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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 20

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 20:1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

Ver. 1. And Abraham journeyed from thence, &c.] Either as grieved at the sight of Sodom; or annoyed by the ill air thereof; (a) or as loathing Lot’s incest; or driven out by a famine; or desirous of doing good to many. Whatever it was that occasioned his removal, we find him ever and anon journeying from one place, and sojourning in another. God’s people are a brood of travellers. This was Abram the Hebrew, of Heber, which signifieth, pilgrim or stranger. They look toward heaven as their home, as Ulysses is said to do toward Ithaca, (b) as a bird looks to her nest on the highest rocks.


Verse 2

Genesis 20:2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She [is] my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Ver. 2. She is my sister.] This is the second time he thus sinned, both against piety by distrust; and charity, in exposing his wife to other men’s pleasure, and his neighbour thereby to God’s displeasure. So Jehoshaphat was twice taken tardy in Ahab’s amity; [2 Chronicles 19:2; 2 Chronicles 20:37] Jonah twice reproved for rebellion; and John for angel worship; Samson, twenty years after he had loved the Philistine woman, goes down to Gaza, and went into Delilah. [ 15:20; 16:1] Lot committed incest two nights together. Indeed, the orifice of his lust was not yet stopped by repentance. But Jonah had surely repented of his former frowardness; and so had Samson, Jehoshaphat, and Abraham too, (a) of his former hypocrascy; which made the Lord to move Pharaoh to deal kindly with him, so that "he had sheep and oxen," &c. [Genesis 12:16] But what shall we say to that example of the apostles, [Luke 22:24] among whom "there was a strife who should be accounted the greatest?" And this was not the first, but the third time they had thus offended by ambition; and even after our Saviour had discoursed unto them of his cross. But this last time, most absurdly, and unseasonably, after that he had foretold his passion to follow within two days; had taught them that he was anointed by the woman for the day of his burial; had administered to them the sacrament, that seal of mutual love; had washed their feet, to teach them humility and charity, &c. Oh, the incredible perverseness of corrupt nature! How strongly do the best still smell of the old cask, taste of the old stock, though ingrafted into Christ, and though poured from vessel to vessel. [John 5:14] "And this have ye done again," saith the Lord. [Malachi 2:13] A great aggravation, as numbers added to numbers, are first ten times more, and then a hundred, and then a thousand. "How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert". [Psalms 78:40] A regenerate man may fall into the same sin again that he hath truly repented of nor can we define how oft, and into how heinous but surely, not oft into the same, that is heinous and scandalous. That is a graceless person that hath "eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease to sin". [2 Peter 2:14] An enemy to God, that "goeth on still in his trespasses". [Psalms 68:21] It is expressly noted of Judah, [Genesis 38:26] that "he knew Tamar again no more."

And Abimelech king of Gerar.] A fit name for a king; and a common name to the kings of this country: it signifies father king. "I was a father to the poor," saith Job. [Job 29:16] And "kings shall be nursing fathers" to the Church, saith Isaiah. [Isaiah 49:23] Augustus was styled Pater Patriae. And Trajan gloried most in his title Optimus. He desired more to be loved, than honoured, and counted it a greater dignity, Prodesse quam praeesse .{ b} He tare his own garment to bind up therewith the wounds of his soldiers; and professed that he would so carry himself to private persons, now that he was emperor, as he wished, when he was a private man, that the emperors should carry themselves toward him. (c) Titus, for his sweet nature and carriage, was called the world’s darling. (d) Scipio the city’s sweetheart. (e) Julian the apostate, as he came not short of the greatest philosophers for learning, so neither of Titus for lenity, of Antoninus for clemency, of Marcus Aurelius for moderation, setting aside his satanical hatred of the Christian religion. (f) Queen Elizabeth ever accounted devotion and mercy the brightest stars in the sphere of majesty. She always thought it more fit to offend a man, than to hate him, saith Master Camden. In the year 1579, a young man discharged a piece out of a boat, and shot one of the bargemen in the Queen’s barge (where she was then) through both his arms; who was soon apprehended, and led to the gallows for a terror to him. But whereas he religiously affirmed, that he did it unwittingly, and thought no harm, he was discharged: the Queen many times saying, that she could believe nothing of her people that parents would not believe of their children. (g) This made her so beloved at home and admired abroad. Queen Elizabeth was the most glorious and happy woman that ever wore a crown, said that thrice noble Princess Anna Atestina, the mother of the Dukes of Guise and Nemours, as Thuanus hath recorded it (h) Her subjects were ready to say to her, as the senate said to Severus, All is well with us, so long as thou rulest well over us. (i)


Verse 3

Genesis 20:3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou [art but] a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she [is] a man’s wife.

Ver. 3. But God came to Abimelech in a dream.] Dreams are either natural or supernatural. Natural dreams are not much to be regarded. [Ecclesiastes 5:7] Diviners and dreamers we are forbid to hearken to. [Jeremiah 27:9] Cicero confutes them that do, in his book De Divinatione. (a) What use there is of them is in physic, to discern our temperatures, - in divinity, our beloved sins. Supernatural dreams are sent by God and his angels; and that either to comfort us, as, [Matthew 2:19] or to chasten us. [Job 7:13-14] And these are, first, usually repeated till they are regarded; as Pharaoh’s and young Samuel’s dreams: secondly, they do much affect us, and leave a certain persuasion, an inward sense of God’s presence in the soul; as Daniel’s, Joseph’s, and Pareus’s dreams. In the Calends of April, - saith he, in his domestical Diary, or Day Book, 1618, - I had a terrible dream at four of the clock in the morning. For I thought, I saw all Heidelberg in a thick smoke, but the prince’s palace all on a light fire. O Deus clementissime, averte sinistrum omen, et serva Sareptam tuam a vastatione hostium intus et foris .{ b} Thus that good man dreamed, and thus he prayed: but the decree was passed, and shortly after executed, according to his dream. There are also dreams diabolical. Eusebius tells us, that Simon Magus had his dream-haunting devils, ονειροπομπους, his familiars by whom he deluded men in their dreams, and drew them into the admiration of himself. These devilish dreams are either mere illusions, as that of Eliphaz is thought (c) to be no better. [Job 4:12; Job 4:16-17] Or else they tend to sin, as nocturnal pollutions, and other evil dreams; whereby the devil sometimes fasteneth that sin upon the saints when asleep, that he cannot prevail with them to commit while awake. As for Pilate’s wife’s dream, some divines think it was from the devil, seeking thereby to hinder the work of our redemption.

For she is a man’s wife.] Adultery, even in kings, is punishable by death. Emperors and Popes (d) have been cut off by the just hand of God, in, and for this filthy sin. Society, and the purity of posterity, could not otherwise continue among men, if this crime were not capital. At Geneva they punish fornication with nine days’ fasting; adultery with death. God appointed that such should be stoned. He stoneth them, howsoever, with the stone in the heart. [Hosea 4:11 Proverbs 7:22] Hetfer the Anabaptist was put to death for this sin at Constance. (e) He being a learned man, and a preacher, insinuated himsef into the familiarity of many women of good rank and repute, and defiled them; when he came to execution, he confessed that he would many times have repented of that foul sin, but could not; so fast was he held in the devil’s bonds: and that now he was willing to die, and accept of the chastisement of his iniquity. Howbeit, it is an opinion held and maintained by the Anabaptists, that adultery is not to be punished by men, because the Scripture saith, "whoremongers and adulterers God will judge". [Hebrews 13:4] Others would prove the same from those words of our Saviour, to the woman taken in adultery, "Neither do I condemn thee". [John 8:11] But they may as well say, that inheritances are not to be divided between brethren, because Christ would not divide them, when required thereto. [Luke 12:14]


Verse 4

Genesis 20:4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?

Ver. 4. But Abimelech had not come near her.] Being hindered by sickness. [Genesis 20:17] Well might St Ambrose call sickness the shop of virtues. (a) When men are fastened to their beds, and their bones made to rattle in their skin, lust will be laid asleep, and little leisure left for luxury. (b) This made King Alfred pray God to send him always some sickness, whereby his body might be tamed, and he the better disposed and affectioned to Godward. If it be painful to the vine to bleed, it is worse to wither. Better be pruned to grow, than cut up to burn. Otho tertius, Imperator, dictus miraculum mundi, amoribus periit .{ c} How much happier he that sang, Periissem nisi Periissem .

Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?] For he knew that whole nations had smarted for the sins of their rulers; this sin of adultery especially, as we read of Shechem, Troy, &c. How were the Greeks plagued for the rape of Chrysis! and the Lacedemonian commonwealth utterly overturned by Epaminondas in the battle of Leuctra, for a rape committed upon the two daughters of Scedasus by a couple of Spartan gentlemen, travelling to Delphi! This might make Abimelech afraid lest, for his fault, wrath should fall upon his people also.


Verse 5

Genesis 20:5 Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.

Ver. 5. Said he not unto me, She is my sister? &c.] Here Abraham and Sarah, though both famous, he for his faith, [Romans 4:19] and she for not being afraid with any amazement, [1 Peter 3:6] yet here they show some trepidation. Sense, saith one, (a) fights sore against faith, when it is upon its own dunghill, I mean in a sensible danger. Nature’s retraction of itself from a visible fear, may cause the pulse of a Christian that beats truly and strongly in the main point (the state of the soul) to intermit and falter at such a time. (b)

In the integrity of my heart.] Great is the boldness of a clear conscience, be it but in some one particular, as here in Abimelech; a man that was magis extra vitia quam cum virtutibus (as Tacitus (c) saith of Galba) rather not evil than good; one whose nature was not changed, but chained up only. Civil men are but wolves chained up, tame devils, swine in a fair meadow; and yet these are the world’s honest men, and as high a price set upon them, as was once upon a cab of dove’s dung in the famine of Samaria. But these Abimelechs, these Catos, these civil judges, they want sincerity in the first table, and integrity in the second; for they stand not upon the inward corruptions, nor lesser breaches of the law. Abimelech, for all his confidence here, was to blame for his wandering, rash lust. And Cato, that mirror of morality, was a griping usurer, prostituted his wife, and slew himself. And yet Paterculus (d) will tell you, that he was, Homo virtuti simillimus, et per omnia virtute Diis quam hominibus propior ,& c.


Verse 6

Genesis 20:6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.

Ver. 6. Yea, I know that thou didst this, &c.] God takes his excuse, and yet chastiseth him; to teach us, saith Calvin (in loco), Non prorsus vacare culpa qui humano modo puri sunt . He can find flaws in that for which we may look for thanks. This makes Nehemiah crave pardon of his zealous reformations; and David cries out, "Enter not into judgment," &c. [Psalms 143:2] Sordet in conspectu iudicis, quod fulget in conspectu operantis , saith Gregory. "Ye are they that justify yourselves before men," saith Christ to the Pharisees; "but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God". [Luke 16:15] A thing which I see in the night may shine, and that shining proceed from nothing but rottenness. "But be not deceived," or if ye be, yet "God is not mocked". [Galatians 6:7] When he comes to turn the bottom of the bag upwards - as the steward did Benjamin’s - all our secret thefts will out, all our collusions come to light (a) His law is a law of fire; [Deuteronomy 33:2] His tribunal, of fire; [Ezekiel 1:27] His pleading with sinners, in flames of fire. [Isaiah 66:15-16] The trial of our work shall be by fire; [1 Corinthians 3:15] and before God, who is a consuming fire. [Hebrews 12:29] Happy are they that are here purged by that spirit of judgment, and burning. [Isaiah 4:4] These shall stand in judgment, yea, dwell with everlasting burnings. [Isaiah 33:14]

For I also withheld thee.] Either by sickness, as aforesaid, or by a spirit of restraint, "a gift" that God gives "to men, yea, to the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them" [Psalms 68:18] in his religion and worshippers; which else the wicked would never suffer. Thus God chained up Laban, and made Saul to melt over David, &c. Now many take this poor counter (that is, I am not as some others are, so bad as the worst) and set it down for a thousand pounds. Our Saviour indeed is said to have "looked upon" the young Pharisee, and to have "loved him," [Mark 10:21] because he saw him to be a tame man, free from foul crimes, and fit to live in a commonwealth: but no otherwise than as we love pictures, which are pretty things to look on, and that is all they are good for. A better nature, if rested in, is but a beautiful abomination, a smooth way to hell. And yet, say what we can, this kind of men grow crooked and aged with good opinions of themselves, and can seldom or never be set straight again. They will trust in Moses; [John 5:45] and when they have sick fits, and qualms of conscience, lick themselves whole by their repentance, and so rest in it: which made Austin say, that repentance damneth more than sin. They seek not to be saved by the righteousness of faith neither see they any necessity of growing from faith to faith. No, they are set, they are as good as ever they mean to be; they that outstrip them are too forward, they that fall short of them are deeply censured.


Verse 7

Genesis 20:7 Now therefore restore the man [his] wife; for he [is] a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore [her] not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that [are] thine.

Ver. 7. Now therefore restore.] Let knowledge reform what ignorance offended in. "The times of ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent". [Acts 17:30] As a master, when he sets up his servant a double light, expects more work and better. We have a privilege not only above the blind Ethnics, but above the Church of the Old Testament. The sea about the altar was brazen; [1 Kings 7:23] and what eyes could pierce through it? Now our sea about the throne is glassy, [Revelation 4:6] "like unto crystal," clearly conveying the light and sight of God to our eyes. God hath "destroyed the face of the covering cast over all people". [Isaiah 25:7] "And we all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord," must see to it, that we be "changed into the same image, from glory to glory". [2 Corinthians 3:18] If those good souls passed "from strength to strength," [Psalms 84:7] travelling many a weary step, to see the face of God in Sion, in the obscure glass of the ceremonies; voe torpori nostro , woe to us, if, now that such a light is sprung up, we walk not as children of that light! To know heavenly things, is to "ascend into heaven". [Proverbs 30:3-4] And to know our Master’s will is a great talent; of all other, there is a "much" in that. [Luke 12:48] But then, not to do his will so known, is to "be beaten with many stripes." None so deep in hell, as your knowing men, (a) because they "imprisoned the truth" (which is as a prophet from God) "in unrighteousness"; [Romans 1:18] they kept it in their heads, as rain in the middle region, not suffering it to warm their hearts, or work upon their affections; therefore came wrath upon them to the utmost. None are oftener drowned than they that have most skill in swimming. So none sooner miscarry than men of greatest parts.

For he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee.] The proper work of a prophet. "If they be prophets, let them entreat the Lord": [Jeremiah 27:18] they shall be heard, when others shall not; as the father’s blessing is most effectual; as the child could not be raised till Elisha came himself, nor the sick be healed, till the elders of the Church be called for. [James 5:14] The apostles divided their time between praying and preaching. [Acts 6:4] So did the priests of the Old Testament; "They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, they shall put incense before thee". [Deuteronomy 33:10] As with every sacrifice there was incense, so should every ministerial duty be performed with prayer. St Paul begins his Epistles with prayer, and proceeds and ends in like manner. What is it that he would have every of his Epistles stamped with by his own hand, but prayer for all his people. [2 Thessalonians 3:17-18]

Thou shalt surely die.] So dear to God are his saints, that he grievously punisheth even kings for their sakes; as Jehoram "in his bowels with an incurable disease," [2 Chronicles 21:18] the two Herods by the lousy malady. (b) Maximinus the emperor, a cruel persecutor, cast upon his bed of sickness by God, was glad to crave the prayers of the Church, as Eusebius relates it. Valens being to subscribe an order for the banishment of Basil, was smitten with a sudden trembling of his hand, that he could not. Afterward he was burned to death by the Goths, whom he had corrupted by sending them Arian teachers. (c) The putting out of that French king’s eyes, which promised (d) before with his eyes to see Anne du Bourg (one of God’s true servants) burned, who seeth not to be the stroke of God’s own hand? Then, his son Francis, not regarding his father’s stripe, would needs yet proceed in the burning the same man. And did not the same God give him such a blow on the ear as cost him his life? As for Charles IX, author of the French massacre, though he were wittily warned by Beza to beware (upon occasion of that new star appearing in Cassiopeia, Nov. 1572, which he applied to that star at Christ’s birth, and to the infanticide then) with, Tu vero, Herodes sanguinolente, time ; yet because he repented not, God gave him blood to drink, as he was worthy; for the fifth month after the vanishing of this star, Constans fama est illum, dum e variis corporis partibus sanguis emanaret, in lecto saepe volutatum, inter terribilium blasphemiarum diras tantam sanguinis vim proiecisse, ut paucas post horas, mortuus fuerit .{ e} This Charles IX, in the massacre of Paris, beholding the bloody bodies of the butchered Protestants, and feeding his eye upon that woeful spectacle, is said to have breathed out this bloody speech, Quam bonus est odor hostis mortui !{ f} Another great queen, seeing the ground covered with naked carcasses of her Protestant subjects said, (g) that it was the bravest piece of tapestry that ever she beheld; (h) but it was not long that she beheld it. Our Queen Mary, though non natura sed Pontificiorum arte ferox - ipsa solum nomen regium ferebat, coeterum omnem regni petestatem Pharisaei possidebant - died (i) of a tympany, or, as some (by her much sighing before her death) supposed, she died of thought and sorrow, either for the loss of Calais, or for the departure of King Philip. This king, going from the Low Countries by sea into Spain, with resolution never to remove thence, fell into a storm, in which almost all the fleet was wrecked, his household stuff of very great value lost, and himself hardly escaped. He said he was delivered by the singular providence of God, to root out Lutheranism, which he presently began to do, protesting that he had rather have no subjects, than Lutheran subjects, (j) Whether it was this Philip or his successor, I cannot certainly tell. But Carolus Scribanius tells a lamentable story of one of those two Philips. (k) Hear him else, Ulcerum magnitudinem, multitudinem, acerbitatem, foetorem, lecto tanquam durae cruci, anno integro, affixionem, ut in nullam prope commoveri partem possit, acres continuosque annorum sex podagrae dolores, febrim hecticam cum duplici per annos duos, tertiuna intima, adeoque et ossium medullas, depascentem gravissimam 22. dierum dysenteriam, quae nec moram daret, nec detersionem admitteret, perpetua stomachi fastidia, nullo potu sitim medicandam, capitis et oculorum insanos dolores, ingentem puris ex ulceribus redundantiam, quae binas indies scutellas divite paedore impleret: inter haec, malignissimi odoris gravitatem, quae omnem illi somnum ademerat; haec inquam, rex potentissimus longo tempore prepessus’ est . So true is that of an ancient, Potentes potenter torquebuntur ." Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings: kiss the Son, lest he be angry". [Psalms 2:12] He can soon break men with his iron mace, and dash them in pieces as a potter’s vessel. Ingentia beneficia, ingentia flagitia, ingentia supplicia , as the Centurists have it. Christ shall reign, when kings and Caesars shall lie in the dust. His name is "King of kings, and Lord of lords"; [Revelation 19:16] and this name is written "upon his vesture," that all creatures may see his power, and "upon his thigh," to show the eternity of his monarchy, in his children and posterity. This "everlasting Father" shall have an endless government. [Isaiah 9:6-7] "He shall see his seed," the fruit of his thigh; "he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands". [Isaiah 53:10] I shut up this discourse with the story of Ladislaus, king of Bohemia and Hungary, who most unjustly had caused Ladislaus, son to Hunniades, to be beheaded; and together with many other Popish princes, had conspired to root out the true Christians in Bohemia; which should have been put in execution at the time of his marriage; immediately before, in the midst of his great preparations he fell sick, and within thirty-six hours died of a pestilent sore in his groin. (l) Like as Attilas, (m) that king of the Huns, and scourge of Christendom, had died before, being suffocated in his own blood, at such a time as he celebrated his wedding, having distempered his body with excess in wine and venery, adeo ut proverbio de eo dictum sit, eum per eandem partem animam profudisse, per quam acceperat ,{ n} He went out of the world the same way that he came into it, and sent his soul as a harbinger to the devil to provide room for his body.


Verse 8

Genesis 20:8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

Ver. 8. Therefore Abimelech rose early, &c.] He "made haste, and delayed not to keep God’s commandments". [Psalms 119:60] This is a check to our dulness, whom so many exhortations and menaces of God’s mouth move not to amend. Some are semper victuri , as Seneca saith. They defer so long till the drawbridge be taken up, till the gale of grace be blown over, till the bridegroom goes by, and so are shut out with the foolish virgins, for their lingering and futuring. Nolite vero tempus in nugis terere, vel Cras, ut ille, Seria, reiectis in hilari compotatione, literis indiciis hodie morituri, protelare . At the next puff of breath thou mayest blow away thy life; or, by not discerning thy time, thou mayest lose thy soul, as Saul did his kingdom. Opportunities are headlong. (a)

And called all his servants.] Nature taught infidels to take care of their own families. Socrates is said to have called philosophy down from heaven to earth; (b) that is, to have directed men to be good at home, and setting aside other studies, chiefly to mind,

Aedibus in propriis quae pravae aut recta gerantur.

Cato said that he could pardon all men’s faults, save only the faults of his own family. And Augustus, when he went about to restrain garish attire, and looseness of life in others, was jeered and upbraided at Rome with the excesses and enormities of his own household. He had three untoward children whom he was wont to term tres vomicas, tria carcinomata so many mattery impostumes, ulcerous sores. His wife Livia was thought to be too familiar with her friend and physician, Eudemus; Pliny calls him her paramour. Tacitus saith, he was specie artis, frequens secretis . All this might be without his fault, but not without his reproach. (c) The malicious Pharisees could object it to our Saviour - "thy disciples wash not," "thy disciples fast not," &c.; as if he were much to blame for suffering such things. And surely, he is not a complete Christian, walks not "in a perfect way," that is not good "at home," [Psalms 101:2] that is, not relatively good. The fifth commandment is called by Philo, εντολη μικτη, a mixed commandment, and made a part of the first table. It is therefore set between both tables of the law, saith another, because all we get from God or men we bring it home to our houses - as Abimelech here relates his divine dream to his servants - the place of well employing it.

And the men were sore afraid.] This fear freed them; for according to men’s fear, so is God’s displeasure. [Psalms 90:11] Cavebis si pavebis .{ Romans 11:21} But they that tremble not in hearing, shall be crushed to pieces in feeling, said that martyr. (d) This was a sign that the Israelites feared God, when they believed God, and his servant Moses. [Exodus 4:31] The best way of prevention is to tremble at God’s judgments, while they hang in the threatenings. But frequentissimum initium calamitatis securitas , saith Paterculus. Sola igitur securitas est, nunquam esse securum, sed semper pavidum et trementem , saith another. (e) Should servants fear their masters [Colossians 3:22] because they have power over the flesh, and not we fear God? &c.


Verse 9

Genesis 20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.

Ver. 9. What hast thou done unto us? &c.] Some warmth must be in a reproof, but it must not be scalding hot. Words of reviling and disgrace, they scald, as it were; but words that tend to stir up the conscience to a due consideration of the fault (as here) they be duly warm, and tend to make the physic work more kindly. (a) How could Abraham resist this sweet and sovereign reprehension? How could he but be much ashamed, that he should give occasion to it? No oratory is so powerful with good natures as that of mildness. Remember to reprove with modesty and moderation.


Verse 10

Genesis 20:10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?

Ver. 10. What sawest thou?] He hath not yet done, but further expostulateth the injury, and setteth on the reproof. Personatae reprehensiones frigent ." Rebuke them sharply". [Titus 1:13]


Verse 11

Genesis 20:11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God [is] not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.

Ver. 11. Surely the fear of God, &c.] The only best curb to restrain from evil, and spur to incite to good. All honesty flows from this holy fear. It is a problem in Aristotle, why men are credited more than other creatures. The answer is, Oτι θεους νομιζει μονον; "Man only reverenceth God," therefore you may trust in him, therefore you may commit yourself to him. He that truly feareth God is like unto Cato, of whom it is said, He never did well that he might appear to do so, but because he could do no otherwise. (a) You need not fear me, said Joseph to his brethren, for I fear God, and so dare do you no harm. Ought ye not to have feared God? said Nehemiah to those usurious Jews. [Nehemiah 5:9]


Verse 12

Genesis 20:12 And yet indeed [she is] my sister; she [is] the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

Ver. 12. And yet indeed.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 11:29"}


Verse 13

Genesis 20:13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This [is] thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He [is] my brother.

Ver. 13. When God caused me to wander.] Cum facerent Dii , when they, even God, caused me. The mystery of the Trinity, (a) though Calvin interpret it of the angels; as Cartwright likewise doth that of Solomon, which Junius conceiveth to be spoken of the blessed Trinity, "There be higher than they," [Ecclesiastes 5:8] sc., that Three in One, and One in Three.


Verse 14

Genesis 20:14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave [them] unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.

Ver. 14. And Ablmelech took sheep and oxen.] Great men should be bountiful to good men. Aeneas Sylvius was wont to say of learning - how much more may it be said of grace? - popular men should esteem it as silver, noblemen as gold, princes prize it as pearls. Arcadius the emperor gave his schoolmaster Arsenes, a holy man, the revenues of all Egypt, desiring him to pray for him. Arsenes promised him his prayers, but refused his rich offer; saying, that he wanted no money, as being long since dead to the world. (a)


Verse 15

Genesis 20:15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land [is] before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.

Ver. 15. Behold, my land.] This is the way to make a reproof work kindly, viz., to preserve still an opinion in the hearts of the reproved, that we love them nevertheless, and would do them any good.


Verse 16

Genesis 20:16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand [pieces] of silver: behold, he [is] to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that [are] with thee, and with all [other]: thus she was reproved.

Ver. 16. I have given thy brother.] Not thee, to avoid suspicion, "Provide," we must, "things honest in the sight of all men"; [Romans 12:17] and not only keep a good conscience, but a good name as much as may be; learning this of the unjust steward, by lawful (though he did it by unlawful) means. For our Saviour noted this defect, when he said, "The children of this world," &c. [Luke 16:8] It was good counsel that Livia gave her husband Augustus. It behoveth thee not only not to do wrong, but not to seem to do so, &c. (a) We must shun, and be shy of, the very show and shadow of sin, if we tender either our credit abroad or comfort at home. The Church took it ill, that her veil was pulled off, and that she was judged to be a dishonest woman. [Song of Solomon 5:7] As in the first chapter, she prays her spouse to tell her, where she may come to him: for "why should she be as one that turneth aside," or as one that was veiled or covered, a sign of lightness and dishonesty? [Genesis 38:14-15] She was willing to eschew all appearance of evil. Some take the sense of the text thus: - I have given thy husband money to buy thee a veil, to cover thy face that all may know thee to be a married woman.


Verse 17

Genesis 20:17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare [children].

Ver. 17. So Abraham prayed unto God, and God healed Abimelech.] Here was that of St James verified, "The prayer of faith shall save the sick; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him". [James 5:15] So he is healed on both sides. The story of Luther is well known, how by his prayers he recovered Theodorus Virus of a consumption, after the physicians had given him up for dead. (a) The saints are God’s favourites; they may have anything of him. Sejanus found Tiberius so facile, that he needed only to ask, and give thanks. (b) He never denied him anything, and ofttimes anticipated his request. What shall we think of God’s goodwill to his faithful servants and suppliants?


Verse 18

Genesis 20:18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.

Ver. 18. For the Lord had fast closed up all, &c.] In quibus peccamus, in iisdem plectimur . God oft takes notice of the offending member. Dives was tormented most in his tongue, quia lingua plus peccaverat , saith Cyprian. (a) Nestorii lingua vermibus exesa . Archbishop Arundel was so smitten in his tongue, that he could neither swallow nor speak, for serveral days before his death. Atque id multi tum fieri putabant, quod verbum Dei alligasset, ne suo tempore praedicaretur , saith the historian. (b) The like is reported of Stephen Gardiner, Fertur Heraclius Imp. inguine sursum converso faciem suam perminxisse, nisi urina (tabella imo ventri appossita) averteretur. Id ei accidisse creditum, ob incestum cum fratris filia coitum. (c)

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 20:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-20.html. 1865-1868.

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