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Friday, August 9 2013

Genesis 20: Abraham and Abimelech

Abraham (see also Genesis 17: From Abram To Abraham) witnessed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, "those cities, and all the plain," from the nearby hill country (see Genesis 19: Fire And Brimstone Upon Sodom And Gomorrah). Lot, and what remained of his family (see Why Did Lot's Wife Look Back?), had escaped to the east, to a town called Zoar.

"19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 19:25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

19:27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: 19:28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

19:29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt." (Genesis 19:24-29 KJV)

While the Hebron area, where Abraham had his encampment (see Camped Out In Canaan), was not damaged, it seems apparent that he was close enough to feel the passing effects until the fires cleared i.e. "the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace." So Abraham moved, temporarily (the LORD had promised him about the ownership of the land; see Genesis 12: Abram's Mission) toward the Negev (which means south; see the Fact Finder question below) Desert: "Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned [which means to reside temporarily] in Gerar."

The Negev Desert

"20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar." (Genesis 20:1 KJV)

As an honest ruse (as we will read, Abraham didn't lie about Sarah being his sister) to keep the Philistines from killing him, "Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister." Abraham was a righteous man who would not have participated in, or accommodated, an act of adultery. As stated, he expected to be there only for a short time, but "Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah" almost immediately.

"20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah." (Genesis 20:2 KJV)

The LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ; see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) intervened before anyone could commit a sin.

"20:3 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 KJV)

Abimelech was innocent, although he wouldn't have been for much longer if the LORD hadn't spoke to him.

"20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

20:5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this." (Genesis 20:4-5 KJV)

Notice that the commandment against adultery already existed, centuries before the Israelites received them at Mount Sinai, and that God's Law applied to everyone, as stated to a Philistine king: "God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her."

"20:6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

20:7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and 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." (Genesis 20:6-7 KJV)

A shaken Abimelech then confronted a chagrined Abraham.

Gerar

"20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.

20:10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?" (Genesis 20:8-10 KJV)

Abraham's explanation was plain and simple: he did what he did because Abimelech had a "law of the jungle" kingdom ("they will slay me for my wife's sake") and Sarah was in fact his sister ("she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife").

"20:11 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.

20:12 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.

20:13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother." (Genesis 20:11-13 KJV)

Abimelech then gave Abraham, what amounted to, a peace offering.

"20:14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.

20:15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.

20:16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved." (Genesis 20:14-16 KJV)

Note how quickly that Abimelech would have committed adultery with Sarah, thereby threatening the promised "seed" of Abraham through Sarah. In effect, the LORD had put Abimelech's entire family group into reproductive lockdown while the threat was active.

"20:17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.

20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife." (Genesis 20:17-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: How was the Negev Desert area later involved in the history of Israel?
See The Negev Of Israel


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This Day In History, August 9

480 BC: The Persian army defeated Leonidas and his Spartan army at the Battle of Thermopylae in Persia (Persia is known today as Iran; see Israel In History and Prophecy: Babylon and Persia).

Mount Damavand 48 BC: The Battle of Pharsalus. Julius Caesar defeated Gnaius Pompey (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).

378: The Battle of Adrianople in Turkey. The defeat of a Roman army commanded by the Emperor Valens (who was killed on the battlefield) at the hands of the Germanic Visigoths led by Fritigern and augmented by Ostrogothic and other forces. It was a major victory of "barbarian" horsemen over Roman infantry and artillery, and marked the beginning of Germanic inroads into Roman territory (Germany later became the Roman Empire; see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

681: Bulgaria was founded as a Khanate (a Turco-Mongol word used for a political area ruled by a Khan) on the Danube.

1173: The construction of the campanile of the cathedral of Pisa (now known as "the Leaning Tower of Pisa") began.

1483: Pope Sixtus IV held the first Church of Rome mass in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel - that was named after that pope, Sixtus.

1549: England declared war on France.

1584: The construction of Spain's El Escorial was completed after 21 years, by Philip II (a Hapsburg).

1653: Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp was killed following the battle of Terheijde with the English fleet off the Dutch coast. He was the Dutch commander at the defeat of a superior Spanish fleet at the Battle of the Downs in 1639.

1810: Napoleon Bonaparte annexed (to seize by conquest and dictatorial rule) Westphalia into the First French Empire.

1830: Louis-Philippe formally accepted the crown of France after the abdication of Charles X on August 2.

1842: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty established the present-day border between Canada and the U.S. Just 30 years before, U.S. President James Madison started the War of 1812 (fought 1812-1814) with the primary stated goal of annexing ("take by conquest; as of territory") Canada to the U.S. It was the last invasion of Canada by any aggressor nation.

1902: Edward VII of England was crowned after death of his mother Queen Victoria.

1942: After the passing of a "Quit India" campaign by the All-India Congress, Mahatma Gandhi and 50 others were arrested in Bombay.

1945: The Nagasaki atomic bombing. Over 75,000 men, women and children were indiscriminately incinerated to death, while many more were horribly burned and/or poisoned by the radiation. It was the second U.S. use of an atomic "weapon of mass destruction," a plutonium device (the first U.S. atomic bomb, used at Hiroshima a few days earlier, was a uranium device).

1969: Actress Sharon Tate (wife of film director Roman Polanski), coffee heiress Abigail Folger and three others were found murdered in their home in Beverly Hills, California. The Charles Manson cult/gang was later convicted for the murders.

1974: Gerald Ford was sworn in as president of the U.S. He replaced Richard Nixon who resigned in disgrace to avoid criminal prosecution and imprisonment for the Watergate burglary and obstruction of justice cover-up (Ford later pardoned Nixon so that Nixon wouldn't become a felon as had numerous members of the Nixon regime, including Vice President Spiro Agnew for tax evasion and Attorney General John Mitchell for obstruction of justice).

1993: The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan lost a 38-year hold on national leadership.



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