Genesis 12: Was Abraham A Liar? Seeing the Truth in Genesis!

(Ver 1.3)  Today is a subject that contains some very deep water concepts.  As you can see from my diagram in this post, these are warning signs concerning water hazards.  So please be advised that this is an advanced Bible study lesson with some new concepts that forces you to get into things that may be over your head.  So many times I have heard ministers in the pulpit accuse Abraham of being a liar because of one story in the book of Genesis that they clearly misunderstood.   In this story, we find that Abraham is faced with what he perceives as a threatening situation and he makes a decision that many have thought was a lie.  But, what we have is an example of how preachers can take a part of a story and try to make it the whole story and as a result they have jumped to some erroneous conclusions and an incorrect interpretation of the Bible.  I do not attack these preachers personally, I just attack their ignorance.  Truth will always prevail if you want to see it.  We will pick up with the story of Abraham starting in Genesis chapter 12 and verse 11:

Gen 12:11  And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

We can see in this verse that Abraham is traveling about and he comes near the country of Egypt.  Abram begins to speak to his wife and this is where it starts to get good.  Abram tells his wife Sarai that she is very beautiful and this must have been the truth.  No one that I know of has ever questioned the beauty of Sarai his wife.

Gen 12:12  Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

Abram begins to speculate and imagine some very negative things as he approaches Egypt.  Egypt is a type of the world, if you did not know that, keep that in mind as you read accounts in the Old Testament about Egypt.  We can see that Abram’s fear is that the men of this country will see how beautiful his wife was and kill him in order to take her to be theirs.  So Abram was very concerned about his own personal well being and safety and did not think much beyond that, it appears.  So Abram comes up with a plan or so the ministers said, he lies about who his wife was.

Gen 12:13  Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

We can see that Abram asks his wife to tell everyone that she is his sister and not to mention that they are married.  Abram thinks that he will be spared and be safe if anyone in Egypt wants his wife Sarai.  So this was Abram’s plan, a plan or work of some sort of alleged deception to save himself from being killed, or was it?  You see if you only read these verses and come up with a sermon based upon this limited information you would probably conclude that Abraham was a liar.  That he out of fear chose to purposely lie to a group of people because he was afraid of being killed.  This would in affect make Abram a type of Satan, the deceiver.  I just can’t go along with that picture because it doesn’t fit his character.  Nowhere in the Bible that I know of is Abram ever called a liar.  So if God does not call Abram a liar, I do not feel it is right that a preacher should call him a liar.  So we have to come up with another explanation or interpretation of the verses or at least some more information that helps us to understand what the real truth is about Abram and Sarai.   So we continue to read the book of Genesis and we read chapter after chapter and finally come to the answer later in Genesis 20.  During these chapters and this time period, Abram and Sarai have a lot happen to them.  God changes their names.  Abraham enters into a covenant with God.   But, it seems that Abraham repeats the same plan when he comes to another country called Gerar, ruled by Abimelech the king of Gerar.  We can see that Abraham didn’t learn very much from his Egypt experience and he repeats the same plan.

Gen 20:2  And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

So Abimelech believed what Abraham said, that she is my sister and he takes Sarah to be one of his wives.  God again saves the day and keeps the king from doing anything to Sarah with a dream.

Gen 20:3  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.

Apparently God frowns upon one man taking another man’s wife.  I guess that is putting it very lightly since God told Abimelech that he was a dead man.  Apparently God thinks it is very serious to take another man’s wife.  That would be a very strong lesson for many Christians to learn, I don’t think God has changed his mind any time in the last 6000 years.  So as we continue down the chapter we discover that Abraham gets his wife back and he is not killed.  God saves the day again and preserves the linage of Christ.  But did Abraham lie?  We still haven’t resolved the situation or the circumstances that he was faced with.  I believe the answer to the question and the solution to the problem is finally solved by reading Genesis 20:12:

Gen 20:12  And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

You see from this verse the solution to the problem that Abraham never lied.  Abraham did marry his sister.  However, she was a half-sister, the daughter of his father, but not the daughter of his mother.  Abraham had a different mother than Sarah, but she is still called his sister, legally and truthfully.  Abraham could call her, his sister and omit the wife part and still not be called a liar.  If you omit part of the truth and only tell a different part that is true, what would you call that?  I call it being very tricky.  I do not defend what Abraham did at any time.  It seems if it was not for God saving the day that Sarah would have ended up in someone’s harem.  God is faithful though to save them both.

I had one reader write me a comment that Abram was guilty of the sin of omission.  In other words by not telling all of the truth he committed a sin.  I thought that was an interesting misinterpretation of the Bible again so I spent time studying the subject in more depth.  I looked for any scripture that said withholding information was a sin and I could not find any.  Then I went and studied the subject of deception and I learned some new things found in the Bible that are very profound.  While Satan is called a deceiver, the Bible does not indicate that every deception is a sin.  I could give you more examples found in the Bible, but I wrote a blog on this subject and you should go and read that to find out more about the subject of “Righteous Deception“. 

We can really learn a whole bunch from this story of Abraham if we look for it.  I will not go into all of it, but I will tell you that Abraham is a type of Christ a picture of Jesus the man born of the natural woman Mary.  God is both the spiritual and physical father of Jesus Christ.  Mary is Jesus’ natural mother in the flesh.  The church is called the spiritual children of the “heavenly Jerusalem” in Galatians 4.  We can see that if there is a spiritual mother there also has to be a spiritual father in order to have spiritual children.  So the picture of Abraham as being a type of Christ with the same father of his wife Sarah, but with different mothers, actually fits the pattern given to us of Christ and the church.  The Bible is full of little complex imbedded hidden truths like this.  If you understand how to look for them you can learn a lot.  In another blog I told you that Jesus married his sister.  I told you that Solomon was also a type of Jesus and that 3 or 4 times in the book of Songs that Solomon calls his lover bride to be his sister.  Interesting isn’t it?  Why are things like this written in the Bible for us to figure out?  So I’ll end this blog with a picture diagram of Abraham’s family and hopefully you will that this is a pattern of another family that I will talk about in the future: 

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About agapegeek

Using the Bible to understand the Bible! Advanced Bible study for mature Chrisitians who want to grow.

Posted on February 23, 2010, in Bible Study, Genesis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Abraham did hide some truth yes. In the law that is lying… But just as driving 200 m/h in the autoban in Germany is not speeding, likewise Abraham is not a liar, because the law of Moses was not in place yet… until many years after that in Ex 20. Therefore Abraham was a righteous man and loved by God.

    • I must disagree with part of the reasoning being presented. If hiding the truth is a lie then God is guilty of lies beyond our comprehension. God’ does not reveal everything that He knows to anyone and that is not a lie. Prov 25:2 says it is the glory of God to conceal a matter…”. This Hebrew word translated as conceal means to hide on purpose. If hiding information is lying then God is a liar but we know from reading verses like Heb 6:18 that it is impossible for God to lie and therefore we must conclude that according to God hiding information is not an act of lying. Thank you and God Bless.

  2. Just a thought. If in a court and I am a doctor who is testifying in a murder trial and I am asked how did the victim die and I answer his heart stopped, that is not a lie. In essence that is how we all die our heart stops beating. Now to leave out the fact that the cardiac arrest was secondary to a gunshot wound inflicted by the defendant, well now that changes the whole story. To start splicing hairs here as you have done is a very slippery path to misinterpreting the scripture to satisfy/justify our own inadequacies. Fact is he told a half truth which is still a lie, Abraham was just a man and not perfect, this is a story to depict how lies can be devastating and how even a sinner can be used greatly by God. I think you take away from the amazing Grace of God by trying to justify his sin.

    • Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. I believe that I do understand at least in part what you are trying to say. I do totally agree that every man is a sinful creature in need of a savior. It is only by the infinite love, mercy and grace of God that any of us will be saved. However, I must respectfully disagree that Abraham told a half truth. There is nothing wrong with not telling everything that we know to someone that can potentially do us harm.

      According to one dictionary a half-truth can only originate from someone that knows more than they are telling someone in order to deceive them. Why is that a lie? The definition does not say that is a lie anywhere. This is what Abraham is guilty of but it was not wrong for him to do this because of his righteous intentions to save his own life.

      Please think with me about the Bible. The Bible is full of half-truths. Wow I probably lost a bunch of readers with that statement. But consider the facts before you throw any stones. Does God know more than He is telling us in every chapter and verse about the subject being spoken on? Certainly He does know infinitely more than what is spoken. If God told us more about the subject would it help us to better understand what was being conveyed? I believe it would help us tremendously. Proverbs 25:2 clearly teaches us this “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter….”. God does this not to deceive us but to force us to search out the matter to discover the truth”. This gives us the clear choice in what we want to believe without forcing the truth upon any of us.

      Why do I say all of this? Look at the pattern please. I believe firmly that withholding information is neither a sin nor a lie. If omitting information is a sin or a lie then God is guilty of it and we should clearly know better than that. God Bless you and thank you again.

  3. may God bless you for what you just say about the story of Abraham and Sarah. I had the same discusion in my church on wednesday and I use Genesis 20:12 to explain to people that by saying that Sarah was his sister Abraham did not lie people look at me like I was crazy. I concluded that their problem were base to the fact that their her a lot of preacher say that Abraham lie that why their believe in it without doing their own research

  4. I understand your point, but this is Satan’s attempt to remove the verse from the Word of God so that it makes it more easily acceptable to proclaim and believe that God had no son. Satan is doing everything that he can possibly do to deny that God came in the flesh. This is the Spirit of Antichrist that will come. He has tried to get many people to believe this lie by removing key passages from the text. However, all of the information found in this verse is found in other parts of the Bible also. So there is no way that this is false information. The truth of the trinity is found in Many other Bible verse that I could have included in this lesson but did not for time and space sake. So just because some manuscripts deleted these words does not discount their integrity in the least.

  5. did you say that you had another blog about “Jesus marrying His sister”? or was that a typo? i didn’t know that Jesus got married to anyone.

  6. Abraham did not lie, Sarah is his sister as well as his wife. Abraham know the attitude of the men from Egypt how they love flair women and what they would do to get them. So because of this he used the options that was available to give them safe passage through Egypt. I will never think that he was only thinking of himself. Just that he should have consulted with God what to do. But as we can see that in the early days it is God coming to them and not they going to Him.

    What I did disagree with is that Abraham did the same thing again with Abimelech. But it has to happen for the truth to be known. It is in this verse that we find out that they are actually brother and sister. It is another handiwork of God.

  7. ok, then what about God NOT intervening when both of Lot’s daughters tricked Lot into impregnating them. That story is in Genesis in between the two stories of Abraham and Sarah which you have mentioned here. Also, in Gen 11:29-31, it is said that Sarah is the daughter-in-law of Abraham’s father Terah. With all due respect, I think you have grossly misinterpreted the Bible. Abraham once again lies, because indeed Sarah is NOT his sister afterall.

    • I’m sorry I do not understand your point. What does the story of Lot have to do with the story of Abraham and Sarah? Then you say that Sarah is called the daughter-in-law of Terah. What’s your point? What do you call the wife of your son? Can a daughter also be a daughter-in-law? Obviously she can, can you read? In fact if you look up the definition of “daughter-in-law” in the Strong’s it is defined as a son’s wife. Using this definition, if your daughter marries your son does she not also become your “daughter-in-law”? Yes she does!

      Gen 20:12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

  8. The Jews or the Christians claim that Abraham LIED to save his life. But a lie is a lie and a prophet who is supposed to be the role model for his future generations LIED for his life!

    http://www.islamicera.com/ishmaelorisaac.htm

    • By just reading your comment, I can only assume you did not read my blog. If you read my blog you would have seen that Abraham never lied. He was married to his sister and that was the truth.

  1. Pingback: Not So Honest Abe – Site Title

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