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Genesis Chapter 20
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Sarah and Abimelekh
20:1 Abraham migrated from there to the land of the Negev, and he settled between Kadesh and Shur. He would often visit Gerar.
20:2 [There] he announced that his wife Sarah was his sister, and Abimelekh, king of Gerar, sent messengers and took Sarah.
20:3 God came to Abimelekh in a dream that night. 'You will die because of the woman you took,' He said, 'She is already married.'
20:4 Abimelekh had not come near her. He said, 'O Lord, will You even kill an innocent nation?
20:5 Didn't [her husband] tell me that she was his sister? She also claimed that he was her brother. If I did something, it was with an innocent heart and clean hands.'
20:6 God said to him in the dream, 'I also realize that you have done this with an innocent heart. That is why I prevented you from sinning against Me, not giving you an opportunity to touch her.
20:7 Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet. He will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not return [her], you can be sure that you will die - you and all that is yours.'
20:8 Abimelekh got up early in the morning, and he summoned all his servants. He discreetly repeated all these words to them, and the men were very frightened.
20:9 Abimelekh summoned Abraham and said to him, 'How could you do this to us? What terrible thing did I do to you that you brought such great guilt upon me and my people? The thing you did to me is simply not done!'
20:10 Abimelekh then asked Abraham, 'What did you see to make you do such a thing?'
20:11 Abraham replied, 'I realized that the one thing missing here is the fear of God. I could be killed because of my wife.
20:12 In any case, she really is my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother. She [later] became my wife.
20:13 When God made me wander from my father's house, I asked her to do me a favor. Wherever we came, she was to say that I was her brother.'
20:14 Abimelekh took sheep, cattle, and male and female slaves, and he gave [them] to Abraham. He [also] returned [Abraham's] wife Sarah to him.
20:15 Abimelekh said, 'My whole land is before you. Settle wherever you see fit.'
20:16 To Sarah he said, 'I am giving your 'brother' a thousand pieces of silver. Let it be compensation for you and all who are with you for all that has been done. You can stand up tall.'
20:17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelekh, as well as his wife and slavegirls, so that they were able to have children.
20:18 God had previously sealed up every womb in Abimelekh's house, because of Abraham's wife Sarah.



Commentary:

Kadesh and Shur
  This would be the area around Beer Lachai Roi, see note on Genesis 16:14.

Gerar
  On the southwest border of the Holy Land, see note on Genesis 10:19. The Midrash identifies it as Gerdike or Gerarike (Bereshith Rabbah 52), which is this Gerar. It is a city some 55 miles north of Kadesh, so although Abraham's primary dwelling was to the south, he would often visit Gerar, perhaps for supplies (cf. Radak). Some, however, suggest that this Gerar was Wadi Gerur, some 13 miles southwest of Kadesh, literally between Kadesh and Shur. See Genesis 26:17. (Also see Yov'loth 16:10).

Abimelekh
  Literally, 'father-king.' This was a title given to Philistine kings, much like Pharaoh was given to Egyptian monarchs (Psalms 34:1, Rashi ad loc.; cf. Sefer HaYashar 65,66). Persian kings were given the title Padi-shach, which also means 'father-king.' In Hebrew, av means master as well as father. So the designation Avi-melekh may mean 'master-king' or arch-king. See note on Genesis 41:43.

innocent nation
  The guilty nation was Sodom.

discreetly
  Literally, 'in their ears' (see Genesis 44:18). Or 'publicly,' see Genesis 23:10,13.

sister
  Also denotes any close relative. See Genesis 13:8.

daughter of my father
  He actually meant, 'granddaughter of my father,' since Sarah was a granddaughter of Terach. Sarah was the daughter of Abraham's brother Haran (see note on Genesis 11:29). (cf. Rashi).

she was to say...
  There are three nested direct quotations in this verse, but following the English idiom, the two inner ones are rendered as indirect quotations. Literally, the verse reads, 'I said to her, 'This is the favor that I want you to do for me: Wherever we come, say of me, 'He is my brother.' ' '

Settle...
  According to many opinions, Abraham therefore decided to settle in Beer-sheba, which was the border of the Philistine territory (cf. Ramban on Genesis 21:32; Matnath Kehunah on Bereshith Rabbah 54:2). This is also supported in other ancient sources (Yov'loth 16:11). See Genesis 21:14. Others, however, maintain that Abraham remained in Gerar (Ibn Ezra; Radak).

am giving
  Literally, 'have given.' (See HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

compensation
  A difficult idiom, literally translated as 'an eye covering.' Thus, 'something to prevent you from seeing any more evil' (cf. Ibn Ezra; Rashi). Others interpret it as a vindication, something that will cover other people's eyes and prevent them from seeing wrong (Rashbam). Another interpretation is that '[the money] will cover people's eyes and prevent them from looking at you wantonly' (Ramban). Other commentators take it literally, as a veil to show that Sarah was a properly married woman (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Still other sources translate eynayim as 'colors' rather than 'eyes,' and render the phrase, 'let [the money] be used to buy you a colorful cloak' (Radak). Finally, some make the subject of the phrase Abraham: '[Abraham] shall be for you as an eye-covering,' however the latter expression is translated (Ibn Ezra).

for all that has been done
  (Rashi). Others connect it to the end of the verse, 'Before everyone you stand tall' (Ibn Ezra).

stand up tall
  (Cf. Rashi). Others have, 'You should have learned a lesson from all this' (Targum; Ibn Ezra). Since this entire sentence involves ancient idioms, it is extremely difficult to interpret and translate.





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