But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
But Abimelech had not come near her,.... Sarah had been put into an apartment in his palace, and not yet admitted into his company, not at least to his bed; he had not lain with her, which is the design of the expression: the Septuagint version is, "had not touched her", as in Genesis 20:6; which is another phrase expressive of the same thing:
and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? meaning either his family, the greater part of which were not accessory to this affair; or rather his kingdom, as Aben Ezra, see Genesis 20:9; which though not a nation of righteous men, in a strict sense, see Genesis 20:11; yet with regard to this business of Sarah were no ways criminal: either God had threatened to destroy his people, as well as himself, if he did not return Sarah to her husband, or committed iniquity with her; or he knew that this had been usual for people to suffer for the crimes of their governors, and like a true father of his country shows an affectionate concern for their welfare in the first place; for this may be the sense of the word "also", on which an emphasis is put; wilt thou not only slay me, but also a whole nation for my sake, a nation free from all fault and blame in this matter? though some think he has reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, a recent action, and fresh in his mind; as if he should say, thou hast justly destroyed a wicked people for their sins, and wilt thou also destroy a nation that at least, in comparison of them, is a just and righteous one?