Abraham’s trickery to Abimelech

In the book of Genesis, we read about about Abraham making a covenant with Abimelech in Beersheba. The more you look into the covenant, we can see how Abraham tricks Abimelech because, his focus was on the promise of God.

Etching from about 1650 depicting Abraham and Abimelech

Gen 21:23-24 “Now therefore, swear to me by God that you will not deal falsely with me, with my offspring, or with my posterity; but that according to the kindness that I have done to you, you will do to me and to the land in which you have dwelt. ” And Abraham said, “I will swear.” …. 

Abimalech asks Abraham to swear to him by God that,

  • Abraham will not deal falsely with Abimalech, his offspring and his prosperity
  • Just as Abimalech  allowed Abraham to dwell, he must deal with Abimalech and his land (referring that Abimalech’s offspring must be allowed to stay in the land if Abraham rises to power).

Abraham even says that he will swear, now lets see what he actually swore.

Gen 21:27-32 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?” And he said, “You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well.” Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba. 

Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave it to Abimalech which he had no clue why it was given to him. Finally, Abraham explains that they were a witness for the oath he swore. What did Abraham actually swore? Abraham was providing seven ewe lambs as his witness for swearing his oath that he had dug this well.

When Abimalech wants Abraham to swear on something that conflicts with God’s promise, Abraham tricks him into swearing something else.

If Abraham was focused on God’s promise of a piece of real-estate, how much are we supposed to focus on God’s promise of eternal life (1 John 2:25)? As Jesus said, we must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matt 10:16).