Genesis 20:13
And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
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(13) When God caused me to wander.—According to rule, Elohim is construed with a verb singular for the true God, but with a verb plural for false gods. Here the verb is plural, and the same construction occurs in Genesis 35:7; Exodus 22:9; 2Samuel 7:22 (but singular in 1Chronicles 17:20); and Psalm 58:11 : moreover, in Joshua 24:19, Elohim is joined with an adjective (holy) in the plural. These exceptions may either be relics of a less strict use of the name Elohim, or they may be errors of copyists, misled by the ordinary rules of grammar. This latter view is confirmed by the fact that the Samaritan Pentateuch, both here and in Genesis 35:7, has the singular.

At every place.—The fact of this compact between Abraham and Sarah having been made so long before, would convince Abimelech that their conduct was not occasioned by anything which they had seen at Gerar (comp. Genesis 20:10).

Genesis 20:13. When God caused me to wander from my father’s house — Then we settled this matter. It may be, that God denied Abraham and Sarah the blessing of children so long, to punish them for this sinful compact they had made to deny one another: if they will not own their marriage, why should God own it? But we may suppose that, after this reproof, they agreed never to do so again, and then presently we read, (Genesis 21:1-2.) that Sarah conceived.

20:9-13 See here much to blame, even in the father of the faithful. Mark his distrust of God, his undue care about life, his intent to deceive. He also threw temptation in the way of others, caused affliction to them, exposed himself and Sarah to just rebukes, and yet attempted an excuse. These things are written for our warning, not for us to imitate. Even Abraham hath not whereof to glory. He cannot be justified by his works, but must be indebted for justification, to that righteousness which is upon all and unto all them that believe. We must not condemn all as hypocrites who fall into sin, if they do not continue in it. But let the unhumbled and impenitent take heed that they do not sin on, thinking that grace may abound. Abimelech, being warned of God, takes the warning; and being truly afraid of sin and its consequences, he rose early to pursue the directions given him.Abimelek retraces his steps, and rectifies his conduct. He makes known his dream to his assembled court, who are filled with astonishment and apprehension. He then calls Abraham, and in bold and manly style remonstrates with him for leading him into error and sin. Abraham is apparently silent from confusion and self-condemnation. Abimelek, after a pause, demands of him his reason for so doing. Abraham now replies with great simplicity and candor. He had said within himself, "The fear of God is not in this place." This is another indication that polytheism was setting in. He concluded that his life would be in danger on account of his wife, and resorted to his wonted expedient for safety. He had learned to trust in the Lord in all things; but he did not think this inconsistent with using all lawful means for personal security, and he was not yet fully alive to the unlawfulness of his usual pretence. He pleads also in extenuation that she is in reality his sister (see Genesis 12:19-20). "Caused me to wander." The verb here is not necessarily plural. But if it be, it is only an instance of the literal, meaning of אלהים 'ĕlohı̂ym, the Eternal Supernatural Powers, coming into view. "Thy kindness." The old compact of Abraham with Sarah tended to palliate his conduct in the eyes of Abimelek, as he would see that it had no special reference to himself.12. yet indeed she is my sister—(See on [8]Ge 11:31). What a poor defense Abraham made. The statement absolved him from the charge of direct and absolute falsehood, but he had told a moral untruth because there was an intention to deceive (compare Ge 12:11-13). "Honesty is always the best policy." Abraham's life would have been as well protected without the fraud as with it: and what shame to himself, what distrust to God, what dishonor to religion might have been prevented! "Let us speak truth every man to his neighbor" [Zec 8:16; Eph 4:25]. To wander. This word he useth because God did not direct him to any certain place, but sent him out he knew not whither, Hebrews 11:8. And being to travel and sojourn amongst persons of divers tempers and manners, and all pagans, he thought this equivocal expression convenient for his security.

And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house,.... In Ur of the Chaldees, from whence God called him to go forth; which laid him under an obligation to depart from thence, and move from place to place, and go he knew not where, as in Hebrews 11:8; or "the Gods", as it is in the plural number, and so the verb in construction with it; not the idol gods, the gods of the Gentiles, as the Targum of Jonathan, who interprets the words thus,"and it was when the worshippers of idols sought to cause men to err, and I went from my father's house;''but the true God, as Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Ben Melech acknowledge, and is by many Christian interpreters understood of the three Persons in the Godhead:

that I said unto her, this is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; this I shall take as a favour done me, as an instance of tender affection unto me:

at every place whither we shall come, say of me; or for the sake of me, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi, in order to save me from the hands of wicked men, whom he feared would slay him for her sake:

he is my brother; and so he hoped, instead of being ill used, he should meet with favour and friendship on her account, being thus nearly related to her: this he observes to Abimelech, to show that this was an old agreement, near thirty years ago, when they first set out on their travels, and was no new device and scheme which they pursued on account of him and his people in particular; but what they had formerly agreed upon should be said in all places wherever they came, and therefore there was no intention to affront Abimelech; only it supposed they might come into places where wicked men dwelt.

And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
13. God caused me to wander] Referring to Genesis 12:1. The Hebrew student will notice that the verb “caused me to wander” is in the plural, although, as a rule in the O.T., the word “God” (Elohim) is treated as sing. But it is sometimes the case that the plural is used, as here and in Genesis 31:53, Joshua 24:19, when an Israelite speaks to heathen, or else heathen are speaking of God, e.g. 1 Samuel 4:8; 1 Kings 19:2; 1 Kings 20:10. For an exception, see Genesis 35:7. Here the Massoretic note adds “holy,” in order to call attention to the unusual construction.

Verse 13. - And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander (or to go on pilgrimages) from my father's house, - Elohim, usually construed with a singular verb, is here joined with a verb in the plural, as an accommodation to the polytheistic stand-point of Abimelech (Keil), as a proof that Elohim is to be viewed as a Pluralis Majes-taticus (Kalisch), as referring to the plurality of Divine manifestations which Abraham had received (Lange), as showing that Elohim here signifies angels (Calvin), or, most likely, as an instance of the literal meaning of the term as the supernatural powers (Murphy. Cf. Genesis 35:7; Exodus 22:8; 2 Samuel 7:23; Psalm 58:12 [Psalm 58:11] - that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me. The third plea which the patriarch presented for his conduct; it had no special reference to Abimelech, but was the result of an old compact formed between himself and Sarah. At every place whither he shall come, say of me, He is my brother (cf. Genesis 12:13). Genesis 20:13"What sawest thou," i.e., what hadst thou in thine eye, with thine act (thy false statement)? Abimelech did this publicly in the presence of his servants, partly for his own justification in the sight of his dependents, and partly to put Abraham to shame. The latter had but two weak excuses: (1) that he supposed there was no fear of God at all in the land, and trembled for his life because of his wife; and (2) that when he left his father's house, he had arranged with his wife that in every foreign place she was to call herself his sister, as she really was his half-sister. On the subject of his emigration, he expressed himself indefinitely and with reserve, accommodating himself to the polytheistic standpoint of the Philistine king: "when God (or the gods, Elohim) caused me to wander," i.e., led me to commence an unsettled life in a foreign land; and saying nothing about Jehovah, and the object of his wandering as revealed by Him.
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