Genesis 12:11
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "I know what a beautiful woman you are.

New Living Translation
As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, "Look, you are a very beautiful woman.

English Standard Version
When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance,

New American Standard Bible
It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman;

King James Bible
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "Look, I know what a beautiful woman you are.

International Standard Version
When he was about to enter Egypt, he told his wife Sarai, "Look, I'm aware that you're a beautiful woman.

NET Bible
As he approached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, "Look, I know that you are a beautiful woman.

New Heart English Bible
It happened, when he had come near to enter Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look at.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When he was about to enter Egypt, Abram said to his wife Sarai, "I know that you're a beautiful woman.

JPS Tanakh 1917
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife: 'Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon.

New American Standard 1977
And it came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman;

Jubilee Bible 2000
And it came to pass when he was come near to enter into Egypt that he said unto Sarai, his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon;

King James 2000 Bible
And it came to pass, when he came near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look upon:

American King James Version
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look on:

American Standard Version
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

Douay-Rheims Bible
And when he was near to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife: I know that thou art a beautiful woman:

Darby Bible Translation
And it came to pass when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a woman fair to look upon.

English Revised Version
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

Webster's Bible Translation
And it came to pass, when he had come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

World English Bible
It happened, when he had come near to enter Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look at.

Young's Literal Translation
and it cometh to pass as he hath drawn near to enter Egypt, that he saith unto Sarai his wife, 'Lo, I pray thee, I have known that thou art a woman of beautiful appearance;
Study Bible
Abram and Sarai in Egypt
10Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. 11It came about when he came near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, "See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman; 12and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.…
Cross References
Genesis 20:2
Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister." So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

Genesis 24:16
The girl was very beautiful, a virgin, and no man had had relations with her; and she went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up.

Genesis 26:7
When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he was afraid to say, "my wife," thinking, "the men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful."

Genesis 29:17
And Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.
Treasury of Scripture

And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that you are a fair woman to look on:

a fair.

Genesis 12:14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians …

Genesis 26:7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She …

Genesis 29:17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favored.

Genesis 39:6,7 And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought …

2 Samuel 11:2 And it came to pass in an evening, that David arose from off his …

Proverbs 21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.

Songs 1:14 My beloved is to me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

(11-13) Thou art a fair woman.--For the word yephath, rendered "fair," see on Genesis 9:27. Though its general meaning is beautiful, yet there can be no doubt that the light colour of Sarai's complexion was that which would chiefly commend her to the Egyptians; for she was now past sixty, and though vigorous enough to bear a son at ninety, yet that was by the special favour of God. As she lived to the age of 127 (Genesis 23:1), she was now about middle age, and evidently had retained much of her early beauty; and this, added to the difference of tint, would make her still attractive to the swarthy descendants of Ham, especially as they were not a handsome race, but had flat foreheads, high cheek-bones, large mouths, and thick lips. Twenty years later we find Abram still haunted by fears of the effects of her personal appearance (Genesis 20:2), even when living among a better-featured race. From Genesis 20:13 it appears that on leaving Haran Abram and Sarai had agreed upon adopting this expedient, which seems to us so strangely contrary to the faith which the patriarch was at that very time displaying. He abandons his birthplace at the Divine command, and starts upon endless wanderings; and yet, to protect his own life, he makes an arrangement which involves the possible sacrifice of the chastity of his wife; and twice, but for God's interference, this painful result would actually have happened. Perhaps Abram may have depended upon Sarai's cleverness to help herself out of the difficulty; but such a mixture of faith and weakness, of trust in God in abandoning so much and trust in worldly policy for preservation in a foreseen danger, cannot but make us feel how much of infirmity there was even in a character otherwise so noble.

Verses 11-13. - And it came to pass (literally, it was), when he was come near to enter into Egypt (that he had his misgivings, arising probably from his own eminence, which could scarcely fail to attract attention among strangers, but chiefly from the beauty of his wife, which was calculated to inflame the cupidity and, it might be, the violence of the warm-blooded Southrons, and) that he said unto Sarai his wife. The arrangement here referred to appears (Genesis 20:13) to have been preconcerted on first setting out from Ur or Haran, so that Abram's address to his wife on approaching Egypt may be viewed as simply a reminder of their previous compact. Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon. Literally, fair of aspect (cf. 1 Samuel 17:42). Though now upwards of sixty-five years of age, she was still in middle life (Genesis 23:1), and her constitution had not been impaired by bearing children. Besides, the clear complexion of Sarah would render her specially attractive in the eyes of the Egyptians, whose women, though not so dark as the Nubians and Ethiopians, were yet of a browner tinge than the Syrians and Arabians. Monumental evidence confirms the assertion of Scripture that a fair complexion was deemed a high recommendation in the age of the Pharaohs (ride Hengstenberg's 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 200). Therefore (literally, and) it shall come to pass, when (literally, that) the Egyptians - notorious for their licentiousness (vide P. Smith's ' History of the World,' vol. 1. Genesis 6. p. 71) - shall see thee, that (literally, and) they shall say, this is his wife: and they will kill me - in order to possess thee, counting murder a less crime than adultery (Lyra). An unreasonable anxiety, considering that he had hitherto enjoyed the Divine protection, however natural it might seem in view of the voluptuous character of the people. But (literally, and) they will save thee alive - for either compulsory marriage or dishonorable use. Say, I pray thee, - translated in ver. 11 as "now;" "verbum obsecrantis vel adhortantis" (Masius) - thou art my sister. A half-truth (Genesis 20:12), but a whole falsehood. The usual apologies, that he did not fabricate, but "cautiously conceal the truth" (Lyra), that perhaps he acted in obedience to a Divine impulse (Mede), that he dissembled in order to protect his wife's chastity (Rosenmüller), are not satisfactory. On the other hand, Abram must not be judged by the light of New Testament revelation. It is not necessary for a Christian in every situation Of life to tell all the truth, especially when its part suppression involves no deception, and is indispensable for self-preservation; and Abram may have deemed it legitimate as a means of securing both his own life and Sarah's honor, though how he was to shield his wife in the peculiar circumstances it is difficult to see. Rosenmüller suggests that he knew the preliminary ceremonies to marriage required a considerable time, and counted upon being able to leave Egypt before any injury was done to Sarah. The only objection to this is that the historian represents him as being less solicitous about the preservation of his wife's chastity than about the conservation of his own life. That it may be well (not with thee, though doubtless this is implied, but) with me for thy sake (the import of which is declared in the words which follow); and my soul shall live because of thee. "No defense can be offered for a man who, merely through dread of danger to himself, tells a lie, risks his wife's chastity, puts temptation in the way of his neighbors, and betrays the charge to which the Divine favor had summoned him "(Dykes). And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt,.... Just entering into it, having travelled from the mountain between Bethel and Hai, two hundred and forty miles (p); or when he "caused to come near" (q), either his camp, as Aben Ezra supplies it, or his tent, or his family, as others:

that he said unto Sarai his wife, behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon; though sixty five years of age, being ten years younger than her husband, see Genesis 17:17 who was now seventy five years old, Genesis 12:4 yet might still be a fair woman, having a good complexion and comely features, and having never bore children, and especially she would be reckoned so among the Egyptians, whose women were of a blackish, sallow, swarthy complexion.

(p) Travels of the Holy Patriarchs, &c. p. 56. (q) "quum admoveret, sub tentorium", so some in Vatablus; "familiam", Munster. 11-13. Sarai's complexion, coming from a mountainous country, would be fresh and fair compared with the faces of Egyptian women which were sallow. The counsel of Abram to her was true in words, but it was a deception, intended to give an impression that she was no more than his sister. His conduct was culpable and inconsistent with his character as a servant of God: it showed a reliance on worldly policy more than a trust in the promise; and he not only sinned himself, but tempted Sarai to sin also.12:10-20 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.
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