Summary of passages: Genesis 20: Abraham had been staying near the great trees of Mamre (Genesis 18) and now has moved on to the Negev between Kadesh and Shur. He stayed in Gerar for a time and again lied about Sarah being his sister. So, of course, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, took her for his wife.
God rescued Sarah (again) when he came to Abimelech in a dream and told him he had taken a married woman unbeknownst and that is why God has kept him from touching her. God tells him to return Sarah and Abraham will pray for him so that he may live. Otherwise, he will die.
Abimelech called in Abraham and chastized him (like Pharaoh did) and asked him why he lied to him. Abraham again gave his lame excuse of how he was afraid and he wasn’t really lying because Sarah is his half-sister. Abraham as the head of the household told Sarah to lie for him on their travels.
So afraid of God was Abimelech that he gave Abraham sheep, cattle, slaves, and whatever piece of land he wanted. He gave silver to Sarah’s “brother” so she would be vindicated for the wrongs he did.
Abraham prayed and God healed Abimelech and his household so that they could have kids again.
Abram went to Egypt due to a famine. Abram told Sarai to tell the Egyptians she was his sister in order to protect himself because he was afraid the Egyptians would kill him. So Pharaoh married Sarai (thinking she wasn’t married) and treated Abram well because of it. He was given sheep, cattle, donkeys, servants, and camels.
The Lord was angry at this so he punished Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked Abram why he lied to him. Pharaoh sent them out of his land. They returned to the Negev much wealthier from his lie to Pharaoh.
3) Abraham uses the same fear and mistrust in God to tell Sarah to lie for him. Abraham was well rewarded both times when Sarah was taken. It was the Lord who saved Sarah both times by inflicting disease in Egypt and appearing to Abimelech in a dream and preventing child-bearing.
Both Pharaoh and Abimelech were innocent, not knowing Abraham had lied to them.
Abimelech and Pharaoh gave everything to Abraham to atone for their wrongs (shouldn’t it have been the other way around?). We are told Abraham prayed for Abimelech to be healed and we are not told in Pharaoh’s case but Abraham could have prayed for them as well.
In both instances, God leaves the healing, the repentance, up to Abraham.
4a) Personal Question. My answer: Abraham tells Abimelech he does this so he won’t be killed just like in Egypt. I think he truly doesn’t care about Sarah to do this twice. He seems to have some problems to me–selfishness, not trusting in God, egotistical even.
Why is Abraham moving to these places (Egypt and Negev) if he is fearful of the kings? What is his reasoning? Or is he that greedy for good land for his flocks and for his self-preservation that he just doesn’t care?
b) People do this all the time especially in terms of the work environment. They would rather stab you in the back to climb the corporate ladder than help you. They do this with land fights as well. Anytime man wants something he throws his comrades under the bus. We see it in war situations, politics, and power plays.
5a) He didn’t suffer just like in Egypt. In fact, he prospered even more by being given sheep, cattle, and slaves.
Here’s the guy who one minute is refusing bounty from the King of Sodom (Genesis 14:22:24), has God appear to him in Genesis 15 and say He is his great reward, and then the next selling his wife again to a king of a foreign land. Does Abraham expect to be rewarded like he was in Egypt? Is he using Sarah for material gain? It seems to me to be so. Or he is completely untrusting of God who appeared to him and turning his back on Him.
b) Others will get hurt due to our actions. God is receiving no glory for His work when we don’t trust. Relationships are broken (I’m sure Sarah didn’t appreciate or respect Abraham after all this as much).
6a) He did not treat Abraham as he deserved. He did not retaliate against Abraham. He forgave Abraham’s sin and redeemed him in others’ eyes. He gave Abraham good things out of it. Through grace and love, He did not get angry or accuse. He showed compassion on Abraham, knowing he is merely a man, formed out of dust, and inherently sinful. He loved Abraham and did not remove righteousness from him. Instead, God corrected.
b) Abraham gave Abimelech sheep and cattle. It seems Abraham brought peace for we are told Abimelech and Phicol, his commander of his forces, returned to Philistine without a fight. Abraham may have prevented war just by having his presence there and God protecting Abraham.
c) Personal Question. My answer: He has loved me despite my sins. He has humbled me with this nasty flu I caught. He has blessed me with my husband being home to take care of me. In His mercy, I have faith my husband will land a job this week so in that sense I am grateful.
Conclusions: Did Abraham NOT learn from Egypt? The whole “calling your wife your sister” thing didn’t have such a great ending so why would he do it again? God had to intervene (again) and rescue Sarah. What an idiot! Abraham’s explanation is flimsy to say the least! It’s like he’s floundering. He’s definitely indifferent that’s for sure!
AND did you pick up that Abraham is partly blaming GOD for his actions. Verse 13 “And when God had me wander from my father’s household…” SERIOUSLY? God, the One, True God has called you to greatness and now you are blaming Him for your lies, your fear, your lack of trust, and apparent incompetency to handle such a charge.
Hey, God! Call me! Like Isaiah saying, “Here am I! Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Use me. How many of us would jump at such a chance to be made the father of nations and then we blame God for the hardships along the way. Can you picture a little kid jumping up and down, waving their arms, waiting to be chosen??? Unbelievable! Definitely NOT Abraham here.
And then Abraham is rewarded for it! It’s like Abraham is taking advantage of God’s protection over his family to see what he can get out of the deal. Ridiculous in my opinion.
But we see God’s grace throughout it all and I’m assuming that’s why both of these passages are recorded. God loved Abraham despite his bad choices. Just as He loves us when we make bad choices. God redeemed Abraham just like He redeems us afterwards.
Even if our choices are idiotic, repetitive, fearful, and doesn’t make sense to anyone God loves us and offers us His grace. Always. God is good!
Maps: Map of Gerar and Beersheba where the treaty was made: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2001/20010115.htm
Another map of Gerar: http://www.biblicalzionist.com/gerar.htm
Another interesting map showing Negev and Zoar from Lesson 16: http://www.ibiblemaps.com/m002.html
This one I am just including so you can see Mamre (you do have to scroll down a bit): http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html
End Note: The Abimelech in Genesis 21 is NOT the same Abimelech in Genesis 20. Abimelech was a generic title for ruler amongst the Canaanites and is not a specific name. Question 6b makes it seem like it’s the same guy when it’s not.