Genesis 20:11 MEANING

Genesis 20:11
(11) Surely the fear of God . . . --Abraham's general condemnation of the people had some excuse in the widespread depravity of the nations in Canaan, but was nevertheless unjust. Even as regards these nations, they were not utterly corrupt (Genesis 15:16), and both in Egypt and in Gerar the standard of morality was higher than Abraham supposed. His difficulty was the result of his own imperfect faith; but the fact that this artifice was arranged between man and wife when starting on their long wanderings, proves that they rather over-rated than under-rated the risks that lay before them. The expedient was indeed a sorry one, and shows that Abraham's faith was not yet that of a martyr; but it also shows that both of them felt that Abraham might have to save his life by a means almost as bad as death. And thus, after all, it was no common-place faith, but one as firm at root as it was sorely tried and exercised.

Verse 11. - And Abraham said (offering as his first apology for his sinful behavior the fear which he entertained of the depravity of the people), Because I thought, - literally, said (sc. in my heart) - Surely the fear of God is not in this place; - otherwise, there is not any fear of God, רק having usually a confirming sense with reference to what follows (cf. Deuteronomy 4:6; 1 Kings 14:8; vide Gesenius, p. 779) - and they will slay me for my wife's sake.

20:9-13 See here much to blame, even in the father of the faithful. Mark his distrust of God, his undue care about life, his intent to deceive. He also threw temptation in the way of others, caused affliction to them, exposed himself and Sarah to just rebukes, and yet attempted an excuse. These things are written for our warning, not for us to imitate. Even Abraham hath not whereof to glory. He cannot be justified by his works, but must be indebted for justification, to that righteousness which is upon all and unto all them that believe. We must not condemn all as hypocrites who fall into sin, if they do not continue in it. But let the unhumbled and impenitent take heed that they do not sin on, thinking that grace may abound. Abimelech, being warned of God, takes the warning; and being truly afraid of sin and its consequences, he rose early to pursue the directions given him.And Abraham said,.... In defence of himself, as well as he could:

because I thought; within himself, concluding from the general depravity of the Canaanites, that this was the case of the inhabitants of Gerar:

surely the fear of God is not in this place; this is a certain truth, which he thought might be depended upon, and taken for granted, since so it was everywhere: or "only" (e), as the word used signifies; this was the only thing he had to plead, that he verily thought with himself that there was no true religion and godliness in Gerar: that the inhabitants of it were without any fear of God before their eyes, or in their hearts; and he knew, where this is the case, there is nothing to restrain from the commission of the grossest sins:

and they will slay me for my wife's sake; that they might marry her, see Genesis 12:12.

(e) "tantum", Montanus; so Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius; so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, and Ben Melech.

Courtesy of Open Bible