Genesis  ◦   Chapter 20

1Abraham moved south to the Negev region and lived for a while in the area between Kadesh and Shur. Later, when he moved to Gerar, 2Abraham told the people that his wife Sarah was his sister. Then king Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to his palace.

3One night, God came to Abimelech in a dream and said, “You are in danger and about to die, because the woman you have taken is a married woman.”

4But Abimelech had not touched her, nor even gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent people? 5Didn’t he tell me that she was his sister, and didn’t she agree, saying, ‘He is my brother’? My conscience is clear, and I have done no known wrong.”

6God answered him in the dream, “I know that you acted with a clear conscience; that is why I intervened to protect you and keep you from violating what is mine. That is why I prevented you from touching her. 7Now return the man’s wife to him, for he is my spokesman, and he will ask a blessing for you, and your people will live. But if you do not return her, understand that you and your people will most certainly die.”

8First thing the next morning, Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them what happened, they were terrified. 9Then Abimelech had Abraham brought in and said to him, “Why have you done this to us? What wrong have I done to you that would cause you to bring such a great sin upon me and my kingdom? No right-thinking person should ever do what you have done to me. 10So tell me, Abraham, what was your reason for doing this?”

11Abraham answered, “I let fear direct me and I thought to myself, ‘There are no God-fearing people in this place; when they see my wife, they will kill me and take her.’ 12And I really didn’t lie to you, because she actually is my sister; well… half-sister, as we have the same father, but she has a different mother. Then she became my wife. 13When God called me to leave my father’s home and travel from place to place, I told my wife, ‘You can show that you love me and want to protect me in this way: Everywhere we go, tell people I am your brother.’”

14Then Abimelech gave Sarah back to Abraham, along with gifts of sheep, cattle and male and female slaves. 15And Abimelech said to him, “My land is open to you: look around and live wherever you like.”

16To Sarah he said, “I am giving this ‘brother’ of yours 25 pounds (11.4 kilograms) of silver. This is to cover any perceived offense and show all those with you that you are innocent; everyone will know that you have done no wrong.”

17Then Abraham asked God to bless Abimelech, and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his female slaves, so they could again become pregnant, 18for the Lord had caused them to be infertile in order to alert them to the danger of taking Sarah, Abraham’s wife.