Fool Proofing Sins of Ignorance - Abraham's Covenant with Abimelech
Abraham’s Sin in Misjudging Abimelech
Genesis 20:9,11 (KJV)
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.
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.
Abraham told Abimelech that Sarah was his sister because he feared that Abimelech would lust after her and kill Abraham so he could take her as a wife. Abraham previously said the same thing to the Pharaoh when he sojourned in Egypt, the Pharaoh took Sarah as his wife which resulted in a plague on the Pharaoh and his family. Given that the Lord had to deal such a heavy punishment to the Pharaoh, it is possible to consider that Pharaoh may have indeed have had the intention of murdering Abraham for the sake of his wife had he not deceived him. Though it’s not Abraham’s strongest moment, he had justification in doing what he did. When it came to Abimelech, this was not the case:
Genesis 20:3,5-6 (KJV)
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.
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.
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.
He was a man who feared God and his nation was righteous, so he was confounded on why Abraham would do such a thing. The Lord scared Abimelech in a dream by literally saying he is a dead man for doing this, but Abimelech said he did it in the integrity of his heart because he was misled, which the Lord knew all along (The Lord calling him a dead man knowing he was innocent shows that he has a sense of humor)
Abimelech, in turn, gave some advice so something like this would not happen again: Genesis 20:16 (KJV)
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.
Abimelech had a sense of humor when dealing with this as well. He gifts Abraham a thousand pieces of silver, and basically says that he has enough money to buy a veil for wife. That way just men will take the hint that she is married and he wouldn’t have to keep lying about the nature of their relationship.
Abraham’s Stolen Well and His Covenant With Abimelech
Genesis 21:25-26 (KJV)
25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.
26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing; neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
Abimelech actually journeyed out to see Abraham, saying that he knows that God is with Abraham and he asked Abraham not to deal with him falsely given how well he had treated him. It is peculiar that a king would set out of his land just to say something like that, unless he actually sensed that Abraham had some sort of grievance (Not on topic but something I found interesting).
Anyways, Abraham was unhappy and tells Abimelech that his well was stolen. Abimelech says he has no idea who did this and it’s the first time he’s hearing it. Abraham, in response, has a very creative solution:
Genesis 21:30-31 (KJV)
30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
When you first look at it, it doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s a nice symbolic gesture but little else. But note this, Abimelech allowed this mistreatment of Abraham because he did not know that it happened. This could happen again as the king is a busy man and he could forget about what is going on with Abraham, and the presence of these seven lambs would be a daily reminder that he has a prophet he needs to protect.
The chapter ends on a nice note where Abraham plants a grove at the well and makes it a place of prayer.
Modern Day Implications We don’t have such threats like being murdered for having a beautiful wife (as far as I’m concerned) nor someone stealing our well. But what this does apply to is how we come up with fail-safe methods on preventing sins and having creative ideas on how to engage sins of omission.