What does Genesis 20:1 mean?
ESV: From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar.
NIV: Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,
NASB: Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he lived for a time in Gerar.
CSB: From there Abraham traveled to the region of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was staying in Gerar,
NLT: Abraham moved south to the Negev and lived for a while between Kadesh and Shur, and then he moved on to Gerar. While living there as a foreigner,
KJV: And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
NKJV: And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar.
Verse Commentary:
Abraham moves his great household from the region around Mamre south toward the border of the land of Canaan. We're not told the reason for this move. They settle in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur. Gerar was south of Gaza, near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, and within the borders of the Promised Land. Abraham travelled often throughout the land of Canaan during his lifetime.

The events of this chapter echo those of Genesis chapter 12, where Abraham succumbed to fear during his travels. There, Abraham lied about being married to Sarah, resulting in her being taken by the ruling Pharaoh as a wife. Only after God's intervention was the situation resolved. Here, strangely, Abraham seems to make exactly the same fearful mistake. Rather than simply acting in faith, and being honest, Abraham and Sarah once again try to scheme their way towards a goal. And, as happened in other cases, the scheme backfires (Genesis 12:13–15).
Verse Context:
Genesis 20:1–18 describes what happens when Abraham once again moves to a new place and insists on lying that Sarah is merely his sister and not his wife. Abimelech, the king of Gerar, takes Sarah as one of his wives. He is soon struck with an illness and visited in a dream with a warning from God that he will die if he doesn't return Sarah to Abraham and if Abraham doesn't pray for him. Sarah is returned untouched, Abraham prays, and all are healed.
Chapter Summary:
Here, Abraham practically duplicates one of the oddest episodes in his earlier life. As he did with the Egyptians in Genesis chapter 12, Abraham moves through a new area and claims that Sarah is his sister. The king of Gerar, Abimelech, takes Sarah for one of his wives, but he is soon struck ill. God appears and tells Abimelech he will die for taking a married woman. Abimelech insists he did not know and has not slept with Sarah. The Lord says that if he returns her, and if Abraham prays for them, all will be healed.
Chapter Context:
After the dramatic events of the previous chapters, Abraham moves south of Gaza to Gerar. As he did in Egypt, he claims that his wife is his sister. The king of Gerar, Abimelech, takes Sarah as his wife, but is soon struck ill and never approaches her. The Lord offers to spare Abimelech and his household if he will return Sarah and if Abraham will pray for them. Sarah is returned. All are healed, including all the women who have been unable to bear children. In the following chapter, Sarah herself will finally bear Abraham a son—an outcome God safeguards through His actions in this chapter.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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