What does Genesis 20:11 mean?
ESV: Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
NIV: Abraham replied, 'I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'
NASB: Abraham said, 'Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.
CSB: Abraham replied, "I thought, 'There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.'
NLT: Abraham replied, 'I thought, ‘This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.’
KJV: And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.
Verse Commentary:
Abimelech has asked Abraham a reasonable question. He wants to know why Abraham lied about Sarah being his sister. This resulted in Abimelech taking Sarah as a wife, and nearly committing adultery as a result (Genesis 20:2–5). Why did Abraham do this thing and bring the wrath of God on Abimelech and his innocent household? Abimelech is pressing the question very directly: he wants to understand what would lead Abraham to do such a thing.

Abraham's answer reveals how his fear in that situation overcame his faith in God, and an apparent misunderstanding about the faith of Abimelech and his people. Abraham believed there was no fear of God in Gerar. He believed someone might kill him to take Sarah for his own. Notice that Abraham, again, was not wrong about Sarah's desirability. She must have been extremely attractive. Both in Egypt years earlier and now in Gerar, the most powerful man in the area quickly took her for his own wife (Genesis 12:14–15).

Abraham was wrong, though, about God's ability and/or willingness to protect him and Sarah. His lack of faith is hard for us, as readers of the Bible, to fully understand. Abraham has literally walked and talked with the Lord. He has seen God utterly destroy the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah while rescuing his own nephew Lot from among them. He has received blessing after blessing from the Lord, alongside powerful promises, including one that Sarah will bear him a son within the year.

Abraham was also wrong, it seems, about the lack of faith in God in Gerar. If they didn't have it before, the king and his people certainly learned to fear the Lord very quickly under threat of death from God.
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.
Accessed 4/17/2024 11:50:18 PM
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