We’ve heard it said that history repeats itself. Well, only twenty chapters into the first book of the bible, Abraham is already repeating his mistakes. Remember back in Genesis 12 when Abraham told his wife to say she was his sister so that the Egyptians wouldn’t kill him and take her (they would just take her instead)? Well, Abraham is up to his old tricks.
Abraham and Sarah go into Gerar. He once again tells Sarah to say she is his sister. His reasoning is that being an ungodly place, they will surely kill him to take his beautiful wife. I can just imagine Sarah sighing to herself and questioning that vow to obey her husband, but obey she did, and Abimelech, king of Gerar did take her.
Technically, Abraham did not lie. Sarah was in fact Abraham’s father’s daughter. I assume they were half siblings. Marrying a blood relative was acceptable in many cultures back then, but God, through the law of Moses, changed that practice by strictly forbidding it (Leviticus 18).
God had a little discussion with Abimelech in a dream, that he was a dead man for taking Sarah. He claimed ignorance of her marriage and promised he had not touched her. God assured him that He knew, that He Himself had kept him from Sarah. God had intervened and kept Abimelech from sinning, arranging things in such a way that he either never had the chance, or he lacked desire for her. I wish it were that easy for us. I wish God would keep us from sinning, but He gives us free will. In this case, I’m guessing that God did not want Sarah to be defiled, as she was about to become the mother of all nations.
God does promise to provide a way out for those who are about to sin. He puts up roadblocks to keep us from our sinful goals, but we are often so determined that we bulldoze straight through those roadblocks in order to have our own way. It’s only in hindsight that we realize God had provided a way out, just for us to ignore it.
God warned Abimelech to release Sarah back to Abraham or death would follow. In fact, God had already taken action against him by closing the wombs of his household. Abimelech gave Sarah back along with gifts of silver, oxen, sheep, and servants, and he told Abraham he could settle wherever he pleased. Abraham then prayed to God, and Abimelech and his household were healed from God’s judgement.
I hope Abraham finally learned from this (the second time around). His sin ended up hurting Abimelech and his household, not Abraham. Sometimes life is unfair. It seems the sinner is rewarded while those affected by the sin are the ones to suffer. I don’t know how Abraham felt, but I could guess that Sarah had plenty to say about it, and that might have been punishment enough. I wonder if they had doghouses back then.
One thought on “My Bible Blog: Genesis 20”
very nice and to the point