Rabbi Zvi Aviner



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 Topics in Genesis:

Abraham and Abimelech –I Am Allowed – including  Homosexuality





And Abraham traveled from there…(20:1)



  A:  A connection to THEFT,

Noah’s fourth commandment



Sarah is kidnapped because of her beauty. How? After all, she was 90 years old! However, when the miracle was performed for her to become pregnant with Isaac, the stomach changed her nature and she looked young



What is the message in the affair?0


In order to understand the message, let’s first examine its place in the chain of stories about Abraham, all of which revolve around THEFT. 


 Here Sarah is kidnapped by Abimelech – a violation of Noah’s fourth commandment, THEFT.

Property, land, and even a spiritual product such as faith can be stolen.  And of course, it is possible to rob and kidnap a person – an offense punishable by a heavy penalty: death by a headquarters court


In this respect, the passage continues the chain and fits the general theme of Abraham’s stories that he stole. The Torah presents this chain of stories because each story presents us with a new aspect of theft that we did not know before



What’s new about Sodom?0



And Abraham travelled from there – From Sodom, says Rashi.  According to the simplicity, he wanted to stay away from the coup d’état.  But it is understandable that he moved from there—from Sodom—to Gerr, whose people were spiritually different from Seddon


The verses explain how they were different.

Sodom acknowledged YHVH  but rebelled against him, it was said that the people of Sodom were evil and sinful to Jehovah very much. They rebelled against seven commandments one by one and did the opposite to consciously anger, as the Midrash describes in detail.


On the other hand, Abraham said of the people of Gerar, there is no fear of ELKM in this place. The emphasis is on awe.  Not on knowing. His punishment will not be feared



Where did they know?0


The question also arose regarding Sodom, where the Pharisee learned from there was the son of Noah, who had a Torah academy near Jerusalem.  There he made many disciples, among them Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but after his death most of the disciples returned to idolatry.

It can be said that the people of Gerer also learned from there the son of Noah.


The spiritual level of  Gerar


In other words, the spiritual position of the people of Gerar was higher than that of the surrounding Canaanites.

We can find support for this idea when we review the list of nations that Abraham met in Israel:










    2 The Peoples Abraham Met in the Holy Land




1 Canaanites who not only worshipped but also sacrificed children to Molech and had holy breakthroughs in their temples


The Egyptians worshipped idols and believed in sorcery and died, but did not sacrifice humans


Aner Eshkol and Mamra B’nai B’rith Avraham who accepted seven mitzvot but failed in usurpation, who took part in the spoils


.  Kings of Justice, a complete king – who also knew the name of the Lord who buys heaven and earth. Ostensibly, he was very close to faith. Abraham, but Hazel noticed that he said a supreme God, meaning he believed in fellowship. He still carried with him some of the idols


Name of Noah’s son – a complete righteous man


Sodom who knew the seven commandments and did the opposite


Drag men who knew God and laws without fear of God



According to this, the Torah presents the nations that Abraham met in Israel in an ascending order of faith. The Canaanites were at a low ebb, and the other nations gradually ascended to the name of the son of Noah and Sodom and dragged

According to this, Gerer’s spiritual level was high—they had heard of God and the seven Noahide commandments. And yet they had a shortcoming – as Abraham said: there is no fear of God in them

So he didn’t trust them and thought they would kill him to take his wife.

The Midrash describes how they would have done this even though they knew the law.  They would have caused Abraham to die in an unfortunate accident, and Sarah would have been taken to protect her because she was alone.

This explains how they will not see God who sees everything.  Outwardly, they would look good to the world but not to God



  3 Example: Messiah



To understand what this is all about, imagine the following scenario:

Suppose the Messiah came, freed Israel from the yoke of the Gentiles, and built the house

Temple. Suppose he travels outside of Israel to look for supporters around the world.   He takes his beautiful wife with him on a trip with the whole entourage. Who would trust to host them? As far as he is concerned, the whole world is on the level of the Land of Israel, and like Abraham, he examines the nations that he will meet 0

He looks at the earth, full of peoples and countries. There are peoples with varying degrees of faith.

There are pagans among them who have not heard of him and do not know the Torah and the seven commandments of the children of Noah. They will have to learn this in order to enter the camp of Christ who will trust them.

And there are nations with higher degrees of faith – similar to the nations Abraham met in Israel.  Some know less and some more

And there are those among the nations who have already accepted the Torah and the seven commandments, and they also know Him, His allies. Like Aner Eshkol and Mamra who were Abraham’s allies.  But Christ knows that they only want to participate in His glory and distribute booty.     But there is no true fear of God in them.   Christ cannot rely on them.

And there are those among them who already know a lot about the Torah and Sheva. Mitzvot, however, carry with them parts of the past and still believe, for example, in fellowship. Christ cannot trust them

But there are Noahide who know Torah and are God-fearing. .  They are the only ones who constitute the true camp of Christ. They will help him change the face of the world

We will return to Abraham and Abimelech



  1. You are dead:  for the kidnapping



Abraham did not lie, because Sarah was his cousin .

Abimelech did not touch her as it is written that God touched the entire house of Abimelech – they could not have conjugal relations

God revealed Himself to Abimelech in the night and told him that you are dead for the woman you took because the husband is a married woman.

Abimelech claimed that he did not know and that his hands were clean, and God confirms and says that indeed Abimelech will not be punished for  ADULTERY.  but he must immediately return the wife to her husband.

According to the simplicity (light of life) you are dead from now on to you, if you do not return her to her husband.  God also exempts him from what could have been because there was a mistake in identification, but now that He knows He must return it



But the Talmud and Rashit each it differently, that the words “you die” refer to the moment of abduction.  Abimelech transgressed two commandments of Noah-Gezel, and almost transgressed incest.  God says that incest was not transgressed because he did not know she was married and also because He did not touch her, and in this respect He is clean-handed. Noah’s second mitzvah was not violated

But he is not clean of the kidnapping, of the theft, which is the fourth commandment.

Because who allows him to kidnap an unmarried woman – as he pleases? Of course Sarah did not agree and she was taken against her will. This is an offense for theft

And second, God says that Abraham was right, that even if Abimelech had known she was married, he would have killed Abraham, violating bloodshed, a third commandment.

For if there is no fear of God, the first commandment, a person will transgress the second and the third and the fourth.  God read His heart

The Talmud asked: How did Abimelech allow himself to kidnap an unmarried woman despite her will?  After all, this is contrary to the seven commandments!

The answer: Abimelech said: I am allowed. I am the king, and my whole country.

Not that he is above the law, but that the law permits him.  that his tradition permits him.

And to this God says to him, I do not accept this.

You are sentenced to death, like any other person.



5  The Rabam concludes



The son of Noah who erred in one of the commandments is exempt from nothing… What is it supposed to be about? Accidentally from one of the commandments and passed unintentionally.

Such as the husband of his friend’s wife and did not know that she was forbidden to him and imagined that she was available.

But if he knew that she was his friend’s wife and did not know that she was forbidden to him or that it occurred to him that this thing was allowed to him, it was close to deliberate and killed him. Because he had to learn and didn’t learn



    6: The Philistines



Let’s pay attention to Abimelech – ‘I am allowed.’


Is this historically appropriate?

The Philistines came from the islands of the Greek Sea, with the Pigeons establishing colonies throughout the Mediterranean along the coasts of Turkey, Syria, Canaan and Egypt

Their culture was ancient Ionic. The wife was considered her husband’s property, adultery was forbidden because it was an injury to the husband’s property and dignity.  But the king had a different judgment

Take, for example, the story of the Trojan War – 1200 BC

The background to the war wasthat Aphroditepromised Paris son of Troy the most beautiful woman in the world, Helena, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta.   Paris kidnapped her and her husband went to war against Troy.  The people of Troy had no problem defending Paris despite breaking the law of plunder. and about incest with a married woman

Note that the people of Greece had no problem with the recognition that a goddess had ordered the king’s son to kidnap a married woman. The concept of incest as an offense against heaven was unknown to them. And kidnapping is not forbidden when it comes to the king.  Husband T

The king and the gods are allowed what ordinary people are not allowed

Abraham’s morality was different from Abimelech’s.  Abimelech said earth to me, and Abraham said earth to God buys heaven and earth.

Abimelech said I know God but I am allowed, my tradition allows me, my status allows me

Abraham said God’s law is universal.

The Gemara extends what Abimelech said to other things that a person tells me is permissible.  Take, for example, another example of an incest offense, which is homosexualism



 7 Homosexuality



Homeocularity forbade man in heaven, so it was said that a man would leave his father and mother and cling to his wife and become one flesh.  Moses repeated this to the Israelites that it was said

And thou shalt not lie down as an abominable woman (Leviticus 20:12) who is punishable by death.

According to the rule we have, a mitzvah that was said to Noah and Moses repeated it to Israel, to this and that it was said.

In the ancient world, homosexuality was very common in all peoples – Egypt, Canaan, Greece.  The generation of the flood went through her.  The prohibition was simple and clear and marked moral corruption within the scope of incest.   The whole fetus was considered a rebel against the stomach and the Torah.  Therefore, every person must overcome his evil inclination regarding homosexuality – just as one must overcome the evil inclination of a man’s wife or sleep with his sister, and like any evil inclination that attracts a person to transgress the commandments of God

But over time, we’ve learned that some people can’t overcome gay sexual attraction.  The result is grim – people do not find happiness in life, are unable to maintain an acceptable family life, and become excluded from society.  This clash between natural attraction and the law of the Torah has led many to either leave the Torah or commit suicide.

How do we fix the problem?0

The Torah says here that anything that is said is permissible is deliberate.

One must not say, like Abimelech, that I am allowed, because I have other values

One must not say that he does not recognize the law of the Torah because it is archaic and old and its time has passed.

One must not say that morality is relative and arbitrarily determined by society, and therefore every person has freedom of choice to live his life as he pleases. Therefore, I am entitled to ignore God’s law

On the other hand, there is a correct way and it is not to say that I am allowed, but today we know that the concept of male and female is not binary.  There is a wide spectrum of scientific definitions of what is male and what is female.

There is an ideal male that meets all scientific and psychological requirements and is naturally attracted only to members of his own sex

And there is an ideal female who meets all scientific and psychological requirements and is attracted to girls of her sex only

To these the commandment of the Torah applies. God will not give us a commandment to fulfill against our nature that will cause suffering

On the other hand, any person who has a natural change from the ideal male or female, he or she is not within the scope of the commandment. It did not apply to him at all

Such a person must not ostracize him and cause him free suffering. On the contrary, we must learn to accept them with love