1 Abraham was on the move again. He left Mamre and went south to the Negev and lived as an immigrant for awhile in Gerar, between Kadesh and Shur. 2 As had become his custom in foreign places, Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, as his sister.
Abimelech, the king of Gerar, seized her and added Sarah to his household harem. 3 But on the very night he had done that, God appeared to Abimelech in a dream and told him, “You are as good as dead, for you’ve taken a married woman to be one of your concubines.”
4-5 However, Abimelech, had not yet consummated the relationship with Sarah, so he protested, “Don’t kill me and wipe out my nation! I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t slept with Sarah. And besides, didn’t Abraham and Sarah say that they were brother and sister?”
6 In the dream God responded, “Yes, I know you are innocent. That’s why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I prevented you from touching her. 7 Now send Sarah back to her husband. He’s a prophet and will pray for you and your life will be spared. But if you fail to return Abraham’s wife to him, you and all your family will most certainly die.”
8 Very early the next morning Abimelech got up and immediately called a meeting with all his officials. They were terrified when he told them about the dream.
9 Abimelech then summoned Abraham and called him on the carpet. “What an inconsiderate imbecile! Look what have you done to us! What have I ever done to you that you’d treat me like this -- making us guilty of this horrible sin and thus jeopardizing both me and my kingdom? No one should ever ever do what you have done! 10 What were you thinking?”
11 Abraham replied, “Well, I thought, ‘No one here honors God. And the people will want my wife. So they will kill me to get her.’ 12 Besides -- she really is my sister -- albeit half-sister. We both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her. 13 When God called me to leave my father’s home and to wander from place to place, I told her, 'If you really love me, you will tell all the locals that I am your brother.'”
14 Then Abimelech showed that he wasn’t as godless as Abraham had originally thought. The king presented to Abraham a peace offering that included some of his own sheep and cattle, as well as male and female servants. He also sent his wife Sarah back to him. 15 Then, unlike Pharaoh who responded to a similar situation in Genesis 12 by deporting Abraham, Abimelech said, “Choose any place on my land where you would like to live.”
16 To Sarah, the king said, “Look, I’m giving your ‘brother’ 1,000 pieces of silver to show everyone my desire to make right this misunderstanding. This is to compensate you for any wrong I may have done. It restores your honor in this matter and settles any claim against me.”
17 Then, because Abraham prayed to God, God healed the king, his wife, and his female servants, so they could once again have children. 18 For the Lord had struck all the women in Abimelech’s household with infertility because he had taken Abraham’s wife, Sarah.