Genesis 20:1-18

 |  April 9, 2018

Gen. 20:1-18

  1. Locate the passage

This passage is immediately after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sin and the incest between Lot and his daughters and the consequences the text foreshadows. These two events point to the consequences of sin that should have been a warning to Abraham. Note the sequence:

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative. Note the conversations between Abraham and Abimelech; God and Abimelech; Abimelech and Sarah; and Abraham and God

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

20:1-2 – Abraham lies about his wife, again, and Abimelech takes her as his wife

20:3-8 – God prevented Abimelech from violating Sarah

20:9-16 – Abimelech confronts Abraham

20:16-18 – God listened to the prayers of the wayward, but eventually obedient prophet

  1. Exegete the passage

This passage records Abraham’s deceit 2.0. Perhaps Abraham did not learn his lesson from his previous deceit of Pharaoh, or maybe he was satisfied with the lucrative benefits from the last time.

While Abraham’s deceit is repulsive, these two episodes of Abraham’s offering of his wife do indicate the unusual beauty of Sarah. Note that the two men who showed an interest in the nonagenarian were both monarchs (Pharaoh and king).

20:1 – Abraham journeyed – see 12:9

20:1 – Abraham dwelt in Kadesh

20:2 – “She is my sister”

20:2 – “Abimelech”

20:2 – Abimelech took Sarah

20:3-7 – Mathews proposes a chiastic structure in verses 3-7

A         vs. 3    you are as good as dead

B         vs. 3    the woman you have taken

C         vs. 4    Abimelech had not gone near her

D         vs. 4    will you destroy an innocent nation

E          vs. 5    with a clear conscience

F          vs. 6    God said to him in a dream

E´        vs. 6    with a clear conscience

D´        vs. 6    I have kept you from sinning

C´        vs. 6    I did not let you touch her

B´        vs. 7    return the man’s wife

A´        vs. 7    you will live … if you do not … you and all your will die[1] Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27-50:26, New American Commentary, vol. 1B (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2005): 250.

20:3 – God came to Abimelech in a dream

20:3 – You are a dead man

20:5 – Didn’t he say …

20:5 – Abimelech’s assertion of his “integrity” in vs. 5 is divinely affirmed in vs. 6.

20:6 – “I withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.”

20:7 – He is a prophet

20:8 – “Abimelech rose early”

20:8 – the men were very much afraid

20:9 – what have you done to us

20:9 – You have done deed to me that ought not to be done

20:10 – what did you have in view

20:11 – I … me … my

20:12 – She actually is my sister

20:13 – God caused me to wander

20:14 – Abimelech gave to Abraham

20:16 – Abimelech spoke to Abraham

20:16 – “she was rebuked” (NKJV)

20:17 – God healed Abimelech

20:17-18 – Abraham finally acts like a prophet of God

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

Exp. God’s thwarting of the adultery taking place doesn’t absolve Abraham of his sin, but it reveals God’s reverence for the sanctity of marriage

Exp. God desires purity in your marriage even more than you do


Category: Sermon Structure
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