Genesis 20:1
And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
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(1) Abraham journeyed from thence.—That is, from Mamre, where he had so long halted, and which seems to have continued to be one of his homes. As he had been commanded to traverse the whole land (Genesis 13:17-18), we need seek no reasons for his removal. It was the rule of his life to move from place to place, both on account of his cattle, and also because by so doing he was taking possession of the country. There were, nevertheless, certain places which were his head-quarters, such as Bethel, Mamre, and Beer-sheba.

The south country.—It is a proper name, the Negeb; see Note on Genesis 12:9. For Kadesh, see Genesis 16:14; for Shur, Genesis 16:7; and for Gerar, Genesis 10:19.

Genesis 20:1-2. And Abraham sojourned in Gerar — Which belonged to the Philistines. We are not told upon what occasion he removed; whether terrified by the destruction of Sodom, or, as some of the Jewish writers say, because he was grieved at Lot’s incest with his daughters, and the reproach which the Canaanites cast upon him for his kinsman’s sake. The king of Gerar sent and took her — To his house, in order to the taking of her to his bed.

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.Abimelek takes Sarah. Abraham had been dwelling near Hebron. But the total separation between him and Lot, and the awful overthrow of Sodom and Amorah in the vicinity, may have loosened his tie to Hebron, and rendered it for the present not an agreeable place of residence. He therefore travels southward and takes up his abode at Gerar (see note on Genesis 10:19). Sarah, though now eighty-nine years of age, was as youthful in look as a person of forty would now be. She had, moreover, had no family, was remarkable for her good looks, and was at present, no doubt, renewed in health and vigor Genesis 12:11-16.CHAPTER 20

Ge 20:1-18. Abraham's Denial of His Wife.

1. Abraham journeyed from thence … and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur—Leaving the encampment, he migrated to the southern border of Canaan. In the neighborhood of Gerar was a very rich and well-watered pasture land.Abraham sojourns in Gerar, Genesis 20:1; denies Sarah to be his wife: Abimelech sends and takes her, Genesis 20:2. God warns Abimelech in a dream, Genesis 20:3. He expostulates with God, who answers and commands him to restore Sarah, Genesis 20:4-7. Abimelech warns his servants, Genesis 20:8; rebukes Abraham, Genesis 20:9,10; who excuses and defends what he had said, Genesis 20:11-13. Abimelech kind to Abraham; restores his wife, Genesis 20:14,15; rebukes Sarah, Genesis 20:16. Abraham prays for Abimelech; God removes his judgments, Genesis 20:17,18.

1808 From thence; from the plain of Mamre, Genesis 18:1, where he had long dwelt; and whence he removed, either because of its nearness to that filthy lake, which now was in the place of that late fruitful plain; or for other reasons and conveniences needless to be here inquired or determined.

Towards the south country, yet more towards the southern part of Canaan.

And Abraham journeyed from thence towards the south country,.... He returned from the plains or oaks of Mamre, where he had lived fifteen or twenty years, into the more southern parts of the land of Canaan: the reason of this remove is not certain; some think, because he could not bear the stench of the sulphurous lake, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were become; and others, because of the scandal of Lot's incest with his daughters, which prejudiced the idolatrous people in those parts more against the true religion; neither of which are likely, by reason of the distance; but the better reason seems to be, that it was so ordered in Providence that he should remove from place to place, that it might appear that he was but a sojourner in the land:

and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur; two wildernesses, as Jerom says (y), one of which joined to Egypt, to which the people of Israel went when they passed over the Red sea, and the other, Kadesh, reached to the desert of the Saracens. Onkelos and Jonathan paraphrase the words between Rekam and Chagra, or Hagra, the same place where the angel of the Lord met with Hagar at the well; see Gill on Genesis 16:7 and See Gill on Genesis 16:14,

and sojourned in Gerar; or Gerara, as Jerom (z) calls it,"from whence he says the Geraritic country in his time beyond Daroma, or the south, had its name, and was twenty five miles distance from Eleutheropolis to the south, and was formerly the southern border of the Canaanites, and the metropolis of Palestine.''According to the Samaritan version, Gerar is the same with Ashkelon, which was afterwards, when aristocracy took place in this country, one of the five lordships of the Philistines; and so says Africanus (a); and that Gerar was in the country of the Philistines, and Abimelech was king of them, is clear from Genesis 21:32. This place was about six miles from Mamre (b), from whence Abraham removed.

(y) De loc. Heb. fol, 91. I.((z) De loc. Heb. fol. 91. I.((a) Apud Syncell. Chronic. p. 100. (b) Bunting's Travels, p. 57.

And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and {a} Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

(a) Which was toward Egypt.

1. from thence] This passage is evidently derived from some distinct source. As it ignores the previous section dealing with Lot, and the last reference to Abraham is in Genesis 18:33, when he is at Mamre, the precise meaning of “from thence” must remain obscure.

the South] See note on Genesis 12:9.

between Kadesh and Shur] For these places, see Genesis 14:7, Genesis 16:7.

he sojourned in Gerar] This causes a difficulty. Gerar is the court of the king Abimelech. In Genesis 26:1, Abimelech is king of the Philistines. Gerar has, therefore, been identified with a spot a few miles south of Gaza (Umm Gerar). This, however, is hardly a place of sojourn “between Kadesh and Shur.” Either, therefore, there is a lacuna between the two clauses of this verse, representing a journey from the Negeb into the Philistine region; or Gerar may be a place S.W. of Kadesh (Wady Gerur), whose king happened to have the same name as the Philistine king of Gerar in chap. 26. Of these alternatives the former is the more probable.

Verse 1. - And Abraham journeyed (vide Genesis 12:9) from thence. Mamre (Genesis 18:1). In search of pasture, as on a previous occasion (Keil); or in consequence of the hostility of his neighbors (Calvin); or because he longed to escape from the scene of so terrible a calamity as he had witnessed (Calvin, Wilier, Murphy); or in order to benefit as many places and peoples as possible by his residence among them (A Lapide); or perhaps being impelled by God, who designed thereby to remind him that Canaan was not intended for a permanent habitation, but for a constant pilgrimage (Poole, Kalisch). Toward the south country. Ne-gob, the southern district of Palestine (Genesis 12:9; Genesis 13:1); the central region of Judaea being called Hahor, or the Highlands; the eastern, towards the Dead Sea, Midhbar; and the western Shephelah (Lange). And dwelled between Kadesh and Shur (vide Genesis 16:14 and Genesis 16:7), and sojourned in Gerar (vide Genesis 10:19). Genesis 20:1After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham removed from the grove of Mamre at Hebron to the south country, hardly from the same fear as that which led Lot from Zoar, but probably to seek for better pasture. Here he dwelt between Kadesh (Genesis 14:7) and Shur (Genesis 16:7), and remained for some time in Gerar, a place the name of which has been preserved in the deep and broad Wady Jurf el Gerr (i.e., torrent of Gerar) about eight miles S.S.E. of Gaza, near to which Rowland discovered the ruins of an ancient town bearing the name of Khirbet el Gerr. Here Abimelech, the Philistine king of Gerar, like Pharaoh in Egypt, took Sarah, whom Abraham had again announced to be his sister, into his harem, - not indeed because he was charmed with the beauty of the woman of 90, which was either renovated, or had not yet faded (Kurtz), but in all probability "to ally himself with Abraham, the rich nomad prince" (Delitzsch). From this danger, into which the untruthful statement of both her husband and herself had brought her, she was once more rescued by the faithfulness of the covenant God. In a dream by night God appeared to Abimelech, and threatened him with death (מת הנּך en te moriturum) on account of the woman, whom he had taken, because she was married to a husband.
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