Genesis 20:16
And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.
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(16) A thousand pieces of silver.—Heb., a thousand of silver. This was the total value of Abimelech’s present, and not an additional gift. A thousand shekels would be about £125, a large sum at a time when silver was scarce and dear.

He is to thee a covering of the eyes.—This speech of Abimelech is full of difficulty. It begins with a touch of irony in calling Abraham “thy brother.” Next, if the pronoun is translated in the masculine, he, the meaning would be that Abraham ought to have been Sarah’s protector, but had failed in this duty; but, more probably, it is neuter, and refers to the gift. The “covering of the eyes” may mean a veil to protect her from the wanton desires of others, or to conceal her shame at the wrong done to her. Finally, the verb rendered “reproved” is equivocal, and should rather be translated righted. It may also be the third person singular feminine, as in our version, or the second person, in which case it is part of Abimelech’s speech. The clause “and with all” must then be taken with this verb, and the whole be rendered, and in everything thou art even righted. The correct rendering probably is, “And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother (a gift worth) a thousand (pieces) of silver: behold, it shall be to thee for a covering of the eyes to all that are with thee (that is,—so large a compensation for the wrong done thee in taking thee from thy husband, will be a proof to all thy friends and attendants that thou hast not been disgraced, but treated with honour); and in respect of all that has happened thou art thus righted.”

Genesis 20:16. He, or this, is to thee a covering of the eyes — For the words may be expounded either of the money given to Abraham to buy a veil for the covering of her face, and to be worn in token of her subjection to her husband; or of Abraham, that he must be a covering of her eyes, that she should look at no other, nor desire to be looked at by any other. Yoke- fellows must be to each other for a covering of the eyes. The marriage covenant is a covenant with the eyes, like Job’s; Job 31:1. Thus she was reproved — Or instructed. The Septuagint is και παντα αληθευσον, speak thou the truth in all things, referring, no doubt, to the equivocation she and Abraham had used.

20:14-18 We often trouble ourselves, and even are led into temptation and sin, by groundless suspicions; and find the fear of God where we expected it not. Agreements to deceive generally end in shame and sorrow; and restraints from sin, though by suffering, should be thankfully acknowledged. Though the Lord rebuke, yet he will pardon and deliver his people, and he will give them favour in the sight of those with whom they sojourn; and overrule their infirmities, when they are humbled for them, so that they shall prove useful to themselves and others.Abimelek seems to have accepted his apology, as he probably felt that there was truth in the character Abraham gave of his people, and was precluded from resenting it by the salutary impression of his dream; while at the same time Abraham's mode of avoiding danger appeared warrantable according to his own and the common code of morals. He therefore hastens to make honorable amends for his conduct. He makes Abraham a valuable present, restores his wife, and makes him free to dwell in any part of his dominions. He then accosts Sarah in respectful terms, informing her that he had presented her brother with one thousand silver pieces, probably shekels, on her account. He does not offer this directly to herself, that it may be distinctly understood that her honor was unstained. This may refer either to Abraham or to the sum of money. The latter is more natural, as the sentence then affords a reason for addressing Sarah, and mentioning this particular gift. "A covering of the eyes" does not mean a veil, the proper word for which is צעיף tsā‛ı̂yp, but is a figurative phrase for a recompense or pacificatory offering, in consideration of which an offence is overlooked. "Unto all that are with thee." All her family were concerned in this public vindication of her character. "And all this that thou mayest be righted." The original of this is most naturally taken as a part of Abimelek's speech, and then it is to be translated as above. All this has been done or given that the injury to Sarah may be redressed. If the original be regarded as a part of the narrative, it must be rendered, "And all this (was done) that she might be righted." The sense is the same in substance. In the former case the verb is in the second person, in the latter in the third.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]. Thy brother; a sharp rebuke and irony: q.d. he whom thou didst miscall thy brother.

A thousand pieces of silver, to wit, shekels, which is commonly understood when a sum of silver or gold is indefinitely mentioned, as Numbers 7:13,85 2 Samuel 18:12 2 Kings 6:25.

He is to thee a covering of the eyes, i.e. a protection to thee from the wanton eyes and attempts of others, whilst they know thee to be the wife of another man, and he such a one whom they reverence and fear; and therefore thou didst take a very wrong course to disown him, whereby thou didst expose thyself to great danger. Or, this is to thee, & c., i.e. this I give to thee to buy thee a veil, wherewith thou mayst cover thy face, as it is fit and usual for married persons to do. Compare Genesis 24:65 1 Corinthians 11:3,6,7,10.

Unto all that are with thee; unto all that here live with thee, or near thee, and with all men whomsoever.

Thus she was reproved, or admonished to be more circumspect for the future; or, and be thou admonished; for they may be the words of Abimelech.

And unto Sarah he said, behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver,.... Or shekels of silver, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, which, if two shillings and sixpence of our money, amount to one hundred and twenty five pounds; though perhaps little pieces of silver, current in this country, may be meant, that were not worth so much. Some think that the sheep, oxen, &c. Abimelech had given to Abraham, were worth so many pieces of silver: but it rather seems that he gave these over and above them, and chiefly for Sarah's use, as will be observed hereafter; since the words are directed to her, and in which there is a sharp cutting expression, calling Abraham her brother, and not her husband, thereby putting her in mind and upbraiding her with her equivocation and dissimulation:

behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee; a protection of her person and chastity: so an husband, in our language, is said to be a cover to his wife, and she under a cover: thus Abraham being now known to be the husband of Sarah, would for the future be a covering to her, that no one should look upon her, and desire her, and take her to be his wife; and he would also be a protection to her maidens that were with her, the wives of his servants, that these also might not be taken from him: but it seems best to refer this to the gift of the thousand pieces of silver, and read the words, "behold, this is to thee (h) a covering of the eyes"; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; for the words are a continued biting sarcasm on Sarah; as Abimelech twits her with calling Abraham her brother in the preceding clause, so in this he tells her that he had given him so much money to buy her a veil with, and to supply her with veils from time to time to cover her eyes, that nobody might be tempted to lust after her, and that it might be known she was a married woman; for in these countries married women wore veils for distinction, Genesis 24:65; and so not to be had by another, nor would any be deceived by her; and not only was this money given to buy veils for her, but for her female servants also that were married, that they might be knows to be another's property; though this latter phrase "unto", or "with all that are with thee" (i), may be understood, not of persons, but of things, even of all the girls which Abimelech had given her while in his house; these he did not, take back again, but continued them with her, either for the above use, or whatever she pleased; and the following phrase:

and with all other, as we render it, making a considerable stop, should, according to the accents, be read with what follows thus, "and with all this was she reproved" (k); so Aben Ezra; and so they are the words of Moses, observing, that by and with all this that Abimelech had said and done:

thus she was reproved; Sarah was reproved for saying that Abraham was her brother: or the words may be rendered thus, "and so before all she was reproved" (l); before her husband, and before Abimelech's courtiers, and perhaps before her own servants; though Ainsworth, and others, take them to be the words of Abimelech, and render them, "and all that", or "all this is that thou mayest be rebuked" (m), or instructed; all that I have said and done is for this end, that thou mayest be warned and be careful for the future to speak out truth, without any equivocation, and not call Abraham thy brother, when he is thy husband.

(h) , Sept. "hoe erit tibi", V. L. Schmidt; so Tigurine version, Montanus, Jarchi & Ben Melech. (i) "cum omni quod tecum est", Schmidt. (k) "et sic cum omnibus reprehensa est", Munster. (l) "Atque ita coram omnibus increpata fuit", Noldii Concord. Ebr. Part. p. 314. No. 1219. (m) "Atque haec omnia, ut erudita sis", Junius & Tremellius; "reprehensa es", De Dieu.

And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a {n} covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: {o} thus she was reproved.

(n) Such a head as with whom you may be preserved from all dangers.

(o) God caused this heathen king to reprove her because she concealed her identity, seeing that God had given her a husband as her veil and defence.

16. I have given thy brother] Abimelech emphasizes the word which Sarah had used (Genesis 20:5), and which freed his conscience from any blame. By the sarcastic use of the word “brother,” Abimelech implies that compensation for wrong done to her is due to Abraham as one of her family, not as her husband.

a thousand pieces of silver] Lit. “1000 silver.” The word shekel, meaning “a weight,” is omitted. Money in the patriarchal times was reckoned by weight: there were no stamped coins. The standard weight was supplied, as a rule, by metal, generally silver. Hence the word “silver” is in Hebrew often used for “money”; and the word shekel, or weight, is equivalent to “a piece of money.” See note on Genesis 23:16. 1000 shekels of silver would be worth about £137. 10s., reckoning a shekel = 2 Samuel 9 d. But the purchasing value of silver varies. A slave in Exodus 21:32 is worth 30 shekels.

it is for thee a covering of the eyes] R.V. marg. he (= A.V.) is unsuitable and improbable. “A covering of the eyes” is a metaphor for a gift, which will have the effect of appeasing indignation and of causing the offended person to forget, or be blind to, the offence. Cf. Genesis 32:20, “I will appease him,” lit. “cover his face”; 1 Samuel 12:3, “of whose hand have I taken a ransom to blind mine eyes therewith”; Job 9:24, “he covereth the faces of the judges.” There is no need to suppose that there is any reference to a woman’s veil (Genesis 24:65), as if the money paid was to be in lieu of lost modesty, symbolized by the veil.

to all that are with thee] i.e. those of her family will recognize that full amends have been made. LXX καὶ πάσαις ταῖς μετὰ σοῦ introducing a special reference to Sarah’s personal attendants.

in respect of all] R.V. marg. before all men. The text in the original is very doubtful. The meaning is fairly clear. Sarah is righted, and her honour saved; but whether the translation should be “and in respect of all that has happened,” or “and in regard to all men, thou art put right,” remains uncertain.

LXX καὶ πάντα ἀλήθευσον = “and in all things observe truth,” furnishes a good moral, but a fantastic rendering. Lat. quocunque perrexeris: mementoque te deprehensam is no translation of our text.

Verse 16. - And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy Brother a thousand pieces of silver. Literally, a thousand of silver, the exact weight of each piece being uncertain. If sacred shekels (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch) their value would be over £130, if shekels ordinary somewhat less. Behold, he - i.e. thy brother; or it, i.e. the present (LXX., Vulgate, Targums, Syriac) - is to thee a covering of the eyes. כְּסוּת עֵינַיִם (from a root signifying to cover over) has been understood as

(1) a propitiatory gift - τιμὴ (LXX.), or

(2) a veil for the protection of the face;

and, according as the subject of the sentence has been regarded as Abraham or the sum of money, the sense of the clause has been given as either

(1) he, i.e. thy brother, will be to thee a protection, hiding thee like a veil, from the voluptuous desires of others (Aben Ezra, Cajetan, Calvin, Kalisch); or

(2) it, i.e. this present of mine, will be to thee a propitiatory offering to make thee overlook my offence (Chrysostom, Gesenius, Furst, Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Murphy); or

(3) a declaration of thy purity, and so a defense to thee against any calumnious aspersions (Castalio); or

(4) the purchase-money of a veil to hide thy beauty, lest others be ensnared (Vulgate, Amble, Kitto, Clark); or

(5) the means of procuring that bridal veil which married females should never lay aside (cf. Genesis 24:65; Dathe, Vitringa, Michaelis, Baumgarten, Rosenmüller). The exact sense of this difficult passage can scarcely be said to have been determined, though of the above interpretations the choice seems to lie between the first and second. Unto all that are with thee, and with all other. I.e. in presence of thy domestics and of all with whom thou mayest yet mingle, either Abraham will be thy best defense, or let my gift be an atonement, or a veil, &c. Thus she was reproved. וְנֹכָחַת. If a third person singular niph. of יָכַח (Onkelos, Arabic, Kimchi, Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Furst), then it is the historian's statement signifying that Sarah had been convicted, admonished, and left defenseless (Gesenius); or, connecting the preceding words וִאֶתאּכֹּל, that, with regard to all, right had been obtained (Furst), or that all had been done that she might be righted (Murphy); but if a second person singular niph. (LXX., Vulgate, Delitzsch, Keil, Lange, Murphy, Kalisch), then it is a continuation of Abimelech's address, meaning neither καὶ πάντα ἀλήθευσον (LXX.), nor memento te deprehensam (Vulgate), but either, "and thou art reproved" (Wordsworth), or, "and thou wilt be recognized" (Kalisch), or, again connecting with the preceding words, "and with all, so thou art justified or set right" (Delitzsch, Keil, Lange), or, "and all this that thou mayest be righted " (Murphy) or "reproved" (Ainsworth). Genesis 20:16Abimelech then gave him back his wife with a liberal present of cattle and slaves, and gave him leave to dwell wherever he pleased in his land. To Sarah he said, "Behold, I have given a thousand shekele of silver to thy brother; behold, it is to thee a covering of the eyes (i.e., an expiatory gift) with regard to all that are with thee ("because in a mistress the whole family is disgraced," Del.), and with all - so art thou justified." The thousand shekels (about 131) were not a special present made to Sarah, but indicate the value of the present made to Abraham, the amount of which may be estimated by this standard, that at a later date (Exodus 21:32) a slave was reckoned at 30 shekels. By the "covering of the eyes" we are not to understand a veil, which Sarah was to procure for 1000 shekels; but it is a figurative expression for an atoning gift, and is to be explained by the analogy of the phrase פּני פ כּפּר "to cover any one's face," so that he may forget a wrong done (cf. Genesis 32:21; and Job 9:24, "he covereth the faces of the judges," i.e., he bribes them). ונוכחת can only be the 2 pers. fem. sing. perf. Niphal, although the Dagesh lene is wanting in the ת; for the rules of syntax will hardly allow us to regard this form as a participle, unless we imagine the extremely harsh ellipsis of נוכחת for אתּ נוכחת. The literal meaning is "so thou art judged," i.e., justice has been done thee.
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