Genesis 20
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1  Avraham journeyed from there to the region of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was sojourning in Gerar,

va-yi-SA mi-SHAM av-ra-HAM AR-tzah ha-NE-gev va-YAY-shev bayn ka-DAYSH u-VAYN SHUR va-YA-gor big-RAR

א  וַיִּסַּע מִשָּׁם אַבְרָהָם אַרְצָה הַנֶּגֶב וַיֵּשֶׁב בֵּין־קָדֵשׁ וּבֵין שׁוּר וַיָּגָר בִּגְרָר׃

20:1   Avraham journeyed from there

Scripture does not provide any reason for Avraham’s travels.  Consequently, Rabbi David Kimchi, a medieval commentator and grammarian known as the Radak, posits that Avraham travels in order to dwell in the different parts of the land that Hashem gave to him.  By residing in various places, even for short periods of time, Avraham thereby adds his own effort to acquire the breadth and width of the land promised to him.  In this way, Avraham is fulfilling God’s command “walk about the land” (Genesis 13:17).  Saddened by the loss of the cities of Sodom and GomorrahAvraham wonders if the destruction could have been prevented by his presence there.  He resolves to reach further areas in Eretz Yisrael.2 comments

2  Avraham said of Sara his wife, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sara brought to him.

va-YO-mer av-ra-HAM el sa-RAH ish-TO a-KHO-tee HEE va-yish-LAKH a-vee-ME-lekh ME-lekh g’-RAR va-yi-KAKH et sa-RAH

ב  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֶל־שָׂרָה אִשְׁתּוֹ אֲחֹתִי הִוא וַיִּשְׁלַח אֲבִימֶלֶךְ מֶלֶךְ גְּרָר וַיִּקַּח אֶת־שָׂרָה׃

20:2   So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sara brought to him

Although Sara was taken captive by both Pharoah (Genesis 12:19) and Abimelech, her courage and bravery inspired many Jewish women over the centuries, especially those who carried her name. Sarah Braverman, the “first lady of the IDF,” was born in Romania in 1918, and arrived in Israel when she was 20 years old.  Upon her arrival, she immediately joined the Jewish liberation movement. Braverman was one of the first women to join “Palmach.” the special fighting forces of the Haganah and one of the forerunners of the Israeli army. Braverman was chosen to be one of three women in a group of 37 Palmach fighters to take part in the 1943 parachuting mission behind enemy lines into Nazi Europe. After the creation of the State of Israel, Braverman helped establish the IDF Women’s Corps. Sarah Braverman truly lived up to her namesake, the original Sara. She was a brave and devoted Jewish heroine, who put her life on the line time and again to protect and defend her people.Comment

3  But Hashem came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “You are to die because of the woman that you have taken, for she is a married woman.”

ג  וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל־אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בַּחֲלוֹם הַלָּיְלָה וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ הִנְּךָ מֵת עַל־הָאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר־לָקַחְתָּ וְהִוא בְּעֻלַת בָּעַל׃

4  Now Abimelech had not approached her. He said, “O Hashem, will You slay people even though innocent?

ד  וַאֲבִימֶלֶךְ לֹא קָרַב אֵלֶיהָ וַיֹּאמַר אֲדֹנָי הֲגוֹי גַּם־צַדִּיק תַּהֲרֹג׃

5  He himself said to me, ‘She is my sister!’ And she also said, ‘He is my brother.’ When I did this, my heart was blameless and my hands were clean.”

ה  הֲלֹא הוּא אָמַר־לִי אֲחֹתִי הִוא וְהִיא־גַם־הִוא אָמְרָה אָחִי הוּא בְּתָם־לְבָבִי וּבְנִקְיֹן כַּפַּי עָשִׂיתִי זֹאת׃

6  And Hashem said to him in the dream, “I knew that you did this with a blameless heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. That was why I did not let you touch her.

ו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו הָאֱלֹהִים בַּחֲלֹם גַּם אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי כִּי בְתָם־לְבָבְךָ עָשִׂיתָ זֹּאת וָאֶחְשֹׂךְ גַּם־אָנֹכִי אוֹתְךָ מֵחֲטוֹ־לִי עַל־כֵּן לֹא־נְתַתִּיךָ לִנְגֹּעַ אֵלֶיהָ׃

7  Therefore, restore the man’s wife—since he is a navi, 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.”

ז  וְעַתָּה הָשֵׁב אֵשֶׁת־הָאִישׁ כִּי־נָבִיא הוּא וְיִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעַדְךָ וֶחְיֵה וְאִם־אֵינְךָ מֵשִׁיב דַּע כִּי־מוֹת תָּמוּת אַתָּה וְכָל־אֲשֶׁר־לָךְ׃

8  Early next morning, Abimelech called his servants and told them all that had happened; and the men were greatly frightened.

ח  וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בַּבֹּקֶר וַיִּקְרָא לְכָל־עֲבָדָיו וַיְדַבֵּר אֶת־כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה בְּאָזְנֵיהֶם וַיִּירְאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים מְאֹד׃

9  Then Abimelech summoned Avraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What wrong have I done that you should bring so great a guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.

ט  וַיִּקְרָא אֲבִימֶלֶךְ לְאַבְרָהָם וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ מֶה־עָשִׂיתָ לָּנוּ וּמֶה־חָטָאתִי לָךְ כִּי־הֵבֵאתָ עָלַי וְעַל־מַמְלַכְתִּי חֲטָאָה גְדֹלָה מַעֲשִׂים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יֵעָשׂוּ עָשִׂיתָ עִמָּדִי׃

10  What, then,” Abimelech demanded of Avraham, “was your purpose in doing this thing?”

י  וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ אֶל־אַבְרָהָם מָה רָאִיתָ כִּי עָשִׂיתָ אֶת־הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה׃

11  “I thought,” said Avraham, “surely there is no fear of Hashem in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.

יא  וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם כִּי אָמַרְתִּי רַק אֵין־יִרְאַת אֱלֹהִים בַּמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה וַהֲרָגוּנִי עַל־דְּבַר אִשְׁתִּי׃

12  And besides, she is in truth my sister, my father’s daughter though not my mother’s; and she became my wife.

יב  וְגַם־אָמְנָה אֲחֹתִי בַת־אָבִי הִוא אַךְ לֹא בַת־אִמִּי וַתְּהִי־לִי לְאִשָּׁה׃

13  So when Hashem made me wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘Let this be the kindness that you shall do me: whatever place we come to, say there of me: He is my brother.’”

יג  וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִתְעוּ אֹתִי אֱלֹהִים מִבֵּית אָבִי וָאֹמַר לָהּ זֶה חַסְדֵּךְ אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשִׂי עִמָּדִי אֶל כָּל־הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר נָבוֹא שָׁמָּה אִמְרִי־לִי אָחִי הוּא׃

14  Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Avraham; and he restored his wife Sara to him.

יד  וַיִּקַּח אֲבִימֶלֶךְ צֹאן וּבָקָר וַעֲבָדִים וּשְׁפָחֹת וַיִּתֵּן לְאַבְרָהָם וַיָּשֶׁב לוֹ אֵת שָׂרָה אִשְׁתּוֹ׃

15  And Abimelech said, “Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.”

טו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֲבִימֶלֶךְ הִנֵּה אַרְצִי לְפָנֶיךָ בַּטּוֹב בְּעֵינֶיךָ שֵׁב׃

16  And to Sara he said, “I herewith give your brother a thousand pieces of silver; this will serve you as vindication before all who are with you, and you are cleared before everyone.”

טז  וּלְשָׂרָה אָמַר הִנֵּה נָתַתִּי אֶלֶף כֶּסֶף לְאָחִיךְ הִנֵּה הוּא־לָךְ כְּסוּת עֵינַיִם לְכֹל אֲשֶׁר אִתָּךְ וְאֵת כֹּל וְנֹכָחַת׃

17  Avraham then prayed to Hashem, and Hashem healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children;

יז  וַיִּתְפַּלֵּל אַבְרָהָם אֶל־הָאֱלֹהִים וַיִּרְפָּא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־אֲבִימֶלֶךְ וְאֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאַמְהֹתָיו וַיֵּלֵדוּ׃

18  for Hashem had closed fast every womb of the household of Abimelech because of Sara, the wife of Avraham.

 

יח  כִּי־עָצֹר עָצַר יְהוָה בְּעַד כָּל־רֶחֶם לְבֵית אֲבִימֶלֶךְ עַל־דְּבַר שָׂרָה אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָהָם׃

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Genesis 19
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  • Although this instance of Abimelech taking Avraham’s wife and returning her to Avraham only a few verses later, this incident may have been for quite some time as I see it. Since in verses 17 and 18, we see that the Lord opens the wombs of Abimelech’s household, this had to be some months as who would ever have known unless no one gets pregnant and that does not become evident overnight. I wonder, just how long Abimelech was kept from taking Sara into his bedchamber?

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