Genesis 12

Note: Genesis 1-11 is the story of God’s dealings with humanity at large. Genesis 12 begins the story of God’s dealing with one man and his family. The rest of the Bible is the unfolding of that story.

12:1 The LORD had said to Abram [means “exalted father”; name changed to Abraham in Gen. 17:5; Abram was 75 years old at the time God called him], “Leave [imperative] your country [Haran (Gen. 11:31)], your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you [cf. Heb. 11:8; Canaan].

Note: Is there something in your life that you know God wants you to do but you have not done yet? What steps can you take to obey God?

12:2 [note sevenfold promise, challenge, blessing][1] I will make you into a great nation [a reference to Israel] and [2] I will bless you; [3] I will make your name great [refers to respect accorded by Jews and Christians and Muslims], and [4] you will be a blessing [literally “be a (channel of) blessing”].

12:3 [5] I will bless those who bless you, and [6] whoever curses you I will curse; and [7] all peoples on earth will be blessed through you [Jesus descended from Abraham (Matt. 1:1) and the seed through whom promises are fulfilled (Gal. 3:16)].”

12:4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old [we are never too old to obey the Lord] when he set out from Haran.

12:5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

12:6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

12:7 The LORD appeared to Abram [he found God’s presence in new surroundings; cf. Ps. 139:7] and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar [cf. Gen. 12:6-7; 13:4; 13:18; 22:9; 26:25 for info on other altars Abram built or at which he worshiped] there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

12:8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.

12:9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

12:10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt [occupants of Canaan likely also migrated to Egypt to find food for themselves and their animals] to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

12:11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai [note that the Bible makes absolutely no attempt to cover up Abram’s shortcomings but rather presents him as a real person], “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

12:12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live.

12:13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”

12:14 When Abram came to Egypt, [1] the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman.

12:15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, [2] they praised her to Pharaoh, and [3] she was taken into his palace [to become a member of his harem].

12:16 He treated Abram well [cf. Gen. 12:13] for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels [indication that Pharaoh viewed Abram as a nobleman; may possibly be a dowry for Sarai].

12:17 But the LORD [intervened to rescue Sarai and protect Abram] inflicted serious diseases [or plagues] on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai.

12:18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. [1] “What have you done to me? [a question concerning the diseases inflicted on Pharaoh and his household]” he said. [2] “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? [a question concerning Abram’s motives]

12:19 [3] Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? [a question concerning Abram’s morality] Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”

12:20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything [including the gifts (cf. 12:16) given to him by Pharaoh] he had.

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