20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev 1 region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident 2 in Gerar, 20:2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her.
20:4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, 6 would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 7 20:5 Did Abraham 8 not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, 9 ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this with a clear conscience 10 and with innocent hands!”
20:6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. 11 That is why I have kept you 12 from sinning against me and why 13 I did not allow you to touch her. 20:7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed 14 he is a prophet 15 and he will pray for you; thus you will live. 16 But if you don’t give her back, 17 know that you will surely die 18 along with all who belong to you.”
20:8 Early in the morning 19 Abimelech summoned 20 all his servants. When he told them about all these things, 21 they 22 were terrified. 20:9 Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that would cause you to bring such great guilt on me and my kingdom? 23 You have done things to me that should not be done!” 24 20:10 Then Abimelech asked 25 Abraham, “What prompted you to do this thing?” 26
20:11 Abraham replied, “Because I thought, 27 ‘Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of 28 my wife.’ 20:12 What’s more, 29 she is indeed my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s daughter. She became my wife. 20:13 When God made me wander 30 from my father’s house, I told her, ‘This is what you can do to show your loyalty to me: 31 Every place we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’”
20:14 So Abimelech gave 32 sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 20:15 Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.” 33
20:17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children. 20:18 For the Lord 37 had caused infertility to strike every woman 38 in the household of Abimelech because he took 39 Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
[20:1] sn Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.
[20:3] 4 tn Heb “Look, you [are] dead.” The Hebrew construction uses the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with a second person pronominal particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with by the participle. It is a highly rhetorical expression.
[20:4] 7 tn 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.
[20:7] sn 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.
[20:9] 23 tn Heb “How did I sin against you that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin?” The expression “great sin” refers to adultery. For discussion of the cultural background of the passage, see J. J. Rabinowitz, “The Great Sin in Ancient Egyptian Marriage Contracts,” JNES 18 (1959): 73, and W. L. Moran, “The Scandal of the ‘Great Sin’ at Ugarit,” JNES 18 (1959): 280-81.
[20:13] 30 tn The Hebrew verb is plural. This may be a case of grammatical agreement with the name for God, which is plural in form. However, when this plural name refers to the one true God, accompanying predicates are usually singular in form. Perhaps Abraham is accommodating his speech to Abimelech’s polytheistic perspective. (See GKC 463 §145.i.) If so, one should translate, “when the gods made me wander.”
[20:16] 34 sn A thousand pieces [Heb “shekels”] of silver. The standards for weighing money varied considerably in the ancient Near East, but the generally accepted weight for the shekel is 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce). This makes the weight of silver here 11.5 kilograms, or 400 ounces (about 25 pounds).
[20:16] 35 sn To your ‘brother.’ Note the way that the king refers to Abraham. Was he being sarcastic? It was surely a rebuke to Sarah. What is amazing is how patient this king was. It is proof that the fear of God was in that place, contrary to what Abraham believed (see v. 11).
[20:16] 36 tn Heb “Look, it is for you a covering of the eyes, for all who are with you, and with all, and you are set right.” The exact meaning of the statement is unclear. Apparently it means that the gift of money somehow exonerates her in other people’s eyes. They will not look on her as compromised (see G. J. Wenham, Genesis [WBC], 2:74).
[20:18] sn The