Genesis 20:1-2, Sarah the Sex Slave, part II of III

Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.

//Recall from yesterday’s post that the last time Abraham journeyed outside of Canaan, he played a trick on the Pharaoh, passing his wife off as his sister. It appears to have worked to the satisfaction of Abraham and Sarah, and Sarah agrees to accompany Abraham on another trip. They decide to try the same gamble on a new king. Sarah’s beauty again proves irresistible, and the king of Gerar “takes her.” So, off she goes to live in luxury in the king’s palace again.

But this time the ruse doesn’t work so well. God had to rescue Abraham and Sarah the last time, and this time God steps in far too early, foiling their fun. Immediately, so the story goes:

God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’?” –Genesis 20:4-5

God agrees that Abimelech is not to blame—he had been deceived—and explains that that’s why God stepped in before the king touched her. God tells the king to give Sarah back to Abraham and to ask Abraham to pray for him. Abimelech does even more; he brings Abraham sheep and cattle and male slaves and female slaves and tells him to “live wherever you like.”

Thus, the ruse may not have been quite as much fun as Sarah and Abraham hoped, but in the end turned out even better! The story continues tomorrow.

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