King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 20

Abraham’s sojourn at Gerar, Sarah is taken by Abimelech. (1-8) Abimelech’s rebuke to Abraham. (9-13) Abimelech restores Sarah. (14-18)

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Abraham’s sojourn at Gerar, Sarah is taken by Abimelech

1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled 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, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.

4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, LORD, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.

8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

Abimelech’s rebuke to Abraham

9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.

10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast 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 unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

Abimelech restores Sarah

14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.

15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.

16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.

17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.

18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Gerara; at a greater distance from the devoted country of Sodom. H.

Ver. 2. He said to the king, and to all others who made inquiry, as it was his custom, whenever he came into a strange land, v. 13. He was encouraged to do this, by the protection which God had shewn him in Egypt. — Took her, against her will, as Pharao had done. H. — Though she was ninety years old, and with child, her beauty was still extraordinary, the Rabbin think miraculous. At that time people lived above 120 years; so that at the age of ninety, she would only be about as near the end of her life as our women are at forty; and we often see people sufficiently attracting at that age. C.

Ver. 3. Abimelech. This was an usual title of kings in Chanaan, and a very good one, to remind them and their subjects, of their obligations, (H.) as it means “my father the king.” The behaviour of the prince shews, that as yet all sense of duty and knowledge of the true God was not banished from the country. C. — Shalt die, unless thou restore the woman, whom thou hast taken by force; on whose account I have already afflicted thee, (v. 7. 17.) and thus prevented thee from touching her. This testimony was more requisite, that there might be no doubt respecting Isaac’s legitimacy. H.

Ver. 5. He say, &c. The pronouns in Heb. are printed very incorrectly. — He is my sister; and she, even he, said. Ken.

Ver. 6. Sincere heart, abhorring adultery, but not altogether innocent. M.

Ver. 7. A prophet. One under my particular care, to whom I reveal many things. — He shall pray for thee. Behold, God will sometimes grant, at the request of his saints, what he would deny even such as Abimelech or the friends of Job. Is not this sufficient encouragement for us, to have recourse to the intercession of the saints? And can any one be so foolish as to pretend this is making gods of them, and shewing them an idolatrous worship? H.

Ver. 8. In the night, (de nocte) or “as soon as it began to dawn.” Sept.

Ver. 9. Why, &c. He expostulates with him in a friendly but earnest manner. — A great sin, or punishment, (M.) v. 18, and exposed me to the danger of committing adultery. Abraham might have answered, this would have been his own fault, as he could not have done it without offering violence to Sara, in whose chastity he could confide. Having an opportunity here to vindicate himself, Abraham speaks freely, which he was not allowed to do in Egypt. G. xii. 20.

Ver. 12. My sister, or niece, according to those who say she was daughter of Aran, who thus must have had a different mother from Abraham; (M.) or, as we rather think, Sara was truly his half-sister, born of Thare by another wife. His adding truly, seems to restrain it to this sense; and we know that in those countries, marriages of such near relations were allowed, though not when both had the same parents. Why should we not, therefore, believe Abraham, who certainly knew the real state of the question, and who would not tell a lie, rather than seek for improbable and far-fetched solutions? Said, who lived eight hundred years ago, mentions the name of Jona, Abraham’s mother, as well as that of Tehevita, who bore Sara to Thare. The Hebrews, in general, give this explanation. C. — By calling Sara his sister without any addition, Abraham intended that the people should conclude he was not married; therefore he did not say she was his half-sister, as this would have frustrated his design, if, as Clem. Alex. asserts, such might and did marry under the law of nature. H. — Philo observes, the Athenian legislator, Solon, sanctioned the same practice, which was followed also by the Phœnicians. C.

Ver. 14. Gave, by way of satisfaction, for having detained his wife; as also to shew his respect for him who was a prophet. 1 Kings ix. 7. H.

Ver. 16. Thy brother, as thou hast agreed to call thy husband. — Pieces, or sicles of silver, worth a little above 2s. 3d. each; total £113 sterling. — A covering, or veil, to shew thou art married, and prevent thee from being taken by any one hereafter. It was to be so rich, that all might know her quality. S. Paul (1 Cor. xi. 5. 15.) orders women to be covered. C.

Ver. 17. Healed. It is not known how God afflicted Abimelech; but the women could not be delivered during the short time that Sara was detained: on her being set at liberty, they bore children. M.