Genesis 12

Abram Journeys to Egypt

1 Now 1the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you;
2 And 2I will make you a great nation, And 3I will bless you, And make your name great; And so 4you shall be a blessing;
3 And 5I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. 6And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."
4 So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and 7Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
5 Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew *, and all their 8possessions which they had accumulated, and 9the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set * out for the land of Canaan; 10thus they came to the land of Canaan.
6 Abram passed through the land as far as the site of 11Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. Now the Canaanite was then in the land.
7 The LORD 12appeared to Abram and said, "13To your descendants I will give this land." So he built 14an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
8 Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with 15Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the LORD and 16called upon the name of the LORD.
9 Abram journeyed on, continuing * toward 17the Negev.
10 Now there was 18a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was 19severe in the land.
11 It came about when he came * near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a 20beautiful woman;
12 21and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife '; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.
13 "Please say that you are 22my sister so that it may go well with me because of you, and that 23I may live on account of you."
14 It came about when Abram came into Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful.
15 Pharaoh's officials saw her and praised her to Pharaoh; and 24the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
16 Therefore 25he treated Abram well for her sake; and 26gave him sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels.
17 But the LORD 27struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because * of Sarai, Abram's wife.
18 Then Pharaoh called Abram and said, "28What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?
19 "Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go."
20 Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they escorted him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.

Images for Genesis 12

Genesis 12 Commentary

Chapter 12

God calls Abram, and blesses him with a promise of Christ. (1-3) Abram departs from Haran. (4,5) He journeys through Canaan, and worships God in that land. (6-9) Abram is driven by a famine into Egypt, He feigns his wife to be his sister. (10-20)

Verses 1-3 God made choice of Abram, and singled him out from among his fellow-idolaters, that he might reserve a people for himself, among whom his true worship might be maintained till the coming of Christ. From henceforward Abram and his seed are almost the only subject of the history in the Bible. Abram was tried whether he loved God better than all, and whether he could willingly leave all to go with God. His kindred and his father's house were a constant temptation to him, he could not continue among them without danger of being infected by them. Those who leave their sins, and turn to God, will be unspeakable gainers by the change. The command God gave to Abram, is much the same with the gospel call, for natural affection must give way to Divine grace. Sin, and all the occasions of it, must be forsaken; particularly bad company. Here are many great and precious promises. All God's precepts are attended with promises to the obedient. 1. I will make of thee a great nation. When God took Abram from his own people, he promised to make him the head of another people. 2. I will bless thee. Obedient believers shall be sure to inherit the blessing. 3. I will make thy name great. The name of obedient believers shall certainly be made great. 4. Thou shalt be a blessing. Good men are the blessings of their country. 5. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee. God will take care that none are losers, by any service done for his people. 6. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Jesus Christ is the great blessing of the world, the greatest that ever the world possessed. All the true blessedness the world is now, or ever shall be possessed of, is owing to Abram and his posterity. Through them we have a Bible, a Saviour, and a gospel. They are the stock on which the Christian church is grafted.

Verses 4-5 Abram believed that the blessing of the Almighty would make up for all he could lose or leave behind, supply all his wants, and answer and exceed all his desires; and he knew that nothing but misery would follow disobedience. Such believers, being justified by faith in Christ, have peace with God. They hold on their way to Canaan. They are not discouraged by the difficulties in their way, nor drawn aside by the delights they meet with. Those who set out for heaven must persevere to the end. What we undertake, in obedience to God's command, and in humble attendance on his providence, will certainly succeed, and end with comfort at last. Canaan was not, as other lands, a mere outward possession, but a type of heaven, and in this respect the patriarchs so earnestly prized it.

Verses 6-9 Abram found the country peopled by Canaanites, who were bad neighbours. He journeyed, going on still. Sometimes it is the lot of good men to be unsettled, and often to remove into various states. Believers must look on themselves as strangers and sojourners in this world, ( hebrews 11:8 hebrews 11:13 hebrews 11:14 ) . But observe how much comfort Abram had in God. When he could have little satisfaction in converse with the Canaanites whom he found there, he had abundance of pleasure in communion with that God, who brought him thither, and did not leave him. Communion with God is kept up by the word and by prayer. God reveals himself and his favours to his people by degrees; before, he had promised to show Abram this land, now, to give it to him: as grace is growing, so is comfort. It should seem, Abram understood it also as a grant of a better land, of which this was a type; for he looked for a heavenly country, ( Hebrews 11:16 ) . As soon as Abram was got to Canaan, though he was but a stranger and sojourner there, yet he set up, and kept up, the worship of God in his family. He not only minded the ceremonial part of religion, the offering of sacrifice; but he made conscience of seeking his God, and calling on his name; that spiritual sacrifice with which God is well pleased. He preached concerning the name of the Lord; he taught his family and neighbours the knowledge of the true God, and his holy religion. The way of family worship is a good old way, no new thing, but the ancient usage of the saints. Abram was rich, and had a numerous family, was now unsettled, and in the midst of enemies; yet, wherever he pitched his tent, he built an altar: wherever we go, let us not fail to take our religion along with us.

Verses 10-20 There is no state on earth free from trials, nor any character free from blemishes. There was famine in Canaan, the glory of all lands, and unbelief, with the evils it ever brings, in Abram the father of the faithful. Perfect happiness and perfect purity dwell only in heaven. Abram, when he must for a time quit Canaan, goes to Egypt, that he might not seem to look back, and meaning to tarry there no longer than needful. There Abram dissembled his relation to Sarai, equivocated, and taught his wife and his attendants to do so too. He concealed a truth, so as in effect to deny it, and exposed thereby both his wife and the Egyptians to sin. The grace Abram was most noted for, was faith; yet he thus fell through unbelief and distrust of the Divine providence, even after God had appeared to him twice. Alas, what will become of weak faith, when strong faith is thus shaken! If God did not deliver us, many a time, out of straits and distresses which we bring ourselves into, by our own sin and folly, we should be ruined. He deals not with us according to our deserts. Those are happy chastisements that hinder us in a sinful way, and bring us to our duty, particularly to the duty of restoring what we have wrongfully taken or kept. Pharaoh's reproof of Abram was very just: What is this that thou hast done? How unbecoming a wise and good man! If those who profess religion, do that which is unfair and deceptive, especially if they say that which borders upon a lie, they must expect to hear of it; and they have reason to thank those who will tell them of it. The sending away was kind. Pharaoh was so far from any design to kill Abram, as he feared, that he took particular care of him. We often perplex ourselves with fears which are altogether groundless. Many a time we fear where no fear is. Pharaoh charged his men not to hurt Abram in any thing. It is not enough for those in authority, that they do not hurt themselves; they must keep their servants and those about them from doing hurt.

Cross References 28

  • 1. Genesis 15:7; Acts 7:3; Hebrews 11:8
  • 2. Genesis 17:4-6; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 46:3; Deuteronomy 26:5
  • 3. Genesis 22:17
  • 4. Zechariah 8:13
  • 5. Genesis 24:35; Genesis 27:29; Numbers 24:9
  • 6. Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:14; Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8
  • 7. Genesis 11:27, 31
  • 8. Genesis 13:6
  • 9. Genesis 14:14; Leviticus 22:11
  • 10. Genesis 11:31; Hebrews 11:8
  • 11. Genesis 35:4; Deuteronomy 11:30
  • 12. Genesis 17:1; Genesis 18:1
  • 13. Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 34:4; Ps 105: 9-12; Acts 7:5; Galatians 3:16
  • 14. Genesis 13:4, 18; Genesis 22:9
  • 15. Joshua 8:9, 12
  • 16. Genesis 4:26; Genesis 21:33
  • 17. Genesis 13:1, 3; Genesis 20:1; Genesis 24:62
  • 18. Genesis 26:1
  • 19. Genesis 43:1
  • 20. Genesis 26:7; Genesis 29:17
  • 21. Genesis 20:11
  • 22. Gen 20:2, 5, 12; Genesis 26:7
  • 23. Jeremiah 38:17, 20
  • 24. Genesis 20:2
  • 25. Genesis 20:14
  • 26. Genesis 13:2
  • 27. Genesis 20:18; 1 Chronicles 16:21; Psalms 105:14
  • 28. Genesis 20:9, 10; Genesis 26:10

Footnotes 16

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 12

In this chapter an account is given of the call of Abram to depart from his own country, with a promise of a divine blessing, Ge 12:1-3 of his obedience to it, Ge 12:4,5 of his journey through the land of Canaan, and of the Lord's appearance to him in it, and his promise of it to his seed, and of Abram's building altars in it, and calling on the name of the Lord, Ge 12:6-9 and of a famine there, which occasioned him to go into Egypt, Ge 12:10 where, through fear of being slain, he desired his wife to call herself his sister, Ge 12:11-13 and she being greatly admired by the Egyptians for her beauty, it went well with Abram for her sake, Ge 12:14-16 but the Egyptians were plagued because of her, who, when they understood she was Abram's wife, sent them both away, and all that belonged to them, Ge 12:17-20.

Genesis 12 Commentaries