Genesis 20:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 20:3, NIV: "But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, 'You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.'"

Genesis 20:3, ESV: "But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”"

Genesis 20:3, KJV: "But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife."

Genesis 20:3, NASB: "But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, 'Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.'"

Genesis 20:3, NLT: "But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, 'You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!'"

Genesis 20:3, CSB: "But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, "You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is a married woman.""

What does Genesis 20:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

As He often does in the Bible, God appears to someone in a nighttime dream. God very matter-of-factly tells Abimelech, king of Gerar, that he is a dead man. He is guilty of adultery because Sarah is another man's wife. Abimelech had apparently been quite ill—a disease sent by God specifically as a warning about the situation with Sarah (Genesis 20:17). Later verses also indicate that all of the women in Abimelech's household were afflicted with barrenness, for the same reason (Genesis 20:18).

As the following verses will reveal, even the pagan Abimelech understood adultery to be a great sin. Abimelech will defend himself to God based on two main claims: that he had not actually yet slept with Sarah, and that he did not know she was married (Genesis 20:4–5). After God reassures him that the situation can be resolved, Abimelech will scold Abraham for his lie, demanding an explanation for why such a thing was done (Genesis 20:9).