Genesis 20:17
So Abraham prayed to God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bore children.
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(17) Abraham prayed . . . —As Abimelech had now made very liberal compensation, it became the duty of Abraham to intercede for him. The malady seems to have been one confined to Abimelech, as its object was to protect Sarah; but in some way it so affected the whole household as to produce general barrenness.

Maidservants.—Not the word rendered women-servants in Genesis 20:14, but one specially used of concubines.

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.These verses record the fact of Abraham's intercession for Abimelek, and explain in what sense he was on the point of dying (Genesis 20:3). "They bare" means that they were again rendered capable of procreating children, and in the natural course of things did so. The verb is in the masculine form, because both males and females were involved in this judicial malady. The name Yahweh is employed at the end of the chapter, because the relation of the Creator and Preserver to Sarah is there prominent.

- The Birth of Isaac

7. מלל mı̂lēl "speak," an ancient and therefore solemn and poetical word.

14. חמת chêmet "bottle," akin to חמה chāmâh, "surround, enclose," and הוּם chûm "black. באר שׁבע beêr-sheba‛, Beer-sheba', "well of seven."

22. פיכל pı̂ykol, Pikhol, "mouth or spokesman of all."

23. נין nı̂yn "offspring, kin;" related: "sprout, flourish." נכד neked "progeny," perhaps "acquaintance," cognate with נגד ngd, "be before" (the eyes) and נקד nqd, "mark."

33. אשׁל 'êshel "grove;" ἄρουρα aroura, Septuagint.; אילבה 'ı̂ylābâh, "a tree," Onkelos.

This chapter records the birth of Isaac with other concomitant circumstances. This is the beginning of the fulfillment of the second part of the covenant with Abraham - that concerning the seed. This precedes, we observe, his possession of even a foot-breadth of the soil, and is long antecedent to the entrance of his descendants as conquerors into the land of promise.

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]. No text from Poole on this verse. So Abraham prayed unto God,.... As the Lord had told Abimelech be would, Genesis 20:7; he might pray for the forgiveness of him and his wife, and might give thanks that Sarah had been restored to him; but chiefly it was on account of Abimelech and his family:

and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants: who by reason of some disease were rendered unfit for and incapable of cohabitation with their husbands, and they with them; but upon Abraham's prayer for them, who was heard, they were healed, and the disorder removed; the Targum of Jonathan is,"his wife and concubines;"

and they bare children; cohabited and conceived, and bare and brought forth children, all which are comprehended in this expression.

So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
17. Abraham prayed] See note on Genesis 20:7. This verse explains Genesis 20:4.

Barrenness was regarded as the sign of Divine displeasure, which might be averted by prayer and intercession: cf. Genesis 25:21, Genesis 30:2; Genesis 30:22; 1 Samuel 1:10. See note on Genesis 12:17.Verse 17. - So Abraham prayed unto God. Literally, the Elohim, the personal and true God, and not Elohim, or Deity in general, to whom belonged the cure of Abimelech and his household (Keil), as the next clause shows. And God (Elohim, without the art.) healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maid-servants; - i.e. his concubines, as distinguished from the women servants (Ver. 14) - and they bare children. The verb may apply to both sexes, and the malady under which they suffered may be here described as one which prevented procreation, as the next verse explains. "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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