Abimelech took Sarah to be his wife. Did another Pharaoh also take Sarah?

Gen 20:2 - Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar had Sarah brought to him.

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    Abimelech was not a pharaoh or Egyptian. What do you mean by "another Pharoh"? It would help greatly for you to edit your question and provide the scriptures that you would like to have analyzed.
    – agarza
    Nov 14, 2021 at 4:25
  • Abimlech was not a pharoah but he was a king in the region that belonged to Phillistine / Babylon. So in that sense he served the same role as a pharoah. An important thing to understand is the events that take place between Abraham and Sara are prophetic of future events that take place between God and Israel. Abraham represents God - Sara as Gods wife represents Israel. Sara being given to the Pharoah prophecises the events of Exodus where God gives Israel over to a period of slavery in Egypt. Sara being given to Abimlech prophecises Israels 70 year exodus to Babylon
    – Marshall
    Nov 17, 2021 at 4:57
  • @Marshall - Canaan did not belong to Babylon yet and scholars doubt the Philistines had arrived in the area either. Critical scholars suggest that Abimelech must have been a local Canaanite ruler of a town that later became a famous Philistine city. jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-philistines Aug 4 at 16:48

2 Answers 2


There were two "incidents" involving Sarah:

1. Pharaoh in Egypt, Gen 12:10-20

This appears to have occurred within a few years of Abraham leaving Haran and moving to Canaan, finding a famine and moving temporarily to Egypt. Abraham was between 75-80 years old and Sarah was about 65-70 years old.

2. Abimelech in Gerar (Philistine Territory), Gen 20:1-18

This appears to have occurred between the visit of the angels in Gen 18, 19 and the the birth of Isaac when Abraham was about 99 yeas old and Sarah was about 89 years old.

Note that אֲבִימֶלֶךְ "Abimelech" means "father is king", a Philistine name. Thus, this ruler had little to do with Egypt.

Thus, the two events occurred about 20 years apart and in two different countries with two different rulers.


Abimlech was not a Pharoah. Pharoah is a title given only to the leader of the nation of Egypt. But he was a king in a specific region. So in that sense he served the same role as a Pharoah. He was the ruler of a specific region called "Gerar". Gerar in Hebrew means lodging place and it is located in a region that belonged to Phillistine and in future Babylon.

When reading Abrahams story the wife/sister narrative occurs 2 times with 2 different rulers. The stories are essentially identical and my understanding is these acts are "prophetic" of future events that would take place to Abrahams descendants.

In the story Abraham as a "prophet" represents God. Sara as his wife represents Israel. This is a repeated symbol through out scripture with Israel referred to as "Gods wife" and his wife being "Barren" just like Sara was. (and Rebecca and Rachel). The relationships between the Patriachs (Abraham, Isaac, Jakob) and their wives (sara, Rebecca, Rachel) are used to prophecise future events that would occur to their descendants.

See Isaiah 54 for an explicit scriptural reference to this.

“Sing, barren woman, you who never bore a child; burst into song, shout for joy, you who were never in labor; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband ......

For your maker is your husband the Lord of hosts is his name. The holy one of Israel is your redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth.

Very clear and straight forward. God is symbolically shown as a husband. Israel as a wife who is barren and not yet conceived a child. Their marriage represents the "covenant" agreement between God and Israel. (This symbology is also used elsewhere such as in Hosea when Israel had broken the covenant and is referred to as an adulterous wife so the prophet Hosea marries a prostitute )

As we move into the Abraham and Sara story her being given to the Pharoah prophecises the events of Exodus where God gives Israel (his wife) over to a period of slavery under a foreign ruler - the Pharoah - in Egypt. Gen 12 mirrors the events that take place between Gen 37 - Exodus. Josephs story where they go down into Egypt during a famine.

Genesis 12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

Prophecises .....

Genesis 42:1 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

and carries on to the end of the Book of Exodus with Moses. Genesis 12:17 prophecises the "10 plagues" inflicted on Egypt due to taking Israel as slaves.

Genesis 12:17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai

Likewise Sara being given to Abimlech prophecises God giving Israel his wife over to 70 year exile under a foreign ruler in the region of Babylon where Gerar is located in that time period. So it prophecises the Babylonian Exile period in the book of Jeremiah etc

The continuation of Isaiah 54:6-8 goes on to desribe these temporary "ambandonments". Where God abandons his wife "Israel" before calling her back and restoring her.

The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit— a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. 7 “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. 8 In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer.

As such these two events of Sara being taken by two different rulers serve the same purpose. Prophecising future events where Israel would be taken captive and ruled by 2 leaders in those regions.

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