Why does God tell Amibelech that he innocently abducted Sara. One of the commentators (Rava?) says that in Abimelech's mind, he thought he was honoring Sarai by making her his Queen.

Why does Abimelech's merit a dream visit from God and why does God declare him innocent?

Bereshit 20:6 "And God said to him in a dream, "I too know that you did this with the innocence of your heart, and I too have withheld you from sinning to Me; therefore, I did not let you touch her."

Surely Pharoah's behavior was less bad based on these differences below and he doesn't try to weasel to save face.

When Pharoah Abducts Sarai 1. He doesn't initiate the abduction. 2. He give Abram gifts before being punished 3. When he is punished, he rants a bit that he is innocent, but Abraham doesn't need to explain himself to him. <4. Pharoah's whole household was punished.>

When Abimelech Abducts Sarai 1. He do initiates the abduction. 2. He give Abram gifts only after being punished 3. When he is punished, he rants a bit that he is innocent, but and Abraham feels like he has to justify his actions to Abimelech. <4. Only Abimelech, his wife, and his maids (no men) were punsihed.> 5. He should have known that abducting Sarai was bad after what happened to Phaorah.

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    I think that the key difference with the two is that you see explicitly regarding Abimelech is that Abraham said, "she is my sister". Thus, it seems that at least Abimelech asked first if Sarah was his wife. Thus, he really thought he was innocent b/c after all Abraham said she was his sister. It seems that that Pharoah's minister grabbed Sarah and she was "kidnapped". See Rash"i on Gen. 12:14 that says that Abraham hid Sarah in a box. So, it seems that only after they found her, to protect himself from being killed Abraham said that she was his sister. (cont.)
    – DanF
    Nov 21, 2016 at 16:06
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    (cont.) also with Abimelech, Sarah confirms that Abraham is his brother. So, Abimelech, in his mind, was very certain that there was no problem. We don't see such confirmation with Pharoah. So, perhaps, without this, he may have had some doubt of the truth of Abraham's statement, but didn't care about verifying things.
    – DanF
    Nov 21, 2016 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


Partial answer for now, as you have asked a series of questions:

This answers Q5 as well as the question in your title:

Or Hachaim on Gen. 20:2 cites Maimonides rule that a Ben Noach (non-Jew) that has a relationships with a married woman accidentally (i.e. thinking that she was not married as is the case with both Abimelech and Pharoah) is innocent from the death penalty. This is why they both claimed innocence.

You shouldn't assume that Abimelech consulted Pharoah or read the Bible to know that Sarah was married.

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