|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 4. - But Abimelech had not come near her. Apparently withheld by the peculiar disease which had overtaken him. The statement of the present verse (a similar one to which is not made with reference to Pharaoh) was clearly rendered necessary by the approaching birth of Isaac, who might otherwise have been said to be the child not of Abraham, but of the Philistine king. And he said, Lord, - Adonai (vide Genesis 15:2) - wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Anticipating that the stroke of Divine judgment was about to fall upon his people as well as on himself, with allusion to the fate of Sodom (Knobel), which he deprecates for his people at least on the ground that they are innocent of the offence charged against him (cf. 2 Samuel 24:17). That Abimelech and his people, like Melchisedeck and his subjects, had some knowledge of the true God, and that the Canaanites generally at this period had not reached the depth of moral degradation into which the cities of the Jordan circle had sunk before their overthrow, is apparent from the narrative. The comparative virtue, therefore, of these tribes was a proof that the hour had not arrived for the infliction on them of the doom of extermination.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But Abimelech had not come near her,.... Sarah had been put into an apartment in his palace, and not yet admitted into his company, not at least to his bed; he had not lain with her, which is the design of the expression: the Septuagint version is, "had not touched her", as in Genesis 20:6; which is another phrase expressive of the same thing:
and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? meaning either his family, the greater part of which were not accessory to this affair; or rather his kingdom, as Aben Ezra, see Genesis 20:9; which though not a nation of righteous men, in a strict sense, see Genesis 20:11; yet with regard to this business of Sarah were no ways criminal: either God had threatened to destroy his people, as well as himself, if he did not return Sarah to her husband, or committed iniquity with her; or he knew that this had been usual for people to suffer for the crimes of their governors, and like a true father of his country shows an affectionate concern for their welfare in the first place; for this may be the sense of the word "also", on which an emphasis is put; wilt thou not only slay me, but also a whole nation for my sake, a nation free from all fault and blame in this matter? though some think he has reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a recent action, and fresh in his mind; as if he should say, thou hast justly destroyed a wicked people for their sins, and wilt thou also destroy a nation that at least, in comparison of them, is a just and righteous one?
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