Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.

–Roger Ebert

Genesis, Chapter 20

Lies Against a New King

After the destruction of the Cities of the Plain, the wrath spread across the land creating another famine. Sarah took her household and traveled to Gerar. She knew the Abimelech, the Philistine King, there was powerful, though not as powerful as Egypt’s Pharaoh, but Sarah dared not return and test the Pharaoh again.

Gerar had rich lands to survive the famine. Abraham convinced Sarah to repeat the scam they ran in Egypt. Sarah said she was his sister when they introduced themselves, and the Abimelech offered riches to have Sarah become his bride.

That very night, a King’s vizier rushed to Sarah’s suite, and pounded on the door. Keturah, ready to defend her master, answered: “It is late, my Lady wishes for a ceremony before your King takes her.”

The vizier said: “She does not need to fear the Abimelech, but he will not be lied to. Have her dressed and ready as soon as possible.”

Another vizier was sent to fetch Abraham. Abraham came down to find Abimelech’s full court, including his wives, assembled as if were midmorning. Sarah stood apart like a stranger and caught his eyes. He didn’t know what was happening either.

The Abimelech, Lord Father of Gerar, King of the Philistine Empire, rose and called to Abraham: “What did you try to do to me? Did I not open my gates to your household? Did I not promise you riches? Why did you two lie to me? I might have violated your marriage vows! But God appeared to me in a dream and revealed the truth. What do you have to say for yourself?!”

Abraham bowed low: “I didn’t know you walked with Elyon, God Most High. I feared you would kill me to take her as your wife. But, if you would have mercy on me, I can explain it’s not a complete lie. In the land of my youth, we marry within our family. She and I share the same father, but not the same mother. When God sent us from our home, we avoided death by wicked rulers by putting it this way.”

The Abimelech put his face in his hands. Abraham held Sarah. She feared a death sentence, although Abraham welcomed joining God in the afterlife. Then the Lord of Gerar laughed.

The Abimelech’s Forgiveness

With laughter and pain in his eyes, the Abimelech said to Abraham: “I do not walk with God by that name, but there is but one Eternal Creator, and I try to cherish Her gifts just as you do. I forgive your foolish game. You may stay here, and I will still give you an honored place as guests. Sarah is your wife, stay with her as her husband.”

Then Abimelech dismissed his court, and took Abraham aside and walked with him. “Your blindness to Creation’s bounty will doom your family if you’re not careful. These games you play, lying to kings, wedding your own half-sister, what good will come of this path? Jealousy will only bring you a jealous God, and such a God is a God of War, Death, Pestilence and Famine, not Peace, Love, Mercy, and Creation.”

Then Abimelech swept his arms over the balcony. “You may select any portion of my land. The bounty of God is not something yet to be given, it’s already here before us. Take your choice of it, and I will buy the land for you, so that none will say that you have taken it unfairly.”

Abraham wept at the king’s generosity, and cursed his own weaknesses. Sarah said prayers of blessing and thanks to the Abimelech.

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