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Let thy words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

The Bible in fewer words

Episode 6: Abraham repeats the "She's my sister" lie

(Genesis 20)

20 1 Abraham and Sarah traveled to the south country of Gerar. 2 When they arrived, Abraham told king Abimelech, that Sarah was his sister. And Abimelech had Sarah brought to him.

God threatens to kill Abimelech and his people

3 God came to Abimelech in a dream that night, and said,

You are a dead man. Because the woman you have taken is another man's wife.

4-5 But Abimelech (who hadn't come near Sarah), said, "But they said she was his sister."

6 God said,

I know you didn't do anything wrong. In fact, I stopped you from sinning against me by touching her.

7 Give Sarah back to Abraham. He'll pray for you, and I won't kill you.

If you don't, I'll kill you and all your people.

9 Abimelech called Abraham, and said, "Why did you lie to me about your wife?"

11 Abraham said, "Because I thought you'd kill me to get my wife."

Abraham says it was only a half lie

12 Abraham said to king Abimelech,

She is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother.

13 I ask Sarah to tell people she is my sister when we are away from home.

14-16 Abimelech gave Sarah back to Abraham, along with sheep, oxen, slaves, and a thousand pieces of silver.

God opens all the wombs in Abimelech's house

17-18 Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his female slaves, so that they all bare children. (God had "closed all the wombs" in Abimelech's house, because he believed Abe's lie about Sarah.)

Abimelech rebuking Abraham by Wenceslaus Hollar

A few more words about this episode

She's my sister (v.2)
The first time Abraham used the "she's my sister" lie, Sarah was about 65 years old. This time she is about 90 years old - but still looking good. So good, in fact, that it wasn't safe for Abraham to he her husband. Men would kill him to get her. So he lied again to save himself (and let Sarah be taken by another man).
You are a dead man (v.3)
God gets angry with king Abimelech, though the king hasn't even touched Sarah. He appears to the king in a dream, threatening to kill him and all of his people.

Dreams: Abimelech's Dream

I know you didn't do anything wrong (v.6)
Why did God threaten to kill Abimelech if he knew he didn't do anything wrong?
It was only a half lie (vv.12-16)
Was Sarah Abraham's half-sister? Abraham says she was, but we only have his word to go on here. The Bible doesn't say who Sarah's parents were.

But if Sarah is his half-sister, the marriage between Abraham and Sarah is condemned by the Bible (Lev 18:9, 20:17, and Dt 27:22).

But God blessed their marriage anyway.

Is incest forbidden?

Abraham prayed
This is the first time someone is healed by prayer in the Bible.
God healed Abimelech (v.17)

In the podcast, Carole and I wondered what God healed Abibimelech from.

But maybe God made Abimelech impotent so he couldn't have children, and then cured him so that he could.

God had "closed all the wombs" (v.18)
God had "closed all the wombs" in Abimelech's house, because he believed Abe's lie.

Are we punished for the sins of others?