Abraham in Gerar

Genesis 20:1-18

Abraham now moves on to settle briefly in Gerar. There, he continues the charade of Egypt, telling others the beautiful Sarah is his sister, not his wife. Like before, she is taken by the king of the land, a man named Abimelech. God sends Abimelech a dream in which He tells the king to return the married woman Sarah or his life is forfeit. Abimelech protests that he had no idea or he would not have done such a thing, which God acknowledges, saying that is why He is giving Abimelech the chance to do the right thing. He tells Abimelech that if he does, Abraham will pray for him, since he is a man of God, and Abimelech will be saved.

 

Abimelech returns Sarah and confronts Abraham for his deception. Abraham defends his choice, saying there is no fear of God in Abimelech’s land. He also explains that she is a blood relative, and thus it is only a lie of omission to call her his sister. Abimelech gives Abraham money, flocks and servants to appease him for taking his wife, telling Abraham he may settle anywhere in Gerar that he likes. Abraham prays to God, and He lifts the plague that had affected Abimelech’s people.

 

The Torah never explains why Abraham and Sarah travel to Gerar. The Israel Bible cites Rabbi David Kimchi, who explains that Abraham wanted to travel as much of the land as possible, to put in a personal effort in acquiring the land God promised him and his descendants.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Abimelech invited Abraham and Sarah to stay in Gerar after being deceived?

Comments ( 18 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

  • Winston

    Abraham led a nomadic life with his huge herds of sheep and cattle. When the pasturage got depleted, it would be time to move to fresh pastures. The Torah did not give a specific motive to go to Gerar, probably because there was none. Just the usual need for fresh pastures.

    Another matter:
    What bothers me is that Abraham tells a whopping lie and makes off "like a bandit". I have not found a good rationale for this
    He profits materially from being dishonest.
    I've also read that he gets respect from the other tribes bcoz his one G-d has intimidated the king of Gerar.

    Is this acceptable M O. of the Just and Almighty?
    Does this set a precedent for Abraham's defendants and followers of his Deity to pull similar shady deals?
    I would really like to hear a direct exposition on this. Please.

    • Ben udouso

      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.
      Genesis 20:12 NKJV

  • Damian Sco

    How about simply "no hard feelings, since I respect and honor your G-d. I will restore all things to the way they should have been at the beginning" and shows his true intent by the invitation to Abraham to stay with him.

  • Pauline Graham

    I believe in these times of Abraham, that if a king, fancied a woman, the husband could be killed and she would be able to be the Kings wife. Sarah I believe was Abrahams half sister, so when he says that to the king, he is only partially lying. G-D doesn't like these man made customs and punishes the whole people with a curse. He then realised that it was Abrahams G-D, the one true G-D he calls Abraham and shames him and asks for the curse to be lifted. Thus the G-D of Abraham became the G-D of Abemelech and his family. He blessed Abraham with gifts and gold for the misunderstanding of this situation.

  • Deborah Hemstreet

    I am preparing a study on this passage and am surprised that no one looks at WHY Abraham moved to Gerar. Yes, it is correct Abraham believed the promise of God but taken in context, I think more is going on here and I’d love your feedback on this.

    Abraham has just received a promise but he has also seen the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Somehow, it would seem he knows Lot is safe, yet I would guess he never saw Lot again. Looking at the story from a human perspective, I.e., Abraham was a real person with thoughts, feelings, emotions, just like us, I can’t help but wonder if the move was motivated by grief of what happened, that 10 righteous people were not found. Maybe he had an assurance of Lot’s safety, but God had used Abraham to rescue these people a few years before. He knew them… and so he moved… pushing him on may have been the promise, but I think grief was at work.

    Hence, his reaction when he got among the people of Gerar. Perhaps he was shocked to see something done, or realized that these people too seemed ungodly, and perhaps he also feared another divine judgement? Certainly what had happened was on his mind when he says in verse 11 Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’
    (Gen. 20:11 HCSB)

    And so fear overtook logic, as it does many of us, and He forgot all the times God had delivered Him…

    What do you think?

    • Isaac Leshabane

      Hi and God bless you in Jesus Christ name amen. I believe Abraham frequently moved around the land because of what God said to him (Genesis 13:14-18) , emphasis being on verse 17. And the Ruach Hakodesh is teaching us there about people "The Fear of God". He is teaching us about people who are without the fear of God in their hearts as narrated about the people of Sodom and Gomorrah when God went there Himself to investigate(Genesis 18:21). The reason that Abraham gives to Abimelech for not fully disclosing the nature of his relationship with Sarah, is to teach us about people who are prone to do evil(People who are without the fear of God) and the people who are prone to refrain from doing evil(people with the fear of God in their hearts). The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom(proverbs 9:10)

    • Vinnette Thompson

      Absolutely the devil planted a spirit of fear and doubt. And Abraham been a man of God did not ask God for clarification. He assumed they were ungodly. But God is rich in love understanding, mercy, forgiveness. So God protected Sarah from being defiled.

  • The king of Gerar acted in innocence. and gave back Sarah to Avraham. To show kindness and not revenge he asked Avraham to stay. Kind of holding hostage to see that the G-d of Avraham would not do any harm to him. And G-d showed him his mercy and his houshold became very fruitful.

    • Isaac Leshabane

      Hi and God bless you in Jesus Christ name amen. I believe Abraham frequently moved around the land because of what God said to him (Genesis 13:14-18) , emphasis being on verse 17. And the Ruach Hakodesh is teaching us there about people "The Fear of God". He is teaching us about people who are without the fear of God in their hearts as narrated about the people of Sodom and Gomorrah when God went there Himself to investigate(Genesis 18:21). The reason that Abraham gives to Abimelech for not fully disclosing the nature of his relationship with Sarah, is to teach us about people who are prone to do evil(People who are without the fear of God) and the people who are prone to refrain from doing evil(people with the fear of God in their hearts). The fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom(proverbs 9:10)

  • Herman

    The possible stay in Gerar might be seen as a kind of holding hostage in case of problems with the G’d of Avraham. But maybe also a geste of kindness and reconciliation.

  • The prevailing sentiment among participants in this discussion (and I wholeheartedly agree) is that Abimelech recognized that God would bless him on account of Abraham. Still, it takes a great deal of humility to welcome someone who has caused you such distress. I think Abimelech’s respect for God is admirable, especially since Abraham tells him he doesn’t see the same respect for God among Abimelech’s people.

  • Sheila

    Also thought that through the alliance between Abraham and Abimelech — in spite of Abraham’s fears and lack of faith —- that the Lord rewarded Abimelech by opening the wombs of the women in his household as it was because of Sarah that barrenness resulted. Could this have been another reason why Abimelech invited them to stay? It also caused Abraham and Sarah to honour and realize that the God of covenant they believed in was faithful to His promises. It seems likely that the son of promise could have been conceived around this time. Need your thoughts Ahuva on this.

  • Magda

    I think it was all God’s doing – He connected to Abimelech through a dream and Abimelech feared / Sh’ma’ed God by letting Sarah go and blessing Abraham and his household materially. Abimelech saw that obeying the God of Abraham brings blessing. Even though Abraham disobeyed (deceived Abimelech and lied about his wife) Abraham’s God was (and is) still merciful when Abraham turned back to Him. I think Abimelech’s heart was moved to share in this and as Jesse said, Abimelech wanted a man like that in his territory and a relationship like that (I say).

    • I think you make a good point here, though I’m not sure I would categorize Abraham’s subterfuge as disobedience to God. Nowhere did God forbid Abraham from lying for his own protection.

  • Jesse

    Most likely Abimelech recognized the closeness of God and Abraham and he wanted a man like that in his territory. We should likewise live such intimate lives with God that others want us close so that they might receive the overflow of God’s blessings in our lives.

    • I like Jesse's point and agree with it wholeheartedly. I think Abimelech would see wisdom in forgiving Avraham for the deception to have him and Sarah in his kingdom considering that Elohim was so concerned with their wellbeing, enough so to intercede for him personally.
      Baruch Hashem.

    • I agree with you and Suejean. He recognized that HaShem was with Abraham and wanted the blessing. The overflow of HaShem's blessings.

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