Genesis 20 God’s view on Adultery


In this chapter, we find Abraham traveling south into the southern part of Canaan, in or near the land of the Philistines (Gen. 10:19).  Here, he lies about Sarah again (Gen. 12:10-13), and this time it is very serious because her womb is open to conceive Isaac (Gen. 18:10).  She is taken into King Abimelech’s house.  But before anything happens, God warns the king in a dream not to touch her or He will kill him.  Abimelech returns Sarah to her husband, loads Abraham up with more wealth (Gen. 12:16), and allows them stay in the land.  We learn through this more about God’s view on adultery.



  • Begins with a Touch – God wouldn’t let Abimelech touch her (v.6). For this reason, Paul says, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman,” (1 Cor. 7:1, 2). They can’t commit adultery if they don’t touch. Abimelech had not “come near her,” (v.4).
  • Violates Man’s Integrity – Abimelech pleads that he is a man of integrity and that he would not have taken Sarah if he had known she was married (v.5).  God acknowledges his integrity.  According to Proverbs 11:3, integrity keeps a man out of this trouble.
  • Removes the Woman’s Covering – A husband is “a covering of the eyes” (v. 16) for his wife, in that her marriage to him should keep her from attracting the lustful “looks” of other men (Matt. 5:28).  Lev. 18:6, 8 shows that adultery is pictured as “uncovering nakedness” and that a husband’s nakedness is uncovered when his wife is taken, since they are one flesh (Gen. 2:24).
  • Reveals the Lack of the Fear of God – Abraham didn’t think Abimelech’s people feared God (v .11).  He thought they would kill him to get his wife.  However, God threatened Abimelech with death if he touched Sarah (v.7) and his whole house feared God when they heard about the threat (v. 8).  A man who commits adultery, therefore, does not fear God (Prov. 8:13, Heb. 13:4).
  • Is a Sin Against God – God told Abimelech, “I also withheld thee from sinning against me,” (v. 6). When David repented of his sin with Bathsheba, he said, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight,” (Ps. 51:4).
  • Reproaches a Nation – Abimelech told Abraham that adultery with Sarah would have been a “great sin” against his “kingdom,” (v.9).  Most rulers don’t see it that way, but Abimelech did and so does God (Prov. 14:34, Ps. 9:17).  Many of the presidents of the U.S.A. weren’t as God fearing as Abimelech.
  • Results in Death – God told Abimelech, “thou shalt surely die,” (v.7).  According to Lev. 20:10, adultery under the law warranted the death penalty. Abimelech believed God (v.3) and let Sarah go.  Wise man!!




Typically in the Old Testament, God revealed his will through dreams (Job 33:8, 15-16, Num. 12:6). Of course, now we have His word in the Bible, so it is no longer necessary for God to reveal His will to us through dreams. Here are some examples:


Gen. 28:12 – Jacob dreamed of the ladder.

Gen. 31:24 – God warned Laban not to harm Jacob.

Gen. 37:5, 9 – God revealed Joseph’s eventual rule over his family.

Gen. 40:5 – God revealed the outcome of the butler and baker’s imprisonment.

Gen. 41:1, 7 – God revealed to Pharaoh the years of plenty and famine in Egypt.

Jud. 7:13 – God revealed Gideon’s victory to a Midianite.

1 Ki. 3:5 – God granted wisdom and understanding to Solomon.

Dan. 2:3 – Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of the image of a man.

Dan. 4:4 -Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of the tree.