B'resheet (Gen) 20
1Avraham traveled from there toward the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. While living as an alien in G’rar, 2Avraham was saying of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister”; so Avimelekh king of G’rar sent and took Sarah. 3But God came to Avimelekh in a dream one night and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, since she is someone’s wife.” 4Now Avimelekh had not come near her; so he said, “Lord, will you kill even an upright nation? 5Didn’t he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In doing this, my heart has been pure and my hands innocent.” 6God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in doing this, your heart has been pure; and I too have kept you from sinning against me. This is why I didn’t let you touch her. 7Therefore, return the man’s wife to him now. He is a prophet, and he will pray for you, so that you will live. But if you don’t return her, know that you will certainly die — you and all who belong to you.”
8Avimelekh got up early in the morning, called all his servants and told them these things; and the men became very afraid. 9Then Avimelekh called Avraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you to cause you to bring on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done things to me that are just not done.” 10Avimelekh went on, asking Avraham, “Whatever could have caused you to do such a thing?” 11Avraham replied, “It was because I thought, ‘There could not possibly be any fear of God in this place, so they will kill me in order to get my wife.’ 12But she actually is also my sister, the daughter of my father but not the daughter of my mother, and so she became my wife. 13When God had me leave my father’s house, I told her, ‘Do me this favor: wherever we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’”
14Avimelekh took sheep, cattle, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Avraham; and he returned to him Sarah his wife. 15Then Avimelekh said, “Look, my country lies before you; live where you like.” 16To Sarah he said, “Here, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. That will allay the suspicions of everyone who is with you. Before everyone you are cleared.” 17Avraham prayed to God, and God healed Avimelekh and his wife and slave-girls, so that they could have children. 18For Adonai had made every woman in Avimelekh’s household infertile on account of Sarah Avraham’s wife.
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Abraham at Gerar.#Abraham again passes off his wife Sarah as his sister to escape trouble in a foreign land (cf. 12:10–13:1, the J source). The story appears to be from a different source (according to some, E) and deals with the ethical questions of the incident. Gn 26:6–11 is yet another retelling of the story, but with Isaac and Rebekah as characters instead of Abraham and Sarah. 1From there Abraham journeyed on to the region of the Negeb, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur.#Kadesh and Shur: Kadesh-barnea was a major oasis on the southernmost border of Canaan, and Shur was probably the “way to Shur,” the road to Egypt. Gerar was a royal city in the area, but has not been identified with certainty. While he resided in Gerar as an alien, 2Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took Sarah. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him: You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she has a husband. 4Abimelech, who had not approached her, said: “O Lord, would you kill an innocent man? 5Was he not the one who told me, ‘She is my sister’? She herself also stated, ‘He is my brother.’ I acted with pure heart and with clean hands.” 6#Abimelech is exonerated of blame, but by that fact not cleared of the consequences of his act. He is still under the sentence of death for abducting another man’s wife; the consequences result from the deed not the intention. God answered him in the dream: Yes, I know you did it with a pure heart. In fact, it was I who kept you from sinning against me; that is why I did not let you touch her. 7So now, return the man’s wife so that he may intercede for you, since he is a prophet,#Prophet: only here is Abraham explicitly called “prophet,” Hebrew nabi (cf. Ps 105:15). that you may live. If you do not return her, you can be sure that you and all who are yours will die.
8Early the next morning Abimelech called all his servants and informed them of everything that had happened, and the men were filled with fear. 9Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him: “What have you done to us! What wrong did I do to you that you would have brought such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have treated me in an intolerable way. 10What did you have in mind,” Abimelech asked him, “that you would do such a thing?” 11Abraham answered, “I thought there would be no fear of God#Fear of God is the traditional though unsatisfactory rendering of Hebrew yir’at YHWH, literally, “revering Yahweh.” The phrase refers neither to the emotion of fear nor to religious reverence of a general kind. Rather it refers to adherence to a single deity (in a polytheistic culture), honoring that deity with prayers, rituals, and obedience. The phrase occurs again in 26:24; 43:23; and 50:19. It is very common in the wisdom literature of the Bible. in this place, and so they would kill me on account of my wife. 12Besides, she really is my sister,#My sister: marrying one’s half sister was prohibited later in Israel’s history. but only my father’s daughter, not my mother’s; and so she became my wife. 13When God sent me wandering from my father’s house, I asked her: ‘Would you do me this favor? In whatever place we come to, say: He is my brother.’”#Gn 12:13.
14Then Abimelech took flocks and herds and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. 15Then Abimelech said, “Here, my land is at your disposal; settle wherever you please.” 16To Sarah he said: “I hereby give your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This will preserve your honor before all who are with you and will exonerate you before everyone.” 17Abraham then interceded with God, and God restored health to Abimelech, to his wife, and his maidservants, so that they bore children; 18for the Lord had closed every womb in Abimelech’s household on account of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
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