Genesis Chapter 20 Questions and Answers

In Genesis Chapter 20 - See how Abraham relies on his own schemes and risks his wife's security instead of relying on God and His everlasting promises and power.

About these Answers

Day One

1.  For the second time Abraham is in a foreign land and tells everyone that Sarah's his sister.  And like the first time, the king of the foreign land takes Sarah into his harem.  The first occurrence is in Genesis chapter 12.  Review the last ten verses of Genesis 12 to compare the events.  How are they similar and how are they different in the categories shown below?

Note: The language cited below is from the Holman Christian Standard Bible and may not be exactly the same in your translation.


  • Why Abraham lied - In both cases Abraham lied because he thought his life would be in jeopardy because he would be killed so that his wife could be claimed (12:13; 20:11).
  • What was given to Abraham for Sarah - Both Pharaoh and Abimelech gave male and female slaves along with other things (12:16; 20:14).
  • Similar questions the kings asked Abraham - Pharaoh asked "What have you done to me?" (12:18) and Abimelech asked "What have you done to us?" (20:9).  Similarly, Pharaoh asked "Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?" (12:18); similarly, Abimelech asked "What did you intend when you did this thing?" (20:10).


  • God's Punishment on the kings - God sent severe plagues to Pharaoh's family (12:17) but closed the wombs of Abimelech's family (20:18).
  • What was given to Abraham for Sarah - Pharaoh gave donkeys and camels (12:16) but Abimelech gave sheep and cattle (20:14); also, Abimelech gave 1,000 pieces of silver (20:16).
  • When the kings gave Abraham gifts for Sarah - Pharaoh gave gifts before he knew she was his wife (12:16) but Abimelech gave gifts after he found out Sarah was his wife (20:14).
  • Where the kings sent Abraham - Pharaoh sent him away (12:19-20) but Abimelech allowed him to settle wherever he wanted to in his land (20:15).

Day Two

2.  If we review the story of Abraham, we see that that God is faithful in His promise to Abraham.  Fill in the blanks using the references given.

God's promise when Abraham is 75

The Lord promised Abraham that He would make him into a great nation (12:2), and give his offspring the promised land (12:7).  This initial mention of God's promise occurred when Abraham was about 75 years old (12:4).  This happened just before the first occurrence of Sarah being taken into Pharaoh's harem. 

Then, Abraham leaves Egypt and the Lord tells him when he arrives back in the promised land that He would make Abraham's offspring like the dust of the earth - so many that no one could count them (13:16).  Then, God promises Abraham that:

  • He would allow Abraham to be the father of a son or heir (15:4)  
  • He would make Abraham's offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky (15:5)

God's promise when Abraham is 86

By the time Abraham is about 86 years old, which was about ten or eleven years later (16:3), God promises Abraham (via the angel who spoke to Hagar) that Abraham would have a son by Hagar (16:11-16).

God's promise when Abraham is 99

About 13 years later (16:16), when Abraham's 99 years old (17:1), God promises him:

  • that He would multiply Abraham greatly (17:2)
  • that Abraham would be the father of many nations (17:4)
  • that Abraham would be extremely fruitful and nations and kings would come from him (17:6)
  • (by covenant) that He would be Abraham's God and the God of his offspring for eternity (17:7-9)
  • that Abraham would have a son by his wife Sarah (17:16,19)
  • that Sarah would produce nations and kings of people (17:16)
  • that God would confirm His covenant with Abraham's son by Sarah (Isaac) not Ishmael (17:20-21)

Within that same year (17:1; 21:5), God promises him that his wife Sarah would have a son.  He also explains it will be within a year's time and assures Abraham that He can do it because nothing is impossible for God (18:10-14).

What God promises He delivers because He is faithful.  If He says He will do something then He will.  God cannot lie.  Also, because God is all powerful, He can deliver on His promise no matter what it is.

3.  Which of God's promises are you most thankful for, or which of His promises do you cherish the most?

Your answer here

Day Three

4.  How does God protect the innocent in similar ways in both Genesis chapter 19 and again in chapter 20?

God protects innocent women

Although innocent women are offered to be sacrificed to protect men in their families, God intervenes.  Lot offers his innocent daughters to protect the supposedly unwary visitors who are really angels in chapter 19.  However, God's angels protect both Lot and his innocent daughters. Similarly, Abraham offers his innocent wife as his sister to protect himself but God protects Sarah.  

God protects innocent people in a town or nation

God is asked by Abraham if He will destroy any innocent people in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Also Abimelech asks God if He will destroy him and his innocent nation.  In both cases God demonstrates his righteous judgement and does not destroy the innocent but protects them.  He does this through his angels in Sodom and through His own appearance in a dream to Abimelech.

God protects the innocent but judges the guilty.

5.  What is the irony of Abraham praying for Abimelech and what may it have reminded Abraham about the power of God?

First, it is ironic in that Abimelech did nothing wrong, yet God told him to ask Abraham (who wronged him) to pray for him.  Certainly God must have really impacted Abimelech with His explanation that if he didn't ask Abraham to pray for him he would die (20:7). 

Secondly, Abraham prays for Abimelech's family so God would allow them to have children.  This is ironic since Abraham's wife Sarah is barren and has desired children for decades and God has promised that she will conceive within a years time.

Although Scripture doesn't tell us this, it's likely that it reminded Abraham that God has the power to grant and disallow the conception of life.

Day Four

6.  What does verse 6 of Genesis 20 teach us about God and what does it tell us about Abimelech?

God knows the hearts and motives of all people, both believers and non-believers; therefore, He is the perfect judge of our sins.

Abimelech admitted that knew he would have been wrong to take Sarah had he known she was Abraham's wife.  

In Sarah's advanced age (90 years old) it seems unlikely that she was sought for her beauty.  Abraham had stated 25 years earlier that she was very beautiful and therefore the Egyptians were likely to kill him to acquire her (12:11-12).  Now however there is no mention of her beauty, and some think that Abraham's wealth was desired instead.  Abraham would have been required to pay a dowry to her husband.

7.  List two things that Abimelech learned about the God of Abraham in this encounter.

We must assume that Abimelech must have been impressed with the God of Abraham.  He learned the following about Abraham's God: 

1)  He knows all - He knew Abimelech's heart and that he was innocent.

2)  He's a caring and loving God - He guarded His prophet Abraham even though he was wrong.  

3)  He demands obedience - He declared a death judgment on Abimelech's family if he did not obey Him.

4)  He's all powerful - He revealed His power over life itself when he closed and restored the child bearing ability of his family.  

Day Five

8.  God prevented Abimelech from sinning against Him (20:6).  This is an extraordinary statement!  God prevented Abimelech from sinning by preventing him from sexual relations with Sarah.  He knew that if He didn't act that Abraham's fear would lead to Abimelech's sin which would upset His plan. 

God had just told Abraham when He made a covenant with him that Sarah would have a son within a year's time.  We know that this happened when Abraham was 99 years old (17:1, 17).  We also know that when God gave a child to Sarah, it was after this event and that Abraham was 100 years old (21:5).  

Therefore, it follows that had Abimelech taken Sarah, it would have come around the time frame of Sarah's conception.  God knew His promise and He always protects His promises.  He promised Abraham Sarah would have a son within a year's time and he protected that promise by not letting Abimelech take Sarah.      

Abraham, was at times like we are today - forgetful of how faithful and powerful our God is when He makes a promise.   What can we do to strengthen our faith in the promises of God to become stronger in our faith like Abraham came to be (Romans 4:20-21)?

Your answer here


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