Genesis 20 Commentary

Genesis 20 commentary Bible study

Genesis 20 commentary Bible study
Genesis 20 Commentary

Genesis 20 is a commentary on Abraham's cowardice and betrayal of his wife Sarah. At the same time, Genesis 20 is also a commentary on the grace of God who chose to build a great nation out of such a man.

GENESIS 20:1  1 And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.

Where are "Kadesh and Shur, and ... Gerar" (Genesis 20:1)?
Kadesh is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Gaza and Shur is about 50 miles east of Kadesh. After living in "between Kadesh and Shur" (Genesis 20:1), Abraham moved north(east) and "stayed in Gerar" (Genesis 20:1), which is 10 miles (16 kilometers) southeast of Gaza.

GENESIS 20:2-13  2 Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 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.” 4 But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? 5 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 innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 And God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” 8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. 9 And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.” 10 Then Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?” 11 And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. 12 But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Why did Abraham tell people that his wife is his "sister" (Genesis 20:2) and ask her to tell them that he is her "brother" (Genesis 20:13)?
Back then, if a powerful man wanted to make an unmarried woman his wife, he would simply take her. But if she were married and the man lacked "the fear of God" (Genesis 20:11), he would kill her husband and then take her. Abraham didn't want to get killed "on account of [his] wife" (Genesis 20:11).

Was Abraham a coward?
Of the worst kind. Instead of defending his wife with his life, he was wiling to and even asked his wife be willing to go and have sex with and marry someone else to save his neck.

Did he pull this stunt only in Gerar?
No, "in every place, wherever" (Genesis 20:13) they went.

How must his wife have felt about Abraham's cowardice?

Why did God choose to build a nation out of such a wimp?
To demonstrate His greatness, God didn't turn a great man into a great nation; He turned a wimp into a great nation.

Who protected Sarah against Abimelech?
God: "For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her" (Genesis 20:6).

Why did Abimelech rise "early in the morning" (Genesis 20:8)?
After having had the scariest night of his night - imagine being personally threatened by God Himself - it is doubtful he got any sleep after his dream.

GENESIS 20:14-18  14 Then Abimelech took sheep, oxen, and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “See, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 Then to Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody.” Thus she was rebuked. 17 So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; 18 for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

How long had Sarah been in Abimelech's custody?
Long enough, perhaps months, for "all of the wombs of the house of Abimelech" to have been noticeably "closed up" (Genesis 20:18).