Why did he not trust in God to protect him?
ESV - 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.
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Later on in this chapter Abraham gives the answer as to why he lied: " '10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, "What was your reason for doing this?" 11 Abraham replied, "I said to myself, 'There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.' 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, 'This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother." ' " God covered Abraham and kept him safe, even though He could have punished him with some kind of calamity for his doubt in God's ability to keep both him and Sarah safe in this situation.
Jehovah used his spirit to protect individuals in the line of descent leading up to the Seed. To Abram (Abraham), Jehovah said: “I am a shield for you.” (Gen. 15:1) Those were not empty words. Consider, for example, what happened about 1919 B.C.E. when Abraham and Sarah took up temporary residence in Gerar. Not knowing that Sarah was Abraham’s wife, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, took Sarah with the intention of making her his wife. Was Satan manipulating matters behind the scenes, trying to prevent Sarah from bearing Abraham’s seed? The Bible does not say. What it does tell us is that Jehovah intervened. In a dream, he warned Abimelech not to touch Sarah.—Gen. 20:1-18.
Twice, Abraham passed off his wife as his sister, once with the Egyptians, Genesis 12:10-20, and the other time with the people of Gerar, Genesis 20:1-18. Earlier, Abraham explained to Sarah that because she was so beautiful, they would kill him and, by implication, marry her. Then later, Abraham explained to King Abimelech that he thought “the fear of God is not in this place, and they will kill me...” He was afraid someone might take his wife by taking his life. Abraham had not lied. He told a truth to mislead them. Abram/Abraham instructing Sarai/Sarah to say she was his sister was no different than God telling Samuel to intentionally mislead Saul, I Samuel 16:2. This is not Biblical lying as bearing false witness or telling an untruth for illegal gain, Exodus 20:16, Leviticus 19:11. Abraham had no thought to defraud or cheat anyone. If he had lied, these leaders would not let him get away with it. Furthermore, God did not call it a lie or even rebuke Abraham. Instead, God intervened by plaguing Pharaoh’s house, and warning Abimelech in a dream to not take Sarah to marry her. Yet, Abimelech addressed Abraham about the problem he caused, and he rebuked Sarah for going along with this ploy. There seems to be some sarcasm when he said to her, “your brother…” To Abimelech, Abraham explained that Sarah was his sister, Genesis 20:12. There is debate how she was his sister since Sarah’s father is never specifically mentioned. It can be understood as given in the passages that Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister, having the same father but a different mother. One tradition has it that Abraham’s mother died, and Terah remarried a woman by whom Sarah was born. Later, the law prohibited this type of marriage. It is not known if such rules were followed before then, but this was acceptable in David’s time, II Samuel 13:13. Another perspective is that terms of relationship are broad in Hebrew. A daughter can also mean a granddaughter. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Sarah could have been Terah’s granddaughter, maybe the daughter of Haran, which meant Sarah would have been Abraham’s niece. Lot is said to be Abraham’s brother, Genesis 14:16, and yet he was Abraham’s nephew, Genesis 11:31, 14:12. When Terah moved the family from Ur, he also “took his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife,” Genesis 11:31. It is explained she left Ur not as his daughter or granddaughter but as his daughter-in-law having married Abram. She could have been Abraham’s niece. For this reason, some Jewish traditions claim Sarah was the same as Iscah, Genesis 11:29, but there are several problems with that concept. A suggestion is that Iscah, meaning “watch” or “observed,” was Lot’s wife, Genesis 19:26, Luke 17:32. Abraham did not lie but told a truth. Sarah was indeed his sister or niece, but Abraham had a lot of explaining to do and damage control for having misled the Pharaoh and Abimelech.
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