Genesis 20:10
Abimelech also asked Abraham, "What prompted you to do such a thing?"
The Exact Truth

Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. Notice how imperfectly the obligation of truth recognized in Old Testament times. Not only among heathen, or those who knew little of God (Joshua 2:5; 2 Kings 10:18), but godly men among God's own people (Genesis 26:7; 1 Samuel 27:10). Yet the excellence of truth was known, and its connection with the fear of God (Exodus 18:21; Psalm 15:2). Not until manifested in Christ does truth seem to be fully understood (cf. John 8:44; 1 John 3:8). This gives force to "I am the truth." Some see in text an act of faith; trust that God would make the plan (Ver. 13) successful. But faith must rest on God's word. Trust in what God gives no warrant for believing is not faith but fancy, e.g. to attempt what we have no reason to believe we can accomplish, or to incur liabilities without reasonable prospect of meeting them. More natural and better to look on it as a breach of truth under temptation; the failure Of a godly man under trial. His words were true in letter (Ver. 12), but were spoken to deceive, and did deceive.

I. ROOT OF HIS FAULT - UNBELIEF; want of all-embracing trust. His faith was real and vigorous (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:12), but partial (cf. Genesis 27:19; Matthew 14:28). Shrank from trusting God fully. Turned to human devices, and thus turned out of the way (Proverbs 3:5). Partial distrust may be found even where real faith. A very common instance is trusting in God for spiritual blessings only. A large part of our actions, especially in little things, springs not from conscious decision, but from habitual modes of thought and feeling. We act instinctively, according to what is the natural drift of thought. Abraham had so dwelt on the danger that he forgot the help at hand (Psalm 34:7; Romans 8:28). Bold in action, his faith failed when danger threatened. To endure is a greater trial of faith than to do. To stand firm amid secularizing influences, ridicule, misconstruction is harder than to do some great thing. St. Peter was ready to fight for his Master, but failed to endure (Mark 14:50-71; Galatians 2:12). So to St. Paul's "What wilt thou have me to do?" the Lord's word was, "I will show him how great things he must suffer."

II. FORM OF HIS FAULT - UNTRUTH. Contrary to the mind of Christ. May be without direct statement of untruth. May be by true words so used as to convey a wrong idea; by pretences, e. g. taking credit unduly for any possession or power; by being ashamed to admit our motives; or by untruth in the spiritual life, making unreal professions in prayer, or self-deceiving. Every day brings numberless trials. These can be resisted only by the habit of truthfulness, gained by cultivating "truth in the inward parts," aiming at entire truthfulness. Nothing unpractical in this. May be said, Mast I tell all my thoughts to every one? Not so. Many things we have no right to speak; e.g. things told in confidence, or what would give unnecessary pain. Concealment when it is right is not untruth. No doubt questions of difficulty may arise. Hence rules of casuistry. But a Christian should be guided by principles rather than by rules (Galatians 5:1); and wisdom to apply these rightly is to be gained by studying the character of Christ, and prayer for the Holy Spirit's guidance (Luke 11:13; John 16:14). - M.

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister.
I. THEIR POWER MAY SLUMBER LONG. In this instance, twenty-four years. Never safe from invasion of temptations once yielded to.


1. Reaction after great spiritual excitement.

2. Experience of social corruption.


1. The distress of anxiety.

2. Possible loss to ourselves.

3. The shame of reproof from worldly men.


1. The infirmities of believers appeal to the Divine compassion.

2. GOD is concerned to maintain the promises made to faith.

(T. H. Leale.)

I. His CONDUCT WAS VERY COWARDLY. He risked Sarah's virtue, and the purity of the promised seed.



1. We are never safe, so long as we are in this world.

2. We have no right to throw ourselves into the way of temptation which has often mastered us.

3. We may be encouraged by God's treatment of Abraham's sin.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

I. THE ATROCIOUS NATURE OF THE SIN OF ADULTERY, WHICH CONSISTS IN VIOLATING CONNUBIAL RIGHTS, IS HERE REPRESENTED IN A VERY STRIKING MANNER. Though Abraham supposed that there was no sense of GOD and religion among the people of Gerar, yet he seems not to have entertained the least suspicion that they would insult the honour of his family, either by rape or seduction. His apprehension was that they would kill him for his wife's sake. His whole conduct, in this and the former instance, is grounded on the supposition that a ruffian, who is bloody enough to assassinate an innocent man, yet may not be so brutal as to violate a married woman. This crime has been held in detestation by almost all nations, in all ages of the world. By the ancient laws of Draco and Solon, the husband of an adulteress, if he detected her in her guilt, might immediately kill both the criminals, or stigmatise them, or put out their eyes, or might exact of the adulterer a heavy fine. But, by the law of Moses, they were both to be put to death with public infamy; and, in ordinary cases, there was no dispensation.

II. THAT A SENSE OF VIRTUE AND RELIGION IS SOMETIMES FOUND WHERE WE LEAST EXPECT IT. How different was the true character of the people in Gerar, from that which Abraham's jealousy had drawn for them! There was much of the fear of God among them, though he had imagined there was none at all.

III. THAT THE INDULGENCE OF TOO BAD AN OPINION OF MANKIND IS OF DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCE TO OURSELVES AND OTHERS. Had Abraham entertained a just opinion of the prince and people of Gerar, or taken pains to become acquainted with them, before he listened to the secret whispers of jealousy, he would have shunned so dangerous an artifice as to disguise his relation to his wife, and would have prevented the mischiefs which ensued, and the still greater mischiefs which threatened his own family and the house of Abimelech. It was a special Divine interposition which averted consequences of the most serious nature.

IV. THAT IN THE BEST MEN THERE MAY BE GREAT INFIRMITIES AND FAILINGS. Even they whose faith is strong must guard against the prevailing influence of fear, and call into exercise that confidence in God which is the best security against the terrors of the world. In times of apparent danger, and threatening temptation, they have need to be peculiarly watchful. We are never so safe as when we invariably follow the path of virtue and integrity. He who walks uprightly, walks surely; but he who perverts his way, shall fall. Duplicity and artifice, to avoid an evil, will but embarrass us the more.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

His sin in so speaking seems to be much greater than it was before. For —

1. He had narrowly escaped the first time. The repetition of the same fault looked like presuming upon Providence.

2. Sarah was now with child, and that of a son of promise; he might, therefore, surely have trusted God to preserve their lives in the straight-forward path of duty.

(A. Fuller.)

The answer of God admits his plea of ignorance, and suggests that he was not charged with having yet sinned, but threatened with death in case he persisted now that he was informed of the truth. It is intimated, however, that if he had come near her he should in so doing have sinned against God, whether he had signed against Abraham or not; and this perhaps owing to her being in a state of pregnancy, of which, in that case, he could not have been ignorant. We see in this account —

1. That absolute ignorance excuses from guilt; but this does not prove that all ignorance does so, or that it is in itself excusable. Where the powers and means of knowledge are possessed, and ignorance arises from neglecting to make use of them, or from aversion to the truth, it so far from excusing that it is in itself sinful.

2. That great as the wickedness of men is upon the face of the earth, it would be much greater, were it not that God by His providence in innumerable instances "withholds " them from it. The conduct of intelligent beings is influenced by motives; and all motives which are presented to the mind are subject to His disposal.

(A. Fuller.)

Consider this repetition of his old fault with regard to —

I. Its causes.

1. Recent experience of the corruption of the world.

2. False prudence.

3. Exaggerated confidence.

4. The brotherly relation to Sarah.

5. The probable issue of the case in Egypt.

II. Its natural results.

1. Anxiety and danger.

2. Shame before a heathen's princely court.

III. Its gracious issue through the interference of God.


Consider —

I. The offence which he committed. A very grievous sin. Look at —

1. The principle from which it sprang — loss of faith.

2. Its natural and necessary tendencies.

3. The fact of its having been before practised by him, and reproved.

II. The rebuke given him on account of it. In this we observe much that was —

1. Disgraceful to Abraham.

2. Honourable to Abimelech:



(3)Virtue. Application —

(a)Shun every species of deception.

(b)Guard against relapses into sin.

(c)Be thankful to God for His protecting grace.

(d)Strive to the uttermost to cancel the effects of your transgressions.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

The thing that is most remarkable in the whole story is that God should apparently have taken Abraham's part instead of humbling and punishing him in the sight of the heathen.

1. Observe, first of all, that if the Divine purpose was to be turned aside by the fault or blemish found in individual character, the Divine government of man is at an end, and human progress is an impossibility. Adam failed, so did Noah, so Abraham, so did Lot. It was not Adam that sinned, or Noah, or Abraham, it was human nature that sinned. Pharaoh seemed to be a better man than Abraham, but he was not so in reality. You say that Abimelech was better than Abraham; now let me ask you what you know about Abimelech? Nothing but what is stated in this chapter. Very well Yea are so far right. You have seen Abimelech at his best and you have seen Abraham at his worst, and then you have rushed to a conclusion! This is not the right way to read history; certainly it is not the right way to read the Bible. We are not to set act against act, but life against life. This, then, is the point at which I find rest when I am disturbed by the evident painful immortality of illustrious Bible characters, viz., human nature has never been perfect in all its qualities, energies, and services; the perfection of human nature can be wrought out only by longcontinued and severe probation; in choosing instruments for the representation of His will and the execution of His purposes, God has always chosen men who were best fitted on the whole for such ministry, though in some particulars they have disastrously and pitiably failed. When I think I could have improved God's plan, the mistake is mine, because my vision is dim and I never can see more than a very limited section of any human character.

2. In the next place consider, knowing human nature as we do, how beneficial a thing it was to the great men themselves to be shown now and again that they were imperfect, and that they were only great and strong as they were good — as they were true to God.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

Two young masons were building a brick wall — the front wall of a high house. One of them, in placing a brick, discovered that it was a little thicker on one side than the other. "It will make your wall untrue, Ben," the other said. "Pooh!" answered Ben; "what difference will such a trifle as that make? you're too particular." "My mother," replied he, "taught me that 'truth is truth,' and ever so little an untruth is a lie, and a lie is no trifle." "Oh," said Ben, ":hat's all very well; but I'm not lying, and have no intention of lying." "Very true; but you make your wall tell a lie, and I have read that a lie in one's work is like a lie in his character — it will show itself sooner or later, and bring harm, if not ruin." "I'll risk it in this case," answered Ben, and he worked away, laying more brick, carrying the wall up higher, till the close of the day, when they gave up work and went home. The next morning they went to resume their work, when, behold, the lie had wrought out the result of all lies. The wall, getting a little slant from the untrue brick, had got more and more untrue as it got higher, and at last, in the night, had toppled over. Just so with ever so little an untruth in your character; it grows more and more untrue if you permit it to remain, till it brings sorrow and ruin. Tell, act, and live the truth.

A stage coach was passing through the interior of Massachusetts, on the way to Boston. It was a warm summer day, and the coach was filled with passengers, all impatient to arrive at the city at an early hour in the evening. The excessive heat rendered it necessary for the driver to spare his horses more than usual. Most of the passengers were fretting and complaining that he did not urge his horses along faster. But one gentleman sat in the corner of the stage calm and quiet. The irritation, which was destroying the happiness of all the others, seemed not to disturb his feelings in the least. At last the coach broke down as they were ascending a long steep hill, and the passengers were compelled to alight, and travel some distance on foot under the rays of the burning sun. This new interruption caused a general burst of vexatious feelings. All the party, with the exception of the gentleman alluded to, toiled up the hill, irritated and complaining. He walked along, good-humoured and happy, and endeavouring by occasional pleasantry of remark to restore good humour to the party. It was known that this gentleman, who was extensively engaged in mercantile concerns, had business which rendered it necessary that he should be in the city at an early hour. The delay was consequently to him a serious inconvenience. Yet, while all the rest of the party were ill-humoured and vexed, he alone was untroubled. At last one asked how it was that he retained his composure under such vexatious circumstances? The gentleman replied that he could have no control over the circumstances in which he was then placed; that he had commended himself and his business to the protection of the Lord, and that if it were the Lord's will that he should not enter Boston at as early an hour as he desired, it was his duty patiently and pleasantly to submit. With these feelings he was patient and submissive, and cheerful. The day, which to the rest of the party was rendered disagreeable by vexation and complaint, was by him passed in gratitude and enjoyment. And when, late in the evening, he arrived in the city with a serene mind, he was prepared to engage in his duties.

Abimelech, Abraham, Sarah
Gerar, Kadesh-barnea, Negeb, Shur Desert
Abimelech, Abim'elech, Encountered, Hast, Reason, Sawest, Thinking
1. Abraham sojourns at Gerar.
2. Denies his wife, who is taken by Abimelech.
3. Abimelech is reproved for her in a dream.
9. He rebukes Abraham.
14. Restores Sarah;
16. and reproves her.
17. Abimelech and his family are healed at Abraham's prayer.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 20:1-16

     6206   offence

Genesis 20:1-18

     5076   Abraham, life of
     6183   ignorance, of God

Genesis 20:9-10

     5822   criticism, against believers

The Sick Person Ought Now to Send for Some Godly and Religious Pastor.
In any wise remember, if conveniently it may be, to send for some godly and religious pastor, not only to pray for thee at thy death--for God in such a case hath promised to hear the prayers of the righteous prophets, and elders of the church (Gen. xx. 7; Jer. xviii. 20; xv. 1; 1 Sam. xii. 19, 23; James v. 14, 15, 16)--but also upon thy unfeigned repentance to declare to thee the absolution of thy sins. For as Christ hath given him a calling to baptize thee unto repentance for the remission of thy
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Ascalon. Gerar. The Story of the Eighty Witches.
'Ascalon,' in the Samaritan interpreter, is the same with 'Gerar,' Genesis 21. The word Gerar, among the Talmudists, seems to have passed into 'Gerariku.' "Wherefore (say they) have they not determined of that country, which is in Gerariku? Because it is ill to dwell in. How far? To the river of Egypt. But behold, Gaza is pleasant to dwell in," &c. In the author of Aruch it is, Gardiki. "Bereshith Rabbah (saith he) renders Gardiki." 'The king of Gerar,' Genesis 20:2, with the Jerusalem Targumist,
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica

Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Rom. 14:12). In our last chapter we considered at some length the much debated and difficult question of the human will. We have shown that the will of the natural man is neither Sovereign nor free but, instead, a servant and slave. We have argued that a right conception of the sinner's will-its servitude-is essential to a just estimate of his depravity and ruin. The utter corruption and degradation of human nature is something which
Arthur W. Pink—The Sovereignty of God

And to Holy David Indeed it Might More Justly be Said...
22. And to holy David indeed it might more justly be said, that he ought not to have been angry; no, not with one however ungrateful and rendering evil for good; yet if, as man, anger did steal over him, he ought not to have let it so prevail, that he should swear to do a thing which either by giving way to his rage he should do, or by breaking his oath leave undone. But to the other, set as he was amid the libidinous frenzy of the Sodomites, who would dare to say, "Although thy guests in thine own
St. Augustine—Against Lying

The Interpretation of the Early Narratives of the Old Testament
[Sidenote: Importance of regarding each story as a unit] Of all the different groups of writings in the Old Testament, undoubtedly the early narratives found in the first seven books present the most perplexing problems. This is primarily due to the fact that they have been subject to a long process of editorial revision by which stories, some very old and others very late and written from a very different point of view, have been closely joined together. While there is a distinct aim and unity
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament

Meditations against Despair, or Doubting of God's Mercy.
It is found by continual experience, that near the time of death, when the children of God are weakest, then Satan makes the greatest nourish of his strength, and assails them with his strongest temptations. For he knows that either he must now or never prevail; for if their souls once go to heaven, he shall never vex nor trouble them any more. And therefore he will now bestir himself as much as he can, and labour to set before their eyes all the gross sins which ever they committed, and the judgments
Lewis Bayly—The Practice of Piety

Annunciation to Joseph of the Birth of Jesus.
(at Nazareth, b.c. 5.) ^A Matt. I. 18-25. ^a 18 Now the birth [The birth of Jesus is to handled with reverential awe. We are not to probe into its mysteries with presumptuous curiosity. The birth of common persons is mysterious enough (Eccl. ix. 5; Ps. cxxxix. 13-16), and we do not well, therefore, if we seek to be wise above what is written as to the birth of the Son of God] of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When his mother Mary had been betrothed [The Jews were usually betrothed ten or twelve months
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

Genesis 20:10 NIV
Genesis 20:10 NLT
Genesis 20:10 ESV
Genesis 20:10 NASB
Genesis 20:10 KJV

Genesis 20:10 Bible Apps
Genesis 20:10 Parallel
Genesis 20:10 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 20:10 Chinese Bible
Genesis 20:10 French Bible
Genesis 20:10 German Bible

Genesis 20:10 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Genesis 20:9
Top of Page
Top of Page