A Daily Genesis

Genesis 20:9-18

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:9a . .Then Abimelech summoned Abraham 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?[/B]

There were no biblical prohibitions at this time against adultery; yet Abimelech's ancient culture believed it to be wrong. This is very interesting. Even though the world at large didn't knowingly follow God's design; they observed one of His later-to-come commandments on their own and the reason for that is because God took the liberty to make some adjustments to the twisted conscience that man obtained by eating the forbidden fruit in the third chapter of Genesis. (Rom 2:14-15)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:9b-10 . .You have done to me things that ought not to be done. What, then-- Abimelech demanded of Abraham --was your purpose in doing this thing?[/B]

Abimelech is totally perplexed. The thing Abraham and Sarah perpetrated made no sense to him whatsoever. The best part of this is the scolding that Abimelech laid on the sacred couple. Abraham was a prophet. Prophets are supposed to be not only inspired; but also exemplary. But in this case, Abimelech, a pagan, was more righteous than a "holy" man.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:11 . . I thought-- said Abraham --surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.[/B]

Abimelech didn't dispute that point; so I think it's probably safe to assume Abraham was correct in his estimation of Gerar's culture.
[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:12a . . And besides, she is in truth my sister,[/B]

Abraham, true to form, exercised his usual brand of flexible morality. Yes, what he said was technically true. But it was not the whole truth; it was a half-truth: a deliberate deception, told with the intent to mislead.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:12b . . my father's daughter though not my mother's;[/B]

The covenant that Yhvh's people later agreed upon with God, forbids intimacy between half-siblings.

"The nakedness of your sister-- your father's daughter or your mother's, whether born into the household or outside --do not uncover their nakedness." (Lev 18:9)

That law mandates excommunication for men who marry their half sister. And within the terms and conditions of the covenant; there is neither forgiveness nor atonement for it.

"If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace; they shall be excommunicated in the sight of their kinsfolk. He has uncovered the nakedness of his sister, he shall bear his guilt." (Lev 20:17)

However, Israel's covenanted law doesn't have ex post facto jurisdiction. Abraham lived many years before it was enacted; so he was immune to its taboos and punishments (Deut 5:2-4, Gal 3:15-18). That's an important Bible axiom; viz: when something isn't illegal; then it doesn't go on one's record as a broken law. (Rom 4:15, Rom 5:13)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:13 . . So when God 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.[/B]

Right about here Abimelech probably began scratching his head and wondered what kind of crazy religion Abraham practiced anyway. And he probably wondered what in the world God ever saw in this man to go to such lengths to protect him. A liar is not a good influence for God. It disgraces God, and makes His religion look stupid to outsiders.

"You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For it's written that the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." (Rom 2:23-24)

"And now what do I have here? --declares the Lord. For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock --declares the Lord. And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed." (Isa 52:5)

The people of God shouldn't be living in such a way as to bring disgrace to their sovereign.

"Those who claim they belong to the Lord must turn away from all wickedness." (2Tim 2:19)

"Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life becoming of your calling, for you have been called by God." (Eph 4:1)

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:14-15 . . Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. And Abimelech said: Here, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.[/B]

In other words: I don't care where you go as long as it's a great ways off from me!

Abimelech didn't owe Abraham a single penny for anything. And God didn't order him to make restitution. He isn't trying to gain Abraham's good will by these gifts. With friends like Abraham; who needs enemies? But rather; he was showing God his intentions to mean well by Abraham; in spite of Abraham's foul deed.
[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:16 . . And to Sarah 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.[/B]

Abimelech is really too kind. By the money, he told everyone that it was just a misunderstanding. In paying a fine to Abraham, he is publicly apologizing for taking the man's wife home with him; and Sarah's honor was protected because it is saying that she wasn't a slut who, like some woman I could name, have an itch to sleep with men in power.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:17-18 . . Abraham then prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his slave girls, so that they bore children; for the Lord had closed fast every womb of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, the wife of Abraham.[/B]

Abraham's ultimate chagrin was having to pray for the very people whose lives he almost ruined with his nefarious scheme.

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