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Genesis 20:1-7

Context
Abraham and Abimelech

20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev 1  region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident 2  in Gerar, 20:2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent for Sarah and took her.

20:3 But God appeared 3  to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are as good as dead 4  because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.” 5 

20:4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, 6  would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 7  20:5 Did Abraham 8  not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, 9  ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this with a clear conscience 10  and with innocent hands!”

20:6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. 11  That is why I have kept you 12  from sinning against me and why 13  I did not allow you to touch her. 20:7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed 14  he is a prophet 15  and he will pray for you; thus you will live. 16  But if you don’t give her back, 17  know that you will surely die 18  along with all who belong to you.”

1 tn Or “the South [country]”; Heb “the land of the Negev.”

sn Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.

2 tn Heb “and he sojourned.”

3 tn Heb “came.”

4 tn Heb “Look, you [are] dead.” The Hebrew construction uses the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with a second person pronominal particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with by the participle. It is a highly rhetorical expression.

5 tn Heb “and she is owned by an owner.” The disjunctive clause is causal or explanatory in this case.

6 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

7 tn Apparently Abimelech assumes that God’s judgment will fall on his entire nation. Some, finding the reference to a nation problematic, prefer to emend the text and read, “Would you really kill someone who is innocent?” See E. A. Speiser, Genesis (AB), 149.

8 tn Heb “he”; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tn Heb “and she, even she.”

10 tn Heb “with the integrity of my heart.”

11 tn Heb “with the integrity of your heart.”

12 tn Heb “and I, even I, kept you.”

13 tn Heb “therefore.”

14 tn Or “for,” if the particle is understood as causal (as many English translations do) rather than asseverative.

15 sn For a discussion of the term prophet see N. Walker, “What is a Nabhi?” ZAW 73 (1961): 99-100.

16 tn After the preceding jussive (or imperfect), the imperative with vav conjunctive here indicates result.

sn He will pray for you that you may live. Abraham was known as a man of God whose prayer would be effectual. Ironically and sadly, he was also known as a liar.

17 tn Heb “if there is not you returning.” The suffix on the particle becomes the subject of the negated clause.

18 tn The imperfect is preceded by the infinitive absolute to make the warning emphatic.



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