Genesis 19-21 God came to Abimelech in a dream by night

From Genesis 19-21

01 Genesis EarthAbraham again pretends Sarah is his sister with near disastrous consequences. The LORD intervenes by communicating to the king of the land in a dream. Sometimes the LORD works through dreams.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

After his meeting with the LORD at the oaks of Mamre, Abaraham continues journeying. He travels into the land of Negeb which is under the rule of a foreign king named Abimelech.

20 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. (Gen 20.1-2)

‘She is my sister’. This is the second time Abraham has attempted this ruse. I’ve evaluated his behaviour in this earlier post. In saying she is his sister, Abraham is avoiding a dangerous situation.

3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.”

4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”

6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” (Gen 20.3-7)

‘You are a dead man’. To understand the LORD’s actions we need to remember Gen 12.3. ‘I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse’.

The LORD protects his own, and Abraham and Sarah are his promise bearers.

If he had married Sarah and slept with her he would have been committing adultery. Punishable by death.

‘Integrity’, ‘Innocence’. Abimelech’s thoughts and deeds were righteous. The LORD acknowledges this as true and says this is why he kept him back from touching her. The LORD commands him to request Abraham to pray for him. Abimelech would obviously feel hard done by.

8 So Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants and told them all these things. And the men were very much afraid.

9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” 10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing?”

11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife. 13 And when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother.” ’ ” (Gen 20.8-13)

‘What have you done to us?’. Abimelech confronts Abraham knowing Sarah is his wife. He recognises how wrong adultery is (as with many ANE nations).

‘No fear of God’. Abraham explains he thought they would have killed him to get her. Clearly he didn’t want to put the LORD to the test, rather he needed to seek some means of escape from the potential danger.

‘She is my sister’. Abraham defends his statement saying she is his half sister. His only deception, not telling them she was his wife.

14 Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and male servants and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; dwell where it pleases you.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. It is a sign of your innocence in the eyes of all who are with you, and before everyone you are vindicated.”

17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. 18 For the LORD had closed all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. (Gen 20:14–18)

‘Gave them to Abraham’, ‘Prayed’. Abimelech gives Abraham many gifts (Gen 12.3) and Abraham prays for Abimelech. The LORD had afflicted Abimelech’s household with infertility. The prayer removes the curse (Gen 12.3).

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.

In auditory message dreams, God appears and sometimes startles the person awake. The content of the dream is a spoken message by the deity rather than events or symbolic images. There are a number of examples of the person responding verbally to the deity (e.g., Nabonidus). Such dreams often are momentous, sometimes validating either their kingship or tasks they are undertaking, and sometimes warning the king of offenses or approaching disasters. (Walton, J.H., 2001. Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)

Story of Jesus

In the gospel, Pilates wife had been warned of Jesus innocence by a dream.

17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.

19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.”

20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. (Mt 27.17-20)

They eventually crucify Jesus. Pilate and the Jewish authorities will face God’s judgment. Sometimes God communicates to us in dreams. Warning us about sin and possible dangers.

Are you open to what God might say to you in your dreams?

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.