|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:1-8 Crooked policy will not prosper: it brings ourselves and others into danger. God gives Abimelech notice of his danger of sin, and his danger of death for his sin. Every wilful sinner is a dead man, but Abimelech pleads ignorance. If our consciences witness, that, however we may have been cheated into a snare, we have not knowingly sinned against God, it will be our rejoicing in the day of evil. It is matter of comfort to those who are honest, that God knows their honesty, and will acknowledge it. It is a great mercy to be hindered from committing sin; of this God must have the glory. But if we have ignorantly done wrong, that will not excuse us, if we knowingly persist in it. He that does wrong, whoever he is, prince or peasant, shall certainly receive for the wrong which he has done, unless he repent, and, if possible, make restitution.
Verse 2. - And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. As formerly he had done on descending into Egypt (Genesis 12:13). That Abraham should a second time have resorted to this ignoble expedient after the hazardous experience of Egypt and the richly-merited rebuke of Pharaoh, but more especially after the assurance he had lately received of his own acceptance before God (Genesis 15:6), and of Sarah's destiny to be the mother of the promised seed (Genesis 17:16), is well nigh unaccountable, and almost irreconcilable with any degree of faith and piety. Yet the lapse of upwards of twenty years since that former mistake may have deadened the impression of sinfulness which Pharaoh's rebuke must have left upon his conscience; while altogether the result of that experiment may, through a common misinterpretation of Divine providence, have encouraged him to think that God would watch over the purity of his house as he had done before. Thus, though in reality a tempting of God, the patriarch's repetition of his early venture may have had a secret connection with his deeply-grounded faith in the Divine promise (cf. Kalisch in loco). And Abimelech - i.e. Father-king, a title of the Philistine kings (Genesis 21:22; Genesis 26:1; Psalm 34:1), as Pharaoh was of the Egyptian (Genesis 12:15), and Hamor of the Shechemite (Genesis 34:4) monarchs; cf. Padishah (father-king), a title of the Persian kings, and Atalik (father, properly paternity), of the Khans of Bokhara (Gesenius, p. 6) - king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. I.e. into his harem, as Pharaoh previously had done (Genesis 12:15), either having been fascinated by her beauty, which, although she was twenty years older than when she entered Egypt, need not have been much faded (vide Genesis 12:11; Calvin), or may have been miraculously rejuvenated when she received strength to conceive seed (Kurtz); or, what is as probable, having sought through her an alliance with the rich and powerful nomad prince who had entered his dominions (Delitzsch).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, she is my sister,.... This he gave out in all conversation he came into, and said it to every one that asked who she was, which was little better than a lie; it at least was an equivocation and deception, and not at all justifiable, and tended to expose his wife's chastity, and discovered a distrust of divine Providence; the same infirmity be had given way to, and the same evil he had fallen into in Egypt, Genesis 12:11, and therefore was the more inexcusable now; good men not only fall into sin, but have their relapses:
and Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah; having heard or seen what a beautiful woman. Sarah was, though ninety years of age, having never bore children; and understanding she was a single person, sent his servants to take her, and bring her to his house, in order to be his wife, which seems to be done with some kind of force; and it can hardly be thought that Abraham and Sarah would freely agree to it, at least it must be done with reluctance on their parts. Whether Abimelech was the first king of Palestine of this name, is not certain; if he was, which is not improbable, it became usual afterwards for the kings thereof to be so called, as Pharaoh was a common name to the kings of Egypt; it signifies "father" and "king", as kings should be the fathers of their people.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister—Fear of the people among whom he was, tempted him to equivocate. His conduct was highly culpable. It was deceit, deliberate and premeditated—there was no sudden pressure upon him—it was the second offense of the kind [see on Ge 12:13]—it was a distrust of God every way surprising, and it was calculated to produce injurious effects on the heathen around. Its mischievous tendency was not long in being developed.
Abimelech (father-king) … sent and took Sarah—to be one of his wives, in the exercise of a privilege claimed by Eastern sovereigns, already explained (see on Ge 12:15).
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