Why did Sarah go with Abimelech? Why didn't she refuse? Weren't women allowed to refuse being raped by kings, or what? Or did Sarah go to the king willingly when she was called? I'm struggling to understand this but I just can't, so I'd really appreciate some help with this passage.

Genesis 20:1-7 (ESV):

1 From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man's wife.” 4 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? 5 Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. 7 Now then, return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

  • 1
    Toward the question of if she went willingly, it says that she herself said she was his sister too. Sarah is not a stranger to schemes. It was her idea for Abraham to impregnate Haggar afterall.
    – Joshua
    May 7, 2015 at 15:49

1 Answer 1


The bible did not specifically say why Sarah did not refuse Abimelech, but I believe that she counted on God to help her out of the situation. She just completely submitted her will to her husband as a loyal wife, even though she must have had her reservations about some of his decisions. That was why she could say "God will judge between you and me!" when she felt she had been pushed beyond her limit.

On the other hand, she must have figured that she would have caused more problems for Abraham if she had resisted Abimelech. It seemed like it was a common practice for kings or rulers to have the most beautiful women to themselves by hook or by crook because that was the second time that happened to her.

  • Where does Sarah say "God will judge between you and me!"? Feb 26, 2015 at 9:00
  • @JonathanChell 16:5, but that’s a different story, where Sarai is referring to Hagar’s contempt that she held Abram responsible for.
    – Susan
    Feb 27, 2015 at 10:53
  • @Susan I am aware of that reference but I don't see it relevance to the question being asked here. Feb 27, 2015 at 15:30
  • @JonathanChell Me either.
    – Susan
    Feb 27, 2015 at 15:33
  • Could you support this with sources rather then pure speculation? I.e. references about ancient Mesopotamian and Babylonian familial relations, etc. We call this 'showing your work' and it's a requirement here.
    – Dan
    Feb 28, 2015 at 6:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.