The First Book of Moses, Called Genesis

Chapter 20

Abraham sojourns at Gerar, 1. He denies his wife, who is taken by Abimelech, 2. Abimelech is reproved for her in a dream, 3-8. He rebukes Abraham, 9-13; restores Sarah, 14, 15; and reproves her, 16. Abimelech and his family are healed at Abraham's prayer, 17, 18.

1 And Abraham journeyed from there toward the south country and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur and sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "Behold, you are but a dead man on account of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife." 4 But Abimelech had not come near her. And he said, "Lord, will you also slay a righteous nation? 5 Did he not say to me, 'She is my sister?' And she, even she herself said, 'He is my brother.' In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this." 6 And God said to him in a dream, "Indeed, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart, and I also withheld you from sinning against me. Therefore, I did not allow you to touch her. 7 Now therefore, restore to the man his wife, for he is a prophet and he shall pray for you, and you shall live. And if you shall not restore her, know that you shall surely die—you and all who are yours."

8 Therefore, Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears. And the men were greatly afraid. 9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? And in what have I offended 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 And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What did you see that you have done this thing?" 11 And Abraham said, "Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will slay me for my wife's sake. 12 And yet indeed she is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said to her, 'This is your kindness which you shall show to me: at every place where we go, say of me, "He is my brother."'" 14 And Abimelech took sheep, oxen, men-servants, and women-servants and gave them to Abraham and restored to him Sarah his wife. 15 And Abimelech said, "Behold, my land is before you. Dwell where it pleases you." 16 And to Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given your brother one thousand pieces of silver. Behold, it is to you a covering of the eyes to all who are with you. And before all others, you are righted." 17 So Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his women-servants, and they bore children. 18 For the LORD had made barren all the females of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham's wife.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Genesis, Chapter 20[➚]


[v.16] - "Behold, it is to you a covering of the eyes" - This verse can be difficult to understand. According to the Pulpit Commentary, there are several ways to understand this passage, but two likely interpretations, and they both hinge on whether a part of this verse reads as, "Behold, he is to you" (WBS/KJV) or, "Behold, it is to you" (ASV). The interpretations are explained as follows: "1) he, i.e. your brother, will be to you a protection, hiding you like a veil, from the voluptuous desires of others (Aben Ezra, Cajetan, Calvin, Kalisch). 2) it, i.e. this present of mine, will be to you a propitiatory offering to make you overlook my offense (Chrysostom, Gesenius, Furst, Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Murphy)." The Septuagint offers an interesting rendering of this verse. It reads something like, "And to Sarah he said, Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver, those shall be to you for the price of your countenance, and to all the women with you, and speak the truth in all things."