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20 Now Abraham moved south to the Negeb and settled between Kadesh and Shur. One day, when visiting the city of Gerar, he declared that Sarah was his sister! Then King Abimelech sent for her, and had her brought to him at his palace.

But that night God came to him in a dream and told him, “You are a dead man, for that woman you took is married.”

But Abimelech hadn’t slept with her yet, so he said, “Lord, will you slay an innocent man? He told me, ‘She is my sister,’ and she herself said, ‘Yes, he is my brother.’ I hadn’t the slightest intention of doing anything wrong.”

“Yes, I know,” the Lord replied. “That is why I held you back from sinning against me; that is why I didn’t let you touch her. Now restore her to her husband, and he will pray for you (for he is a prophet) and you shall live. But if you don’t return her to him, you are doomed to death along with all your household.”

The king was up early the next morning, and hastily called a meeting of all the palace personnel and told them what had happened. And great fear swept through the crowd.

9-10 Then the king called for Abraham. “What is this you’ve done to us?” he demanded. “What have I done that deserves treatment like this, to make me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? Who would suspect that you would do a thing like this to me? Whatever made you think of this vile deed?”

11-12 “Well,” Abraham said, “I figured this to be a godless place. ‘They will want my wife and will kill me to get her,’ I thought. And besides, she is my sister—or at least a half sister (we both have the same father)—and I married her. 13 And when God sent me traveling far from my childhood home, I told her, ‘Have the kindness to mention, wherever we come, that you are my sister.’”

14 Then King Abimelech took sheep and oxen and servants—both men and women—and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him.

15 “Look my kingdom over, and choose the place where you want to live,” the king told him. 16 Then he turned to Sarah. “Look,” he said, “I am giving your ‘brother’ a thousand silver pieces as damages for what I did, to compensate for any embarrassment and to settle any claim against me regarding this matter. Now justice has been done.”

17 Then Abraham prayed, asking God to cure the king and queen and the other women of the household, so that they could have children; 18 for God had stricken all the women with barrenness to punish Abimelech for taking Abraham’s wife.

Abraham and Abimelek(A)

20 Now Abraham moved on from there(B) into the region of the Negev(C) and lived between Kadesh(D) and Shur.(E) For a while(F) he stayed in Gerar,(G) and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.(H)” Then Abimelek(I) king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.(J)

But God came to Abimelek(K) in a dream(L) one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead(M) because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”(N)

Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?(O) Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,(P)’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience(Q) and clean hands.(R)

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept(S) you from sinning against me.(T) That is why I did not let you touch her. Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet,(U) and he will pray for you(V) and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”(W)

Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.(X) 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”

11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God(Y) in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’(Z) 12 Besides, she really is my sister,(AA) the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander(AB) from my father’s household,(AC) I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

14 Then Abimelek(AD) brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham,(AE) and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”(AF)

16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels[a] of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

17 Then Abraham prayed to God,(AG) and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.(AH)


  1. Genesis 20:16 That is, about 25 pounds or about 12 kilograms