Genesis Chapter 20
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Go to Bible: Genesis 20
|Gen 20:1||- (top)|
“Abraham said about Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’” This is the second time Abraham lied about Sarah and let her be taken into another man’s harem in order to protect his life (cp. Gen. 12:10-20).(top)
|Gen 20:3||- (top)|
“approached.” Idiomatic for approach sexually; i.e., have sexual intercourse with.
“blameless.” The Hebrew is “righteous,” here used for “blameless” or “innocent.”(top)
|Gen 20:5||- (top)|
|Gen 20:6||- (top)|
“Indeed.” Many translations have the particle as causal, “for” instead of assertive, “indeed,” as the NET does, but “for” does not seem to be the heart of the meaning here. God does not want Sarah returned because Abraham is a prophet, but because she is married.
“die, yes, die.” An emphatic translation of the Hebrew, which uses the figure of speech polyptoton (Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible), and repeats the word “die” in different tenses.
[For more on the figure polyptoton and the emphasis it brings, as well as the way it is translated in the REV, see commentary on Genesis 2:16 and commentary on Gen. 2:17.](top)
|Gen 20:8||- (top)|
|Gen 20:9||- (top)|
“went on asking.” The Hebrew is “said to Abraham,” but the word “said” is in the imperfect tense, which is important in this context; the verse could have been translated, “went on saying to Abraham,” but since Abimelech was asking questions, “asking” is a good translation here. This was not a short conversation. Abimelech was a righteous man, and Abraham’s fearful action put him and his kingdom in danger. He wanted to know what caused Abraham to act the way he did, and he was genuinely interested both for himself and his kingdom, if anything needed to be changed, and for Abraham, if he could help Abraham in any way. Abraham was a great man, but great men have faults. Godly people help others to grow in the Lord (cp. Heb. 10:24).
“see.” An idiomatic way of asking, “What was your reason” (NIV). The idiom has been freely translated into English in many different ways. “Whatever could have caused you” (CJB); “What did you have in mind” (NAB); “What prompted you” (NET); “What did you foresee” (E. Fox, The Schocken Bible).(top)
“said to myself.” The Hebrew just has “said,” but it is clear from the context that this was what Abraham said to himself—what he was thinking, which he then told Sarah to get her to lie too. The conversations we have with ourselves are very important and they can be very wrong. That is one reason the Bible tells us there is safety in a multitude of counselors (Prov. 11:14). Everyone needs honest and godly people with whom they can confide.(top)
|Gen 20:12||- (top)|
|Gen 20:13||- (top)|
|Gen 20:14||- (top)|
“seems good in your eyes.” A Hebrew idiom that means wherever it seems good to you.(top)
“your brother.” Abimelech here calls Abraham “your brother” as a sarcastic rebuke to both Abraham and Sarah.
“a covering of the eyes.” The 1,000 pieces of silver “covered the eyes” of the people with Sarah. The idiom and custom are difficult, but the essence is that the gift was to make it seem like no one saw what happened to Sarah, or if they saw what happened to her, they also saw that she was compensated for it, and thus she was vindicated or set right before all the people.(top)
|Gen 20:17||- (top)|
“closed, yes, closed.” This is the figure of speech polyptoton, where “closed” is repeated twice in the Hebrew text, but the word is inflected differently.
[For more on the use of polyptoton, and the translation of it, see commentary on Gen. 2:16.](top)