Abraham Lies Again | Genesis 20

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World English Bible Genesis 20

1 Abraham traveled from there toward the land of the South, and lived between Kadesh and Shur. He lived as a foreigner in Gerar. 2 Abraham said about Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man’s wife.”

4 Now Abimelech had not come near her. He said, “Lord, will you kill even a righteous nation? 5 Didn’t he tell me, ‘She is my sister?’ She, even she herself, said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this.”

6 God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore, I didn’t allow you to touch her. 7 Now therefore, restore the man’s wife. For he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. If you don’t restore her, know for sure that you will die, you, and all who are yours.”

8 Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ear. The men were very scared. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done!” 10 Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you have done this thing?”

11 Abraham said, “Because I thought, ‘Surely the fear of God is not in this place. They will kill me for my wife’s sake.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 When God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is your kindness which you shall show to me. Everywhere that we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”‘”

14 Abimelech took sheep and cattle, male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored Sarah, his wife, to him. 15 Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you. Dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. Behold, it is for you a covering of the eyes to all that are with you. In front of all you are vindicated.”

17 Abraham prayed to God. God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his female servants, and they bore children. 18 For Yahweh had closed up tight all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Thoughts for The Day


I can’t believe it! Sarah is a bit older than 90 years old, she and Abraham venture into the country of Gerar. Abraham decided that he and Sarah would tell Abimelech she was Abraham’s sister. Do you feel a slight case of Deja Vu coming on here?  Can you say Genesis 12:11? Only this time, Sarah is not the fine specimen of a young lady, she is 90 plus! Maybe in Noah’s day 90 was still a fine filly.  In Abraham’s day, not so much.

Abraham saw it important to lie about his wife, and say she is his sister again. He worried Abimelech would have him killed so he could take her for his wife.  In Genesis 12, Abraham is learning the power of God. God delivers Abraham and Sarah in spite of Abraham’s taking God’s plan into his own hands and telling the King of Egypt she is his sister. God worked everything out, but it did not leave the king and Abraham with an optimal relationship.  The very next kingdom Abraham and Sarah venture into, that is not known to be a kingdom after God’s will; causes the same fear in Abraham. Abraham rather than learning from his last mistake, does the same thing again! The king does the same thing as the last King, and orders Sarah be taken as his wife.

God again steps in and tells Abimelech, he is as good as dead for taking Sarah from Abraham. Here, I kind of feel sorry for Abimelech, he was not doing anything out of custom for the people of his stature in his region: He was told that Sarah was eligible for marriage.  God comes down on Abimelech, but yet has mercy on him since he really did not know the entire story.  What God does make clear, is that wives, are not something to be shared, bought, sold, given away, or stolen. God believes in one man one-woman marriage, where women have human value. He placed Abraham in one such marriage.

Trouble again

Genesis 20:1 “… Behold, you are a dead man, because of the woman whom you have taken. For she is a man’s wife.”

In verse 6, God tells Abimelech to relax, all he needs to do is return Sarah, and ask Abraham to pray for him as Abraham is a prophet. In verse 8, Abimelech does as he promised, and returns Sarah to Abraham. Abimelech, also takes this opportunity to let Abraham know just how displeased he is with him.  Abraham put the entire kingdom at risk of God’s wrath, just because he was worried that the Abimelech might kill him to obtain Sarah.

Lets, get this straight! Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own wife to save his own head! (See verse 11).  Was Sarah so hard to live with, that he would do anything to get rid of her?  The real answer is that Abraham is scared to death; and he still has not learned to trust God. Abimelech, trusted God more than Abraham did, as Abimelech knew that God meant business, and could destroy his entire kingdom in a blink. When the Lord said to Abimelech right this wrong now! Abimelech did not wait for further orders.

Verse 12, Abraham then tries to save face, and explains to Abimelech that Sarah is his half-sister so she really was his sister and he was not lying to him when he said she is his sister. Therefore Abraham was mostly telling the truth, when he left out the fact that Sarah is his wife.  (Remember, there were no instructions given on who one could marry as of this time. I have to point this out, many groups are saying these marriages represent traditional marriage, and that Christians don’t know what makes up traditional marriage in the eyes of God.). 

What is a lie?

Let’s define truth and lying, so that we can all have the same common understanding. In meeting lots of people, I have found that there are many variances in the definition. The definition of a lie is when you tell a story that has the purpose to make the listener believe something that the you know not to be true, and is usually told for some personal gain.  Abraham is a white lie, as some part of the statement is in fact true.

Often I hear people say it is a white lie, so that makes it better somehow. Satan tells white lies all the time, most of what Satan says is true, and from the hearer’s perspective is often fact. 99.9% truth spoken by one who attempts to deceive, is still a lie, no matter how sweet it smells, or how pure it appears.   Lies and white lies, are still lies and get everyone to the same place in the end.  In dealing with people you will find that sometimes wrong impressions are given and often bad information can be given, but there is no intent to deceive.  This person is not lying, he is just misinformed and is stating what he believes as fact. In this case he not a liar, he is just misinformed. No one, is right all the time, so all of us end up here from time to time. Though misinformation can be dangerous if it is used in a critical operation, it is not a lie, and can have negative consequences.  In this case though, Abraham was dead wrong and committed fraud against the king.

Abimelech, was a better man than I. 

I would have not have been able to easily accept Abraham lies.  I would not have wanted to be so kind due to the fact that Abraham’s apology was not because he was sorry, but because he was trying to save face.  I probably would have sent Abraham on his way, and asked him to stay out of my borders until heaven and earth passed away, but Abimelech gave Abraham cattle, sheep, and servants.  He then gave Abraham a thousand pieces of silver.  Abimelech, in this manor shows the kingdom and Abraham that he has truly decided not to punish the matter and that they can place it behind them.  Since God is protecting Abraham and Abimelech knows it; we can trust Abimelech and Abraham is safe. Abimelech will not later hunt Abraham down and take it all back when no one is looking. Abraham really does get to keep the gifts.  Maybe the gifts are indulgence money to inspire Abraham to pray nice things in regard to his family?

Abraham does his part

God had cursed Abimelech when he took Sarah from Abraham. Until Verse 17, we were unaware of what the curse was. God made the entire household of Abimelech sterile. Unlike today, in their culture, children were considered a good thing and more than just encouraged. Having a sterile royal family, would have been a curse worse than death for Abimelech.  Abraham, prayed to the Lord and Abimelech’s household was restored to it child-bearing capacity.

In the end, everyone goes away doing no further harm to each other.  Over and over Abraham disappoints us, has seemingly little trust in God though he has seen God’s power, and spoke directly with God more than any one accept Adam to this point in the biblical text. Abraham lies to a King to get protection for himself, and he does not look out for his own wife Sarah.  I have seen used car salesman with more integrity! What did God see in this man? Why would such an individual be made a prophet?  Does God see something more?

Have a wonderful day…. Remember we can only see the deeds of men through their past and their present. God knows the entire story. Regardless of how your day is going, praise and trust God, only he has read the last chapter.

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