Genesis 20

Abraham's Second Deception

Abraham Repeats His Sin (1-2)

Abraham, full of promise, moved from Mamre where he had lived for twenty years to the southern region of Canaan and took up residence in Gerar under the jurisdiction of Abimelech. From the moment God promised Sarah she would give birth to a child, and possibly even more from the moment of conception, Sarah began to show the appearance of age reversal. So reversed was her age and so attractive the woman that Abraham deceitfully had her pretend to be his sister again before King Abimelech took her to be his wife. We have no idea why Abraham departed from Mamre, but many believe it was because another group moved into the Hebron area (Mamre) where he had been living (1-2).  

Yahweh Again Intervenes (3-7)

As the next verses are considered, we find seven expressions of God's grace.

1) God gets a message to Abimelech which he clearly knew came from God, revealing His intervening favor.
2) God warned Abimelech of the mortal danger he was in for taking another man's wife, revealing His correcting favor (4).
3) God listened to Abimelech's appeal of innocence and ignorance, revealing His merciful favor (5).
4) God reminds Abimelech it was His grace restraining his lust from adding another woman to his harem, revealing His protecting favor (6).  
5) God told Abimelech how to remedy his situation by returning Sarah to Abraham revealing His directing favor.
6) God repressed Abimelech's household, not allowing any to conceive revealing God's chastening grace (17).  
7) God told Abimelech his curse could be turned to blessing by Abraham, God's prophet, revealing His blessing favor (7).

Abimelech's Rebuke (8-13)

Abimelech woke up the next morning and explained to his household the cause behind the inability of all to conceive in his household. This put fear in his servants, and a messenger was sent on the run to retrieve Abraham (8).  

Once Abraham was before the king, Abimelech interrogated Abraham, wanting to know why he had instigated such a ruse (9-10). Abraham gave two excuses for his actions.

a) Abraham feared Abimelech would be smitten by the beauty of Sarah and would, like other kings who had no fear of God, kill him and take Sarah (11).
b) Abraham then trotted out the half-sister excuse, claiming he and Sarah had the same father but not the same mother (12). Somehow Abraham, even after he was found out, thought the half-truth counted for honesty. No matter where they went, they had decided in Ur they would play this ruse again and again every new place they traveled (13).  

Abimelech's Contrition (14-16)

Abimelech then completed three acts of contrition to the Lord and before those he ruled.

a) Abimelech gave Abraham sheep, oxen, and servants, blessing him and making him even richer, recognizing him as Yahweh's prophet (14).
b) Abimelech gave Abraham any land, even the best, to graze his flocks and settle in (15).
c) Abimelech called Abraham Sarah's brother in a sarcastic tone to let Abraham one last time know what he had done was foolish and reckless. Abimelech then proceeded to give Abraham 1,000 pieces of silver. This was likely payment for having kept his wife from him for a season (16).  Not only was Abimelech expressing contrition to Yahweh with all of these gifts, but he was also making it clear that Abraham was to be treated like a prophet of God and not become a victim to criticism or disrespect.

Abraham's Intercession (17-18)

The grace of God to Abraham is staggering—he went into another man's kingdom, deceived the king, lied about his wife, offered his wife through deceit to be a lifelong servant in the harem of Abimelech, and ended up blessed. In the end, Abraham, not for his good deeds, was given standing with God to pray and bless and even bring healing to Abimelech's family and was, in the process of all his deviousness, blessed. A great chapter on God's grace.