Chapter 20

In chapter nineteen the angels of the Lord arrived at Sodom where they were entertained by Lot. The
wickedness of Sodom was manifest in their attack upon Lot’s house in an effort to gang rape the angels of the
Lord. After striking the mob blind, the angels tell Lot to warn his family top flee the city because the Lord will
destroy it because of its wickedness. The next morning, being led by the hand out of the city, Lot, his wife and
two of their daughters, leave to go to Zoar. As lot and his family entered Zoar, fire and brimstone from heaven
destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot’s wife, in disobedience to the command of God, looked back and became a
pillar of salt. Following this destruction, the beginning of the Moabite and Ammonite nations is shown in the
incestuous action of Lot’s daughters. Now the action shifts from Lot back to Abraham.


Abraham and Sarah, when they come to the land of Gerar, represented once more Sarah as Abraham’s sister.
Because of this deception, Abimelech king of Gerar took Sarah to be his wife. However, before he touched her
he was warned of God in a dream. Even though Abimelech is ignorant of the truth because he believed a lie, he is
held accountable for his actions. God told him, “Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou has
taken; for she is a man’s wife.” He is warned of God to restore her because he had done “this is the integrity of
thy heart.” Ignorance is no excuse, but was the occasion of the opportunity to repent.


Abimelech loses no time in being obedient to the heavenly vision in taking care of the matter. He rose early the
next morning, told his servants of the matter, and called Abraham to him. He asked Abraham why he had done
this thing. He rebukes Abraham saying, “thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.” Even
Abimelech realizes that the conduct of Abraham is wrong.


Abraham tries to defend his action as do most when caught in that which they ought not to have done. First, he
attempts justification by appeal to his fear. He was scared that the people in Gerar did not fear God, and would
kill him for Sarah. He did not bother to check to see whether they feared God or not, or whether it was their
habit to kill men for their wives. He just ran scared. Secondly, he attempted to portray it as the truth: “And yet
indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my
wife.” Even though Abraham attempts to defend his action, there was no reason for his lie. There are thousands
of excuses for doing wrong, but not one reason.
Notice, Abraham and Sarah had made this agreement when they left his father’s house to represent Sarah as
Abraham’s sister. It was not an “on the spot” decision, but a calculated, deliberate misrepresentation.


Notice Abimelech’s response to the heavenly vision: “And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants,
and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.” His response is similar to
that expressed by Zaccheus to our Lord: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have
taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” Repentance includes restoration of
those things which were wrongfully taken. Abimelech immediately makes such restitution of Sarah to Abraham
plus. Also given to Abraham were a thousand pieces of silver.


When God appeared unto Abimelech in the dream he said, “Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is
prophet,nad he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt
surely die, thou, and all that are thine.” During the time that Abimelech had taken Sarah “the Lord had fast
closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech.” Now at the prayer of Abraham, as God had said, the curse
upon the house of Abimelech is lifted.


1.        Did Abimelech know who Sarah was?
2.        Why was Abimelech ignorant of who Sarah was?
3.        Had Abimelech realized he was doing anything wrong?
4.        How did Abimelech find out who Sarah was?
5.        What does Abimelech ask Abraham?
6.        What does Abimelech say of the deed which Abraham had done unto him?
7.        What excuses does Abraham give for his action?
8.        When had Abraham and Sarah made the agreement to maintain this deception?
9.        What did Abimelech give to Abraham in response to the heavenly vision?
10.        What did Abimelech say to Sarah to reprove her?
11.        What had God done unto the house of Abimelech because he had taken Sarah?

Discussion Starters

1.        Abimelech’s ignorance because he believed a lie did not excuse his actions. Will ignorance excuse our
2.        How is Abraham like men today when he is caught in his lie?
3.        Repentance is demanded of men who find themselves in opposition to God’s will in all ages. How is
Abimelech’s response an example for us in our repentance?