Genesis 20:18
For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.
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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]. This phrase elsewhere notes barrenness, as 1 Samuel 1:5,6, and so many understand it here. Against which some learned men object that that could not so soon be discovered, for all this happened between the conception and birth of Isaac. Which objection may seem not valid, because the evidences of women’s being with child go so long before the birth of the child, and those evidences not appearing in any of their women, who before that time were generally fruitful and child bearing, they might discern God’s hand in it, especially upon God’s admonition to their king. But because this history seems to have been done in a far less space of time, it not being probable either that God would suffer Sarah to be long with Abimelech ere he warned him, or that he being warned, and so severely threatened, and actually punished, would delay the execution of God’s command, or that upon his obedience to God the mercy and deliverence promised would be delayed by God; that seems more probable which others think, that this was an indisposition, or plague, or sore in the secret parts, by which they were hindered from cohabitation and mutual converse, and consequently from hopes of conception and child-bering; upon the removal whereof, it is said that

they bare children, where, as ofttimes in Scripture, the last and consummating act is put for all the preceding acts: q.d. and they were restored to the conjugal use, and conception, and, in due time, to child-bearing. For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech,.... With large tumours probably, so that they could not cohabit with their husbands and conceive; nor could those that had conceived bring forth: and this disorder they were smitten with:

because of Sarah Abraham's wife; who was taken into the house of Abimelech, in order to be his; to rebuke and punish for which, and to convince of the evil of it, and cause to abstain from it, this disorder was inflicted on them.

For the LORD {p} had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.

(p) Had taken away from them the gift of conceiving.

18. For the Lord] An editorial addition, explanatory of Genesis 20:17. “Jehovah” is here used for the only time in this narrative.Verse 18. - For the Lord (Jehovah; vide supra on Ver. 3) had fast closed up all the wombs - i.e. prevented conception, or produced barrenness (cf. Genesis 16:2; Isaiah 66:9; 1 Samuel 1:5, 6; for the opposite, Genesis 29:31; Genesis 30:22); "poena convenientissima; quid enim convenientius esse poterat, quam ut amittat, qui ad se rapit aliena" (Musculus). Vide Havernick, § 19 - of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife - the motive obviously being to protect the purity of the promised seed.

"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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