Genesis 12:1
Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK

(1) Now the Lord had said unto Abram.—Heb., And Jehovah said unto Abram. There is no new beginning; but having briefly sketched the family from which Abram sprang, and indicated that he had inherited from them the right of primogeniture, the narrative next proceeds to the primary purpose of the Tôldóth Terah, which is to show how in Abram Jehovah prepared for the fulfilment, through Israel, of the prote-vangelium contained in the promise made to Eve at the fall (Genesis 3:15). The rendering “had said” was doubtless adopted because of St. Stephen’s words (Acts 7:2); but it is the manner of the Biblical narrative to revert to the original starting point.

Thy country.—A proof that Abram and his father were no new settlers at Ur, but that the race of Shem had at this time long held sway there, as is now known to have been the case.

Thy kindred.—This rendering is supported by Genesis 43:7; but it more probably means thy birthplace. It is the word translated “nativity” in Genesis 11:28. where its meaning is settled by the prefixed “land;” and the sense is probably the same here. If so, the command certainly came to Abram at Ur, though most of the versions suppose that it happened at Haran.

A land that I will shew thee.—In Genesis 11:31 it is expressly said that the land was Canaan, but possibly this knowledge was concealed from the patriarch himself for a time, and neither he nor Terah knew on leaving Ur what their final destination would be.



Genesis 12:1 - Genesis 12:9


We stand here at the well-head of a great river-a narrow channel, across which a child can step, but which is to open out a broad bosom that will reflect the sky and refresh continents. The call of Abram is the most important event in the Old Testament, but it is also an eminent example of individual faith. For both reasons he is called ‘the Father of the Faithful.’ We look at the incident here mainly from the latter point of view. It falls into three parts.

1. The divine voice of command and promise.-God’s servants have to be separated from home and kindred, and all surroundings. The command to Abram was no mere arbitrary test of obedience. God could not have done what He meant with him, unless He had got him by himself. So Isaiah 51:2 put his finger on the essential when he says, ‘I called him alone.’ God’s communications are made to solitary souls, and His voice to us always summons us to forsake friends and companions, and to go apart with God. No man gets speech of God in a crowd. If you desired to fill a person with electricity, you used to put him on a stool with glass legs, to keep him from earthly contact. If the quickening impulse from the great magnet is to charge the soul, that soul must be isolated. ‘He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.’

The vagueness of the command is significant. Abram did not know ‘whither he went.’ He is not told that Canaan is the land, till he has reached Canaan. A true obedience is content to have orders enough for present duty. Ships are sometimes sent out with sealed instructions, to be opened when they reach latitude and longitude so-and-so. That is how we are all sent out. Our knowledge goes no farther ahead than is needful to guide our next step. If we ‘go out’ as He bids us, He will show us what to do next.

‘I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.’

Observe the promise. We may notice that it needed a soul raised above the merely temporal to care much for such promises. They would have been but thin diet for earthly appetites. ‘A great nation’; a divine blessing; to be a source of blessing to the whole world, and a touchstone by their conduct to which men would be blessed or cursed;-what was there in these to fascinate a man, unless he had faith to teach him the relative importance of the earthly and the heavenly, the present and the future? Notice that the whole promise appeals to unselfish desires. It is always, in some measure, elevating to live for a future, rather than a present, good; but if it be only the same kind of good as the present would yield, it is a poor affair. The only really ennobling faith is one which sets before itself a future full of divine blessing, and of diffusion of that blessing through us, and which therefore scorns delights, and for such gifts is content to be solitary and a wanderer.

2. The obedience of faith.-We have here a wonderful example of prompt, unquestioning obedience to a bare word. We do not know how the divine command was conveyed to Abram. We simply read, ‘The Lord said’; and if we contrast this with Genesis 12:7, ‘The Lord appeared . . .and said,’ it will seem probable that there was no outward sign of the divine will. The patriarch knew that he was following a divine command, and not his own purpose; but there seems to have been no appeal to sense to authenticate the inward voice. He stands, then, on a high level, setting the example of faith as unconditional acceptance of, and obedience to, God’s bare word.

Observe that faith, which is the reliance on a person, and therefore trust in his word, passes into both forms of confidence in that word as promise, and obedience to that word as command. We cannot cut faith in halves, and exercise the one aspect without the other. Some people’s faith says that it delights in God’s promises, but it does not delight in His commandments. That is no faith at all. Whoever takes God at His word, will take all His words. There is no faith without obedience; there is no obedience without faith.

We have already said enough about the separation which was effected by Abram’s journey; but we may just notice that the departure from his father’s house was but the necessary result of the gulf between them and him, which had been opened by his faith. They were idolaters; he worshipped one God. That drove them farther apart than the distance between Sichem and Haran. When sympathy in religion was at an end, the breach of all other ties was best. So to-day, whether there be outward separation or no, depends on circumstances; but every true Christian is parted from the dearest who is not a Christian, by an abyss wider than any outward distance can make. The law for us is Abram’s law, ‘Get thee out.’ Either our faith will separate us from the world, or the world will separate us from our faith and our God.

The companionship of Lot, who attaches himself to Abram, teaches that religion, in its true possessors, exercises an attractive influence over even common natures, and may win them to a loftier life. Some weak eyes may discern more glory in the sunshine tinting a poor bit of mist into ruddy light than in the beam which is too bright to look at. A faithful Abram will draw Lot after him.

‘They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.’ Compare this singular expression with Genesis 11:31, where we have Terah’s emigration from Ur described in the same terms, with the all-important difference in the end, ‘They came’ not into Canaan, but ‘unto Haran, and dwelt there.’ Many begin the course; one finishes it. Terah’s journeying was only in search of pasture and an abode. So he dropped his wider scheme when the narrower served his purpose. It was an easy matter to go from Ur to Haran. Both were on the same bank of the Euphrates. But to cross the broad, deep, rapid river was a different thing, and meant an irrevocable cutting loose from the past life. Only the man of faith did that. There are plenty of half-and-half Christians, who go along merrily from Ur to Haran; but when they see the wide stream in front, and realise how completely the other side is separated from all that is familiar, they take another thought, and conclude they have come far enough, and Haran will serve their turn.

Again, the phrase teaches us the certain issue of patient pilgrimage and persistent purpose. There is no mystery in getting to the journey’s end. ‘One foot up, and the other foot down,’ continued long enough, will bring to the goal of the longest march. It looks a weary journey, and we wonder if we shall ever get thither. But the magic of ‘one step at a time’ does it. The guide is also the upholder of our way. ‘Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion.’

3. The life in the land.-The first characteristic of it is its continual wandering. This is the feature which the Epistle to the Hebrews marks as significant. There was no reason but his own choice why Abram should continue to journey, and prefer to pitch his tent now under the terebinth tree of Moreh, now by Hebron, rather than to enter some of the cities of the land. He dwelt in tents because he looked for the city. The clear vision of the future detached him, as it will always detach men, from close participation in the present. It is not because we are mortal, and death is near at the furthest, that the Christian is to sit loose to this world, but because he lives by the hope of the inheritance. He must choose to be a pilgrim, and keep himself apart in feeling and aims from this present. The great lesson from the wandering life of Abram is, ‘Set your affection on things above.’ Cultivate the sense of belonging to another polity than that in the midst of which you dwell. The Canaanites christened Abram ‘The Hebrew’ {Genesis 14:13}, which may be translated ‘The man from the other side.’ That is the name which all true Christians should deserve. They should bear their foreign extraction in their faces, and never be naturalised subjects here. Life is wholesomer in the tent under the spreading tree, with the fresh air blowing about us and clear sky above, than in the Canaanite city.

Observe, too, that Abram’s life was permeated with worship. Wherever he pitches his tent, he builds an altar. So he fed his faith, and kept up his communion with God. The only condition on which the pilgrim life is possible, and the temptations of the world cease to draw our hearts, is that all life shall be filled with the consciousness of the divine presence, our homes altars, and ourselves joyful thankofferings. Then every abode is blessed. The undefended tent is a safe fortress, in which dwelling we need not envy those who dwell in palaces. Common tasks will then be fresh, full of interest, because we see God in them, and offer them up to Him. The wandering life will be a life of walking with God, and progressive knowledge of Him; and over all the roughnesses and the sorrows and the trivialities of it will be spread ‘the light that never was on sea or land, the consecration’ of God’s presence, and the peacefulness of communion with Him.

Again, we may notice that the life of obedience was followed by fuller manifestations of God, and of His will. God ‘appeared’ when Abram was in the land. Is it not always true that obedience is blessed by closer vision and more knowledge? To him that hath shall be given; and he who has followed the unseen Guide through dimly discerned paths to an invisible goal, will be gladdened when he reaches the true Canaan, by the sight of Him whom, having not seen, he loved. Even here on earth obedience is the path to fuller knowledge; and when the pilgrims who have left all and followed the Captain of salvation through a deeper, darker stream than Abram crossed, have touched the other side, God will appear to them, and say, as the enraptured eye gazes amazed on the goodly land, ‘Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.’


Genesis 12:1. We have here the call whereby Abram was removed from, the land of his nativity into the land of promise. This call was designed both to try his faith and obedience, and also to set him and his family apart for God, in order that the universal prevalence of idolatry might be prevented, and a remnant reserved for God, among whom his true worship might be maintained, his oracles preserved, and his ordinances established till the coming of the Messiah. God seems also, by sending him into Canaan, a country given up to the most gross, cruel, and barbarous idolatry, even the sacrificing of their own children to their idols, to have intended that he, and the other patriarchs descended from him, should be witnesses for God to these nations before their destruction; which is the plan God has generally, if not always, pursued; seldom, if ever, destroying a people for their wickedness, till he has sent his truth, in one form or another, and his witnesses among them.

Concerning the circumstances of this call, we may receive further information from Stephen’s speech, Acts 7:2, where we are told, 1st, That the God of glory appeared to him, to give him this call, and that in such displays of his glory as left Abram no room to doubt. 2d, That this call was given him in Mesopotamia; and that, in obedience to this call, he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran or Haran about five years: and from thence, when his father was dead, by a fresh command, he removed him into the land of Canaan. Get thee out of thy country — Now, by this precept, he was tried whether he loved God better than he loved his native soil, and dearest friends: and whether he could willingly leave all to go along with God. His country was become idolatrous, his kindred and his father’s house were a constant temptation to him, and he could not continue with them without danger of being infected by them; therefore God said, Get thee out. Hereby also he was tried whether he could trust God farther than he saw him; for he must leave his own country to go to a land that God would show him; he doth not say, it is a land that I will give thee: nor doth he tell him what land it was, or what kind of land; but he must follow God with an implicit faith, and take God’s word for it in general, that he should be no loser by leaving his country to follow God.

12:1-3 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. - The Call of Abram

6. שׁכם shekem Shekem, "the upper part of the back." Here it is the name of a person, the owner of this place, where afterward is built the town called at first Shekem, then Flavia Neapolis, and now Nablous. אלון 'ēlôn "the oak;" related: "be lasting, strong." מורה môreh In Onkelos "plain;" Moreh, "archer, early rain, teacher." Here the name of a man who owned the oak that marked the spot. In the Septuagint it is rendered ὑψηγήν hupseegeen.

8. בית־אל bēyt-'êl, Bethel, "house of God." ים yam "sea, great river, west." עי ‛ay, 'Ai, "heap."

9. נגב negeb "south."

The narrative now takes leave of the rest of the Shemites, as well as the other branches of the human family, and confines itself to Abram. It is no part of the design of Scripture to trace the development of worldliness. It marks its source, and indicates the law of its downward tendency; but then it turns away from the dark detail, to devote its attention to the way by which light from heaven may again pierce the gloom of the fallen heart. Here, then, we have the starting of a new spring of spiritual life in the human race.

Genesis 12:1-3

Having brought the affairs of Terah's family to a fit resting point, the sacred writer now reverts to the call of Abram. This, we have seen, took place when he was seventy years of age, and therefore five years before the death of Terah. "The Lord said unto Abram." Four hundred and twenty-two years on the lowest calculation after the last recorded communication with Noah, the Lord again opens his mouth, to Abram. Noah, Shem, or Heber, must have been in communication with heaven, indeed, at the time of the confusion of tongues, and hence, we have an account of that miraculous interposition. The call of Abram consists of a command and a promise. The command is to leave the place of all his old and fond associations, for a land which he had not yet seen, and therefore did not know. Three ties are to be severed in complying with this command - his country, in the widest range of his affections; his place of birth and kindred comes closer to his heart; his father's house is the inmost circle of all his tender emotions. All these are to be resigned; not, however, without reason. The reason may not be entirely obvious to the mind of Abram. But he has entire faith in the reasonableness of what God proposes. So with reason and faith he is willing to go to the unknown land. It is enough that God will show him the land to which he is now sent.


Ge 12:1-20. Call to Abram.

1. Now the Lord had said unto Abram—It pleased God, who has often been found of them who sought Him not, to reveal Himself to Abraham perhaps by a miracle; and the conversion of Abraham is one of the most remarkable in Bible history.

Get thee out of thy country—His being brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God had probably been a considerable time before. This call included two promises: the first, showing the land of his future posterity; and the second, that in his posterity all the earth was to be blessed (Ge 12:2). Abraham obeyed, and it is frequently mentioned in the New Testament as a striking instance of his faith (Heb 11:8).God calls Abram from his own country and kindred to Canaan, Genesis 12:1. Promises to make of him a great and flourishing nation, and to bless in Christ his seed, Genesis 12:2,3. Abram obeys, Genesis 12:4-6. God appears to him, and promises to give Canaan to his seed; he builds an altar, Genesis 12:7. He removes to Beth-el, and there builds an altar, Genesis 12:8. There being a famine he goes down to Egypt, Genesis 12:10. He advises Sarai to equivocate, Genesis 12:11-13. She is taken into Pharaoh’s house, Genesis 12:15. Pharaoh kind to Abram for her sake, Genesis 12:16. God plagues him because of Sarai, Genesis 12:17. He calls Abram, and expostulates with him, Genesis 12:18,19. Sends him safely away, Genesis 12:20.

The Lord had said, to wit, in Ur of the Chaldees, by comparing Genesis 11:31, with Acts 7:2-4; or, did say, again, i.e. renewed the command in Haran, whilst Abram might possibly linger there, as afterwards Lot did in Sodom, longer than he should. But the former interpretation is more probable, because Moses speaks here of that command of God which came to Abram before he was gone from his

kindred and

father’s house, and therefore before he came to Haran. And this command was given to Abram either immediately, or by Shem, then the governor of God’s church.

From thy father’s house; from the family of Nachor, which was now become idolatrous, Genesis 31:30 Joshua 24:2; and consequently their society was dangerous and pernicious; and therefore God mercifully snatcheth him as a brand out of the fire.

A land that I will show thee; which as yet he nameth not, for the greater trial and exercise of Abram’s faith and patience: compare Isaiah 41:2 Hebrews 11:8.

Now the Lord had said unto Abram,.... In Ur of the Chaldees, before he came and dwelt in Charran, as seems from Acts 7:2 and so Aben Ezra interprets it; but Jarchi and others think, that what follows was said to him in Haran, and so the words may be more literally rendered (u), "and the Lord said unto Abram"; after the death of Terah, who died in Haran; and indeed it is highly probable there were two appearances of God to Abram, and that the same words, or very near the same, were spoken to him at two several times, first in Ur of the Chaldees, and then in Haran:

get thee out of thy country; the land of Chaldea, and the city of Ur, which was in it, or out of Mesopotamia, in which, when taken in a large sense, were both Ur and Haran; and this country was now become idolatrous, for though it was first inhabited and peopled by the posterity of Shem in the time of Arphaxad, yet these, in process of time, degenerated from the true religion, and fell into idolatry. The same Maimonides (w) calls Zabaeans, in whose faith and religion, he says, Abram was brought up, and who asserted there was no other God but the sun, moon, and stars; and these Zabaeans, as he relates from their books and annals, say of Abram themselves, that he was educated in Cuthia, and dissented from the common people; and asserted, that besides the sun, there was another Creator; to whom they objected, and so disputes arose among them on this subject: now Abram being convinced of idolatry, is called out from those people, and to have no fellowship with them; it is literally in the Hebrew text (x), "go to thee out of thy country"; for thy profit and good, as Jarchi interprets it; as it must be to quit all society with such an idolatrous and superstitious people:

and from thy kindred; as Nahor his brother, and his family, who are not mentioned, and seem to be left behind when Terah, Abram, Lot, and Sarai, came out of Ur of the Chaldees; though it looks as if afterwards Nahor did follow them to Haran or Padanaram, which are the same, and where he continued, and therefore is called his city; see Genesis 24:10 so with great propriety Abram might be called a second time to leave his kindred as well as his country; and certain it is, Haran, or Padanaram, as well as Ur of the Chaldees, is called by himself his country, and Nahor and his family his kindred, Genesis 24:4.

and from thy father's house; or household, his family, which better agrees with the second call at Haran, than with the first at Ur; for, upon the first call, Terah and his family came along with Abram, and therefore this phrase is omitted by Stephen, who speaks of that call, Acts 7:3 but Terah dying at Haran, his house or family went no further, but continued there with Nahor; only Abram and Lot, upon this second call, went from thence, as the following history makes it appear; and so Abram left, as he was bid, his father's house and family to go, as it follows:

unto a land that I will show thee; meaning the land of Canaan, though not mentioned, and seems to be omitted for the trial of Abram's faith; hence the author of the epistle to the Hebrews, Hebrews 11:8 observes, that "he obeyed and went out, not knowing whither he went"; and yet it is said, that, when he and Terah came out of Ur of the Chaldees, "they went forth to go into the land of Canaan", Genesis 11:31 and, when he and Lot went first from Haran, the same is said of them, Genesis 12:5 it is probable the case was this; there was no mention made at first what land he was to go to, and when he prepared for his journey he knew not where he was to go, but afterwards it was revealed to him that Canaan was the land, and therefore set out in order to go thither; and still, though he might know the place by name where he was to go, he might neither know the way to it, nor what sort of country it was for quality or quantity; and therefore God promises to show him the way, and direct his course right unto it, and give him a view of it, that he might see what sort of a country, and how large it was, that he would give to his posterity. This call of Abram is an emblem of the call of men by the grace of God out of the world, and from among the men of it, and to renounce the things of it, and not be conformed unto it, and to forget their own people and their father's house, and to cleave to the Lord, and follow him whithersoever he directs them.

(u) "et dixit", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius. (w) More Nevochim, par. 3. c. 29. p. 421. (x) "vade tibi", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, &c.

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, {a} Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto {b} a land that I will shew thee:

(a) From the flood to this time were four hundred and twenty-three years.

(b) In appointing him no certain place, he proves so much more his faith and obedience.

1. Now the lord said] Lit. “and Jehovah said.” The narrative opens with characteristic simplicity, and with the abruptness possibly indicating its selection from a group of similar traditions.

the lord said] Here, as elsewhere, we must not suppose that “the word of Jehovah” was accompanied either by any external manifestation, or by an audible sound. God in old times “hath spoken unto the fathers” even as He speaks now to those who hear His voice, “in divers manners” (Hebrews 1:1).

out of thy country … kindred … father’s house] See Genesis 24:7. The threefold tie of land, people, and home, is to be severed. Abram is to lay the foundations of the Chosen People independently of any obligation or favour due to local environment or personal association. He is to rely only on his God. Thus the first trial of the patriarch’s faith requires him, (a) to renounce the certainties of the past: (b) to face the uncertainties of the future: (c) to look for and to follow the direction of Jehovah’s will. Cf. Hebrews 11:8, “by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out … and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

the land that I will shew thee] The country is not designated by name: an additional test of faith.

Verses 1-5. - Designed to trace the outward development of God's kingdom on the earth, the narrative now concentrates its attention on one of the foregoing Terachites, whose remarkable career it sketches with considerable minuteness of detail, from the period of his emigration from Chaldea to his death at Hebron in the land of Canaan. Distinguished as a man of undoubted superiority both of character and mind, the head of at least two powerful and important races, and standing, as one might say, on the threshold of the historical era, it is yet chiefly as his life and fortunes connect with the Divine purpose of salvation that they find a place in the inspired record. The progress of infidelity during the four centuries that had elapsed since the Flood, the almost universal corruption of even the Shemits portion of the human family, had conclusively demonstrated the necessity of a second Divine interposition, if the knowledge of salvation were not to be completely banished from the earth. Accordingly, the son of Terah was selected to be the founder of a new nation, in which the light of gospel truth might be deposited for preservation until the fullness of the times, and through which the promise of the gospel might he conducted forward to its ultimate realization in the manifestation of the woman's seed. Partly to prepare him for the high destiny of being the progenitor of the chosen nation, and partly to illustrate the character of that gospel with which he was to be entrusted, he was summoned to renounce his native country and kinsmen in Chaldaea, and venture forth upon an untried journey in obedience to the call of Heaven, to a land which he should afterward receive for an inheritance. In a series of successive theophanies or Divine manifestations, around which the various incidents of his life are grouped - in Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:2), at Moreh in Canaan (Genesis 12:7), near Bethel (ibid. 13.), at Mature (ibid. 15, 17.), and on Moriah (ibid. 22.) - he is distinctly promised three things - a land, a seed, and a blessing - as the reward of his compliance with the heavenly invitation; and the confident persuasion both of the reality of these gracious promises and of the Divine ability and willingness to fulfill them forms the animating spirit and guiding principle of his being in every situation of life, whether of trial or of difficulty, in which he is subsequently placed. The miraculous character of these theophanies indeed has been made a ground on which to assail the entire patriarchal history as unhistorical. By certain writers they have been represented as nothing more than natural occurrences embellished by the genius of the author of Genesis (Eichhorn, Bauer, Winer), as belonging to the domain of poetical fiction (De Wette), and therefore as undeserving of anything like serious consideration. But unless the supernatural is to be in toto eliminated from the record, a concession which cannot possibly be granted by an enlightened theism, the Divine appearances to Abraham cannot be regarded as in any degree militating against the historical veracity of the story of his life, which, it may be said, is amply vouched for by the harmony of its details with the characteristics of the period to which it belongs (cf. Havernick's 'Introduction,' § 18). Nor does the employment of the name Jehovah in connection with these theophanies warrant the conclusion that the passages containing them are interpolations of a post Mosaic or Jehovistic editor (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso, Davidson). "Such a hypothesis," says Keil, "can only be maintained by those who' misunderstand the distinctive meaning of the two names, Elohim and Jehovah (q.v. on Genesis 2:4), and arbitrarily set aside the Jehovah in Genesis 17:1, on account of an erroneous determination of the relation in which El Shaddai stands to Jehovah." Indications of the literary unity of the patriarchal history will be noted, and replies to objections given, in the progress of the Exposition. Verse 1. - Now the Lord. Jehovah = the God of salvation, an indication that the narrative is now to specially concern itself with the chosen seed, and the Deity to discover himself as the God of redemption. The hypothesis that vers. 1-4 were inserted in the fundamental document by the Jehovist editor is not required for a satisfactory explanation of the change of the Divine name at this particular stage of the narrative. Had said. Literally, said. In Ur of the Chaldees, according to Stephen (Acts 7:2), reverting, after the usual manner of the writer, to the original point of departure in the Abrahamic history (Aben Ezra, Mede, Piscator, Pererius, Calvin, Willet, Rosenmüller, Dathins, Alford, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'); or in Haran, after Terah's death, as the first call given to the patriarch (LXX., Chaldee, Syriac, Raschi, Lyra, Keil, Kalisch, Dykes), or as a repetition of the call addressed to him in Ur (Clarke, Wordsworth, Inglis). Luther conjectures that the call in Ur was given "fortasse per patti. archam Shem;" but if the authority of Stephen be recognized, this was the occasion of the first theophany vouchsafed to Abram. Get thee out. Literally, go for thyself, a frequent Hebraism, expressive of the way in which the action of the verb returns upon itself, is terminated and completed (cf. Genesis 21:16; Genesis 22:2; Isaiah 31:8; Song of Solomon 2:11; vide Ewald's 'Hebrew Syntax,' § 314); hence, though not necessarily emphatic, it may be equivalent to "Go thou," whoever else remains behind (Jarchi, Ainsworth, Bush). Of thy country. A proof that the date of the call was while Abram was in Ur (Calvin), though if Ur was at Edessa (vide supra) the patriarch could scarcely have been said to be from home. And from thy kindred. At Ur in all probability Nahor and Milcah were left behind; at Haran, Nahor and his family, if they had already arrived thither, and according to some (Kalisch, Dykes) Terah also. And from thy father's house. I.e. if they will not accompany thee. No Divine interdict forbade the other members of the family of Terah joining in the Abrahamic emigration. Unto a (literally, the) land that I will show thee. Through a revelation (Lange), or simply by the guidance of providence. The land itself is left unnamed for the trial of the patriarch's faith, which, if it sustained the proof, was to be rewarded by the exceeding great and precious promises which follow: - according to one arrangement, seven in number, one for each clause of the next two verses (Cajetan, Willet); according to another, four, corresponding to the clauses of the second verse, the last of which is expanded in the third (Keil); according to a third, six, forming three pairs of parallels (Alford); according to a fourth, and perhaps the best, two, a lower or personal blessing, comprising the first three particulars, and a higher or public blessing, embracing the last three (Murphy). Genesis 12:1The Call. - The word of Jehovah, by which Abram was called, contained a command and a promise. Abram was to leave all - his country, his kindred (see Genesis 43:7), and his father's house - and to follow the Lord into the land which He would show him. Thus he was to trust entirely to the guidance of God, and to follow wherever He might lead him. But as he went in consequence of this divine summons into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:5), we must assume that God gave him at the very first a distinct intimation, if not of the land itself, at least of the direction he was to take. That Canaan was to be his destination, was no doubt made known as a matter of certainty in the revelation which he received after his arrival there (Genesis 12:7). - For thus renouncing and denying all natural ties, the Lord gave him the inconceivably great promise, "I will make of thee a great nation; and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing." The four members of this promise are not to be divided into two parallel members, in which case the athnach would stand in the wrong place; but are to be regarded as an ascending climax, expressing four elements of the salvation promised to Abram, the last of which is still further expanded in Genesis 12:3. By placing the athnach under שׁמך the fourth member is marked as a new and independent feature added to the other three. The four distinct elements are - 1. increase into a numerous people; 2. a blessing, that is to say, material and spiritual prosperity; 3. the exaltation of his name, i.e., the elevation of Abram to honour and glory; 4. his appointment to be the possessor and dispenser of the blessing. Abram was not only to receive blessing, but to be a blessing; not only to be blessed by God, but to become a blessing, or the medium of blessing, to others. The blessing, as the more minute definition of the expression "be a blessing" in Genesis 12:3 clearly shows, was henceforth to keep pace as it were with Abram himself, so that (1) the blessing and cursing of men were to depend entirely upon their attitude towards him, and (2) all the families of the earth were to be blessed in him. קלּל, lit., to treat as light or little, to despise, denotes "blasphemous cursing on the part of a man;" ארר "judicial cursing on the part of God." It appears significant, however, "that the plural is used in relation to the blessing, and the singular only in relation to the cursing; grace expects that there will be many to bless, and that only an individual here and there will render not blessing for blessing, but curse for curse." - In Genesis 12:3 b, Abram, the one, is made a blessing for all. In the word בּך the primary meaning of ב, in, is not to be given up, though the instrumental sense, through, is not to be excluded. Abram was not merely to become a mediator, but the source of blessing for all. The expression "all the families of the ground" points to the division of the one family into many (Genesis 10:5, Genesis 10:20, Genesis 10:31), and the word האדמה to the curse pronounced upon the ground (Genesis 3:17). The blessing of Abraham was once more to unite the divided families, and change the curse, pronounced upon the ground on account of sin, into a blessing for the whole human race. This concluding word comprehends all nations and times, and condenses, as Baumgarten has said, the whole fulness of the divine counsel for the salvation of men into the call of Abram. All further promises, therefore, not only to the patriarchs, but also to Israel, were merely expansions and closer definitions of the salvation held out to the whole human race in the first promise. Even the assurance, which Abram received after his entrance into Canaan (Genesis 12:6), was implicitly contained in this first promise; since a great nation could not be conceived of, without a country of its own.

This promise was renewed to Abram on several occasions: first after his separation from Lot (Genesis 13:14-16), on which occasion, however, the "blessing" was not mentioned, because not required by the connection, and the two elements only, viz., the numerous increase of his seed, and the possession of the land of Canaan, were assured to him and to his seed, and that "for ever;" secondly, in Genesis 18:18 somewhat more casually, as a reason for the confidential manner in which Jehovah explained to him the secret of His government; and lastly, at the two principal turning points of his life, where the whole promise was confirmed with the greatest solemnity, viz., in Genesis 17 at the commencement of the establishment of the covenant made with him, where "I will make of thee a great nation" was heightened into "I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee," and his being a blessing was more fully defined as the establishment of a covenant, inasmuch as Jehovah would be God to him and to his posterity (Genesis 11:3.), and in Genesis 22 after the attestation of his faith and obedience, even to the sacrifice of his only son, where the innumerable increase of his seed and the blessing to pass from him to all nations were guaranteed by an oath. The same promise was afterwards renewed to Isaac, with a distinct allusion to the oath (Genesis 26:3-4), and again to Jacob, both on his flight from Canaan for fear of Esau (Genesis 28:13-14), and on his return thither (Genesis 35:11-12). In the case of these renewals, it is only in Genesis 28:14 that the last expression, "all the families of the Adamah," is repeated verbatim, though with the additional clause "and in thy seed;" in the other passages "all the nations of the earth" are mentioned, the family connection being left out of sight, and the national character of the blessing being brought into especial prominence. In two instances also, instead of the Niphal נרכוּ we find the Hithpael התבּרכוּ. This change of conjugation by no means proves that the Niphal is to be taken in its original reflective sense. The Hithpael has no doubt the meaning "to wish one's self blessed" (Deuteronomy 29:19), with ב of the person from whom the blessing is sought (Isaiah 65:16; Jeremiah 4:2), or whose blessing is desired (Genesis 48:20). But the Niphal נברך has only the passive signification "to be blessed." And the promise not only meant that all families of the earth would wish for the blessing which Abram possessed, but that they would really receive this blessing in Abram and his seed. By the explanation "wish themselves blessed" the point of the promise is broken off; and not only is its connection with the prophecy of Noah respecting Japhet's dwelling in the tents of Shem overlooked, and the parallel between the blessing on all the families of the earth, and the curse pronounced upon the earth after the flood, destroyed, but the actual participation of all the nations of the earth in this blessing is rendered doubtful, and the application of this promise by Peter (Acts 3:25) and Paul (Galatians 3:8) to all nations, is left without any firm scriptural basis. At the same time, we must not attribute a passive signification on that account to the Hithpael in Genesis 22:18 and Genesis 24:4. In these passages prominence is given to the subjective attitude of the nations towards the blessing of Abraham-in other words, to the fact that the nations would desire the blessing promised to them in Abraham and his seed.

Genesis 12:1 Interlinear
Genesis 12:1 Parallel Texts

Genesis 12:1 NIV
Genesis 12:1 NLT
Genesis 12:1 ESV
Genesis 12:1 NASB
Genesis 12:1 KJV

Genesis 12:1 Bible Apps
Genesis 12:1 Parallel
Genesis 12:1 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 12:1 Chinese Bible
Genesis 12:1 French Bible
Genesis 12:1 German Bible

Bible Hub

Genesis 11:32
Top of Page
Top of Page