Abraham threw his wife under the bus—again! Sarah must have looked super great for an older lady.
Abraham and Sarah go camping down by the southern border of future Israel.
God’s people often learn only partial lessons, the blessed patriarch and wife are no different. They are smart enough to stop at the border, but silly enough to play the same game as before—if asked—tell them you’re my sister.
After all God has done for Abraham, he still lacks moral courage, but that will change.
Gerar is Philistine territory, but you have to be careful with the timeline of history, those words were edited by Moses a good bit later, in a way all the Israelites understood.
The Philistines landed on the nearby shores after Abraham but before Moses.
Abimelech is a local tribal warlord (his name is Semitic), not a Philistine, but is living in future Philistine land.
The Philistine’s were Greek warriors, capable killers on sea and land, had they stayed in Greece, most likely would have been known as Spartans.
But nonetheless Abimelech and the Philistines were tough people.
Abraham quickly understands the sticky situation, the tribal honor code is brutal, and if a warlord king wants something, it’s best to give it to him.
Abimelech, the Philistine warlord, king of Gerar, asks for Sarah, and Abraham and Captain Courageous says okay—she is according to Abraham, only his sister.
But not to worry, God intervenes.
God visits Abimelech in a dream, the words he hears are chilling, “You are a dead man.”
God clarifies Sarah’s marital status, and the text mentions no sexual activity took place.
Abimelech is in one sense innocent but in another guilty. Abimelech had a harem, and like despots of old, some were girls and some were boys, and they were for lewd entertainment, prostitution and trafficking.
Not to mention he was married, so his desire to simply take the wife or sister of a man visiting his kingdom was selfish.
Abimelech has a lively conversation with the Lord, clarifying to God his innocence, the phrase integrity of your heart applies only in this instance, and is not a comment on Abimelech’s overall character.
Abimelech, to his credit, immediately makes things right.
First, he varifies the truth with Abraham, and discovers though they are husband and wife, they share the same father, but not the same mother.
Second, Abimelech produces a generous tithe to Abraham, saying to Sarah, “Behold I have given to your brother.”
Nice little “dig” if you ask me.
Abraham is called a Prophet and prays for Abimelech.
In a fascinating turnabout, Abimelech’s wife cannot bear children, nor can the female slaves of his harem. The women are healed and can now have children.
Sarah is still childless, but not for long.