Home

Recap: (For the first part of Genesis (chapters 1-18) see genesis 18 recap).

So far in the second section of Genesis, we have looked at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.


First read Genesis 20 1-18


1 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,


Where’s that? About 12 miles inland from Gaza


Map008


1 Now Abraham moved on from there

But not just Abraham – by now he had a sizeable tribe (318 fighting men, probably as many women, and we could imagine as many children. Also a number of personal servants and slaves).


Relocating a small town of around a thousand people was not a light thing to do.


So why should he move?


- Perhaps the constant view of destruction, in an area which had once been so pleasant, was too much to bear.

- Maybe he worried that he would be targeted by the defeated Kings of the North and he would certainly be overcome if they returned and made a concerted attack.

- Maybe he simply needed more fertile grassland for his ever-growing flocks and herds. (Remember 13v6 where Lot and Abraham had to separate?)

- Maybe Aner, Eshcol and Mamre now considered Abraham was so powerful he could be a future threat to them.

- Maybe they considered that Abraham’s God was a potential threat. The very people who they had helped rescue from Kedorlaomer and his allies, had now been destroyed by Abraham’s God – at a stroke. Not only that but his God even visited Abraham and outlined his plans before taking action.


Whatever the cause, Abraham set off from the heights around Mamre and headed for the coastal plains. But he couldn’t just march in with his whole entourage and take over a section of someone else’s land. He first approached the ‘King’ of the capital city, Gerar.


Abimelek may well have heard of Abraham’s exploits and would be glad to have him as an ally, rather than a potential threat. An agreement would have been made resulting in Abimelek taking Abraham’s ‘sister’ as surety. (Often daughters would be exchanged, usually as additional wives, thus strengthening family ties).


2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.’ Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, ‘You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.’


Now Abimelek was an upright man and this came as a great shock to him. He didn’t doubt for a minute that the person that was talking to him in the dream was the Lord – so he protests his innocence.


4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, ‘Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 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.’

6 Then God said to him in the dream, ‘Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 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.’


The dream was very vivid and disturbed Abimelek so much that he couldn’t sleep so:


8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.


But not only afraid – I think to say they were confused and disappointed would be putting it mildly.


9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, ‘What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.’ 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, ‘What was your reason for doing this?’


What have I ever done to you?

Why did you lie to me?

Not only lie to me but cause me to do something which could bring disaster to me and my kingdom – we all know what your God did to Sodom and Gomorrah.

‘You have done things to me that should never be done.’ 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, ‘What was your reason for doing this?’’


11 Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, “There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.” 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s household, I said to her, “This is how you can show your love to me: everywhere we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’”’


What a very feeble response – and surely Abraham would have learnt from his time in Egypt? (Genesis 12:10-20) And was he aware that even now his wife was probably in the early stages of pregnancy? (Genesis 18:14)


But before we are quick to condemn Abraham:

Do we learn from our mistakes?

Do we sometimes tell half-truths?

Is it ever right to lie?


14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, ‘My land is before you; live wherever you like.’

16 To Sarah he said, ‘I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offence against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.’


Abimelek now shows amazing generosity towards Abraham:

- Sheep

- Cattle

- Male &

- Female slaves

- And 1000 shekels of silver (12 kg - at today’s prices over £500,000)

- And freedom to settle wherever he wanted.


We might have thought that that was what Abraham should have offered Abimelek, to make up for his lie and as payment to be allowed to settle.

Why was it this way round? (It was obvious to Abimelek that God himself was involved here and when you deal with Gods you have to be generous!)


17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.


Perhaps in a tight-knit community it had already become apparent that no-one was conceiving and that was raising questions in people’s minds.



Genesis 21Genesis 19








Free small group Bible Study guides, commentary, lessons, questions and other material. For the PDF version click   HERE

Genesis 20:Verses 1-18 Abraham to Gerar. Abimelek. Abraham’s wife (2)