Notes for Gen 20:1LEB

Or "the South [country]"; Heb "the land of the Negev."


Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan.


Heb "and he sojourned."


Notes for Gen 20:3LEB

Heb "came."


Heb "Look, you [are] dead." The Hebrew construction uses the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with a second person pronominal particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) with by the participle. It is a highly rhetorical expression.


Heb "and she is owned by an owner." The disjunctive clause is causal or explanatory in this case.


Notes for Gen 20:4LEB

The Hebrew term translated "Yahweh" here is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).


Apparently Abimelech assumes that Elohim’s judgment will fall on his entire nation. Some, finding the reference to a nation problematic, prefer to emend the text and read, "Would you really kill someone who is innocent?" See E. A. Speiser, Genesis (AB), 149.


Notes for Gen 20:5LEB

Heb "he"; the referent has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Heb "and she, even she."


Heb "with the integrity of my heart."


Notes for Gen 20:6LEB

Heb "with the integrity of your heart."


Heb "and I, even I, kept you."


Heb "therefore."


Notes for Gen 20:7LEB

Or "for," if the particle is understood as causal (as many English translations do) rather than asseverative.


For a discussion of the term prophet see N. Walker, "What is a Nabhi?" ZAW 73 (1961): 99-100.


After the preceding jussive (or imperfect), the imperative with vav conjunctive here indicates result.


He will pray for you that you may live. Abraham was known as a man of Elohim whose prayer would be effectual. Ironically and sadly, he was also known as a liar.



Heb "if there is not you returning." The suffix on the particle becomes the subject of the negated clause.


The imperfect is preceded by the infinitive absolute to make the warning emphatic.


Notes for Gen 20:8LEB

Heb "And Abimelech rose early in the morning and he summoned."


The verb קָרָא (qara’) followed by the preposition לְ (lamed) means "to summon."


Heb "And he spoke all these things in their ears."


Heb "the men." This has been replaced by the pronoun "they" in the translation for stylistic reasons.


Notes for Gen 20:9LEB

Heb "How did I sin against you that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin?" The expression "great sin" refers to adultery. For discussion of the cultural background of the passage, see J. J. Rabinowitz, "The Great Sin in Ancient Egyptian Marriage Contracts," JNES 18 (1959): 73, and W. L. Moran, "The Scandal of the ‘Great Sin’ at Ugarit," JNES 18 (1959): 280-81.


Heb "Deeds which should not be done you have done to me." The imperfect has an obligatory nuance here.


Notes for Gen 20:10LEB

Heb "And Abimelech said to."


Heb "What did you see that you did this thing?" The question implies that Abraham had some motive for deceiving Abimelech.


Notes for Gen 20:11LEB

Heb "Because I said."


Heb "over the matter of."


Notes for Gen 20:12LEB

Heb "but also."


Notes for Gen 20:13LEB

The Hebrew verb is plural. This may be a case of grammatical agreement with the name for Elohim, which is plural in form. However, when this plural name refers to the one true Elohim, accompanying predicates are usually singular in form. Perhaps Abraham is accommodating his speech to Abimelech’s polytheistic perspective. (See GKC 463 §145.i.) If so, one should translate, "when the gods made me wander."


Heb "This is your loyal deed which you can do for me."


Notes for Gen 20:14LEB

Heb "took and gave."


Notes for Gen 20:15LEB

Heb "In the [place that is] good in your eyes live!"


Notes for Gen 20:16LEB

A thousand pieces [Heb "shekels"] of silver. The standards for weighing money varied considerably in the ancient Near East, but the generally accepted weight for the shekel is 11.5 grams (0.4 ounce). This makes the weight of silver here 11.5 kilograms, or 400 ounces (about 25 pounds).


To your ‘brother.’ Note the way that the king refers to Abraham. Was he being sarcastic? It was surely a rebuke to Sarah. What is amazing is how patient this king was. It is proof that the revere of Elohim was in that place, contrary to what Abraham believed (see v. 11).


Heb "Look, it is for you a covering of the eyes, for all who are with you, and with all, and you are set right." The exact meaning of the statement is unclear. Apparently it means that the gift of money somehow exonerates her in other people’s eyes. They will not look on her as compromised (see G. J. Wenham, Genesis [WBC], 2:74).


Notes for Gen 20:18LEB

In the Hebrew text the clause begins with "because."


Heb had completely closed up every womb." In the Hebrew text infinitive absolute precedes the finite verb for emphasis.


Yahweh had closed up every womb. This fact indicates that Sarah was in Abimelech’s household for weeks or months before the dream revelation was given (20:6–7). No one in his household could have children after Sarah arrived on the scene.


Heb "because of." The words "he took" are supplied in the translation for clarity.