerar were hostile. Abraham has both a scratch army which defeated the greatest army of that day; and he has Yehowah God with him, Who has made great promises to Abraham.


Let me add that, Abraham and his very large caravan are now in the land of Gerar and subject to the laws of the king of Gerar. Since Abraham has absolutely no evidence of hostility on the part of Abimelech or his men, then his approach is to be at peace with all men. Remember, Abraham got Sarah to agree to this even before the messengers from the king of Gerar came to them. So Abraham had prejudged these people, knowing very little about them.


Application: We need to evaluate every situation that we are in and act accordingly. As believers, we all have God the Holy Spirit and, if you have grown spiritually, then you know Bible doctrine, and you are learning how to think like God in your soul.


Why does Abraham appear to lack trust in God at this point? He just stood face to face with God and got God to agree to spare Sodom (or so Abraham thought). And Sodom lay in ruins, as Abraham observed, both from afar and recently when traveling along side that region. Why does Abraham distrust the king of Gerar? Although Abraham had met the king of Sodom before (Gen. 14), it is clear that Sodom had descended into great degeneracy (even though Abraham may lack the details of this). So, since God is giving him the land, perhaps Abraham has supposed that all the indigenous people are like the Sodomites.


Genesis 20:2a And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Abraham is lying and he gets his wife to go along with it. As a result, she is taking all of the risk; he is taking none of it.

 

Arthur Pink: The contents of Genesis 20 furnish a striking proof of the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures. No fictitious historian would have recorded this dark blot on the life of such an illustrious personage as Abraham. The tendency of the human heart is ever toward hero worship, and the common custom of biographers is to conceal the defects and blemishes in the careers of the characters which they delineate, and this, had it been followed, would naturally forbid the mention of such a sad fall in the life of one of the most venerated names on the scroll of history. Ah! but herein the Bible differs from all other books. The Holy Spirit has painted the portraits of Scripture characters in the colors of nature and truth. He has given a faithful picture of the human heart such as is common to all mankind.

 

Ellicott: Holy Scripture neither represents its heroes as perfect, nor does it raise them disproportionately above the level of their own times.


Genesis 20:2b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

shâlach (שָלַח) [pronounced shaw-LAKH]

to send, to send for [forth, away], to dismiss, to deploy, to put forth, to stretch out, to reach out

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #7971 BDB #1018

ʾĂbiymeleke (אֲבִימֶלֶךְ) [pronounced ub-vee-MEH-lek]

my father is Melek, my father is king; transliterated Abimelech

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #40 BDB #4

meleke (מֶלֶך׃) [pronounced MEH-lek]

king, ruler, prince

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #4428 BDB #572

Gerâr (גְּרָר) [pronounced gher-AWR; possibly gerawr]

a lodging place, dwelling; transliterated Gerar

proper singular noun; location

Strong’s #1642 BDB #176


Translation: Therefore, Abimelech the king of Gerar sent [for her]... We are going to find that this particular king is fairly likeable and fairly moral. However, he takes as a perk of his job, appropriating any woman that comes into his territory. As we will find out, he probably would not take a man’s wife.


Abimelech is transliterated from the Hebrew word ʾĂbiymeleke (אֲבִימֶלֶךְ) [pronounced ub-vee-MEH-lek] and it means my father is Melek, my father is king. Strong’s #40 BDB #4. This name shows up in Gen. 26, so it is reasonably a title for the king. Abraham in the Hebrew is father; the y is the possessive pronoun my; and melek means king. Barnes suggests father of the king, but I believe that to be incorrect.


Genesis 20:2c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

lâqach (לָקַח) [pronounced law-KAHKH]

to take, to take away, to take in marriage; to seize

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #3947 BDB #542

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

generally untranslated; occasionally to, toward

indicates that the following substantive is a direct object

Strong's #853 BDB #84

Sârâh (שָׂרָה) [pronounced saw-RAW]

princess, noble woman; transliterated Sarah

proper noun; feminine singular

Strong’s #8283 BDB #979


Translation: ...and he took Sarah. We do not know how large Abraham’s entourage happened to be, but, apparently at some point, they were stopped and interviewed by Abimelech’s people, and Sarah apparently stood out to these men.

 

Poole: For though Sarah was ninety years old, yet she retained her beauty in good measure, partly, because she had not been broken by bearing and nursing of children; partly, because in that age of the world men and women, as they lived longer, so they did not so soon begin to decay, as now they do; and partly, because of God’s special blessing upon her.

 

Barnes: Sarah, though now eighty–nine years of age, was as youthful in look as a person of forty would now be. She had, moreover, had no family, was remarkable for her good looks, and was at present, no doubt, renewed in health and vigor 9Gen. 12:11–16).

 

Peter Pett: Sarah was an outstandingly beautiful woman, and, even though she has now matured, the bloom of childbearing is on her and there are unquestionably some women who have something about them which gives them an attraction far beyond the norm at all ages. Sarah was clearly one of them. The beauty and attractiveness of a tribeswoman may well have been very different from that of Philistine women. So if Abraham did persist in describing her as his sister when they moved about the surprise is that there were only two such incidents known. Men will move mountains for an alluring woman.


Some commentators suggested that, since Sarah’s reproductive organs were activated, that she may have taken on a more youthful appearance for that reason as well.


genesis206.gif

So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah (a painting). From Prayer: Communication with God; accessed August 29, 2014.


Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech the king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.


Even though Abraham has come a very long way, spiritually speaking, he is certainly not a sinless man. Again, he claims that Sarah is his sister and not his wife. This essentially invites King Abimelech to take her. There is nothing which stops him. Furthermore, taking Sarah as a wife is seen as (1) a favor to Abraham; and as (2) a possible alliance.


Men did not typically have multiple wives in that era (there are a lot of practical considerations involved here—such as, having two women under the same roof (remember Sarah and Hagar?). However, there does not appear to be a universally accepted moral law against it (no more than there is a universal moral law which would forbid men marrying their half-sisters).


However, it will become clear the adultery is clearly forbidden. Both Abraham and Abimelech are in agreement on this point of moral behavior. When Abimelech finds out that Sarah is Abraham’s wife, that in itself is understood to be an evil that God would punish.


Despite her age, Sarah is apparently still a beautiful woman, attractive enough for a king to take as his wife.

 

Arthur Pink: Sad indeed, inexpressibly sad, was Abraham's conduct. It was not the fall of a young and inexperienced disciple, but the lapse of one who had long walked the path of faith that here shows himself ready to sacrifice the honor of his wife, and what is worse, give up the one who was the depositary of all the promises...What made the matter so much worse in Abraham's ease was that it was not a question of being surprised into a sudden fault. It was the recurrence of an old sin. Long ago he had followed the same wicked course in Egypt, where his duplicity had been discovered and from whence he was banished in disgrace. But the experience profited him not. Some twenty or twenty-five years had passed since then, and in the interval he had built an altar unto the Lord, had vanquished Chedorlaomer, had been blessed by Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God, had repulsed the offer of the King of Sodom to be enriched at his hands, and had received wondrous revelations and promises from God; yet now we see him leaving God out of his reckoning, and ensnared by the fear of man, resorting to the most shameful deception.


Two things that we learn from this: God has given Abraham a beautiful woman who has remained beautiful throughout most of her life. Secondly, Abraham is not living in sinless perfection. He still sins, and God still blesses him.


Now, Sarah is definitely an older woman, but we do have examples today of women who are older, who are quite attractive. Suzanne Somers comes immediately to mind. Furthermore, recall that people from the era of Abraham still lived long lives (Abraham will live to be 175).


Sarah is probably reasonably attractive, even though she is 90+ years old in this chapter. It is likely that Abimelech desires a political alliance with Abraham as a rich, nomadic chieftain (as Zodhiates puts it). Abraham, like all believers, has a Christian life with its high and its low points. This is a low point.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


So, to sum up some logical points of speculation:

Summarizing logical points of speculation from Genesis 20:2

1.      Abraham may doubt God’s protection because God destroyed Sodom (and presumably, Lot).

2.      Abraham may doubt the character of the people of Gerar because of the rumors about the people of Sodom.

3.      The king of Gerar probably looked upon this act of taking Sarah in marriage as a good thing that he is doing toward Abraham.

4.      None of this was done by force; the king of Gerar did not send in a small army and take Sarah from the caravan. There is nothing in the context to suggest such a thing. Abimelech blames Abraham later on in this narrative, which would make little sense if Abimelech took Sarah by force.

5.      Sarah, even at age 90, was probably pretty hot.

Although none of these things are stated outright, these are logical points, based upon the text.


Abraham is apparently at some low point in his life, despite the fact that God is about to give him a son. Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Therefore, he resided temporarily in Gerar. And Abraham said, regarding Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Therefore, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, sent servants for Sarah and took her. As speculated above, perhaps he began to distrust the Lord, because he could see the destruction of Sodom with his own eyes.

 

Arthur Pink: As we have seen, it was stress of circumstances which revealed the state of Abraham's heart, as it is of ours. Though the wording of it might be improved, we thoroughly agree with the sentiment of a preacher who long ago said, "We possess no more religion than what we have in the time of trouble." It is comparatively easy to trust God while everything goes along pleasantly, but the time of disappointment, of loss, of persecution, of bereavement, is the time of testing; and then how often we fail! Here is where the Lord Jesus is in such striking contrast from all others. Stress of circumstances only served to display the perfections of His heart. When He was a hungered, and tempted by Satan to make bread to supply His own need, He lived by every word of God. When He sat by the well, worn with His journey, He was not too weary to speak words of grace and life to the poor Samaritan woman. When the cities in which His mightiest works had been done rejected His message, He meekly submitted, saying "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in Your sight" (Matthew 11:23-26). When He was reviled, He reviled not again. And in the supreme crisis, on the cross, His perfections were fully displayed- praying for the forgiveness of His enemies, speaking the word of acceptance to the repentant thief, making provision for His widowed mother, yielding up His spirit into the hands of the Father.


We see over and over again, the imperfections of the great saints. Here it is Abraham; soon it will be Isaac and Jacob. But our Lord has no such imperfections. But despite Abraham’s shortcoming, God has given him a firm timetable for the birth of Isaac, and God will always keep His Word, regardless of how unfaithful we are.

 

Rev. Bruce Goettsche writes: Have you ever had someone tell you that all Christians are hypocrites because of their inconsistency? They hear us proclaim a love of holiness but they also see us sin. A Christian stumbles and all the world seems to point their finger at them. This shows that there is an inherent misunderstanding of grace and discipleship. He then adds: Grace is given to us not because we are good but because God is gracious and good even though we are not. In fact, one of the prerequisites of salvation is a confession that we are helpless to save ourselves. Before we can be "saved" we have to confess that we are sinners. When we do this and receive the gift of life that comes from the Lord we are made clean before the Lord . . . sin's penalty is taken care of. . . however, sin's power and influence continues to pursue us. Old habits die hard . . . very hard. Then Goettsche quotes Paul in Romans 7:16-25 (NLT) I know I am rotten through and through so far as my old sinful nature is concerned. No matter which way I turn, I can't make myself do right. I want to, but I can't. When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. But if I am doing what I don't want to do, I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it. It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another law at work within me that is at war with my mind. This law wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


What we read so far in Gen. 20:1–2 is quite problematic. God has just promised Abraham, within the past month or so, that Abraham would father a child at age 100.

Alan Carr: Sin Cannot Derail God's Plan

1.      When Abraham left the promised land to enter Gerar, he [appears to have] placed the plan of God in jeopardy. You see, God had promised to send the promised seed within a year, Gen. 18:10-14. Abraham showed very poor judgment! If Abimelech had been allowed to sleep with Sarah, it could have short-circuited God's plan. Of course, the Scriptures tell us that God prevented anything like that from taking place!

2.      Another problem is the fact that Abraham is...[a] representative of God Almighty, v. 7. He has been commissioned to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Instead of being a blessing and a witness for God, Abraham's life could have been a hindrance to prevent Abimelech from coming to God. However, in spite of Abraham's sin, God spoke to Abimelech and dealt with him anyway, v. 6-7.

3.      Regardless of what we do, God's plan will be accomplished! For too long, preachers have tried to keep the people of God in line by using fear tactics against them. the saints have been told to live right or God can't bless, He can't work and He can't save souls. Many have been told that they have sent others to Hell by the lifestyles they live. Well, I just want to set the record straight this evening! You cannot hinder God from doing His work! You might miss out on the blessing of being a part of what He is doing, but God will accomplish His will in the church and in the world whether we cooperate or not!

4.      And, another thing, you cannot "send anyone to Hell". Men go to hell when they refuse to receive Christ as their Savior and nothing you or I do can cause them to do that or prevent them from doing that! That may not be what you have heard all your life, but it is still the truth! Our job is to warn them and to live right before them, but the decision they make in the end in their's and their's alone, Eze. 3:18!

5.      Did you know that Abraham's sin should have shamed Abraham? But there is no indication that he ever acknowledged it or repented of it! Much like many in our world today! But, think about this: Abraham's sin was used as testimony to the greatness of God. Abimelech would have never known that God was a God of mercy, grace, forgiveness and restoration if that old saint had never fallen into sin! But, because he did, God was able to demonstrate His power through forgiving and restoring Abraham by grace. (Note: This is not an excuse for sinning! It is just a reminder that our sin will not stop God from saving folks. People need to know that our God is a God Who saves and keeps through grace not works!)

6.      [Despite Abraham’s failure here, he will still sire Isaac in the next chapter.]

From http://www.sermonnotebook.org/old%20testament/Gen%2020_1-18.htm accessed August 28, 2014 (edited).


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Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


God Warns Abimelech of His Sin


And so comes Elohim unto Abimelech in a dream the night and so He says to him, “Behold you—dying upon the woman whom you took. And she is married of a lord.”

Genesis

20:3

Then Elohim came unto Abimelech in a dream that night and He said to him, “Listen, you will perish because of the woman whom you have taken, since she is married to a husband.”

Then God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and said to him, “Listen, you will die because of the woman you took, since she is already married.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so comes Elohim unto Abimelech in a dream the night and so He says to him, “Behold you—dying upon the woman whom you took. And she is married of a lord.”

Targum of Onkelos                And a word came from before the Lord unto Abimelek, in a dream of the night, and said to him, Behold, you die, because of the woman whom you have carried away, and she a man’s wife.

Latin Vulgate                          And God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and he said to him: Lo you will die for the woman that you have taken: for she has a husband.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    But God came to Abimeleck in a dream by night and said to him, Behold, you will die on account of the woman whom you have taken; for she is another man's wife.

Septuagint (Greek)                And God came to Abimelech by night in his sleep, and said, Behold, you'll die for the woman whom you have taken, for she has lived with a husband.

 

Significant differences:           None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       But God came to Abimelech in a dream and said, "You have taken a married woman, and for this you will die!"

Easy-to-Read Version            But one night, God spoke to Abimelech in a dream. God said, “You will die. That woman you took is married.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         One night God appeared to him in a dream and said, "You are going to die, because you have taken this woman; she is already married."

The Message                         But God came to Abimelech in a dream that night and told him, "You're as good as dead--that woman you took, she's a married woman."

New Berkeley Version           But in a dream by night God came to Abimelech and said to him: Tanke notice! You are about to die because of the woman you have taken; for she has a husband.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          But God came to AbiMelech at night in a dream and told him: 'Look; You're going to die because of this woman you've taken, because she [already has] a husband!'

Ancient Roots Translinear      But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "You will die here over the woman you took. She married a master."

Beck’s American Translation But in a dream one night God came to Abimelech. “You will die,” He told him, “because you took that woman. She is a man’s wife.”

God’s Word                         God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You're going to die because of the woman that you've taken! She's a married woman!"

New Jerusalem Bible             But God visited Abimelech in a dream one night. 'You are to die,' he told him, 'because of the woman you have taken, for she is a married woman.'


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Conservapedia                       But God came to Abimelech in a dream that night, and told him, "Look, you're as good as dead, on account of the woman you thought to marry, because she belongs to someone else."

The Expanded Bible              But one night God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and said, "You will die. The woman you took is married."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 God, however, came to Abimelech in a dream at night, and said, “Beware of death because of this woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”

HCSB                                     But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is a married woman."

New Advent Bible                  And God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and he said to him: Lo you shall die for the woman that you have taken: for she has a husband.

NET Bible®                             But God appeared [Heb "came."] to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, "You are as good as dead [Heb "Look, you [are] dead." The Hebrew construction uses the particle hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY] with a second person pronominal particle hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY] with by the participle. It is a highly rhetorical expression.] because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else's wife [Heb "and she is owned by an owner." The disjunctive clause is causal or explanatory in this case]."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           But God came to Avimelekh in a dream one night and said to him, "You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, since she is someone's wife."

exeGeses companion Bible   ...and Elohim comes to Abi Melech

in a dream by night and says to him,

Behold, you die;

for the woman you take is married to a master.

Kaplan Translation                 God came to Abimelekh in a dream that night. 'You will die because of the woman you took,' He said, 'She is already married.'

Judaica Press Complete T.    And God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and He said to him, "Behold you are going to die because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a married woman."


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said, Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken [as your own], for she is a man's wife.

Concordant Literal Version    And coming is the Elohim to Abimelech in a dream in the night, and is saying to him, "Behold yourself dying on account of the woman whom you take, when she is possessed by a possessor.

Context Group Version          But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, Look, you are but a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man's woman { or wife }.

English Revised Version        But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."

Heritage Bible                        And God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, you are about to die over the woman whom you have taken, and she being married to a lord.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. God prevents the greater sin which might have happened as a result of Abraham's weakness. Appearing to Abimelech in a dream by night, a form of communication which He often adopted, the Lord told him: Behold, thou art destined to die. Sarah was not free to be married: she was literally under her husband as the head of the household: she was a married woman.

New King James Version       But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, "Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife."

Syndein                                  {Disillusion, Degradation, Decoration - Verse 3-13 - Decoration}

Elohiym/Godhead kept on coming to Abimelech in a dream by night, and kept on saying to him, "Behold, you . . . {are} a dead man, for the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man's wife."

Young’s Updated LT             And God comes in unto Abimelech in a dream of the night, and says to him, “Lo, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken—and she married to a husband.”

 

The gist of this verse:          God comes to King Abimelech in a dream at night and warn him that he will die because he took Sarah because she is a married woman.


Genesis 20:3a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

bôwʾ (בּוֹא) [pronounced boh]

to come in, to come, to go in, to go, to enter, to advance

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #935 BDB #97

ʾĚlôhîym (אלֹהִים) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

God; gods, foreign gods, god; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun

Strong's #430 BDB #43

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to, in respect to; because of; according to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); expanded meanings given

Strong's #413 BDB #39

ʾĂbiymeleke (אֲבִימֶלֶךְ) [pronounced ub-vee-MEH-lek]

my father is Melek, my father is king; transliterated Abimelech

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #40 BDB #4

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

chălôwm (חָלוֹם) [pronounced khuh-LOHM]

dream

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #2472 BDB #321

layelâh (לַיְלָה) [pronounced LAY-law]

night; that night, this night, the night

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #3915 BDB #538


Translation: Then Elohim came unto Abimelech in a dream that night... Abimelech has taken this woman, and God has promised Abraham that God’s promises would be fulfilled in Sarah. There is this dependence upon the woman in order to fulfill God’s plan. Abraham cannot simply sire a child by any woman.


It is clear from this verse that God spoke to people in their dreams and it is unclear whether Abimelech (which is probably a title for a king, like Pharaoh, rather than a proper name) is a believer or not, however, he will believe in Yahweh during this dream.


There is somewhat of a hierarchy that ought to be noted. God came to Abraham on several occasions and spoke to him directly. God spoke to Hagar, when she ran away, directly; and when she and her son were suffering from great thirst. However, God did not speak to Lot directly, but sent to angels instead. Here, God speaks to Abimelech in a dream (which is also how God will speak to Jacob sometime later).


Some commentators make a big deal out of Elohim speaking to Abimelech here (and in dreams to other gentiles), and that only Yehowah (by name) speaks to Jews and those who are saved. Even if that turns out to be the general case, Abimelech clearly believes God in this dream—he clearly believes that God will destroy him and his family. His cabinet is equally concerned. Therefore, at the bare minimum, Abimelech become a believer at the time of this dream; and it is clear that he acts upon his belief that Elohim will harm him if he does not act.

All passages below are the ESV capitalized.

The 20 (or so) Dreams of Scripture

Scripture

Text/Commentary

Gen. 20:3–5 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife." Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this."

Abimelech has taken Abraham’s wife to be his wife, after Abraham and Sarah both assured Abimelech that she was only Abraham’s sister.


At some point in time—and this may have been a week or three later—God comes to Abimelech in a dream and warns him that he is a dead man for taking Abraham’s wife.

Gen. 20:6–7 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours."

Abimelech protests his innocence, although God says that He kept Abimelech from sinning. We later find out that Abimelech had been ill, and it is likely that he did not touch Sarah because of his illness.


God makes it clear that Abimelech must release Sarah back to Abraham, and then to ask Abraham to pray on his behalf, in order to save him from death.

Gen. 28:10–12 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!

Jacob, after stealing Esau’s blessing, was told by his mother Rebekah that he had better leave because his brother Esau was mad enough to kill him. Since Rebekah was in on this ruse to deceive his father, she could not appear as though she is helping Jacob to leave their compound because of Esau. So the cover story was, Jacob was going back east to marry a woman from his own people.


Then Jacob has this marvelous dream!

Gen. 28:13–16 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

Yehowah stood above the escalator/staircase, identifies Himself, and gives Jacob his real blessing (the blessing which he receive from his father Isaac, despite the deception, was real). God essentially confirms that blessing.


Jacob did not have a close relationship with God (nor did his father Isaac), but God promised to stay with him and bring him back to the Land of Promise.

Gen. 28:17–18 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven." So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.

Jacob awakes from this dream, and is amazed that God spoke to him at this place. He calls this the house of God and the gate of heaven.


He set up the stone where he lay his head as a marker for that place. Pouring oil upon it was a response to God.

Gen. 31:4–10 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, "I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, 'The spotted shall be your wages,' then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, 'The striped shall be your wages,' then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me. In the breeding season of the flock I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream that the goats that mated with the flock were striped, spotted, and mottled.

Laban clearly was looking to cheat Jacob. Whenever they decided that spotted animals would be Jacob’s wages, then the herd would produce spotted animals. Laban did not like that, so he would change the deal to striped animals, and then the flock would produce striped animals.


Because of Laban’s dishonest business practices, God honored Jacob and honest wages for him.


Jacob also saw the goats mating with the flock in a dream, and those goats were striped, spotted or mottled. What this means is, they carried the genes within them to produce striped, spotted or mottled offspring, even though they did not appear that way on the outside.

Gen. 31:11–13 Then the Angel of God said to me in the dream, 'Jacob,' and I said, 'Here I am!' And He said, 'Lift up your eyes and see, all the goats that mate with the flock are striped, spotted, and mottled, for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me. Now arise, go out from this land and return to the land of your kindred.'"

God had promised Jacob that He would be with him and so He was, making certain that Jacob received fair wages for his work.


Then God told Jacob that it was time to return to the Land of Promise.

I don’t know the significance (if any) that in the first dream, Yehowah stands before Jacob and speaks to him. In the second dream the Angel of God spoke to him. They should be equivalent.

Gen. 31:22–24 When it was told Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled, he took his kinsmen with him and pursued him for seven days and followed close after him into the hill country of Gilead. But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, "Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad." (Narrative continued below)

Laban realizes that Jacob has fled with his wives, with his wages, and he pursues Jacob for 7 days. At some point in time, God comes to Laban and warns him not to say anything good or bad to Jacob.


It was God’s will for Jacob to return to Canaan; therefore, Laban was to do nothing to convince Jacob to remain in Padan-aram.

Gen. 31:25–29 And Laban overtook Jacob. Now Jacob had pitched his tent in the hill country, and Laban with his kinsmen pitched tents in the hill country of Gilead. And Laban said to Jacob, "What have you done, that you have tricked me and driven away my daughters like captives of the sword? Why did you flee secretly and trick me, and did not tell me, so that I might have sent you away with mirth and songs, with tambourine and lyre? And why did you not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters farewell? Now you have done foolishly. It is in my power to do you harm. But the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, 'Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.'

Laban is upset over what has happened, but also realizes that, because God came to him, not only culd he not judge Jacob, but he could not harm him either.


What he does have a right to be concerned about is being able to say goodbye to his daughters and grandchildren.

Gen. 37:5–8 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, "Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf." His brothers said to him, "Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Joseph, the second youngest son of Jacob, and Jacob’s favorite son, has a dream and fells his brothers what the dream represents, which is, they, his older brothers, would bow down to him.


His brothers hated him for this dream; but it did foretell the future. Joseph would become prime minister of Egypt, and his brothers would come to him for grain during the time of a drought.

Gen. 37:9–11 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, "Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me." But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?" And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

There was another dream that Joseph had when not only his brothers bowed before him, but his father and his wives as well.

Gen. 40:5–11 And one night they both dreamed--the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison--each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh's officers who were with him in custody in his master's house, "Why are your faces downcast today?" They said to him, "We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them."

Joseph finds himself imprisoned with two high officials of the Pharaoh. Both of these men have dreams, and they would like or their dreams to be interpreted.

Gen. 40:5–11 And Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me." So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, "In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand."

Joseph says that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God. He listens to the dream of the chief cupbearer first.


The chief cupbearer is the man in charge of whispering into the pharaoh’s ear, telling him who each person is that he is meeting.

Gen. 40:12–15 Then Joseph said to him, "This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh's cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit."

Joseph tells him that, in three days, he will both be released and restored to his position of power.


Then Joseph makes a mistake. He depends upon this man for freedom. He tells the chief cupbearer—a man whose charge it is to remember the names, faces and bios of all the people to come into contact with the pharaoh—to remember him. Rather than depend upon God, Joseph depends upon man. The chief cupbearer will forget about Joseph.

Gen 40:16–20 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, "I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head." And Joseph answered and said, "This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head--from you!--and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you." On the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.

The chief baker liked the interpretation that Joseph gave to the chief cupbearer, so he tells Joseph his dream. Joseph tells him that he will be beheaded.


What Joseph said would happen to the chief baker did.

Gen. 40:21–22 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.

These verses just give us the summation, that, what Joseph interpreted came to pass.

Gen. 41:1–4 After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke.

The Pharaoh has a dream, where there are 7 fat and plump cows, and then 7 ugly and thin cows emerge from the Nile and they eat the plump cows.

Gen. 41:5–8 And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. So in the morning his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was none who could interpret them to Pharaoh.

The Pharaoh has a very similar dream, but with ears of corn. He calls in his various people to interpret the dreams, but they cannot help him.


At this point, the chief cupbearer will suddenly remember Joseph, and he will be fetched from prison, and he will give the proper interpretation of his dreams to Pharaoh.

Judges 7:13–15 When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, "Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat." And his comrade answered, "This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp." As soon as Gideon heard the telling of the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped. And he returned to the camp of Israel and said, "Arise, for the LORD has given the host of Midian into your hand."

 

1Kings 3:4–5 And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, "Ask what I shall give you."

 

1Kings 3:6–9 And Solomon said, "You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?"

 

1Kings 3:10–14 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, "Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days."

 

1Kings 3:15 And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.

 

Job 4:12–20 [Eliphaz the Temanite is speaking to Job] "Now a word was brought to me stealthily; my ear received the whisper of it. Amid thoughts from visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, dread came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones shake. A spirit glided past my face; the hair of my flesh stood up. It stood still, but I could not discern its appearance. A form was before my eyes; there was silence, then I heard a voice: 'Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker? Even in his servants he puts no trust, and his angels he charges with error; how much more those who dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, who are crushed like the moth. Between morning and evening they are beaten to pieces; they perish forever without anyone regarding it.

 

Job 33:13–18 Why do you contend against him, saying, 'He will answer none of man's words'? For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not perceive it. In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then he opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings, that he may turn man aside from his deed and conceal pride from a man; he keeps back his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword.

 

Job 33:19–28 "Man is also rebuked with pain on his bed and with continual strife in his bones, so that his life loathes bread, and his appetite the choicest food. His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says, 'Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor'; then man prays to God, and he accepts him; he sees his face with a shout of joy, and he restores to man his righteousness. He sings before men and says: 'I sinned and perverted what was right, and it was not repaid to me. He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.'

 

Job 33:29–30 "Behold, God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit, that he may be lighted with the light of life.

 

Daniel 2:1–2 In the second year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his spirit was troubled, and his sleep left him. Then the king commanded that the magicians, the enchanters, the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans be summoned to tell the king his dreams. So they came in and stood before the king.

 

Daniel 2:3–4 And the king said to them, "I had a dream, and my spirit is troubled to know the dream." Then the Chaldeans said to the king in Aramaic, "O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation."

 

Daniel 2:5–7 The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, "The word from me is firm: if you do not make known to me the dream and its interpretation, you shall be torn limb from limb, and your houses shall be laid in ruins. But if you show the dream and its interpretation, you shall receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. Therefore show me the dream and its interpretation." They answered a second time and said, "Let the king tell his servants the dream, and we will show its interpretation."

 

Daniel 2:8–9 The king answered and said, "I know with certainty that you are trying to gain time, because you see that the word from me is firm--if you do not make the dream known to me, there is but one sentence for you. You have agreed to speak lying and corrupt words before me till the times change. Therefore tell me the dream, and I shall know that you can show me its interpretation."

 

Daniel 2:10–11 The Chaldeans answered the king and said, "There is not a man on earth who can meet the king's demand, for no great and powerful king has asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or Chaldean. The thing that the king asks is difficult, and no one can show it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh."

 

Daniel 4:1–3 King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me. How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation.

 

Daniel 4:4–7 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at ease in my house and prospering in my palace. I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. So I made a decree that all the wise men of Babylon should be brought before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. Then the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the astrologers came in, and I told them the dream, but they could not make known to me its interpretation.

 

Daniel 7:1–6 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head as he lay in his bed. Then he wrote down the dream and told the sum of the matter. Daniel declared, "I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea. And four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another. The first was like a lion and had eagles' wings. Then as I looked its wings were plucked off, and it was lifted up from the ground and made to stand on two feet like a man, and the mind of a man was given to it. And behold, another beast, a second one, like a bear. It was raised up on one side. It had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and it was told, 'Arise, devour much flesh.' After this I looked, and behold, another, like a leopard, with four wings of a bird on its back. And the beast had four heads, and dominion was given to it.

 

Dan 7:7–8 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another horn, a little one, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots. And behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

 

Daniel 7:9–12 "As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened. "I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. And as I looked, the beast was killed, and its body destroyed and given over to be burned with fire. As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

 

Daniel 7:13–14 "I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

 

Daniel 7:15–19 "As for me, Daniel, my spirit within me was anxious, and the visions of my head alarmed me. I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things. 'These four great beasts are four kings who shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever.'

 

Daniel 7:19–22 "Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn that came up and before which three of them fell, the horn that had eyes and a mouth that spoke great things, and that seemed greater than its companions. As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them, until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

 

Daniel 7:23–25 "Thus he said: 'As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces. As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise, and another shall arise after them; he shall be different from the former ones, and shall put down three kings. He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time.

 

Daniel 7:26–27 But the court shall sit in judgment, and his dominion shall be taken away, to be consumed and destroyed to the end. And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them.'

 

Daniel 7:28 "Here is the end of the matter. As for me, Daniel, my thoughts greatly alarmed me, and my color changed, but I kept the matter in my heart."

 

Matt. 1:19–23 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).

Matt. 1:24–25 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matt. 2:7–12 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him." After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

 

Matt. 2:19–23 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled: "He shall be called a Nazarene."

 

Matt. 27:15–19 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream."

Matt. 27:20–24 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified!" And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified!" So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves."

I need to come back at a later date and fill in some details and include some explanations.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Genesis 20:3b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY]

lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, note, take note; pay attention, get this, check this out

interjection, demonstrative particle with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

dying, perishing; one who is dying [perishing]

masculine singular, Qal active participle

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: ...and He said to him, “Listen, you will perish... In the Old Testament, God appeared to specific individuals from time to time for specific reasons. God’s promises would be fulfilled by means of Sarah, so that she cannot have relations with another man. God warns Abimelech that he is about to die.


God’s plan depends upon Abraham and Sarah having a son—and that this line would lead to the Savior, Jesus Christ. So, no one is going to stand in the way of this genealogical line. Abimelech may have no idea what he is interfering with, but God will not allow His plan to come to a halt. As some have translated this, “Listen, you are a dead man!” That certainly caught Abimelech’s attention.


God told Abimelech that he was dying; so, simple question: why does he not die in this chapter?

The Bible Query on, why didn’t Abimelech die?

Q:     In Gen 20:3,6 why did God contradict say Abimelech was a dead man, yet Abimelech lived?

A:      God does not change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8). However, Ezekiel 33:12-20 shows that God’s revealed will towards people can change when they change.

See the discussion on Ex 33:5-6; Dt 20:17; Jer 15:6; Jon 3-4; Jon 3:10; and Jon 4:1-2 for more info.

Bible Query March 2006 version. Copyright (c) Christian Debater(tm) 1997-2006. Gen. 20:3. Accessed from e-sword.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Genesis 20:3c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʿal (עַל) [pronounced ģahl]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over; on the ground of, because of, according to, on account of, on behalf of, with, by, besides, in addition to, to, toward, together with, in the matter of, concerning, as regards to

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

ʾîshshâh (אִשָּה) [pronounced eesh-SHAW]

woman, wife

feminine singular noun with the definite article

Strong's #802 BDB #61

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced uh-SHER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

lâqach (לָקַח) [pronounced law-KAHKH]

to take, to take away, to take in marriage; to seize

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #3947 BDB #542


Translation: ...because of the woman whom you have taken,... The reason that Abimelech is about to die is the woman that he has taken, Sarah.


You will recall that there was a similar incident in Egypt with Abraham, Sarah and the ruler of Egypt.


Abraham is supposed to learn from experience and from doctrine. He failed before. Right now, having a son by Sarah is on the near horizon, and yet, Abraham reverts to human viewpoint and he makes the same mistake that he had made some 15 or so years ago.


We all apparently have weaknesses, and even when we are believers, we sometimes revert to those weaknesses. Abraham was strong in faith to agree to have himself be circumcised and all of the males with him. However, here, he returns to an old behavior pattern.


Genesis 20:3d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hîyʾ (הִיא) [pronounced hee]

she, it; also used as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person feminine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

bâʿal (בָּעַל) [pronounced baw-AHL]

married to, being subject to [a lord, a husband]; ruled over by, possessed by [a husband]; used primarily in relationship to a wife or mistress

feminine singular, Qal passive participle, construct form

Strong’s #1166 BDB #127

baʿal (בַּעַל) [pronounced BAH-ģahl]

owner, lord, husband; transliterated Baal when referencing the heathen god

masculine singular noun; pausal form

Strong's #1167 BDB #127


Translation: ...since she is married to a husband.” God, in this dream, points out to Abimelech, that Sarah is a married woman. She belongs to another man. Abimelech is clearly unaware of this fact. That God would say this to Abimelech certainly suggests that Abimelech understands that this is a moral problem. One man does not take another man’s wife. That is not right.


Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and He said to Abimelech, “Listen, you are about to die, for the woman whom you have taken; for she is a man's wife.”


It is interesting that God speaks to Abimelech in a dream. This would suggest that (1) Abimelech is a believer in Jehovah Elohim and (2) God is threatening him here with the sin unto death (the sin unto death is where God removes a believer from this life—usually for persistent sin or reversionism; however, sometimes, the sin unto death is used to make an example or an important point, as in Acts 5).


Usually, when there is a doctrine out there which covers the topic, I defer to that doctrine; however, there are at least 3 sources out there, which, individually, present an incomplete picture. Therefore, I have taken their material and put it together below. However, almost none of the doctrine below is original with me.

Doctrine of The Sin Unto Death

1.      Introduction and definition

         1)      The phrase "sin unto death" describes the final stage of divine discipline in which God removes from the earth the person who is totally alienated from God. The "sin unto death" is not a particular sin; but it is, rather, a mental attitude of total indifference to and rebellion against the will and purpose of God.

         2)      The spiritual condition of the person who comes under the "sin unto death" is characterized by continual and maximum carnality (remaining out of fellowship); and this punishment represents God's final step of chastisement to those who are in maximum alienation from God. Only God can discern the true nature of a person's mind, attitude, or volition; and only God knows whether a person is actually implacable and deserving of physical death.

         3)      The "sin unto death" is described as a principle in 1John 5:16 Psalm 118:17,18 Ezek. 18:21-32.

         4)      The sin unto death is not a particular sin nor is it a list of sins.

         5)      There are definite characteristics by which to recognize the conditions which lead to God's applying the "sin unto death":

                  (1)     A persistent, unconfessed sin.

                  (2)     Sin which continues unchecked with no repentance, may bring a person under this category.

                  (3)     The person who persistently ignores Grace, warnings, and discipline may come under the "sin unto death." Lev. 26.

                  (4)     Sin which has a maximum adverse effect on other people (causing stumbling) may lead a person into severe discipline, even to the sin unto death.

2.      Illustrations

         1)      Illustrations of the Sin Unto Death.

                  (1)     Gen X of the Exodus generation. They are described in Num. 14:26–30 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, "How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, 'As I live, declares the LORD, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.’ ” See also Num. 14:20–23, 33 Joshua 5:6 Heb. 3:7–11

                  (2)     Nadab and Abihu. Their lines were ended, and Eleazar was not commanded to provide for their lines to be preserved. Lev. 10:1-2 1Chr. 24:1-2

                  (3)     Eli and his sons. 1Sam. 2:12-17,22-36 3:1-21 4:4-18

                  (4)     Saul and his sons. 1Sam. 15:10-35; 31:1-7 1Chr. 10:13-14

                  (5)     Ananias and Saphira. Acts 5:1-11

                  (6)     Hymenaeus and Alexander. 1Tim. 1:20

         2)      Illustrations of the Sin Unto Death judgment being stayed.

                  (1)     David’s almost dying the sin unto death. 2Sam. 12:13

                  (2)     Hezekiah’s close call. 2Kgs. 20:1-11; Isa. 38:1-22

                  (3)     The Corinthian man who committed incest. 1Cor. 5:5 2Cor. 2:6-11

         3)      Illustrations of the Sin Unto Death judgment being stayed, then reinstated.

                  (1)     Moses’ deferment (Ex. 4:24) and later judgment (Deut. 32:48-52).

                  (2)     Balaam’s deferment (Num. 22:31) and later judgment (Num. 31:8).

3.      Suffering the sin unto death does not mean a loss of salvation. With regards to the incestuous believer in Corinth, Paul wrote: You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1Cor. 5:5). Our salvation is dependent upon Jesus Christ and His death on the cross for our sins. It is not dependent upon the sort of life we lead post-salvation. If you can lose your salvation after God has saved you, then your salvation is dependent upon you. Our salvation is a matter of faith alone in Christ alone; and once we have believed in Jesus Christ, we cannot lose the eternal life which God grants us. John 5:24 Point of fact: I say to you, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. 2Tim. 2:13 if we are faithless, He [yet] remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

4.      There are at least nine descriptive terms for the Sin unto Death in the Bible.

         1)      Delivered over to Satan (1Cor.5:5 1Tim.1:20 Phil.3:19).

         2)      Carcasses falling (Heb.3:17; 1 Cor.10:5; Num.14:29).

         3)      Given over to death (Psalm118:18).

         4)      Taken away (John 15:2 Acts 5:1-11).

         5)      Swift destruction (2Peter 2:1, 12).

         6)      Destroyed by the Destroyer (1Cor.10:10 Jude 5).

         7)      Crawling out a burning house with clothes on fire (Jude 23)

         8)      Premature death (Eph.6:1-4 Ex.20:12 Deut.5:16)

         9)      Sleep (euphemism for death of believer) (1Cor.11:27-32/ Eucharist/ 11:30)

5.      There are sins which are not "unto death."

         1)      First of all, there is a sin not unto death (ἁμαρτάνοντα ἁμαρτίαν μὴ πρὸς θάνατον). 1John 5:16–17

                  (1)     The context is a confident prayer ministry based upon our life in Christ. 1John 5:13-15

                  (2)     Intercessory prayer is prescribed for brothers sinning non-leading-to-death sin.

                  (3)     We should never request that any brother is subject to the sin unto death.  Such a request is an ἐρωτάω request (1John 5:16b) rather than an αἰτέω request (1John 5:14–16a).

         2)      A sin which is confessed is not "unto death." God does not discipline us with the sin unto death for a forgiven sin. 1John 1:9 1Cor. 11:31 Psalm 32:5 38

         3)      A sin which is discontinued is not "unto death." Heb. 12:1 Ezek. 18:21-32

         4)      The person who responds positively to divine discipline is not involved in the "sin unto death." Heb. 12:6, 11-15

         5)      The antithesis of death as a purpose-consequence is the glory of God purpose-consequence. John 11:4

                  (1)     Unrepentant, unconfessed sin results in operational death and premature physical death.

                  (2)     Confessed sin restores operational life and extends physical life with the purpose-consequence of God’s glory being achieved.

6.      So there is no fear that you might be suddenly subject to the sin unto death, there is a series of steps leading to that point. Heb. 12:5–11

         1)      Light discipline, called knocking in Heb. 12:5a Rev. 3:19–20 (which is a discipline passage, not a salvation passage, as it is too often incorrectly portrayed).

         2)      Heavy or severe discipline. Do not faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the lord loves He disciplines and He scourges every son whom He receives (Heb. 12:5b–6). Scourging certainly represents severe discipline.

         3)      Then the sin unto death.

         4)      There are exceptions to this, as we saw above with Ananias and Saphira. They were give a very short time to be honest and they chose not to be.

7.      Summary and conclusions

         1)      The OT and the NT provide multiple illustrations for the Sin Unto Death.

         2)      Illustrations are provided as warnings. 1Cor. 10:1-11

         3)      The bottom-line cause of Sin Unto Death is idolatry (which is placing something else over God in your scale of values). 1John 5:21

                  (1)     The case of "lying to the Holy Spirit" (Ananias and Sapphira). Acts 5:1-10. Ananias and Saphira pursued the idolatry of approbation-lust (Acts 5:1-11).

                  (2)     The case of persistent carnality while sitting at the Lord's Table. Defiling the Lord’s Supper is the idolatrous practice of eating the table of demons. 1Cor. 10:20-22 11:30–31

                  (3)     Apostasy is the idolatrous practice of living the teachings of demons. Rev. 2:20-24  1Tim. 4:1

                  (4)     The case of disobedience to the Word of God.. King Saul did not kill Agag although directly ordered to do so by God; he insisted on personally offering sacrifices in the place of divinely appointed priests; and he consulted a witch, itself a capital offense. 1Chron.10:13,14 1Sam. 13:9-14

                  (5)     The case of self-righteousness and dependence on man which was perpetuated (case of Hezekiah). Isa. 38

                  (6)     The case of apostasy on the part of a believer. Num. 31:8 1Tim. 1:19,20.

Sources:

http://www.realtime.net/~wdoud/topics/sindeath.html

http://gracebiblechurchwichita.org/?page_id=539

http://www.doctrinalstudies.com/pdf/D100105.pdf

These were all accessed February 11, 2013. However, L. S. Chafer taught the sin unto death briefly in his 8 volume set Systematic Theology (Vol. VII, p. 166); which doctrine was expanded upon considerably by R. B. Thieme, Jr. I believe that most of the doctrine above is ultimately original with Thieme.

Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and He said to Abimelech, “Listen, you are about to die, for the woman whom you have taken; for she is a man's wife.”


How did Abimelech become a believer? We do not know, but there is evidence that not only Abimelech believed in Jehovah Elohim, but that many of his people believed as well. We do not know how people were evangelized prior to nation Israel; and we have only a few examples of geographical areas being evangelized after the establishment of nation Israel.


It is clear that the priest Melchizedek was a believer in the Revealed Lord, as we studied back in Gen. 14, and that he had a very active ministry which Abraham supported financially (Gen. 14:20 Heb. 7:4, 9–11). So Melchizedek was likely teaching about the Revealed Lord, the God of Creation; and, as I have suggested before, probably had the Scriptures up to his date and time (which is why Abraham was willing to accept his authority so easily).


This was also a period of time when the patriarchs Shem, Ham and Japheth were either still alive or only recently passed away. Many people would have known the Revealed Lord through them or through their sons (or through their sons’ sons)—all of whom were alive up until about this time in human history. So, even though we have already studied these ten generations going from Shem to Abraham, many of these people are still alive or only recently deceased. Therefore, many people of this era know of the Revealed Lord who destroyed the earth with a great flood and then, later, confounded the language of the people.


genesis207.gif

How Shem’s Lifetime Overlapped Abraham’s Lifetime

This chart is according to the Hebrew Bible. Recall that the Greek Septuagint has another generation in here of an additional 130 years (if memory serves). The entire chart is found at Church Ages.com. Accessed August 29, 2014.


We also know other things apart from the Bible concerning this time period. For several hundred years, there seemed to be an emphasis upon determining what sorts of laws man ought to be subject to. When men are with men in close proximity, what things are illegal and punishable by death; what things should be adjudicated in a court, etc. The idea was to rule over the most righteous country. This was important to men as cities began to flourish a few hundred years after the flood. Because there was a great migration and population explosion, mankind had to determine the best ways to deal with large groups of people in cities.


Many of us view rulers today with great suspicion and skepticism, which is generally justified. However, there are a handful of leaders today, and probably a larger percentage in the ancient world, who are concerned with having a righteous and just society, where that which is wrong is discouraged or punished, and that which is good is encouraged or rewarded. Presently, it appears as if the interest is, what kinds of sins can be legalized, regulated, and, most importantly, taxed? If taxing sin were the solution to our financial problems, then California and Nevada would be the two most fiscally solid states in the union. The two states which legalized marijuana usage (I write this in 2013) will find out that hard way that legal dope will cost the states far more than it will bring in revenue (in loss of productivity, increased welfare costs, crime, and traffic accidents). But I digress. My point was, organizing a society in a just and righteous way was important to the leaders of that day (Sodom and Gomorrah being glaring exceptions to this).


Being a righteous man heading a righteous nation was important to Abimelech. He, like most rulers of his day, placed a premium upon honesty.


So far, we have studied the first 3 verses of Gen. 20.


Genesis 20:1–3 Then Abraham set out from there toward the land of the Negev, and he stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Therefore, he was temporarily residing in Gerar. And Abraham said regarding Sarah his wife, “She [is] my sister.” Therefore, Abimelech the king of Gerar sent [for her] and he took Sarah. Then Elohim came unto Abimelech in a dream that night and He said to him, “Listen, you will perish because of the woman whom you have taken, since she is married to a husband.”


After the promise of having a son in the next year, and after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham and Sarah, who are ages 99 and 89 respectively, move southwest into the territory controlled by Philistines. Abraham uses deception again in order to protect himself (showing a lack of faith in God’s promises and His provision), and Abimelech, the Philistine king, takes Sarah as his own wife. However, God comes to Abimelech in a dream and threatens him with the sin unto death (which we studied in the previous lesson).


——————————


And Abimelech had not come near unto her and so he said, “My Adonai, a people also righteous You will kill?

Genesis

20:4

But Abimelech had not come near to her, so he said “My Adonai, will you also kill a righteous people?

Now Abimelech had not come near to her, so he said, “Lord, will you also kill a righteous people?


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And Abimelech had not come near unto her and so he said, “My Adonai, a people also righteous You will kill?”

Targum of Onkelos                But Abimelek had not come nigh to defile her; and he said, Lord, shall the son of a people who hath not sinned, and whom it is right to absolve in the judgment, be killed?

Latin Vulgate                          Now Abimelech had not touched her, and he said: Lord, will you slay a nation that is ignorant and just?

Peshitta (Syriac)                    But Abimeleck had not touched her; and he said, O LORD, wilt you slay an innocent people?

Septuagint (Greek)                But Abimelech had not touched her, and he said, Lord, will You destroy an ignorantly sinning and just nation?

 

Significant differences:           No dramatic differences; the targum language is more flowery.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Now Abimelech hadn't gone near her, and he said, "Lord, will you really put an innocent nation to death?

Contemporary English V.       Abimelech said to the Lord, "Don't kill me! I haven't slept with Sarah. Didn't they say they were brother and sister? I am completely innocent."

Easy English                          Now Abimelech had not touched Sarah. So he said, `*Lord, I cannot believe that you will kill an innocent nation,

Easy-to-Read Version            But Abimelech had not yet slept with Sarah. So Abimelech said, “Lord, I am not guilty. Would you kill an innocent person?

Good News Bible (TEV)         But Abimelech had not come near her, and he said, "Lord, I am innocent! Would you destroy me and my people?

The Message                         Now Abimelech had not yet slept with her, hadn't so much as touched her. He said, "Master, would you kill an innocent man?

New Berkeley Version           However, Abimelech had not touched her, and said, “O Lord, wilt Thou slay a plainly blameless people?

New Life Bible                        But Abimelech had not come near her. He said, "Lord, will You destroy a nation who is without blame?


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Well, AbiMelech hadn't touched her [yet], so he replied: 'Lord, would you destroy a righteous nation that has sinned in ignorance?

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abimelech never neared to her. He said, "Lord, will you also slay a righteous nation?

Christian Community Bible     But Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “My Lord, are you going to kill a pagan who acted with good intention?

God’s Word                         Abimelech hadn't come near her, so he asked, "Lord, will you destroy a nation even if it's innocent?

NIRV                                      But Abimelech hadn't gone near her. So he said, "Lord, will you destroy a nation that hasn't done anything wrong?

New Jerusalem Bible             Abimelech, however, had not gone near her; so he said, 'Lord, would you kill someone even if he is upright?

Revised English Bible            Abimelech, who had not gone near her protested, ‘Lord, will you destroy people who are innocent?


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, Lord, will you put to death an upright nation?

Conservapedia                       But Abimelech had not compromised her yet. So he said, "Lord, you're not going to kill innocent people over this, are you?"

The Expanded Bible              But Abimelech had not gone near Sarah, so he said, "Lord, would you ·destroy [Lkill; slay] an innocent nation?

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 But Abimelek had not made advances to her, so he replied, “My Lord, would you kill a just person?”

New Advent Bible                  Now Abimelech had not touched her, and he said: Lord, will you slay a nation that is ignorant and just?

NET Bible®                             Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, "Lord [The Hebrew term translated "Lord" here is ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY].], would you really slaughter an innocent nation? Apparently Abimelech assumes that God's judgment will fall on his entire nation. Some, finding the reference to a nation problematic, prefer to emend the text and read, "Would you really kill someone who is innocent?" See E. A. Speiser, Genesis (AB), 149.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abi Melech had not approached her:

and he says, Adonay,

slaughter you also a just goyim?

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               Now Abimelech had not approaches her. He said, “O Lord, will You slay people even though innocent?

Kaplan Translation                 Abimelekh had not come near her. He said, 'O Lord, will You even kill an innocent nation [The guilty nation was Sodom.]?


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                But Abimelech had not come near her, so he said, Lord, will you slay a people who are just and innocent?

Concordant Literal Version    And Abimelech comes not near to her. And saying is he, "Yahweh, a nation, moreover, unknowing and just, are you killing?

Context Group Version          Now Abimelech had not come near her. And he said, Lord, will you kill even a vindicated nation?

English Standard Version      Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, "Lord, will you kill an innocent people?

Heritage Bible                        And Abimelech had not come near her, and he said, Lord, will you even strike a righteous people fatally?

NASB                                     Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, "Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless [Lit righteous]?

Syndein                                  But Abimelech had not 'come near' her {no sexual relations or marriage here}. And he said, "'Adonay/Lord, will You slay also a righteous {tsaddiyq} nation?"

Updated Bible Version 2.11   Now Abimelech had not had any sex with her. And he said, Lord, will you slay even a righteous nation?

Young’s Updated LT             And Abimelech has not drawn near unto her, and he says, “Lord, also a righteous nation do you slay?

 

The gist of this verse:          Abimelech has not come close to Sarah, so he protests to God, asking if He would destroy an innocent nation.


Genesis 20:4a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʾĂbiymeleke (אֲבִימֶלֶךְ) [pronounced ub-vee-MEH-lek]

my father is Melek, my father is king; transliterated Abimelech

masculine singular proper noun

Strong’s #40 BDB #4

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

qârab (קָרַב) [pronounced kaw-RABV]

to come near, to approach, to draw near

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong #7126 BDB #897

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to, in respect to; because of; according to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); expanded meanings given; with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39


Translation: But Abimelech had not come near to her,... Although Abimelech had taken this woman as his wife, he had done nothing yet with her. He had not consummated his marriage with her.


Think about this for a moment—Abimelech has a new woman in his harem (however large or small that it is); and yet he has not consummated his marriage. Why would that be? Keil and Delitzsch suggest that he is ill, that God struck him ill, and that has kept him from going further regarding his marriage. In v. 17, Abraham prays to God and God heals Ahimelech. This would, therefore, suggest that Ahimelech was ill. Therefore, this all fits together in a reasonable way.


The word to draw near to is not used too much until we get to Exodus and Leviticus, and it is used in connection with drawing near to God by offering up an animal sacrifice to Him.


Genesis 20:4b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]

Lord (s), Master (s), my Lord (s), Sovereign; my lord [master]; can refer to the Trinity or to an intensification of the noun; transliterated Adonai, adonai

masculine plural noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #113 & #136 BDB #10

There are actually 3 forms of this word: ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; ʾădônay (אֲדֹנַי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY]; and ʾădônîy (אֲדֹנִי) [pronounced uh-doh-NEE].

This is a form of Strong’s #113, where there are three explanations given for the yodh ending: (1) this is a shortened form of the plural ending, usually written -îym (נִים) [pronounced eem], an older form of the pluralis excellentiæ (the plural of excellence), where God’s sovereignty and lordship are emphasized by the use of the plural; (2) this is the actual, but ancient, plural of the noun, which refers to the Trinity; or (3) this is the addition of the 1st person singular suffix, hence, my Lord (the long vowel point at the end would distinguish this from my lords).

There are points of grammar which speak to the options above, but not so that we may unequivocally choose between the three. (1) When we find ʾădônay (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAH] (note the difference of the vowel ending), it always means my lords. (2) Jehovah calls Himself ʾădônây (אֲדֹנָי) [pronounced uh-doh-NAY] in Job 28:28 Isa. 8:7; however, many of the Job manuscripts read Yehowah and 8 ancient Isaiah manuscripts read Yehowah instead. This suggests, that either ancient Scribes were confused about this form of Adonai or that they simply substituted Adonai for Yehowah, which was not an abnormal practice (in oral readings, the ancient Tetragrammaton was not spoken, but Lord was said instead). And even If every manuscript read Adonai, then we may also reasonably conclude that one member of the Trinity is addressing another member of the Trinity (although the idea of God saying my Lord would be theologically confusing, even if addressing another member of the Trinity; although Jesus did refer to God the Father as our Father).


Translation: ...so he said, “My Adonai,... God allows interaction between the people He has breathed life into and Himself. This suggests that Abimelech believes in Jehovah Elohim. He says, “My Adonai.” However, we do not here have His personal name (Yehowah). Nevertheless, this may be all that has been revealed to Abimelech.


In Ex. 6:3, God says: “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself fully known to them.” (NIV) This sounds as if God has not revealed His name Yehowah to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Quite obviously that opens up a whole can of worms that I do not want to get into right here.


Genesis 20:4c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hă (הֲ) [pronounced heh]

interrogative particle which acts almost like a piece of punctuation, like the upside-down question mark which begins a Spanish sentence. The verb to be may be implied. This can be used in an indirect interrogation and translated whether.

Strong’s #none BDB #209

gôwy (גּוֹי) [pronounced GOH-ee]

people, nation

masculine singular noun

Strong’s #1471 BDB #156

gam (גַם) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

tsaddîyq (צַדִּיק) [pronounced tsahd-DEEK]

just, righteous, justified, vindicated; absolute or perfect righteousness [if applied to God]

adjective, often used as a substantive

Strong’s #6662 BDB #843

hârag (הָרַג) [pronounced haw-RAHG]

to kill, to slay, to execute; to destroy, to ruin

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #2026 BDB #246


Translation: ...Will you also kill a righteous people? Apparently, people have obsessed over the word people or nation here. I think that we are dealing with a saying, an exaggeration. Abimelech has not consummated this false marriage; he has done nothing to harm this woman in any way. He simply asks God, “Would you destroy a righteous nation?” In other words, “You would kill me; would You also just destroy a righteous nation?”


Righteous people are the two familiar words tsaddîyq (צַדִּיק) [pronounced tsahd-DEEK] and gôwy (גּוֹי) [pronounced GOH-ee], the former meaning righteous or justified and the latter meaning nation, people, gentile or heathen. Abimelech understands adultery and the fact that it is wrong, even as a gentile.


Furthermore, he did nothing wrong to take this woman (despite already having a wife); and he has not gone into this woman either, so she remains untouched. This king seems to understand the issues here, indicating a very similar morality to Abraham’s.


Genesis 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her. And he said, “Lord, will You also kill a righteous nation?


God came to Abimelech in a dream, and Abimelech responded to God, “Lord, will you also destroy a righteous nation?” This would suggest that Abimelech ruled over a nation of believers; or, at the very least, those who adhered to the Laws of Divine Establishment (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). This would mean that, there had to be information both about the True God and about the laws of divine establishment available to Abimelech. Abimelech had responded to that information with faith in the Revealed Lord.


What seems to be the case is, Abimelech is aware of the destruction of Sodom. It was quite severe. And he would have known of the degeneracy there as well. So, it would make sense that he knew that God destroyed them for their degeneracy; and here, he is defending his own people.


Please note that God is not giving the land to Abraham right at this point in time. The Land of Promise will be given to Abraham’s descendants. The only portion that was filled with degenerates and needed to have been dealt with was Sodom and Gomorrah. However, the people of this land had not fallen into great degeneracy as a whole. In fact, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah staved off a wider destruction, because the cancer had been removed.


Somehow, Abraham received the Scriptures of God, and I suspect that they were given to him by Melchizedek (they would have likely have been communicated verbally). This is only a theory, and there is no Scripture to back this up. However, Melchizedek is clearly presented as a priest to God in Genesis; and Abraham, in his early life, is said to come from a background that was not ideal.


Now, if Melchizedek, amongst the Jebusites, had the truth of God and communed with Abraham as two believers might today, then there is no reason to suppose that Melchizedek is the only priest of God in Canaan. If a person has positive volition toward God, then God must take the gospel message to him. See the Doctrine of Heathenism (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).


One of the things which I missed in these lessons was the importance of Gen. 11:31 And Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan; and they went as far as Haran, and settled there. (NASB).


Now, pay close attention to the logic here. If Terah was simply moving his family to the west and just intended to stop at Haran (Charan), then there would be no reason to mention Canaan. However, there is the implication that the true destination was originally Canaan, but they stopped part way to Canaan in Haran (Charan). Further evidence of this is found in Acts 7:2–3 And Stephen said: "Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, 'Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you.' (ESV)


So, Abraham (Abram then) was told back in Ur to go to Canaan. He was also told to separate from his family. However, he moved with his family and they only got as far as Charan and then they stopped. God had clearly asked Abraham to separate from his family, which he was unwilling to do at first. So, despite the many meetings with God, Abraham did not start out doing exactly what God told him to do.


We will also find evidence in the Bible that some in his family were (or became) idolaters (or became idolaters) and turned away from the Revealed Lord.


My point in all of this is, it was not yet time for Abraham to take Canaan. The people of this land were not completely degenerate (apart from Sodom and Gomorrah). This king is a perfect example of a man who believed in the Revealed Lord (and therefore was saved) and it will become clear that his nation is righteous as well.


Not only does Abimelech believe in the Revealed God, but so do members of his cabinet. They will become fearful because of his dream. Notice that they will not say, “Look, Abimelech, it was a dream—nothing more, nothing less. Don’t give it a second thought.” Instead, they are fearful. So he believes in the Revealed God and so do his advisors.


Abimelech will continue to defend his actions before God in his dream:


——————————


Had not he himself say to me, ‘My sister, she.’ And she also, she herself said, ‘My brother, he.’ In integrity of my heart and in and in innocence of my palm, I did this.”

Genesis

20:5

Did he himself not say to me, ‘She [is] my sister’? Furthermore, she also said, herself, ‘He [is] my brother.’ [Therefore] I did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of my heart and in the innocence of my hands.”

Didn’t he himself tell me, ‘She is my sister’? Didn’t she herself tell me, ‘He is my brother.’ Therefore, I did this with the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        Had not he himself say to me, ‘My sister, she.’ And she also, she herself said, ‘My brother, he.’ In integrity of my heart and in and in innocence of my palm, I did this.”

Targum of Onkelos                Did he not tell me, She is my sister? and did not she also say, He is my brother? In the truthfulness of my heart and the innocency of my hands have I done this.

Latin Vulgate                          Did not he say to me: She is my sister: and she say, He is my brother? in the simplicity of my heart, and cleanness of my hands have I done this.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Behold, he said, She is my sister; and she herself also said, He is my brother; in the innocence of my heart and purity of my hands have I done this.

Septuagint (Greek)                Did he not say to me, She is my sister, and she, even she herself said, He is my brother? With a pure heart and in the righteousness of my hands have I done this.

 

Significant differences:           None.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           Didn't he say to me, `She's my sister,' and didn't she-even she-say, `He's my brother'? My intentions were pure, and I acted innocently when I did this."

Easy-to-Read Version            Abraham himself told me, ‘This woman is my sister.’ And the woman also said, ‘This man is my brother.’ I am innocent. I did not know what I was doing.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         Abraham himself said that she was his sister, and she said the same thing. I did this with a clear conscience, and I have done no wrong."

The Message                         Didn't he tell me, 'She's my sister'? And didn't she herself say, 'He's my brother'? I had no idea I was doing anything wrong when I did this."

New Berkeley Version           Did he not tell me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this from an honest heart and with clean hands.”

New Century Version             Abraham said to me, "She is my sister." Sarah too said, "He is my brother." So I took her into my house. I did not know that it was wrong.’

New Life Bible                        Did the man not tell me, 'She is my sister'? And she, even she herself said, 'He is my brother.' I have done this with a heart of honor and with hands that are not guilty.

New Living Translation           Didn't Abraham tell me, `She is my sister'? And she herself said, `Yes, he is my brother.' I acted in complete innocence! My hands are clean."


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

Beck’s American Translation Didn’t he tell me, ‘She’s my sister,’ and didn’t she say, ‘He’s my brother’? My conscience was clear and my hands were clean when I did this.”

God’s Word                         Didn't he tell me himself, 'She's my sister,' and didn't she even say, 'He's my brother'? I did this in all innocence and with a clear conscience."

New American Bible              Was he not the one who told me, `She is my sister'? She herself also stated, `He is my brother.' I acted with pure heart and with clean hands."

NIRV                                      Didn't Abraham say to me, 'She's my sister'? And didn't she also say, 'He's my brother'? I had no idea I was doing anything wrong. I'm not guilty."

New Simplified Bible              »Abraham said that she was his sister. She said the same thing. I did this with a clear conscience. I have done no wrong!«

Revised English Bible            He told me himself that she was his sister, and she also said that he was her brother. It was in good faith and in all innocence that I did this.’


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             Did he not say to me himself, She is my sister? and she herself said, He is my brother: with an upright heart and clean hands have I done this.

Conservapedia                       "He told me, 'She is my sister.' Besides, she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In all this I have acted with a sincere heart and innocent hands."

The Expanded Bible              Abraham himself told [LDid he not tell.?] me, `This woman is my sister,' and ·she also said [Ldid she not also say.?], `He is my brother.' I ·am innocent and did not know I was doing anything wrong [Ldid this with a pure conscience/blameless heart and innocent hands]."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Has not this man said to me, ‘She is my sister?’ And did not she herself say to me, ‘He is my brother?’ In the honesty of my heart, and the innocence of my hand, I have done this.”

New Advent Bible                  Did not he say to me: She is my sister: and she say, He is my brother? In the simplicity of my heart, and cleanness of my hands have I done this.

NET Bible®                             Did Abraham [Heb "he"; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity] not say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said [Heb "and she, even she."], 'He is my brother.' I have done this with a clear conscience [Heb "with the integrity of my heart."] and with innocent hands [Heb "with the integrity of your heart."]!"

NIV – UK                                Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, 'He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

Complete Jewish Bible           Didn't he himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And even she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In doing this, my heart has been pure and my hands innocent."

Kaplan Translation                 Didn't [her husband] tell me that she was his sister? She also claimed that he was her brother. If I did something, it was with an innocent heart and clean hands.'


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

Concordant Literal Version    Said not he to me, `My sister is she'? And she, moreover, said, `My brother is he.' In the sincerity of my heart and in the innocency of my palms, I did this.

English Standard Version      Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this."

Heritage Bible                        Did he not say to me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself said, He is my brother; in the integrity of my heart, and complete innocence of my palms I have done this.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    Said he not unto me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself, said, He is my brother. In the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. It is not only the transgression in deed which makes a person guilty in the sight of God, but even an intention that may result in evil without the knowledge of the person. The majority of the sins of Christians are committed in ignorance. In Abimelech's case, where the Sixth Commandment had not yet been broken in deed, he defends himself by referring to the plain statements of Abraham and Sarah, on the basis of which he had acted in good faith. Surely the Lord would not slay a people in spite of its righteousness, since he had acted in the guilelessness of his heart and in the purity of his hands; he had not knowingly polluted either his heart or his hands.

Syndein                                  Said he not unto me, "She . . . {is} my sister?" And she, even she herself, said {'amar}, "He . . . {is} my brother. In the integrity of my heart/'right lobe' and innocence of my hands have I done/manufactured {'asah - out of pure intentions}.

World English Bible                Didn't he tell me, 'She is my sister?' She, even she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this."

Young’s Updated LT             Has he not himself said to me, She is my sister! and she, even she herself, said, He is my brother; in the integrity of my heart, and in the innocency of my hands, I have done this.”

 

The gist of this verse:          Abimelech protests that both Abraham and Sarah told him that Abraham was her brother. Therefor, Abimelech sees himself as one with an innocent heart and clean hands.


Genesis 20:5a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

hă (הֲ) [pronounced heh]

interrogative particle which acts almost like a piece of punctuation, like the upside-down question mark which begins a Spanish sentence. The verb to be may be implied. This can be used in an indirect interrogation and translated whether.

Strong’s #none BDB #209

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

Hă lôʾ together expect an affirmative answer. In fact, these two words together present a question with an obvious, self-evident answer.

hûwʾ (הוּא) [pronounced hoo]

he, it; himself as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

This pronoun can be used in the emphatic sense. Sometimes, the verb to be is implied when this pronoun is used.

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510

ʾâchôwth (אַחוֹת) [pronounced aw-KHOWTH]

sister, half-sister; relative; beloved [bride]; figuratively of intimate connection; metaphorically for relationship between Israel and Judah; another

feminine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #269 BDB #27

hîyʾ (הִיא) [pronounced hee]

she, it; also used as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person feminine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214


Translation: “Did he himself not say to me, ‘She [is] my sister’? Abimelech appears to be a believer. He recognizes God’s authority and he tries to explain himself. Abimelech alleges, honestly, that Abraham clearly told him that Sarah was his sister.


Genesis 20:5b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

hîyʾ (הִיא) [pronounced hee]

she, it; also used as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person feminine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

gam (גַם) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

hîyʾ (הִיא) [pronounced hee]

she, it; also used as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person feminine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214

This pronoun can be used in the emphatic sense. Sometimes, the verb to be is implied when this pronoun is used.

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person feminine singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾâch (אָח) [pronounced awhk]

brother, kinsman or close relative

masculine singular noun with the 1st person singular suffix

Strong's #251 BDB #26

hûwʾ (הוּא) [pronounced hoo]

he, it; himself as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214


Translation: Furthermore, she also said, herself, “He [is] my brother.’ Similarly, this woman was quizzed and she answered likewise—“Yes, I am certainly his brother.” Let me suggest that, if he asked both of them this question, then Abimelech had some questions about their relationship.


Abimelech continues to make the argument with God. Abimelech had very good reason to believe that Sarah was single and available because of what both she and Abraham said.


Genesis 20:5c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

tôm (תֹּם) [pronounced tohm]

integrity, completeness, innocence; safety, prosperity; fulness [for number and measure]

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #8537 BDB #1070`

lêbab (לֵבַב) [pronounced lay-BAHBV]

mind, inner man, inner being, heart

masculine singular noun with a 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #3824 BDB #523

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

niqqâyôwn (נִקָּיוֹן) [pronounced nik-kaw-YOHN]

freedom from guilt [punishment], innocence, innocency; purity; cleanness [of teeth]

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #5356 BDB #667

kaph (כַּף) [pronounced kaf]

palm, hollow or flat of the hand, sole of the foot; bowl, spoon

feminine singular noun with a 1st person singular suffix

Strong’s #3709 BDB #496

These nouns are tied together because of the fact that they are concave.

ʿâsâh (עָשָֹה) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare, to manufacture

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

zôʾth (זֹאת) [pronounced zoth]

here, this, this one; thus; possibly another

feminine singular of zeh; demonstrative pronoun, adverb

Strong’s #2063 (& 2088, 2090) BDB #260


Translation: [Therefore] I did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of my heart and in the innocence of my hands.” Abimelech rightly claims that he is innocent in this. He took Sarah as a wife, but without knowing that she belonged to Abraham.


Integrity of heart means that Abimelech had no intention of doing wrong; he did not plot or choose to do evil in God's sight. Innocence of hands means that he has not had sex with Sarah; that is, he has not sinned against God and committed adultery. He is asserting that he is blameless in his motivation and in his actions.


However, with regards to the laws of divine establishment, Abimelech was out of line. Men were not to have multiple wives and he probably collects women. However, this does not appear to be a clear norm of that era. Nor does God question him about this.


Genesis 20:5 “Did he himself not say to me, ‘She [is] my sister’? Furthermore, she also said, herself, ‘He [is] my brother.’ [Therefore] I did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of my heart and in the innocence of my hands.”


Abimelech continues to present his case to God—in this dream. Abraham told him that Sarah was his sister, and she confirmed that relationship.


The word integrity is tôm (תֹּם) [pronounced tohm], which means, integrity, completeness, innocence; safety, prosperity; fulness [for number and measure]. Strong’s #8537 BDB #1070. There were social norms and standards to which Abimelech was holding to. Despite the model of man and wife given to us by Adam and Eve, Abimelech, along with many kings of that era, collected wives. We know, from the Mosaic Law and from the New Testament, that this is not God’s plan for man to collect wives. However, the Mosaic Law had not yet been given. So, in Abimelech’s own estimation, his heart was innocent because these were the norms and standards of his day. He did not have a reason to think differently. He was not contradicting the standards of that day; so he was therefore demonstrating integrity and innocence.


This does not mean that Abimelech is completely blameless. He would have known the example of Adam and Eve. God did not give Adam a harem. God gave Adam exactly one wife. At this point in time in human history, Shem, Ham and Japheth are all still alive or only recently deceased. Therefore, for those who want to know God, would have known about Adam and Eve.


Abimelech claims to be innocent. The word innocence is, niqqâyôwn (נִקָּיוֹן) [pronounced nik-kaw-YOHN], which means, freedom from guilt [punishment], innocence, innocency; purity; cleanness [of teeth]. Strong’s #5356 BDB #667.


Abimelech, according to the laws of his city and according to the norms and standards of his own thinking, was innocent. He saw an attractive woman and he took her into his harem. That was the privilege of the king.


The political class often exempts themselves from the standards they apply to everyone else. Not too long ago, Martha Stewart was legally pursued for having committed insider trading (I think she was charged with something else, but the insider trader led to that point). However, insider trading is something which politicians have done for decades. They know the sorts of regulations or investigations that they might do to this or that business, to this or that sector, and then they buy stocks accordingly, in anticipation of such action. If one followed the average stock portfolio for the average Congressman or Senator, you would find yourself being amazed at how they beat the market consistently; and how they beat some of Wall Street’s best stock pickers. In a similar vein, many politicians buy cheap land, and then, a few years later, by happy coincidence, some public improvement project just happens to occur adjacent to that land, doubling and tripling its value in a year or two. The head of our Senate, Harry Reid, is famous for making money on such land deals. He is a multi-millionaire today, despite making around $200,000/year. He is just such a “wise” investor when it comes to land.


So Abimelech is blameless in the sense that contemporary politicians who pick stocks and make land deals all of the time are innocent. These politicians make investments based upon legislation which they know will affect the stocks and land which they have an interest in, and this was completely legal for many years and politicians of both parties took advantage of this.


Abimelech, as king, could take on several wives. Since he works for the public, he can support these wives with public funds (as did David and Solomon). However, before God, this was not legitimate; just as, before God, Abimelech was not completely innocent and pure. In one sense he is; and in one sense he is not. Abimelech, by the laws of his day, was innocent. In the eyes of God, he was not. However, there is no clear law; there is only the precedence of Adam and Eve. So God overlooks this aspect of Abimelech’s life. Acts 17:30–31 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent [= to change their minds], because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead." (ESV)


God will not hold him accountable for multiple wives. Furthermore, Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, and heir to the promises of God, will have multiple wives. At this point, God is concerned about one woman, and that is Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Their seed must be uncorrupted. That is key. Abimelech, despite his adherence to the laws of divine establishment, represents corruption.


Whedon observed a certain poetic nature in the words of Abimelech:

The Poetic Nature of Abimelech’s Words

Gen. 20:4–5 But Abimelech had not come near to her, so he said “My Adonai, will you also kill a righteous people? Did he himself not say to me, ‘She [is] my sister’? Furthermore, she also said, herself, ‘He [is] my brother.’ [Therefore] I did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of my heart and in the innocence of my hands.”

O Lord, a nation also righteous will you slay?

Did not he say to me,

My sister is she?

And she, she also, said,

My brother is he.

In the integrity of my heart,

And in the innocency of my hands,

Have I done this.

Partially taken from http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/view.cgi?bk=0&ch=20 accessed August 27, 2014 and slightly edited.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


——————————


And so says unto him, Elohim, in the dream, “Even I, I have known that in the integrity of your heart you have done this. And so I hold, even I, from sinning to Me. Upon so, I have not given you to touch unto her.

Genesis

20:6

Then Elohim said to him in the dream, “I—even I—have known that you did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of your heart. Therefore, I restrained you from sinning with regards to Me. For this reason, I have not given you [the opportunity] to touch [or, violate] her.

Then God said to him in the dream, “I knew in eternity past that you acted in the integrity of your heart. Therefore, I restrained you from sinning with regards to Me. For this reason, I have not given you the opportunity to violate her.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so says unto him, Elohim, in the dream, “Even I, I have known that in the integrity of your heart you have done this. And so I hold, even I, from sinning to Me. Upon so, I have not given you to touch unto her.

Targum of Onkelos                And the Word of the Lord said to him in a dream, Before Me also it is manifest that in the truthfulness of your hear you did this, and so restrained I you from sinning before Me; therefore I would not permit you to come near her.

Latin Vulgate                          And God said to him: And I know that you did it with a sincere heart: and therefore I withheld you from sinning against me, and I suffered you not to touch her.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    And God said to him in a dream, Yea, I know that you have done this in the innocence of your heart; for I also restrained you from sinning against me; therefore I did not permit you to touch her.

Septuagint (Greek)                And God said to him in his sleep, Yes, I knew that you did this with a pure heart, and I spared you, so that you should not sin against Me, therefore I did not let you touch her.

 

Significant differences:           The targum adds a couple words at the beginning. The Latin leaves out the dream part.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Common English Bible           God said to him in the dream, "I know that your intentions were pure when you did this. In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That's why I didn't allow you to touch her.

Contemporary English V.       God spoke to Abimelech in another dream and said: I know you are innocent. That's why I kept you from sleeping with Sarah and doing anything wrong.

Easy-to-Read Version            Then God said to Abimelech in a dream, “Yes, I know that you are innocent. And I know that you did not know what you were doing. I saved you. I did not allow you to sin against me. I was the One who did not allow you to sleep with her.

Good News Bible (TEV)         God replied in the dream, "Yes, I know that you did it with a clear conscience; so I kept you from sinning against me and did not let you touch her.

The Message                         God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know your intentions were pure, that's why I kept you from sinning against me; I was the one who kept you from going to bed with her.

New Berkeley Version           In the dream God said to him, “I knew very well that you did this from an honest heart and I, Even I, restrained you from sinning against Me; for this reason I did not let you touch her. Man’s relation is primarily to God first, as later Joseph felt and it helped him not to sin; and as David realized after he was rebuked for a sin.

New Century Version             Then God said to Abimelech in the dream, "Yes, I know you did not realize what you were doing. So I did not allow you to sin against me and touch her.

New Living Translation           In the dream God responded, "Yes, I know you are innocent. That's why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I did not let you touch her.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

American English Bible          Then God replied to him in his [dream]: 'Yes, I know that you did this with a pure heart. That's why I've spared you and [kept you from] sinning against Me. And that's why I also kept you from touching her.

Ancient Roots Translinear      God said to him in a dream, "I also know you did this with integrity in your heart. I also restrained you from sinning to me. So I never gave her over to you to touch.

Beck’s American Translation “Yes I know your conscience was clear when you did this,” God told him in the dream. “And to keep you from sinning against Me, I didn’t let you touch her.

God’s Word                         "Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience," God said to him in the dream. "In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That's why I didn't let you touch her.

NIRV                                      Then God spoke to him in the dream. He said, "Yes, I know you had no idea you were doing anything wrong. So I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

New Jerusalem Bible             'Yes, I know,' God replied in the dream, 'that you did this with a clear conscience and I myself prevented you from sinning against me. That was why I did not let you touch her.

Revised English Bible            God replied in the dream, ‘Indeed, it was I who held you back from committing a sin against me. That was why I did not let you touch her.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             And God said to him in the dream, I see that you have done this with an upright heart, and I have kept you from sinning against me: for this reason I did not let you come near her.

Conservapedia                       God told him in a dream, "Yes, I know that your heart's in the right place. So I had to stop you from sinning against Me, and that's why I didn't let you be intimate with her."

The Expanded Bible              Then God said to Abimelech in the dream, "Yes, I know you did ·not realize what you were doing [this with a pure conscience/Lblameless heart]. So I ·did not allow you to sin [restrained you from sinning] against me and touch her.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 Then God said to him in a dream, “I also know that in the honesty of your heart you have done this, so I restrained you; I also warned you from sin against Me; therefore, I did not permit you to approach her.

NET Bible®                             Then in the dream God replied to him, "Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience [Heb "with the integrity of your heart."]. That is why I have kept you [Heb "and I, even I, kept you."] from sinning against me and why [Heb "therefore."] I did not allow you to touch her.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And Elohim says to him in a dream,

Yes, I know you work this

in the integrity of your heart;

for I also withheld you

- even I from sinning against me:

so I gave you to not touch her:...

Kaplan Translation                 God said to him in the dream, 'I also realize that you have done this with an innocent heart. That is why I prevented you from sinning against Me, not giving you an opportunity to touch her.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                Then God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know you did this in the integrity of your heart, for it was I Who kept you back and spared you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not give you occasion to touch her.

Concordant Literal Version    And saying is the Elohim to him in the dream, "Moreover, I know that, in the sincerity of your heart you did this, and I, moreover, am keeping you back from sinning against Me. Therefore, I did not allow you to touch her.

Context Group Version          And God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from disgracing [ God ] against me. Therefore I didn't allow you to touch her.

English Standard Version      Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.

Green’s Literal Translation    And God said to him in a dream, Yes, I know that you did this in the honor of your heart, and I also withheld you from sinning against Me. On account of this I did not allow you to touch her.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me; therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. The Lord accepted the excuse of Abimelech, incidentally telling him, however, that the sickness which had prevented the king from consummating the supposed marriage had been inflicted from above, to prevent a greater wrong from being committed. Thus the Lord makes use even of misery and tribulation to keep His children from sin and transgression.

NASB                                     Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept [Lit restrained] you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.

Updated Bible Version 2.11   And God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore I didn't allow you to have any sex with her.

Young’s Updated LT             And God says unto him in the dream, “Yea, I—I have known that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I withhold you, even I, from sinning against Me, therefore I have not suffered you to come against her.

 

The gist of this verse:          God responded that He knew that Abimelech had taken Sarah in innocence, and therefore God kept Abimelech from sinning against Him.


Genesis 20:6a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

ʾâmar (אָמַר) [pronounced aw-MAHR]

to say, to speak, to utter; to say [to oneself], to think

3rd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #559 BDB #55

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied) with the 3rd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39

ʾĚlôhîym (אלֹהִים) [pronounced el-o-HEEM]

God; gods, foreign gods, god; rulers, judges; superhuman ones, angels; transliterated Elohim

masculine plural noun with the definite article

Strong's #430 BDB #43

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

chălôwm (חָלוֹם) [pronounced khuh-LOHM]

dream

masculine singular noun with the definite article

Strong’s #2472 BDB #321


Translation: Then Elohim said to him in the dream,... The fact that God speaks to Abimelech suggests to me that he believes in God. In this dream, Abimelech expresses no disbelief, no false names for deity or anything else that indicates that he does not believe in the God Who created us all.


As has been pointed out on many occasions, righteousness was credited to Abraham because he believed in Yehowah. We have no idea how Abraham was originally taught about Yehowah; we only know Abraham’s personal talks with the Lord. He originally came from the area that is now known as Bagdad (generally speaking).


Now, here is Abimelech, who lives near the Mediterranean Sea, and he seems to immediately recognizes God’s authority and reality. Furthermore, he will act on this dream; he will not wake up the next morning and say, “You know, I had the nuttiest dream!” Abimelech takes this dream seriously. He takes these words of God seriously.


Not far from Abimelech, relatively speaking, is Salem, where Melchizedek lives, and Abraham accepted the authority of Melchizedek and paid tithes to him, despite the fact that Abraham had spoken with God on several occasions and despite the fact that Abraham enjoyed this great spiritual victory. Therefore, suggesting that Abimelech is a believer is not a crazy thing to propose.


My point is, there had to be a way for these 3 men, in very different regions, to somehow have had God revealed to them. We are told very little about evangelism specifically in Genesis, other than clues like this—that these are 3 men in different regions, and all of the believed in the Revealed God. Therefore, somehow, they had to have been evangelized. It may have been no more complex than hearing about the God of the Flood, the God of Noah, and believing in that God. In any case, we know that whenever each man believed in the Revealed God, then God credited that man with righteousness (Gen. 5:6).


Genesis 20:6b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

gam (גַם) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

ʾânôkîy (אָנֹכִי) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

yâdaʿ (יָדַע) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to know, to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to become acquainted with, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something; to see; to learn; to recognize [admit, acknowledge, confess]

1st person singular, Qal perfect

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

kîy (כִּי) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory or temporal conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

Kîy, like many of the small words in Hebrew, has a large number of uses: ➊ It is used as a relative conjunction, particularly after the verbs seeing, hearing, speaking, knowing, believing remembering, forgetting and in such cases means that. ➋ Although kîy is used for consecution and effect and rendered to that, that; it sometimes has an intensifying force and is rendered so that, so even, even. This is how it is used in this context. ➌ The connective can be used of time and be rendered at that time, which, what time, when. ➍ Kîy can be used of time, but in such a way that it passes over to a demonstrative power where it begins an apodosis (then, so). ➎ It can be used as a relative causal particle: because, since, while, on account that. When we find it several times in a sentence, it can mean because...and or for...and. ➏ It can also have a continuous disjunctive use here and be rendered for...or...or (when the second two kîy’s are preceded by conjunctions). ➐ After a negative, it can mean but (the former must not be done because the latter is to be done).

be (בְּ) [pronounced beh]

in, into, through; at, by, near, on, upon; with, before, against; by means of; among; within

a preposition of proximity

No Strong’s # BDB #88

tôm (תֹּם) [pronounced tohm]

integrity, completeness, innocence; safety, prosperity; fulness [for number and measure]

masculine singular construct

Strong’s #8537 BDB #1070

lêbab (לֵבַב) [pronounced lay-BAHBV]

mind, inner man, inner being, heart

masculine singular noun with a 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #3824 BDB #523

ʿâsâh (עָשָֹה) [pronounced ģaw-SAWH]

to do, to make, to construct, to fashion, to form, to prepare, to manufacture

2nd person masculine singular, Qal perfect

Strong's #6213 BDB #793

zôʾth (זֹאת) [pronounced zoth]

here, this, this one; thus; possibly another

feminine singular of zeh; demonstrative pronoun, adverb

Strong’s #2063 (& 2088, 2090) BDB #260


Translation: ...“I—even I—have known that you did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of your heart. Twice, God will emphasize that He is the One acting. Know is in the perfect tense. God knew in eternity past that this would happen. God knew all about Abraham’s trip to Gerar and that Abimelech would call for Abraham’s wife.


Integrity is the word tôm (תֹּם) [pronounced tohm] and it means completeness, integrity and innocence. In this context, it is a combination of the latter two. The sense here is that his heart it whole or complete. Therefore, it is not duplicitous; it does not go off into two directions; there is not a hidden agenda of evil.


Now, Abimelech has a sense of right and wrong, although it may not be an absolute sense. My guess is, Sarah would be added to a harem. So, in the thinking of Abimelech, having a harem and having many wives is an accepted practice—many rulers did this. So, by his own thinking—by his own heart—what he was doing was correct. God repeats his words almost exactly here.


God does not say, “Hmm, just where do I start with you? Should I tell you about polygamy?” God is protecting the seed of Abraham and Sarah; and God has not yet given the Law to Moses; so God speaks directly to the one issue of Abraham, Sarah and Abimelech.


What Abimelech did was, call for Sarah to become his wife.


Genesis 20:6 so far: Then Elohim said to him in the dream, “I—even I—have known that you did this in the integrity [or, innocence] of your heart.


This is an interesting thing that God says to Abimelech. God uses the first word to apply to Abimelech, but not the second. Abimelech was consistent with the laws and standards of his day, he had not violated his own norms and standards, but he was not necessarily completely innocent. Just like the Congressman who has seen great returns on his stock portfolio and land purchases, who may be acting in accordance with the law, so he is adhering to the laws and standards of his time—but he is certainly not completely innocent. He just isn’t breaking the law (which laws, he helped to pass).


So God recognizes that Abimelech is acting within the norms and standards of his day, and agrees to that.


One might sense a double standard with Abraham and Sarah; God has not allowed Sarah to be violated by another man; however He allowed Abraham to copulate with Sarah's servant, Hagar. However, God did not use Abraham for 13 years after that incident, and Sarah and Hagar were also disciplined. Furthermore, they all lived together which was even worse than discipline. Two women under the same roof where one is haughty and the other is jealous is awful pressure for the two women and for Abraham. No one gets away with anything under the justice of God. God sometimes withholds discipline and withholds the pain that we believe someone deserves, but He will see to these things.


Genesis 20:6c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

châsake (חָשַׂ) [pronounced khaw-SAHKe]

to hold in, to restrain, to preserve, to keep safely from something, to withhold, to refrain

1st person singular, Qal imperfect

Strong’s #2820 BDB #362

gam (גַם) [pronounced gahm]

also, furthermore, in addition to, even, moreover

adverb

Strong’s #1571 BDB #168

ʾânôkîy (אָנֹכִי) [pronounced awn-oh-KEE]

I, me; (sometimes a verb is implied)

1st person singular personal pronoun

Strong’s #595 BDB #59

ʾêth (אֶח) [pronounced ayth]

untranslated mark of a direct object; occasionally to, toward

affixed to a 2nd person masculine plural suffix

Strong's #853 BDB #84

min (מִן) [pronounced min]

from, off, out from, out of, away from, on account of, since, than, more than

preposition of separation

Strong's #4480 BDB #577

châţâʾ (חָטָא) [pronounced khaw-TAW]

to sin, to miss, to miss the mark, to violate the law, to err; to do wrong, to commit a transgression

Qal infinitive construct

Strong’s #2398 BDB #306

A Qal infinitive construct with a preposition can introduce a purpose clause, a result clause or a temporal clause. An infinitive construct can indicate a continuous sense.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to, with reference to, as to, with regards to; belonging to; by

directional/relational preposition with the 1st person singular suffix

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: Therefore, I restrained you from sinning with regards to Me. So, although a period of time has elapsed—certainly time designed to cause Abraham to think over his situation—God has restrained Abimelech from sinning with regards to God. We do not know just exactly what happened during these few days, but one can assume, based upon Abraham praying and Abimelech being healed, that Abimelech was made ill, and was unable to continue with whatever wedding ceremony was proper and with the consummation of the marriage. God could not allow that; and in this way, God restrained Abimelech from sinning.


Often, when God speaks of someone sinning against Him, the bêyth preposition is used. Here, however, the softer lâmed preposition is used; so that the sin is not said to be against God but with respect to God. The bêyth preposition would suggest that Abimelech knew that was a sin and was going to do it, but God restrained him. The lâmed preposition suggests that Abimelech did not know that he was about to sin; and God restrained him from sinning.


I believe that the word also means, in addition to coming to Abimelech in a dream. God also kept Abimelech from sinning again Him. Abimelech is saying, “I am innocent; I have not touched this woman.” And God says, “Yes, I kept you from touching her.”


The mechanics here is probably an illness that Abimelech began to suffer upon taking Sarah into his harem (God will cure him of an illness in v. 17). A period of time passes between his taking Sarah and his restoration of Sarah to Abraham (probably more than a couple days; probably less than 3 months). Since Abimelech does not touch Sarah during this time, there must be a reason for that. Logically, the reason would be, Abimelech was too ill to marry and consummate his marriage to Sarah.

 

From the Life Application Study Bible Notes: Abimelech had unknowingly taken a married woman to be his wife and was about to commit adultery. But God somehow prevented him from touching Sarah and held him back from sinning. What mercy on God's part! How many times has God done the same for us, holding us back from sin in ways we can't even detect? We have no way of knowing-we just know from this story that he can. God works just as often in ways we can't see as in ways we can.


Genesis 20:6d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʿal (עַל) [pronounced ģahl ]

upon, beyond, on, against, above, over, by, beside

preposition of proximity

Strong’s #5921 BDB #752

kên (כֵּן) [pronounced kane]

so, therefore, thus; then, afterwards; upright, honest; rightly, well; [it is] so, such, so constituted

adverb

Strong's #3651 BDB #485

Together, ʿal kên (כֵּן עַל) mean so, upon the ground of such conditions, therefore, on this account, on account, for this reason.

lôʾ (לֹא or לוֹא) [pronounced low]

not, no

negates the word or action that follows; the absolute negation

Strong’s #3808 BDB #518

nâthan (נָתַן) [pronounced naw-THAHN]

to give, to grant, to place, to put, to set; to make

1st person singular, Qal perfect with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #5414 BDB #678

All of the BDB meanings for the Qal stem of nâthan are as follows: 1) to give, put, set; 1a) (Qal); 1a1) to give, bestow, grant, permit, ascribe, employ, devote, consecrate, dedicate, pay wages, sell, exchange, lend, commit, entrust, give over, deliver up, yield produce, occasion, produce, requite to, report, mention, utter, stretch out, extend; 1a2) to put, set, put on, put upon, set, appoint, assign, designate; 1a3) to make, constitute.

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition

No Strong’s # BDB #510

nâgaʿ (נָגַע) [pronounced naw-GAHĢ]

to touch, to reach into; to violate, to injure; to come to a person; to strike

Qal infinitive construct

Strong's #5060 BDB #619

ʾel (אֶל) [pronounced ehl]

unto; into, among, in; toward, to; against; concerning, regarding; besides, together with; as to, in respect to; because of; according to

directional preposition (respect or deference may be implied); expanded meanings given; with the 3rd person feminine singular suffix

Strong's #413 BDB #39


Translation: For this reason, I have not given you [the opportunity] to touch [or, violate] her. God did not give Abimelech the opportunity to touch Sarah, which would mean to violate her. Although Abimelech may have been weak on the idea of polygamy, he certainly understood the concept of marriage vows and that he would be going against God to violate Sarah.


As a result of being sick, Abimelech was unable to violate Sarah; God did not give him the opportunity to sin against God. This is God’s overruling will.


Genesis 20:6 Then Elohim said to him in the dream, “I—even I—have known that you did this in the integrity of your heart. Therefore, I restrained you from sinning with regards to Me. For this reason, I have not given you [the opportunity] to touch [or, violate] her.


God has a specific plan and that is for a new race to begin with Abraham. From him would come the Jewish race. Had Abimelech taken Sarah and copulated with her, this would have sullied the beginnings of the Jewish race (much like the seed of Lot was sullied in the previous chapter through incest). We could no longer be assured that Abraham had fathered the child-to-come. There would have been corruption in this line that God was establishing.


God speaks to Abimelech and acknowledges his reasoning; and adds that, God had not allowed Abimelech to have sexual relations with Sarah. It was God who has kept them apart, although the specific mechanics are not given here.

 

Gill: There is nothing done but what is done by divine permission, so many more evils would be committed than there are, were it not that men are restrained from them by the power and providence of God, not suffering them to do them; and in particular this sin was prevented, that it might not in any respect be a doubtful point whether Isaac, whom Sarah had now conceived, was a legitimate son of Abraham; and these expressions of Abimelech not coming near her, Gen. 20:4; and not touching her as here, are used for that purpose.

 

Matthew Henry makes a similar point: He lets him know that he was kept from proceeding in the sin merely by the good hand of God upon him: I withheld you from sinning against me. Abimelech was hereby kept from doing wrong, Abraham from suffering wrong, and Sarah from both. Note, (1.) There is a great deal of sin devised and designed that is never executed. As bad as things are in the world, they are not so bad as the devil and wicked men would have them. (2.) It is God that restrains men from doing the ill they would do. It is not from him that there is sin, but it is from him that there is not more sin, either by his influence upon men’s minds, checking their inclination to sin, or by his providence, taking away the opportunity to sin. (3.) It is a great mercy to be hindered from committing sin; of this God must have the glory, whoever is the instrument, 1Sam. 25:32–33. Can you imagine how many times, particularly in our youth, that God kept us from sinning, and many times, that meant the difference between life and death? You may or may not have that sort of experience. I was not a very good person in my youth. In retrospect, God ran interference for me in those days beyond what is imaginable.


Translation used is the ESV capitalized unless otherwise noted.

When God needs to, he can bend circumstances to affect the free will of a king. The king's heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will. (Prov. 21:1)

Examples of God’s protective, overruling will

Scripture

Commentary

Gen. 20:6 Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.”

Even though Abimelech took Abraham’s wife to himself to marry, he never got as far as marrying her or consummating the marriage, probably because God made him too ill to go through with it. Gen. 20:17

Gen. 31:4–9 So Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah into the field where his flock was and said to them, "I see that your father does not regard me with favor as he did before. But the God of my father has been with me. You know that I have served your father with all my strength, yet your father has cheated me and changed my wages ten times. But God did not permit him to harm me. If he said, 'The spotted shall be your wages,' then all the flock bore spotted; and if he said, 'The striped shall be your wages,' then all the flock bore striped. Thus God has taken away the livestock of your father and given them to me.”

Jacob is about to takes his wives and leave Laban because Laban has cheated Jacob over and over again. Jacob recognizes that God has overruled Laban’s dishonesty over and over again. When Jacob and Laban agreed that Jacob could keep the spotted from the flock, then all of the flock would bear spotted. This is God’s overruling will. God chose to take Laban’s livestock from him and give them to Jacob because of Laban’s treachery.

Gen. 35:2–5 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone." So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem. And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

Jacob enjoyed a great deal of God’s overruling will and was protected by it. God told Jacob it was time to return to Bethel, but it had to be done as pure. They could not bring the idolatry of Jacob’s wives with them.


They were able to travel without being harassed as God brought terror to the cities that they traveled near, so that Jacob and his seed—the line of promise—was protected.

Ex. 34:23–24 Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the LORD God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land, when you go up to appear before the LORD your God three times in the year.

God is promising to protect the nation Israel, when they go in and take the land; and that He would cast out nations within that land before their eyes.


Furthermore, when the men of Israel would go to worship, God would protect them.

1Sam. 25:23–26 When Abigail saw David, she hurried and got down from the donkey and fell before David on her face and bowed to the ground. She fell at his feet and said, "On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. Let not my lord regard this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. Now then, my lord, as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from saving with your own hand, now then let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal.”

David protected Nabal and his flocks, but Nabal would not pay him for what he did, so David was furious and was about to kill Nabal. Abigail, Nabal’s wife, stops David and keeps him from killing Nabal, and says that the Lord is restraining him from killing Nabal so that David is not guilty of murder.


Again, this is God overruling what David would have done; and this would have made David a criminal and it would have changed Israel’s history and destroyed the line of David (from which will come the Lord Jesus Christ).

1Sam. 25:32–34 And David said to Abigail, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who sent you this day to meet me! Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand! For as surely as the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, who has restrained me from hurting you, unless you had hurried and come to meet me, truly by morning there had not been left to Nabal so much as one male."

David agrees with Abigail. His intention would have been to come there and kill every man associated with Nabal. David agrees that God has stopped him from doing this.

Hosea 2:6–7 “Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, 'I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.' ”

God will guide Israel to be unable to pursue her former lovers (that is, will no longer find fulfillment in idolatry or in improper alliances). Therefore, Israel will return to her first husband, Who is God.

To sum up this principle: Psalm 84:11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor [= grace] and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.

The Scriptures used came from Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge; by Canne, Browne, Blayney, Scott, and others about 1880, with introduction by R. A. Torrey; courtesy of E-sword, Gen. 20:6.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


God intends for Sarah to have a uniquely-born son by Abraham, which is the result of a miracle, and this son is to be separate from all other claims to the promises made to Abraham—that is, that son uniquely will be heir to the promises of God. This child, who will be born will be uniquely able, through birth, to claim the promises which God had originally delivered to Abraham. Therefore, God cannot allow there to be any impurity in Sarah, in this regard. She must carry Abraham’s seed only. There can be no corruption of this line. At this point in the narrative of Abraham’s life, we are perhaps a month away from Isaac’s conception.


——————————


And now return woman of the man for a prophet he [is]. And so he prays because of you, and live! And if you are not restoring, know that dying, you die, you and all that [is] to you.”

Genesis

20:7

Now, therefore, return [this] man’s wife, for he [is] a prophet and he will pray on behalf of you and you will live. And if you do not return [her to him], know that you will certainly die, you and all that belongs to you [lit., all that (is) to you].”

Now, therefore, return this man’s wife to him, for he is a prophet and he will pray on your behalf to deliver you from My judgement. And if you do not return her to him, know that you will certainly die, you and all that belongs to you.”


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And now return woman of the man for a prophet he [is]. And so he prays because of you and live. And if you are not restoring, know that dying, you die, you and all that [is] to you.”

Targum of Onkelos                And now let the wife of the man return; for he is a prophet; he will pray for you, and you will live: but if you wilt not let her return, know that dying you will die, you and all who are yours.

Latin Vulgate                          Now therefore restore the man his wife, for he is a prophet: and he will pray for you, and you will live: but if you wilt not restore her, know that you will surely die, you and all that are yours.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Now therefore restore the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for you, and you shall live; but if you do not restore her, then know that you will surely die, you, and all your family.

Septuagint (Greek)                But now return the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for you, and you shall live; but if you restore her not, know that you and all yours shall die.

 

Significant differences:           Live is in the imperative in the Hebrew, but that is very difficult to translate that way.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       Her husband is a prophet. Let her go back to him, and his prayers will save you from death. But if you don't return her, you and all your people will die.

Easy English                          Now give back the man's wife. He is a *prophet. He will then pray for you, so that you will live. But if you are not willing to give her back, then you will certainly die. And all that belong to you will certainly die.'

Easy-to-Read Version            So give Abraham his wife again. Abraham is a prophet [A person God called to speak for him.]. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not give Sarah back to Abraham, then I promise that you will die. And all your family will die with you.”

Good News Bible (TEV)         But now, give the woman back to her husband. He is a prophet, and he will pray for you, so that you will not die. But if you do not give her back, I warn you that you are going to die, you and all your people."

The Message                         So now give the man's wife back to him. He's a prophet and will pray for you--pray for your life. If you don't give her back, know that it's certain death both for you and everyone in your family."

New Berkeley Version           Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet; he will pray for you and you will survive. But if you do not return her, understand that you and all yours will surely die. As a man who customarily lived and spoke God’s thought, Abraham was a prophet.

New Century Version             Give Abraham his wife back. He is a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will not die. But if you do not give Sarah back, you and all your family will surely die."


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Now return the man's woman, for he's a prophet, and he will pray for you and yours to live. If you do not return her, know that you will ||die||--you, and all of yours."

God’s Word                         Give the man's wife back to him now, because he's a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don't give her back, you and all who belong to you are doomed to die."

NIRV                                      "Now return the man's wife to him. He is a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But what if you do not return her? Then you can be sure that you and all of your people will die."

New Jerusalem Bible             Now send the man's wife back; for he is a prophet and can intercede on your behalf for your life. But understand that if you do not send her back, this means death for you and all yours.'

New Simplified Bible              »Give the man’s wife back to him now. He is a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not give her back, you and all who belong to you are doomed to die.«


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             So now, give the man back his wife, for he is a prophet, and let him say a prayer for you, so your life may be safe: but if you do not give her back, be certain that death will come to you and all your house.

Conservapedia                       "So now give the man his wife back. He is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don't give her back, know this: you'll be dead meat, you and all your people, too." Hebrew commonly repeats verbs for emphasis, as in the verb "to die" in this verse.

The Expanded Bible              Give ·Abraham [Lthe man] his wife back. He is a prophet [Cone who interceded for others]. He will pray for you, and you will not die. But if you do not give Sarah back, you and all ·your family [Lwho belong to you] will surely die."

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 So now return the woman to her husband, for he is a Great Teacher, and will intercede for you. But if you do not return her, know that you shall certainly die, and all that you have.”

NET Bible®                             But now give back the man's wife. Indeed [Or "for," if the particle is understood as causal (as many English translations do) rather than asseverative.] he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live [After the preceding jussive (or imperfect), the imperative with vav conjunctive here indicates result.] [He will pray for you that you may live. Abraham was known as a man of God whose prayer would be effectual. Ironically and sadly, he was also known as a liar.]. But if you don't give her back [Heb "if there is not you returning." The suffix on the particle becomes the subject of the negated clause.], know that you will surely die [The imperfect is preceded by the infinitive absolute to make the warning emphatic.] along with all who belong to you." For a discussion of the term prophet see N. Walker, "What is a Nabhi?" ZAW 73 (1961): 99-100.

NIV, ©2011                             Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die."


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   ...and now restore the man his woman;

for he is a prophet;

and he prays for you to live:

and if you restore her not,

know this, in dying, you die,

you and all who are yours.

JPS (Tanakh—1985)               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.”

Kaplan Translation                 Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not return [her], you can be sure that you will die - you and all that is yours.'


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                So now restore to the man his wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her [to him], know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.

English Standard Version      Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours."

Heritage Bible                        And now turn back to the man his wife, because he is a prophet, and he will judge in prayer for you, and you will live; and if you do not return her, know by seeing that dying, you shall die, you and all that is to you.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    Now, therefore, restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live; and if thou restore her not, know that thou shalt surely die, thou and all that are thine. If, after this revelation, Abimelech had persisted in keeping Sarah, his sin would have been one of malice, and death would have been the certain retribution, not only his own death, but that of his whole family. By telling Abimelech that he would remain alive only by virtue of the intercession of Abraham, who was one of His own prophets, the Lord showed that He knew the king to be capable of true moral understanding. It is a wise person that permits himself to be governed by God's directions after some stumble or mistake.

Syndein                                  "Cause the restoring of the man his wife. He . . . {is} a prophet, and he himself shall keep on praying for you, and you will live. If you do not cause the restoring {of her to her husband}, know {yada`} . . . dying . . . you will die {muwth muwth}, you, and all that are yours.”

Webster’s Bible Updated       Now therefore restore to the man [his] wife, for he [is] a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live: and if you will not restore [her], know you that you will surely die, you and all that [are] yours.

World English Bible                Now therefore, restore the man's wife. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. If you don't restore her, know for sure that you will die, you, and all who are yours."

Young’s Updated LT             And now send back the man’s wife, for he is inspired, and he does pray for you, and live; and if you do not send back, know that dying you will die, you, and all that you have.”

 

The gist of this verse:          God tells Abimelech to return Abraham’s wife to him, or Abimelech and all that he has will die.


Genesis 20:7a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʿattâh (עַתָּה) [pronounced ģaht-TAWH]

now, at this time, already

adverb of time

Strong’s #6258 BDB #773

When followed by an imperative or an interrogative, we + the adverb ʿattâh mean and so, thus, things being so, therefore, now therefore. Sometimes, the concept of time is lost when this combination is used to incite another.

shûwb (שוּב) [pronounced shoobv]

to cause to return, to bring, to be caused to turn back mentally, reminisce, to return something, to restore, to bring back, to send back, to regain, to recover, to make restitution, reconsider, think again, to be caused to return

2nd person masculine singular, Hiphil imperative

Strong's #7725 BDB #996

ʾîshshâh (אִשָּה) [pronounced eesh-SHAW]

woman, wife

feminine singular construct

Strong's #802 BDB #61

ʾîysh (אִיש) [pronounced eesh]

a man, a husband; anyone; a certain one; each, each one, everyone

masculine singular noun (sometimes found where we would use a plural); with the definite article

Strong's #376 BDB #35


Translation: Now, therefore, return [this] man’s wife,... God gives Abimelech an order, and Abimelech will obey this order. Again, this suggests that Abimelech is a believer. I have read several commentaries about Abraham interacting with Abimelech and how Abraham, the believer, is a lousy witness to this heathen, but there is no reason to assume that Abimelech is a heathen. Abraham is certainly a lousy witness, but when God gives Abimelech a clear and unequivocal order here, Abimelech takes it to heart, even though this is just a dream.


Genesis 20:7b

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

kîy (כִּי) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory or temporal conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

nâbîyʾ (נָבִיא) [pronounced nawb-VEE]

prophet [true or false]; spokesman, speaker

masculine singular noun

Strong's #5030 BDB #611

This is the first occurrence of this word in the Bible.

Barnes: [A prophet is] he who speaks by God, of God, and to God, who declares to people not merely things future, but also things past and present, that are not obvious to the sense or the reason.

hûwʾ (הוּא) [pronounced hoo]

he, it; himself as a demonstrative pronoun: that, this (one)

3rd person masculine singular, personal pronoun; sometimes the verb is, is implied

Strong’s #1931 BDB #214


Translation: ...for he [is] a prophet... Here is the first time that the word prophet is found in the Bible: Abraham is called a prophet. God did not make up this word on the spot. He did not tell Abimelech, “This Abraham is a gurglesnap” and then later defined it. Abimelech knew what God was saying. Abimelech knew what the word prophet meant, at least to some limited degree (as the revealed Word of God was limited at that time).


Nâbîyʾ (נָבִיא) [pronounced nawb-VEE] began as a nontechnical word that means spokesman or speaker. Whereas, this is not clear in this passage, it is more clear in Ex. 7:1 where Moses is complaining to God that he just is not articulate enough to represent God, so God tells Moses that his brother Aaron will fill in for him when it comes to speaking to Pharaoh. The word, beginning as spokesman then meaning God's spokesman, finally came to mean prophet as we almost correctly understand it. I say almost because what people focus on when they hear the word prophet is prophecy, but that is not its primary meaning. A prophet is one who speaks for God; sometimes this includes the foretelling of events and sometimes it does not. Nevertheless, the person is still a prophet.


The word is nâbîyʾ (נָבִיא) [pronounced nawb-VEE] now means, prophet [true or false]; spokesman, speaker. When speaking of a true prophet of God, he speaks God’s message to man (or he represents God to man). God speaks to the prophet and then the prophet speaks God’s message to man. Strong's #5030 BDB #611.

Commentators on the Use of the word “Prophet” in Genesis 20:7

Commentator

Commentary

Adam Clarke

The word prophet, which we have from the Greek προφητες, and which is compounded of προ, before, and φημι, I speak, means, in its general acceptation, one who speaks of things before they happen, i.e., one who foretells future events. But that this was not the original notion of the word, its use in this place sufficiently proves. Abraham certainly was not a prophet in the present general acceptation of the term.

Keil and Delitzsch

Abraham was προφήτης as the recipient of divine revelation, and was thereby placed in so confidential a relation to God, that he could intercede for sinners, and atone for sins of infirmity through his intercession.

Albert Barnes

[Being a prophet means that] the things of God are known only to him, and therefore must be communicated by him; secondly, the prophet must be enabled of God to announce in correct terms the things made known to him. These things refer not only to the future, but in general to all such matters as fall within the purpose and procedure of God. They may even include things otherwise known or knowable by man, so far as these are necessary to the exposition of the divine will.

Thomas Coke

The Greek προφητης, a prophet, signifies immediately one that speaks for another: and the Hebrew נביא nabi, signifies a person who speaks something in an eminent and extraordinary manner. As prophets, or those who spoke for and as commissioned by God, foretold future events in his name, hence the word prophet came to imply not only a person who has familiar intercourse with God, and who is authorised to declare his will, and who by his prayers could obtain special blessings for others, but also a discloser of future events. Jeremiah 14:11; Jeremiah 15:1; Jeremiah 27:18. Psalms 99:6.

 


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Abraham is a prophet because God has told him what is in the future, and he has certain shared this with others. So he has related God’s Word to others.


If you are the kind of person who has a schedule to read through your Bible once every year (or 2 years or whatever), you probably breezed right by this verse and did not notice anything remarkable.


In contrast to the prophet, a priest represents man to God. The Old Testament priest brought offerings to God on behalf of Charley Brown, and God pardoned Charley Brown because of the intercessory work of the priest. Jesus Christ is both a prophet and a priest.

 

I read through a great many commentaries, and only Whedon seemed to grasp the difference: Here the word prophet first occurs, but the spirit of prophecy had been abroad long before, speaking though Enoch and Noah. A prophet, נביא, is one who announces a divine message. The message itself may refer to things past, present, or future, so that prediction, or foretelling of events, is only incidental to prophecy, not its leading idea...Abraham was a prophet to Abimelech, and sent to pray for him; for prayer and praise were elements of prophesying. In the offering of sacrifices and in his intercession for Sodom, he appeared as priest. In his battles with the eastern kings, and in his disposal of the spoil, he appeared as king; so that in the father of the faithful we may see these several offices combined.


Note here that Abraham will pray on behalf of Abimelech. When Abraham does this, he is standing in between God and man, acting on behalf of the man in speaking to God. He becomes an intercessor. As an intercessor between Abimelech and God, Abraham is a type of Christ. God will heal Abimelech, as God heals us in salvation (we are not physically healed when we are saved, but our soul is apparently cleansed of scar tissue).


Genesis 20:7c

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

pâlal (פָּלַל) [pronounced paw-LAHL]

to pray, to intercede, to make intercession for, to ask for a favorable determination

3rd person masculine singular, Hithpael imperfect

Strong’s #6419 BDB #813

This is the first occurrence of this word in the Bible.

baʿad (בַּעַד) [pronounced BAH-ģad]

by, near; because of; behind, after; about, round about; between [two things], through; into, among; pro, for; away from, behind; on behalf of

generally a preposition of separation or nearness with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong's #1157 BDB #126

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

châyâh (חָיָה) [pronounced khaw-YAW]

 to live, to have life, to revive, to recover health, to be healed, to be refreshed

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong's #2421 & #2425 BDB #310


Translation: ...and he will pray on behalf of you and you will live. We have another word that occurs for the first time in Scripture, and, again, we must reasonably assume that this is a word that Abimelech knew and understood. We have already been introduced to the concept of prayer, where Abraham prayed on behalf of Lot (which is known as an intercessory prayer) at the end of Gen. 18. We know that when Abraham prays to God, this is powerful and that God answers his prayers (Gen. 19:29).


God answered Abraham’s prayers on both occasions, although Abraham may not realize that God listened to him regarding Lot and Sodom. However, here Abraham were clearly understand that his prayer is answered by God and that he will see the results.


There is another word in this verse which occurs for the first time: pâlal (פָּלַל) [pronounced paw-LAHL], which means, to pray, to intercede, to make intercession for, to ask for a favorable determination. Strong’s #6419 BDB #813. This is the first time that these two words occur in the Bible and they are both found here, right in this one verse.


You may not realize it, but finding these words together in the same verse at the same time is very significant. And it is even more significant that these two words are found together for the first time in the Bible in the same verse.


God has essentially warned Abimelech that he was facing the sin unto death. Not only would God take out Abimelech under the sin unto death, but God would have taken out Abimelech’s family as well. There is blessing by association; but there is also cursing by association, which fact is revealed here. So, God warns Abimelech in this dream, and tells him that this Abraham is a prophet and that he will pray or intercede for Abimelech.


There is the easy way and there is the hard way. Sarah is about to be impregnated by Abraham (or she is already pregnant). God cannot allow for this to become corrupted. Abimelech’s involvement would corrupt the line of promise. If God has to, He will kill Abimelech and all those related to him (probably, God would use a communicable disease in order to accomplish this). The easy way is for Abimelech to give Sarah up, and to allow Abraham to pray for his deliverance.


If Abraham prays on behalf of Abimelech, he would be acting as a priest, speaking to God on Abimelech’s behalf. A priest represents man to God. Think of him as a defense lawyer, if that helps. So, hidden in this verse is both Abraham as a prophet (speaking for God to man) and Abraham functioning as a priest (speaking to God on behalf of man). This would make Abraham a unique person before God, and in this way, as the intercessor between Abimelech and God, Abraham foreshadows Jesus Christ. Abraham was able to do this. He could speak to God for Abimelech, and God would not act against Abimelech.


This is interesting; that God does not simply tell Abimelech, “Look, you release Sarah back to Abraham and I will not kill you.” He tells Abimelech to release Sarah because “Abraham is a prophet and he will pray on your behalf.” So, God expects for Abraham, even in this situation where God has intervened directly, to pray for God to spare Abimelech and his family.


Application: God expects for you to pray on behalf of those whom you know. You may not be able to do anything else, and others including them, may ridicule you for what you do, but you still pray on their behalf.


Genesis 20:7d

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

ʾîm (אִם) [pronounced eem]

if, though; lo, behold; oh that, if only; when, since, though when (or, if followed by a perfect tense which refers to a past event)

primarily an hypothetical particle

Strong's #518 BDB #49

The particle ʾîm (ם ̣א) can be used as a demonstrative (lo, behold), an interrogative (usually expecting a negative response and often used with other particles and rhetorically), and as a conditional particle (if, though); an indication of a wish or desire (oh that, if only; this is a rare usage).

Gesenius writes: Its primary power I regard as demonstrative, lo! Behold! 

ʾêyn (אֵין) [pronounced ān]

nothing, not, [is] not; not present, not ready; expresses non-existence, absence or non-possession; [there is] no [none, not one, no one, not]

particle of negation; substantive of negation; with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix

Strong’s #369 BDB #34

shûwb (שוּב) [pronounced shoobv]

to cause to return, to bring, to be caused to turn back mentally, reminisce, to return something, to restore, to bring back, to send back, to regain, to recover, to make restitution, reconsider, think again, to be caused to return

Hiphil participle

Strong's #7725 BDB #996


Translation: And if you do not return [her to him],... The particle here seems to be both used as a demonstrative and as a conditional particle. And, listen, if you do not return [her to him]... seems to be what is being said here. At this point, God will tell Abimelech of the consequences of disobeying him.


Genesis 20:7e

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

yâdaʿ (יָדַע) [pronounced yaw-DAHĢ]

to know, to perceive, to acquire knowledge, to become acquainted with, to know by experience, to have a knowledge of something; to see; to learn; to recognize [admit, acknowledge, confess]

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperative

Strong’s #3045 BDB #393

kîy (כִּי) [pronounced kee]

for, that, because; when, at that time, which, what time

explanatory or temporal conjunction; preposition

Strong's #3588 BDB #471

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

to die; to perish, to be destroyed

Qal infinitive absolute

Strong's #4191 BDB #559

The Qal infinite absolute is a verbal noun which can serve as a noun, verb or adverb. Here, it is used to intensify the meaning of the main verb and would be translated surely, certainly, indeed, must.

mûwth (מוּת) [pronounced mooth]

to die; to perish, to be destroyed

2nd person masculine singular, Qal imperfect

Strong's #4191 BDB #559


Translation: ...know that you will certainly die,... God does not simply say, “You will die.” God says, “Know [this], that, while dying you will die.” What God is saying here is very powerful and in terms that cannot be mistaken.


This is firstly addressed to Abimelech. However, God widens this warning to include all of his family.


God has set up a very clear delineation here of the crime and the punishment and he will allow this Abimelech the free will to make his choice. If he believes in Yahweh, he will obey and if he does not, he will ignore the dream. This is why we know that he is a believer. Despite Abraham's duplicity, God still uses this opportunity to confront Abimelech. God has always combined all things together for good.


Genesis 20:7f

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

ʾattâh (אַתָּה) [pronounced aht-TAW]

you (often, the verb to be is implied)

2nd person masculine singular, personal pronoun

Strong’s #859 BDB #61

we (or ve) (וְ or וּ) [pronounced weh]

and, even, then; namely; when; since, that; though

simple wâw conjunction

No Strong’s # BDB #251

kôl (כֹּל) [pronounced kohl]; also kôl (כֹּל) [pronounced kohl]

all, all things, the whole, totality, the entirety, everything

masculine singular noun without the definite article

Strong’s #3605 BDB #481

ʾăsher (אֲֹשֶר) [pronounced ash-ER]

that, which, when, who, whom

relative pronoun

Strong's #834 BDB #81

I could not find any indication that these two words together mean anything other than all that, all things which [that] [is, are].

lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le]

to, for, towards, in regards to

directional/relational preposition with the 2nd person masculine singular suffix; pausal form

No Strong’s # BDB #510


Translation: ...you and all that belongs to you [lit., all that (is) to you].” God makes certain that Abimelech knows that this will be done to his entire family. Everyone who belongs to you (that is all of Abimelech’s family and servants) would die. God does not mince words here. What is at stake is very important. Abraham is going to be the father of the Jewish race, and he will sire a son through Sarah. Nothing is going to get in God’s way in order to bring this to pass.


Genesis 20:7 Now therefore, restore his wife to the man. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. And if you do not restore her, know that you will surely die, you, and all that are yours.


This may not seem fair to you. Abraham was the one who was dishonest. Abimelech was just acting according to what he believed to be true. Why is Abimelech at fault? This is a parallel which is set up. Abimelech is simply acting within his own nature according to the laws as they were in that day. In this way, he is representative of all mankind—he is acting according to his own nature. You and I both have weaknesses; we suffer from a lust pattern. When we give in to this lust pattern, we are acting according to our fallen nature. It is volition which takes us to that point. Abimelech is acting in accordance with his natural desire.


On the other hand, Abraham represents the Revealed Lord. Through Abraham alone could Abimelech emerge from this situation unharmed. Through Abraham alone was Abimelech protected. Don’t get confused; this is all illustrative. Abimelech and Abraham are both believers. We are not talking about a real relationship here, we are talking about a representative relationship; we are talking about a relationship between man and God that is foreshadowed here. We require Jesus to stand between us and God, to intercede for us; and that is what Abraham will do on behalf of Abimelech. Abimelech is already saved; he already believes in the Revealed Lord; but this is done for us today to simply illustrate how Jesus acts as both priest and prophet; He represents us to God and He represents God to us, acting as an intercessor between us and God. Many times in the Bible, there is an intercessor between man and God, and this intercessor illustrates Jesus Christ.


Abraham here is a type of Christ.

The Parallels Between the Coming Savior and Abraham in Genesis 20

The Type

The Antitype

Abimelech is presented as a man subject to his own nature. He may not even realize that he is sinning.

Abimelech represents all mankind, and men act according to their own nature, perhaps not even realizing that they are sinning against God.

Abraham is spoken of here as a prophet—a prophet represents man to God. This is the first time we have the word prophet used.

Jesus Christ is the Prophet, and all that He spoke was God’s Word. “For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father Who sent Me has Himself given Me a commandment-what to say and what to speak.” (John 12:49; ESV; capitalized)

Abraham will also pray to God on behalf of Abimelech. In this way, he represents Abimelech to God. Again, this is all illustrative (that is, this is typical). Abimelech is a believer in the Revealed Lord. However, here, he is presented as helpless, ignorant and subject to his own nature.

Heb. 4:14–16 Having, therefore, a great high priest who penetrated the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast this profession of our hope. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of his grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (JUB 2000)

Keil and Delitzsch write: Abraham was προφήτης as the recipient of divine revelation, and was thereby placed in so confidential a relation to God, that he could intercede for sinners, and atone for sins of infirmity through his intercession.

Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather Who was raised, Who is at the right hand of God, Who also intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:33–34; NASB, capitalized)

God promises Abimelech life, if Abraham should intercede on his behalf. Otherwise, the sin that he has committed will result in death.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36; ESV)

Abimelech is ill and Abraham will pray on his behalf and he will be healed. This healing is representative of salvation. When Jesus healed, this represented salvation.

Jesus literally healed people, but this was illustrative of the healing of salvation. Luke 7:20–22 And when the men had come to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, 'Are You the One Who is to come, or shall we look for another?'" In that hour He healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind He bestowed sight. And He answered them, "Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (ESV; capitalized)

Those women under Abimelech had their wombs stopped up by God. They were not giving birth and they were not conceiving. Gen. 20:17–18

John 10:10b “I've come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (ISB) God is the giver of all life, but when Abimelech placed his nation is a place outside of the plan of God, God removed new life from his nation.

Now see if you have a better understanding of Rom. 8:33–34 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (ESV) 1Tim. 2:5–6 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (ESV mostly) A mediator is nearly the same thing as an intercessor. He is equal to both parties and he stands in between both parties to reach an agreement.

Because this chapter is often skipped, thinking it to be repetitive, it is actually very revealing and has information which is pertinent to us today.

Other commentators understood this to one degree or another:


John Calvin: But since Abraham is a prophet, he is constituted, as it were, a mediator between God and Abimelech. Christ, even then, was the only Mediator.


Keil and Delitzsch: God described Abraham as a prophet, whose intercession alone could remove his guilt, to show him the way of salvation.


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


So that there is no misunderstanding, even though this is all illustrative, what God warns here is real. If Abimelech stands as an obstruction to the plan of God, then God will remove him and his family. So, this is a very serious situation. So, this is not some made-up story to illustrate something; this is a true situation—this really happened—and God the Holy Spirit includes this in the narrative of Genesis because it foreshadows the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prophet of God, our Priest and our intercessor, our only Mediator between us and God. 1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. This is all found right here in this verse, foreshadowing Jesus Christ.


God is preserving the line of Abraham; God is preserving Sarah as being Abraham’s alone; and God is guaranteeing that the son of promise will be born to Abraham and Sarah. The line cannot be corrupted.


So far we have studied:


Gen, 20:1–7 Abraham moved to the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was living in Gerar, Abraham told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar sent men to take Sarah. God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, "You're going to die because of the woman that you've taken! She's a married woman!" Abimelech hadn't come near her, so he asked, "Lord, will you destroy a nation even if it's innocent? Didn't he tell me himself, 'She's my sister,' and didn't she even say, 'He's my brother'? I did this in all innocence and with a clear conscience." "Yes, I know that you did this with a clear conscience," God said to him in the dream. "In fact, I kept you from sinning against me. That's why I didn't let you touch her. Give the man's wife back to him now, because he's a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you don't give her back, you and all who belong to you are doomed to die." (God’s Word™)


For the second time, Abraham presents his wife Sarah as his sister in order to protect himself. She was taken into Abimelech’s harem, but Abimelech had not yet touched her. God spoke to Abimelech in a dream and warned him.


——————————


Chapter Outline

Charts, Graphics and Short Doctrines


Abimelech Returns Sarah to Abraham


And so rises up Abimelech in the morning and so he calls to all his servants and so he speaks all the words the these in their ears and so are afraid the men very.

Genesis

20:8

Consequently, Abimelech arose early the next morning and summoned all of his officials [lit., servants]. He declared all of these things in their hearing and the men were very afraid.

Consequently, Abimelech rose up early the next morning and he summoned all of his officials. He declared all that had happened in his dream to them and the men were very afraid.


Here is how others have translated this verse:


Ancient texts:

 

Masoretic Text (Hebrew)        And so rises up Abimelech in the morning and so he calls to all his servants and so he speaks all the words the these in their ears and so are afraid the men very.

Targum of Onkelos                And Abimelek arose in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these words before them; and the men feared greatly.

Latin Vulgate                          And Abimelech forthwith rising up in the night, called all his servants: and spoke all these words in their hearing, and all the men were exceedingly afraid.

Peshitta (Syriac)                    Therefore Abimeleck rose early in the morning and called all of his servants and told them all these words; and the men were exceedingly afraid.

Septuagint (Greek)                And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and he spoke all these words in their ears, and all the men feared exceedingly.

 

Significant differences:           The Latin has Abimelech rising at night.


Thought-for-thought translations; paraphrases:

 

Contemporary English V.       Early the next morning Abimelech sent for his officials, and when he told them what had happened, they were frightened.

Easy English                          So early in the morning Abimelech called all his servants. He told all the servants about his dream. They were very afraid.

Easy-to-Read Version            So very early the next morning, Abimelech called all his servants and told them about the dream. The servants were scared.

Good News Bible (TEV)         Early the next morning Abimelech called all his officials and told them what had happened, and they were terrified.

The Message                         Abimelech was up first thing in the morning. He called all his house servants together and told them the whole story. They were shocked.

New Berkeley Version           Early in the morning Abimelech got up, summoned all his attendants and repeated all these words for them to hear, and they were thoroughly frightened.


Partially literal and partially paraphrased translations:

 

Ancient Roots Translinear      Abimelech arose in the morning, called all his servants, and spoke all these words in their ears. The men feared a hundredfold.

God’s Word                         Early in the morning Abimelech called together all his officials. He told them about all of this, and they were terrified.

New American Bible              Early the next morning Abimelech called all his servants and informed them of everything that had happened, and the men were filled with fear.

NIRV                                      Early the next morning Abimelech sent for all of his officials. He told them everything that had happened. They were really afraid.

New Jerusalem Bible             Early next morning, Abimelech summoned his full court and told them the whole story, at which the people were very much afraid.

New Simplified Bible              So Abimelech got up early in the morning. He called all his servants and told them everything. The men were very afraid.

Revised English Bible            Next morning Abimelech rose early and called together all his court officials; when he told them the whole story, the men were terrified.


Mostly literal renderings (with some occasional paraphrasing):

 

Bible in Basic English             So Abimelech got up early in the morning and sent for all his servants and gave them word of these things, and they were full of fear.

Conservapedia                       So Abimelech got up early in the morning, and called all his slaves, and briefed them thoroughly, and the men were very much afraid. Literally, "spoke all these things into their ears."

The Expanded Bible              So early the next morning, Abimelech called all his ·officers [Lservants] and told them everything that had happened in the dream. They were very afraid.

Ferar-Fenton Bible                 When Abimelek awoke in the morning, he called his ministers, and related in their hearing the whole of these events, and the men were greatly afraid.

HCSB                                     Early in the morning Abimelech got up, called all his servants together, and personally told them all these things; and the men were terrified.

New Advent Bible                  And Abimelech forthwith rising up in the night, called all his servants: and spoke all these words in their hearing, and all the men were exceedingly afraid.

NET Bible®                             Early in the morning [Heb "And Abimelech rose early in the morning and he summoned."] Abimelech summoned [The verb qârâʾ (קָרָא) [pronounced kaw-RAW] followed by the lamed preposition lâmed (לְ) [pronounced le] means "to summon."] all his servants. When he told them about all these things [Heb "And he spoke all these things in their ears."], they [Heb "the men." This has been replaced by the pronoun "they" in the translation for stylistic reasons.] were terrified.

NIV – UK                                Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.


Jewish/Hebrew Names Bibles:

 

exeGeses companion Bible   And Abi Melech starts early in the morning

and calls all his servants

and words all these words in their ears:

and the men awe mightily:...

Kaplan Translation                 Abimelekh got up early in the morning, and he summoned all his servants. He discreetly [Literally, 'in their ears' (see Genesis 44:18). Or 'publicly,' see Genesis 23:10,13.] repeated all these words to them, and the men were very frightened.

The Scriptures 1998              So Aimele rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and spoke all these words in their hearing. And the men were greatly frightened.


Literal, almost word-for-word, renderings:

 

The Amplified Bible                So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things; and the men were exceedingly filled with reverence and fear.

Concordant Literal Version    And early is Abimelech rising in the morning, and calling is he all his servants, and is speaking all these words in their ears. And fearing are all the mortals exceedingly.

Heritage Bible                        And Abimelech rose early in the dawn, and called all his servants, and spoke all these words in their ears; and the men were exceedingly afraid.

Kretzmann’s Commentary    Abimelech Reproves Abraham

Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears; and the men were sore afraid. The sincerity of Abimelech is shown by the fact that he lost no time in righting the unconscious wrong which he had committed. At the very earliest opportunity he informed his servants of the true state of affairs, to whom the effect of his own reverent fear was communicated.

Syndein                                  {Indicates a Good King} Abimelech kept on rising early {shakam} in the morning, and kept on calling his slaves/servants {`ebed}, and intensively communicated categorically {dabar - Piel intensive stem} these words {dabar} in their ears. And the men were greatly afraid.

Updated Bible Version 2.11   And Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his slaves, and told all these things in their ears. And the men were very afraid.

World English Bible                Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ear. The men were very scared.

Young’s Updated LT             And Abimelech rises early in the morning, and calls for all his servants, and speaks all these words in their ears; and the men fear exceedingly.

 

The gist of this verse:          Abimelech got up early the next morning and called all of his servants together to tell them what happened. They were immediately frightened.


Genesis 20:8a

Hebrew/Pronunciation

Common English Meanings

Notes/Morphology

BDB and Strong’s Numbers

wa (or va) (וַ) [pronounced wah]

and so, and then, then, and; so, that, yet, therefore, consequently; because

wâw consecutive

No Strong’s # BDB #253

When we find the wâw consecutive linking a host of Qal imperfects, the sense is not a continuous or prolonged action in the verbs, but a continued, chronological and/or logical action of the action of the verbs.