Why did Sarah LIE about
being married to Abraham?
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Question: What made Abraham AFRAID of the Egyptians? Why did he have Sarah his wife LIE to them about their marriage?
Answer: The incident you are referring to took place during a journey through the Land of Canaan taken by Abram and Sarai (Sarah). As they were traveling South from Bethel a severe famine hit the land. They decided to travel further south and live in Egypt for a while until the famine passed. Abraham, however, was concerned about his safety when he entered the land of Pharaoh.
11 When he (Abraham) was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, 'I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife'; then they will KILL ME, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are MY SISTER, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.' (Genesis 12:11-13, NRSV)
Sarah was asked to lie - or at least tell the Egyptians a half-truth - in order to protect his life. We discover the half-truth when, in Genesis 20, Abraham again uses her to save himself from a powerful ruler - in this case the king of Gerar named Abimelech. After being confronted by the king he admits that Sarah was more than his wife when he states,
11 'I thought, 'There is absolutely no fear of God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.' (sounds familiar, doesn't it?) 12 Besides, SHE REALLY IS MY SISTER, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife (Genesis 20:11, HCSB).
Marriages between men and their half-sisters were not uncommon in ancient times. Although the response Sarah was coached to give (on two occasions) concerning the nature of her relationship with Abram was not a COMPLETE lie, it was nevertheless only part true and a deception (she was, after all, married to him!).