|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Verse 17. - And the Lord plagued (literally, struck) Pharaoh and his house with great plagues (or strokes, either of disease or death, or some other calamity - an indication that Pharaoh was not entirely innocent) because of Sarai Abram's wife. The effect of this was to lead to the discovery, not through the aid of the Egyptian priests (Josephus), but either through a special revelation granted to him, as afterwards (Genesis 20:6) to Abimelech in a dream (Chrysostom), or through the confession of Sarai herself (A Lapide), or through the servants of Abraham (Kurtz).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues,.... Perhaps with the same sort that Abimelech and his servants were smote with on a like account, Genesis 20:17. The Jews (h) say they were smitten with ulcers; not only Pharaoh was plagued, but those of his household also, his courtiers and servants, who were accessary to the bringing of Sarai into his house; for all this was
because of Sarai, Abram's wife; or "upon the word of Sarai" (i), as it may be literally rendered: hence the Jews have a notion, that an angel stood by Sarai with a scourge in his hand, and when Sarai bid him smite Pharaoh, he smote him (k); but signifies not a word only, but thing, matter and business: and so Onkelos renders it here: and the sense is, that Pharaoh and his courtiers were smitten, because of the affair and business of Sarai; because she was taken by them, and detained in Pharaoh's house, and designed to be made his wife or concubine; and thus for evil intentions was this punishment inflicted; so that evil designs, not brought into execution, are punishable; though the word of Sarai may mean what she was bid to say, and did.
(h) Jarchi in loc. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 41. fol. 35. 4. (i) "propter verbum Sarai", Montanus; "super verbo", Munster, Piscator. (k) Jarchi in loc. Bereshit Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 41. fol. 35. 4.)
Genesis 12:17 Parallel Commentaries
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