Sarai and her maid Hagar
v1 Sarai, who was Abram’s wife, had no children. She had an Egyptian maid, whose name was Hagar. v2 Sarai said to Abram, ‘The *Lord has made me unable to produce children. Lie with my maid and have sex with her. Perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram did what Sarai suggested. v3 Abram had then lived for 10 years in the country that is called *Canaan.
So Sarai, who was Abram’s wife, took her maid Hagar, the Egyptian. Sarai gave Hagar to Abram her husband so that Hagar could be his wife. v4 And Abram had sex with Hagar and she became *pregnant. When Hagar knew this, she did not respect Sarai. v5 And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Hagar does not respect me. I pray that the blame for this will be on you! I gave my maid to you to have sex with you. As soon as she became *pregnant, she did not respect me. I want the *Lord to be a judge. I pray that he will blame either you or me!’ v6 But Abram said to Sarai, ‘You may control your own maid. Do to her whatever you decide to do.’ Then Sarai was cruel to Hagar, and Hagar ran away from Sarai.
Genesis tells us that several of God’s ancient people had two wives. But that does not mean that to have two wives is right.
Abram’s wife was Sarai. Abram took Hagar as an extra wife. He did that because he had no son. God had promised that Abram would have a son. (See Genesis 15:4.) But Abram thought that he must do something. He thought that otherwise God’s promise would not happen. But God wanted Abram to trust him. God did not want Abram to marry Hagar. God gave Abram a son, by his wife Sarai, when the time was right. (See Genesis 21:1-2.) God wanted Abram to wait for that time.
Sarai was Abram’s wife and Hagar was only an extra wife. But Sarai had no child and Hagar was *pregnant. Hagar would soon produce a child for Abram. So Hagar thought that she was equal in rank to Sarai. Sarai blamed Abram for this, and Abram did not help her. Sarai wanted to show that Hagar was only a maid. So she was cruel to Hagar.
God rescues Hagar
v7 The *Lord’s *angel found Hagar by a well of water in the desert. That well is on the way to Shur. v8 And the *angel said, ‘Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from? Where do you go?’ She said, ‘I have run away from Sarai, whom I served.’ v9 The *Lord’s *angel said to her, ‘Return to Sarai, whom you served. Serve her again and obey her.’ v10 The *Lord’s *angel also said to Hagar, ‘I will make you have a great number of *descendants. They will be so many that nobody will be able to count them.’
An *angel is a servant of God who brings messages from heaven. But in this verse ‘the *Lord’s *angel’ means God himself. He did not send a servant but he came himself. We know that because of the words in verse 13.
God already knew where Hagar had come from. He asked the question so that Hagar would speak to him.
God often says this to people who run away from difficulties. He says, ‘I know that things were difficult. But go back and overcome the difficulties. I will be with you and I will help you.’
God intended that Abram would have only one wife, Sarai. He did not tell Abram to take an extra wife, Hagar. (See the comment on verse 3.) So God did not intend that Abram should have *descendants by Hagar. But God loves people. So he looked after those *descendants. And he promised to make them a great nation.
v11 And the *Lord’s *angel said to her, ‘You are *pregnant and a son will be born to you. You shall call him Ishmael, because the *Lord has heard you in your trouble. v12 He shall live like a wild *donkey. He will be every man’s enemy and every man shall be his enemy. He will live in front of all his relatives.’
‘Ishmael’ means ‘God heard’.
God had promised that Abram’s *descendants by his wife Sarai would live in *Canaan. (See Genesis 12:7.) And God had also promised that Abram’s *descendants by Hagar’s son Ishmael would be a great nation. (See verse 10.) So Ishmael’s *descendants could not live in *Canaan because there was not enough space for both nations. Therefore Ishmael’s *descendants would live in the desert. We are not sure what the last sentence in verse 12 means. Sometimes in the Bible, ‘in front of’ means ‘to the east of’.
v13 So Hagar gave a name to the *Lord who spoke to her. She called him, ‘You are a God who sees.’ She said, ‘I have really seen the God who sees me.’ v14 Therefore people call the well Beer-lahai-roi. It is between Kadesh and Bered.
v15 And Hagar had a son for Abram. And Abram called his son Ishmael. v16 Abram was 86 years of age when Ishmael was born to Hagar for Abram.
‘Beer-lahai-roi’ means ‘the well of the one who lives and sees’. She may have meant, ‘I have seen God and I am still alive.’
God makes an agreement with Abraham
v1 When Abram was 99 years of age, the *Lord appeared to him. The *Lord said to him, ‘I am God who can do anything. Stay near to me and have no blame. v2 And I will make my firm agreement between me and you. I will make you have a very great number of *descendants.’ v3 Then Abram fell down so that his face was on the ground.
God said to Abram, v4 ‘Listen to me! My firm agreement is with you. You shall be the father of many nations. v5 Now your name shall not be Abram. Your name shall be Abraham, because I have made you the father of many nations. v6 I will make you to have a large family. I will make nations out of you. Some of your family shall be kings. v7 And I will keep my firm agreement between me and you. I will keep it with all your *descendants who will be after you. It is a firm agreement that shall last for all ages. I will be your God. I will be the God of your *descendants who will be after you. v8 And I will give to you the land where you live. I will give it to your *descendants who will be after you. I will give all the country that is called *Canaan. It shall be for your *descendants a possession that shall last through all ages. And I will be their God.’
‘Abram’ means ‘high father’. ‘Abraham’ sounds like ‘father of nations’.
‘Stay near to me and have no blame.’ God did not say, ‘Do nothing that is wrong. So you will have no blame.’ Instead, he said in this verse, ‘Stay near to me.’ And Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was right with him. That was true about Abram and it is true about us. We have all done wrong things. We all deserve to have blame. So we must stay near to God. We must believe God. If we do that, God takes away our blame. Then, like Abraham, we are *righteous (right with God).
v9 And God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my firm agreement. You yourself shall keep it. And your *descendants who will be after you shall keep it. Their children and their grandchildren shall keep it. v10 This is my firm agreement, which you shall keep. It is a firm agreement between me and your *descendants who shall live after you. You yourself shall be *circumcised. And every male person who is among you shall be *circumcised. v11 You shall *circumcise yourselves. This shall be a sign of the firm agreement that is between me and you.
v12 You shall *circumcise every male baby that is among you. You shall *circumcise him when he is 8 days old. You shall *circumcise every male who is born in your house. You shall *circumcise every male whom you buy with your money from any foreigner. You shall do it even if he is not your *descendant. v13 Every male person that is born in your house shall be *circumcised. Also every male person that you buy with your money shall be *circumcised.
So a mark of my firm agreement shall be in your body. It will show that my firm agreement shall last through all ages. v14 You shall separate from his people any male person who is not *circumcised. He has broken my firm agreement.’
To ‘*circumcise’ means to cut the skin from the end of a male person’s sex part. When someone has done that to a person, that person is ‘*circumcised’. It is a sign that God has made a firm agreement with that person. And it is a sign that that person is a member of God’s people. God’s people became a nation. Later, they were called ‘Israelites’ or ‘the children of Israel’. They are also called the ‘Jews’.
The firm agreement that God made with Abraham is called the old firm agreement. People were *circumcised as a sign of that agreement. But when Jesus Christ came, he made a new firm agreement between God and people. And now people who belong to God do not need to be *circumcised. (See Galatians 5:6; 6:15.)
God promises a son to Abraham
v15 And God said to Abraham, ‘Sarai is your wife. But now you shall not call her Sarai. Her name shall be Sarah. v16 I will bring many good things to her. Also, I will give a son to you by her. I will bring good things to her and she shall be a mother of nations. Kings of nations shall come from her.’
v17 Then Abraham fell down so that his face was on the ground. And he laughed. He said to himself, ‘A child will not be born to me. I am 100 years of age! And Sarah will not be the mother of a child. She is 90 years of age!’ v18 And Abraham said to God, ‘I wish that Ishmael might live near to you!’ v19 God said, ‘No! Your wife Sarah shall be the mother of a son for you. You shall call him Isaac. I will make my firm agreement with him. It will be a firm agreement for his family who shall live after him. It shall be a firm agreement that shall last through all ages. v20 But I have heard your words about Ishmael. I will bring good things to him. I will make him have a big family. And I will make him have very many *descendants. He shall be the father of 12 princes. And I will make him a great nation. v21 But your son Isaac shall be born to Sarah at this season next year. I will make my firm agreement with him.’
v22 When God had finished his talk with Abraham, God went up away from him.
‘Sarai’ means ‘laughter’. ‘Sarah’ means ‘princess’.
Many years before this, God promised that Abraham would have many *descendants. And Abraham believed God. (See Genesis 15:5-6.) But in this verse, Abraham does not believe what God says.
Abraham’s plan was this. Abraham thought that he was too old to have another son. He already had a son, Ishmael, whose mother was Sarah’s maid, Hagar. Therefore, Abraham thought that Ishmael must have the rights of the oldest son.
God’s plan was this. Abraham would have a son by his wife Sarah. That son would have the rights of the oldest son. God would make his firm agreement with that son.
Ishmael was not in God’s plan. But Abraham prayed for Ishmael. (See verse 18.) And God gave to Ishmael a place in his plan. Ishmael’s *descendants would be a great nation. God had already made this promise to Hagar. (See Genesis 16:10 and the comment.)
v23 Then Abraham took Ishmael his son. He took all the slaves who were born in his house. He took all the slaves that he had bought with his money. He took every male person who was among the men of Abraham’s house. He *circumcised them on that same day, as God had told him to do. v24 Abraham was 99 years of age when they *circumcised him. v25 And Ishmael his son was 13 years of age when they *circumcised him. v26 On that same day they *circumcised Abraham and they *circumcised his son Ishmael. v27 And they *circumcised with him all the men in his house. They *circumcised with him those who were born in the house. And they *circumcised those whom Abraham had bought with money from a foreigner.
Abraham obeyed God. (See verse 10 and the comment on verses 10-12.) Every man must be *circumcised. That was a sign that there was a firm agreement between God and the man. It was only a sign. It did not bring a man to God. To come close to God, a man must put his trust in him. He must believe. Genesis tells us, ‘Abram believed the *Lord. Therefore the *Lord considered that Abram was *righteous (right with God).’ (See Genesis 15:6.)
God visits Abraham
v1 The *Lord appeared to Abraham. Abraham was near to the big trees at Mamre. He sat at the door of his tent. It was in the hot part of the day. v2 When Abraham looked, he saw three men. They were standing in front of him. And when he saw them, he ran from the door of the tent. He went to meet them. He bent his head down very low. v3 He said, ‘Sir, if you are pleased with me, do not pass by me. I am your servant. v4 I will bring some water so that you may wash your feet. After that, please rest yourselves under the tree. v5 I will fetch a piece of bread so that you may eat. Since your journey brought you here to me, please eat here. After that you may continue your journey.’ So the men said, ‘Do as you have said.’
v6 And Abraham ran into the tent to Sarah. He said to her, ‘Prepare quickly a quantity of flour. Mix it, and make cakes.’ v7 And Abraham ran to the animals. He chose a young cow that was good for meat. He gave it to his servant and the servant prepared it quickly. v8 Then Abraham took cheese and milk. He took the young cow, which was ready to eat. He put these things in front of the men. He stood by them under the tree while they ate.
Abraham gave a friendly welcome to the three men. He would do the same for any visitors. That was the custom. Abraham thought that the three men were ordinary travellers. He did not know that two were *angels. And he did not realise that one was God.
The ‘quantity’ that Abraham said was ‘3 seahs’. That was a large quantity. And Abraham chose a young cow. He did not choose a young goat, which would be smaller. So this meal was a large one. Abraham was very generous to his guests. And he served his guests but he did not eat with them.
v9 The men said to Abraham, ‘Where is Sarah your wife?’ And he said, ‘She is in the tent.’ v10 The *Lord said, ‘I will certainly return to you in the spring. When I return, Sarah your wife shall have a son.’ And Sarah was behind him. She listened at the door of the tent.
v11 Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old. Women produce children until a certain age, but Sarah had passed that age. v12 So Sarah laughed to herself. She said to herself, ‘I have grown old and my husband is old. I cannot have a child. I cannot have that pleasure.’ v13 The *Lord said to Abraham, ‘Sarah should not have laughed. She should not have said, “I cannot have a child, since I am old.” v14 Nothing is too difficult for the *Lord. At the time that I have mentioned, I will return. In the spring, I will return to you. When I return, Sarah shall have a son.’ v15 And Sarah was afraid. Therefore she said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But the *Lord said, ‘No, you did laugh.’
The men already knew that Abraham was married. And they knew his wife’s name. Ordinary travellers would not know these things.
The ‘door of the tent’ was a curtain on the front of the tent.
Sarah still did not know who the men were. And she thought that they joked.
God knew what Sarah said. He knew that, although she only spoke to herself.
Sarah was afraid. But the reason for her fear was not that she might have a son. She was afraid of God. And she realised that the men came from God.
v16 Then the men set out from there and they looked toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them as they began their journey.
v17 The *Lord said, ‘I will not hide from Abraham the thing that I intend to do. v18 I remember that Abraham’s family shall become a great and powerful nation. And all the families that are on the earth shall receive good things because of him. v19 I have chosen him so that he may *command his children. He shall also *command his family who shall live after him. He will *command them to live in the *Lord’s way. He will *command them to do right things and good things. So the *Lord will bring to Abraham the things that he has promised to him.’
v20 Then the *Lord said, ‘I have heard very bad things about Sodom and Gomorrah. Their deeds are very evil. v21 Therefore I will go there. Perhaps they have actually done all the things that I have heard about them. I will know the truth.’
v22 So the men went further and they travelled toward Sodom. But Abraham stayed and he stood in front of the *Lord.
Abraham went with the men for a short distance. That was the custom. Abraham would do the same for any travellers who had visited him. But he knew that one traveller was God. Therefore, Abraham had another reason to go with them. He loved to be with God.
God wants us to know what he is doing. Jesus said the same thing to his followers. (See John 15:15.) He said, ‘I do not call you my servants. A servant does not know what his master will do. But I have called you friends.’ And Jesus told his followers what he was doing.
‘So the men set out.’ There were 2 men that went further. And they were *angels. (See Genesis 19:1.) The other man was God. He stayed and he talked with Abraham. Until Jesus was born, God seldom appeared as a man. But he appeared to Abraham. Abraham was called ‘God’s friend’. (See James 2:23.)
v23 Then Abraham came near to the *Lord. He said, ‘Will you really kill the good people with the bad people? v24 If there are 50 good people in the city, will you destroy the place? Please let it remain because of the 50 good people. v25 Do not do a thing like that! Do not kill the good people with the wicked people! If you do that, the good people will suffer with the wicked people. Do not do that! You are the judge of the whole earth. So you will certainly do the thing that is right!’ v26 And the *Lord said, ‘Perhaps I will find 50 good people in Sodom city. If I find them, I will let the whole place remain because of them.’
v27 Abraham answered, ‘I am only dust and ashes. But I have boldly decided to speak to the *Lord. v28 What will you do if 5 out of the 50 good people are missing? Will you destroy the whole city because 5 good people are missing?’ And the *Lord said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find 45 good people there.’
v29 Again Abraham spoke to him. He said, ‘If you find 40 good people there, will you let it remain?’ The *Lord answered, ‘If there are 40, I will not destroy it.’
v30 Then Abraham said, ‘Please do let not the *Lord be angry. So I will speak. Perhaps there will be 30 good people there.’ The *Lord answered, ‘I will not destroy it if I find 30 there.’
v31 Abraham said, ‘I have boldly decided to speak to the *Lord. Perhaps you will find 20 good people there.’ The *Lord answered, ‘If there are 20, I will not destroy the city.’
v32 Then Abraham said, ‘I pray that the *Lord will not be angry. I will speak again only once. Perhaps you will find 10 good people there.’ The *Lord answered, ‘For 10 good people I will not destroy the city.’ v33 And the *Lord finished his talk with Abraham. The *Lord went away and Abraham returned to his tent.
By this prayer, Abraham changed what God intended to do. Before Abraham’s prayer, God intended to destroy Sodom if some inhabitants were wicked. After Abraham’s prayer, he intended to save Sodom if there were 10 good inhabitants. So our prayers can change what happens. But Abraham could not have prayed like this if God had not told him his plan. So God and Abraham were working together.
Abraham said, ‘You are the judge of the whole earth. You will certainly do the thing that is right!’ That was a statement and a request.
· It was a statement. Abraham said it because he trusted God to do the right thing.
· It was a request. Abraham asked God not to destroy good people. He meant that to destroy good people would be a wrong thing.
Three different things were possible.
· God might destroy the whole city because it was evil.
Abraham asked God not to do that.
· God might save the city because some people were good.
Abraham asked God to do that.
· God might save the good people and destroy the other people.
Abraham did not think of that. But that is what God actually did.
God does not usually give judgement on whole cities or on whole nations. And he does not usually save whole cities or whole nations. He does save single people. And he will give judgement on each person.
Abraham said, ‘I am only dust and ashes.’ He meant that he was worth nothing. And God was very much greater than he was. And Abraham meant that he was only a man. God had made man from dust. (See Genesis 2:7.)
Two *angels go to Sodom
v1 The two *angels reached Sodom in the evening. Lot sat at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he stood up. He went to meet them. He bent himself down so that his face was toward the earth. v2 He said, ‘Sirs, please stop here. I will be your servant. Come to my house and spend the night there. Wash your feet. Tomorrow you may get up early and you may continue your journey.’ They said, ‘No. We will spend the night in the street.’ v3 But Lot persuaded them strongly. So they went with Lot and they entered his house. Lot prepared a meal for them and he baked bread. So they ate.
There was a wall round the city. So anyone who entered the city had to go through the gate. And anyone who left went through the gate. Therefore, people often met each other at the gate. And the gate became the place where people talked. Lot was sitting there when the two *angels came. He would give a welcome to any travellers, but he gave great honour to the *angels. He did not know that they were *angels. But perhaps he thought that they were very important men.
The ‘street’ was an open place that was in the city. A traveller might sleep there. The city’s walls would protect him. He would be safe from thieves, because they were not in the city. They were beyond the walls.
Lot knew that the men of Sodom were evil. He knew that they might attack the two travellers. Therefore, he persuaded the travellers to stay in his house.
v4 But when they were not yet lying down to sleep, the men in the city came. The young men and the old men in Sodom came. None of the men in Sodom stayed away. They surrounded Lot’s house. v5 They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us! We want to have sex with them.’
v6 Lot went out of the door and he shut the door behind him. He spoke to the men. v7 He said, ‘I ask you strongly, my brothers, not to do such a wicked thing. v8 I have two daughters who have not had sex with men. I will bring them out to you. Do to them what pleases you. But do not hurt these men, because they are guests in my house.’ v9 But the men of Sodom said, ‘Let us come in!’ And they said, ‘This man Lot came as a visitor. Now he wants to be a judge! So we will be crueller to Lot than we will to the men.’ Then they pushed hard against Lot and they nearly broke the door. v10 But the two men reached out of the door. They brought Lot into the house with them and they shut the door. v11 And they made the men who were at the outside of the door blind. All the men became blind. The leaders became blind and the younger men became blind. And so they could not find the door.
The men in Sodom tried to do a very evil thing.
Lot tried to protect the *angels because they were his guests. That was the custom. But he still did not know that they were *angels. Lot offered to give his two daughters to the men of Sodom. He thought that the men of Sodom would take his daughters. And so they would not take the two men. That was a foolish and evil thing. But Lot did not know what he should do.
‘The men became blind.’ This probably does not mean that they could not see. But they could not understand what they saw. The *Hebrew word is not the usual *Hebrew word that means ‘blind’. The Bible uses this *Hebrew word in only two places. The other place is 2 Kings 6:18. Elisha prayed that God would make the soldiers from Syria ‘blind’. Then they could see Elisha and they could follow him. But they could not see where Elisha was taking them.
Lot leaves Sodom
v12 Then the two men said to Lot, ‘Have you any relatives here? Bring out of this city your sons, your daughters and your daughters’ husbands. Bring out any relative whom you have in the city. v13 Very soon we will destroy this place. The *Lord has heard that its people are very wicked. Therefore the *Lord has sent us to destroy it.’ v14 So Lot went out. He spoke to the men who intended to marry his daughters. He said to them, ‘Get up! Leave this place, because the *Lord will very soon destroy this city.’ But these men thought that Lot joked.
‘They thought that Lot joked.’ They knew Lot, because Lot lived with them. They could see that he was not sincere. Therefore, they did not believe what he said. If we tell people about God, we must be sincere. And people must see that we live good lives. Otherwise, they will not believe us.
v15 When the morning came, the *angels urged Lot. They said to him, ‘Get up! Take with you your wife and your two daughters. Otherwise you will die when the *Lord punishes the city.’ v16 But Lot delayed. So the two men seized Lot and his wife and his two daughters. They took them by their hands, because the *Lord was saving them. The two men brought Lot safely out of the city.
v17 And when they had brought them out, one man spoke to Lot and to his family. He said, ‘Run to save your life! Do not look back! Do not stop anywhere in the valley. Run to the hills. If you do not do so, you will die.’ v18 And Lot said to them, ‘Oh, no, sirs! v19 I know that you have been pleased with me, your servant. You have been very kind to me. You have saved my life. But I cannot run to the hills. If I do that, the punishment will overcome me. So I will die. v20 Look! That city is near enough that I can run to it. And it is a little one. Let me escape there. It is only a little one. Then I will not die.’ v21 The man said to Lot, ‘Yes. I grant this request for you. I will not destroy the city that you mention. v22 Hurry! Escape to it. I can do nothing until you arrive there.’ Therefore, the city was called Zoar. v23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
‘Lot delayed.’ Lot told people that they should leave the city. (See verse 14.) But he himself was unwilling to leave. He did not believe his own message.
‘The *Lord was saving them.’ He was saving them because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. He was saving them because Abraham prayed for Lot. (See verse 29 and the comment.)
The *angels told Lot to go to the hills. But Lot did not go there. The *angels allowed Lot to go to Zoar. Lot wanted to go there. But Lot soon had to go where the *angels had said. (See verse 30.)
‘Zoar’ means ‘little’. (See verse 20.)
God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah
v24 Then the *Lord sent burning sulphur on Sodom and Gomorrah. He sent it like rain that falls from the sky. v25 And he destroyed those cities. He destroyed all the valley. He killed all the inhabitants of the cities. He killed all the plants that grew on the ground. v26 But Lot’s wife looked back and she became a large lump of salt.
What happened may have been natural. It happens in many parts of the world. This valley is a place where it sometimes happens. Very hot rock rises from below the ground. The rock is so hot that it flows like water. Sometimes it rises so fast that it goes up into the sky. Then it falls like rain. This is called a ‘volcano’. Sulphur is a yellow substance that sometimes rises with the hot rock. So the sulphur that fell like rain should not surprise us. The wonderful things were these:
· The volcano destroyed only the cities that were wicked.
· It happened at the exact time that God had said.
God often uses natural things that he has made. He uses them like a man who uses his tools.
Lot’s wife delayed too long. She stayed too close to the cities. So some of the hot rock that fell from the sky fell on her. It became a solid lump. The salt was probably not the ordinary kind of salt that people eat.
v27 Abraham went out early in the morning. He went to the place where he had stood with the *Lord. v28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah. He looked toward all the land in the valley. He saw that smoke rose from the land. It was like the smoke that rises from a large fire. It was like the smoke of the fire that men use to bake pots.
v29 So God destroyed the cities that were in the valley. But God rescued Lot, because God thought about Abraham. But God destroyed the cities where Lot lived.
When God did these things, he had two purposes.
· He had a purpose for the people at that time. He destroyed the cities in order to kill the wicked people and to save the good people.
· He had a purpose to teach people who would live in later times. He did it to teach us how Christ would save us from God’s judgement.
The two men went into the wicked city of Sodom. In the same way, Christ came into our wicked world. The men persuaded Lot to leave the city. In the same way, Christ calls us to leave the ways of wicked men. The people who did not follow the two men died. In the same way, people who do not follow Christ will die.
‘God rescued Lot, because he thought about Abraham.’ Lot did not want God to rescue him. He delayed. (See verse 16.) But God rescued Lot because Lot was Abraham’s nephew. And God rescued Lot because Abraham prayed for Lot.
Lot and his daughters
v30 Lot went up out of Zoar into the hills. He lived there with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. v31 And the older daughter spoke to the younger daughter. She said, ‘Our father is old. There is no man here who might have sex with us in the normal way. v32 Let us make our father drink wine. Then we will lie with him. So we may make our family continue by our father.’ v33 So in the evening they made their father drink wine. The older daughter went to her father and she lay with him. He did not know when she lay down. And he did not know when she got up.
v34 And on the next day, the older daughter spoke to the younger daughter. She said, ‘Last night I lay with my father. Let us make him drink wine today also. Then you go to him and lie with him. So we may make our family continue by our father.’ v35 So they made their father drink wine on that evening also. The younger daughter went to him and she lay with him. He did not know when she lay down. And he did not know when she got up.
v36 So both Lot’s daughters were *pregnant by their father. v37 The older daughter had a son and she called him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites who live today. v38 The younger daughter also had a son and she called him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites who live today.
Lot was wealthy when he moved to Sodom. (See Genesis 13:12.) But when he left Zoar he had very little. He had lost all his possessions. He had done two things that were wrong. He chose to live among the inhabitants of Sodom, who did evil things. And when the *angels came to save him, he preferred to go his own way.
It was very important to people in those times that they should have *descendants. Lot’s daughters could not find husbands. The men who had intended to marry them were dead. (See verse 14.) So the daughters decided to produce a family in the only way that they could.
In later years, the Moabites were an important nation. Their country was called Moab. It was east of the Salt Sea. The Ammonites lived east of the river Jordan. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites were enemies of the nation of Israel.
Abimelech takes Sarah
v1 Abraham travelled away from the big trees at Mamre. He went toward the region that is called the Negeb. He lived between Kadesh and Shur. And for a time he stayed in Gerar. v2 And Abraham said to the inhabitants of Gerar, ‘Sarah is my sister.’ But Sarah was his wife.
Now Abimelech was the king of Gerar. Abimelech sent men and they brought Sarah to Abimelech. v3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream at night. And God said to Abimelech, ‘You will die because you have taken this woman. She is a man’s wife.’ v4 But Abimelech had not touched her. So Abimelech said, ‘Surely, *Lord, you would not kill an innocent person! v5 Abraham himself said to me, “She is my sister.” And she herself said, “He is my brother.” My heart was honest and my actions were innocent.’ v6 Then God said to Abimelech in the dream, ‘Yes. I know that your heart was innocent when you did this. I prevented you so that you did not do a wrong thing. Therefore, I did not let you touch her. v7 Now give Abraham’s wife back to him. He is a man who knows God. So he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not give her back to him, you shall certainly die. You shall die and all your family shall die.’
The Negeb is the southern part of the country that is called *Canaan. Kadesh and Shur are in the Negeb. Gerar is at the northern edge of the Negeb. The people that lived in Gerar were *Philistines.
When Abraham went to Egypt, he said that Sarah was his sister. (See Genesis 12:11-13 and the comment. At that time, Abraham was called ‘Abram’ and his wife Sarah was called ‘Sarai’.) When Abraham went to Gerar, he said the same thing. On both occasions, it was a foolish and wrong thing. Abraham was not confident that God would protect him. But God did protect Abraham. And later, Abraham learned to trust God completely.
‘Abimelech’ means ‘my father is king’. Every *Philistine king was called ‘Abimelech’. It was not one king’s name.
v8 So Abimelech got up early in the morning. He called all his servants and he told them all these things. The servants were very much afraid. v9 Then Abimelech called Abraham. He said to him, ‘You have done a wrong thing to us. You have made me and my nation guilty. We did not deserve that. You have done to me things that nobody ought to do.’ v10 And Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What were your reasons? Why did you do this thing?’
v11 Abraham replied, ‘I said to myself, “The people in this place do not respect God. They will kill me because of my wife.” v12 And she is truly my sister. She is my father’s daughter but she is not my mother’s daughter. And she became my wife. v13 When God made me leave my father’s house, I spoke to her. I said, “Please do this thing for me. Say about me: He is my brother. Say this at every place that we come to.” ’
v14 Then Abimelech took sheep and cows. He took male and female slaves. He gave them to Abraham. Also, he gave back to Abraham Sarah, who was his wife. v15 And Abimelech said, ‘Look! My land is in front of you. Live wherever you choose.’ v16 Abimelech said to Sarah, ‘I have given 1000 coins of silver to your brother. This gift shows that you are innocent. It shows this to all the people who are with you. It shows it to everybody.’
v17–18 The *Lord had made all the women who were in Abimelech’s house unable to produce children. He did this because of Sarah, who was Abraham’s wife. So Abraham prayed to God and God cured Abimelech. He also cured Abimelech’s wife and his female slaves, so that they could produce children.
Abraham knew that Gerar’s inhabitants did not know God. So he expected that they would be wicked. But he discovered that they were honest and honourable.
The Bible has not told us before this verse who Sarah’s mother and father were. But this verse shows that Sarah’s father was Terah. (See Genesis 11:26, 29.)