Abimelech said to Sarah: I am Giving
Your Brother a Thousand Shekels of Silver

20: 16

DIG: Why does God hold Abraham, and not Sarah, responsible for the sin? What other examples of this do we have from Scripture? What is the difference between the relationship between the husband and the wife, and the responsibility of the husband? What gift did Abimelech give Avraham? Why did he give it?

God held Abraham responsible for what went on in the relationship (see Bf – Your Desire Will Be For Your Husband and He Will Rule Over You). It is sad to say that the issue of marital roles is one of the most confused areas for believers today. The main problem, in my opinion, is the confusion between man’s relationship with his wife, and his responsibility with what goes on in the marriage.

Let’s look at the relationship first. The Bible clearly teaches that men and women are equals socially, psychologically and spiritually. In other words, they are equals in their relationshipwith one another. God created us as equals (1:27-28), and we are to be one when married (2:24). We are equally sinful (Romans 3:23) and equally saved (John 1:12-13; Second Corinthians 5:17; First Peter 3:7). Husbands and wives are to submit to each other sexually (First Corinthians 7:2-5) and socially (Ephesians 5:21). Furthermore, the Bible teaches that there shall be no sexual discrimination (Galatians 3:28). Men and women are equally dependent on God (First Corinthians 11:11-12), accepted equally as believers (Acts 5:14), and co-laborers for Him (Romans 16:1, 3-6; Philippians 4:3).

The second area the Bible teaches about is marital responsibility. Even though men and women are equal in their relationship, ultimately God holds men responsible for what goes on in the marriage. Even though Sarah was a willing participant, both Pharaoh (12:18) and Abimelech (20:9) held Abraham responsible. Avraham’s son Isaac was held responsible for his lie about Rebekah (26:9). Adam and Eve both ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; in fact, Eve led the way, but God held Adam responsible (3:9). This principle is not only taught in the TaNaKh, but also in the New Covenant where Sha'ul tells us that through one man sin entered the world (Romans 5:12, 14, 17). Responsibility implies accountability and God held Adam, Abraham and Isaac accountable.

To Sarah Abimelech said: I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. By saying your brother rather than your husband, Abimelech’s innocence in the affair is emphasized. To put this in perspective, thirty shekels was the price of a slave. So Abraham receives a large amount of money in addition to the animals and the servants of 20:14. Although the money was given to Abraham, as was the custom, the purpose of the money was to vindicate Sarah. Abimelech said: This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you. This means the eyes of Sarah’s acquaintances will be blind to what happened and therefore they will not criticize her. In essence, Abimelech said to Sarah: unlike Avraham,you are completely vindicated from all that has gone on (20:16).


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