Genesis 20:2 “…Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister’…”
After all that has happened, including the disaster he had when he tried this before, Abraham still does not seem to trust God to take care of him. You would think, even if he didn’t trust God, he would have more faith in his own ability. He was able to repel the Chaldean raiders. Granted, he had earthly allies and God certainly helped, but he keeps acting as though he is a timid mouse. Commentaries agree, but they also make another fine point. The Bible doesn’t candy coat its representation of men, Godly or heathen. It doesn’t really matter that a person has been called by God or that he is trying to live according to what God says. He is still a sin-natured man in need of daily grace. We also can’t compare Abraham with ourselves. We are no better than he in our ability to continually trust God, if we are honest with ourselves. And we have the advantage of the knowledge of Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure if the roles were reversed, Abraham could point to us and wonder, with all we’ve been given, how we could possibly demonstrate such lack of faith in God.
3-7 “…Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”
Since he thought Sarah was Abraham’s sister, Abimelech did indeed take her to be one of his wives. Doing so was probably a means of creating a connection with a powerful man who had entered his territory. God takes an immediate hand in the situation. He protects Sarah and prevents Abimelech from sinning. Abimelech pleads his case and God grants mercy as long as Abimelech stays true to his word.
7 “…restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live…”
Question arises, why didn’t God simply tell Abraham not to do this again? I get the impression from what God said about Abraham that God is still training Abraham to trust Him. He’s using the situation to show Abraham again that He is able to be trusted to protect Abraham and to fulfill His promises. Since we now have such knowledge of God, it is hard to imagine how different Abraham’s perception of God may have been. I keep coming back to the actual promises that God made, but I can’t say that I would make better choices in the situation. Waiting so long on the promise can take its toll on faith. Another opportunity that God takes to show his great grace and mercy.
12 “…indeed she is truly my sister…”
Trying to get out of a lie by a technicality. Pitiful excuse for bad behavior.
16 “…indeed this vindicates you before all who are with you and before everybody…”
Checked with commentaries. They had trouble with this section as well. Appears Abimelech is telling Sarah since he’s given Abraham gifts and freedom to dwell where he wishes, it shows he respects that Sarah is Abraham’s wife and proves to those who see her that nothing inappropriate happened. Commentaries suggest that rebuked could better be translated righted. Social and cultural actions and speech are very difficult to know and translate. Hard to know the exact mindset of the people.
17-18 “…Abraham prayed to God…God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants…LORD had closed up all the wombs…because of Sarah…”
On the surface it seems straightforward. But causes questions. How long did this episode last? Is it saying that they had been childless before and that God used the situation to show His power by giving them children? Or is it saying that all the women stopped having children due to the situation, and it was only resolved after Sarah was returned to Abraham? If that is the case, it seems a lot of time would have passed to recognize all of the elements. Commentaries suggest that something was already present which prevented child bearing or perhaps copulation itself, possibly some disease affecting both Abimelech and his wife and concubines. After Abraham’s prayer, it was healed or removed, and they were able to conceive. The time factor seems to be driving this idea as it’s not probable that a lot of time passed during this episode. Abraham’s prayer for the others reminds me of Job’s prayer for his friends. God does the acting, but chooses to include His servant in the process. Not sure of the reasons. Perhaps to give His servant respect in the eyes of the others, or to give His servant opportunity to participate with Him. With God things are always multifaceted, but we can be sure they are for the absolute best and are worth finding out.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.