Genesis 12:16
And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
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(16) He entreated Abram well.—Heb., did good to Abram. It was usual to give the relatives a sum of money when taking a daughter or sister to wife. The presents here show that Pharaoh fully believed that he was acting lawfully, while the largeness of them proves that Sarai, in spite of her years, was looked upon as a valuable acquisition. Among the presents are “asses.” The charge on this account brought against the author of “inaccuracy,” as if asses were not known at this time in Egypt, is disproved by the occurrence of representations of this animal on the tombs of Benihassan: we have proof even that they were numerous as far back as when the Pyramids of Gizeh were built. The horse is not mentioned, and the earliest representation of one is in the war-chariot of Ahmes, the first: Pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, who expelled the Hyksôs. Male and female slaves are, curiously enough, introduced between “he-asses” and “she-asses.” As she-asses were especially valuable, perhaps these and the camels were looked upon as the monarch’s choicest gifts.

Camels are not represented on the monuments, and are said not to thrive well in Egypt; but the Semitic hordes who were peopling the Delta would certainly bring camels with them. Many, too, of the Egyptian monarchs—as, for instance, those of the twelfth dynasty—held rule over a great part of the Sinaitic peninsula, and must have known the value of the camel for transporting heavy burdens in the desert, and its usefulness to a nomad sheik like Abram. (See Genesis 24:10.)

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.The inadequacy of Abram's expedient appears in the issue, which is different from what he expected. Sarai is admired for her beauty, and, being professedly single, is selected as a wife for Pharaoh; while Abram, as her brother, is munificently entertained and rewarded. His property seems to be enumerated according to the time of acquirement, or the quantity, and not the quality of each kind. Sheep and oxen and he-asses he probably brought with him from Kenaan; men-servants and maid-servants were no doubt augmented in Egypt. For she-asses the Septuagint has mules. These, and the camels, may have been received in Egypt. The camel is the carrier of the desert. Abram had now become involved in perplexities, from which he had neither the wisdom nor the power to extricate himself. With what bitterness of spirit he must have kept silence, received these accessions to his wealth which he dared not to refuse, and allowed Sarai to be removed from his temporary abode! His cunning device had saved his own person for the time; but his beautiful and beloved wife is torn from his bosom.16. he entreated Abram well for her sake—The presents are just what one pastoral chief would give to another. To wit, by Pharaoh’s gift, over and above his own; else it had been impertinent to mention it in this place.

And he entreated Abram well for her sake,.... Pharaoh was very complaisant to him, showed him great respect, and bestowed many favours on him on account of Sarai, whom he took to be his sister, and which were done, that he would consent that she might be his wife:

and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels; which were, some at least, if not all, the gifts of Pharaoh to him, or otherwise there seems to be no reason why they should be made mention of here. The Jews say (g), that Pharaoh, because of the love he had to Sarai, gave to her by writing all his substance, whether silver or gold, or servants or farms, and also the land of Goshen for an inheritance; and therefore the children of Israel dwelt in the land of Goshen, because it was Sarai our mother's, say they.

(g) Pirke Eliezer, c. 26.

And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
16. entreated] Old Eng. word for “treated,” or “used.” The manner in which Abram received and retained these extensive gifts implies his consent to Sarai’s position at the court. Abram’s acceptance of the purchase-money was his ratification of the transaction. If it struck the Hebrew mind as clever, it seems to us only base and despicable.

sheep, and oxen, &c.] This list represents the principal possessions of a nomad chieftain. The following points should be noticed: (a) men-servants and maidservants (i.e. male and female slaves) are placed between the animals, either by mistake of a copyist, or being regarded as the chattels of the household, cf. Genesis 24:35; (b) the mention of camels has been criticized as an anachronism, because the camel is not represented in the Egyptian inscriptions before the Persian period. But, whether used or not by the ancient Egyptians, the camel was certainly employed both by traders and nomads in Western Asia, and in the tradition, whether correctly or not, would be considered to be obtainable; (c) the horse is omitted; and the omission has been considered a sign of ignorance of Egyptian life. But the horse never appears among the possessions of the patriarchs, e.g. Genesis 24:35, Genesis 30:43, and its use is condemned in Deuteronomy 17:16; (d) the order of the items in the list may possibly denote their relative values, the camel being the most precious.

Verse 16. - And he entreated Abram well - literally, did good to Abram; εϋ ἐχρήσαντο (LXX., Hieronymus, Poole) supposes that the court of Pharaoh or the Egyptian people generally conferred favors on the patriarch, which is not at all so probable as that Pharaoh did - for her sake. Marriage negotiations in Oriental countries are usually accompanied by presents to the relatives of the de as a sort of payment. "The marriage price is distinctly mentioned in Scripture (Exodus 22:15, 16; Ruth 4:10; 1 Samuel 18:23, 25; Hosea 3:2); was commonly demanded by the nations of antiquity, as by the Babylonians (Herod., 1:196), Assyrians (AElian V. H., 4. 1; Strabo, 16:745), the ancient Greeks ('Odyss.,' 8:318 ff.), and the Germans (Tacit., 'German.,' 18. ); and still obtains in the East to the present day" (vide Kitto's 'Cyclopedia,' art. Marriage, by Dr. Ginsburg). And he had - literally, there was (given) to him - sheep, and oxen. Flocks of small cattle and herds of larger quadrupeds, together constituted the chief wealth of nomads (cf. Genesis 13:5; Job 1:3). And he asses. Chamor, so named from the reddish color which in southern countries belongs not only to the wild, but also to the common or domestic, ass (Gesenius). The mention of asses among Pharaoh's presents has been regarded as an "inaccuracy" and a "blunder," at once a sign of the late origin of Genesis and a proof its author's ignorance of Egypt (Bohlen, Introd., Genesis 6.); but

(1) asses were among the most common of Egyptian animals, a single individual, according to Wilkinson (vol. 3. p. 34), possessing sometimes as many as 700 or 800; and

(2) it is certain that asses appear on the early monuments (cf. ' Records of the Past,' vol. 2. p. 26). And men-servants, and maid-servants, and she asses. Athon; from athan, to walk with short steps; so named from its slowness (Genesis 32:16), though "the ass in Egypt is of a very superior kind, tall, handsome, docile, swift" (Kitto's 'Cyclopedia,' art. Egypt). And camels. Gamal (from gamal, to repay, because the camel is an animal that remembers past injuries (Bochart), or from a cogmate Arabic root hamala, meaning he or it carried, with reference to its being a beast of burden (Gesenius); both of which derivations Stuart Poole declares farfetched, and proposes to connect the term with the Sanskrit kramela, from kram, to walk or step, which would then signify the walking animal (vide Kitto, art. Camel). Cf. with the Hebrew the Sanskrit as above, the Arab jemel or gemel, the Egyptian sjamoul, Greek κάμηλος, Latin camelus) is the well-known strong animal belonging to Palestine (Ezra 2:67), Arabia (Judges 7:12), Egypt (Exodus 9:3), Syria (2 Kings 8:9), which serves the inhabitants of the desert for travelling (Genesis 24:10; Genesis 31:17) as well as for carrying burdens (Isaiah 30:6), and for warlike operations (Genesis 21:7), and in which their fiches consisted (Job 1:3; 42:21). Though the camel does not thrive well in Egypt, and seldom appears on the monuments, the historian has not necessarily been guilty of an "inaccuracy and a blunder" in assigning it to Abram as one of Pharaoh's presents (Bohlen); for

(1) the camel thrives better in Egypt than it does anywhere else out of its own proper habitat;

(2) if camels were not generally kept in Egypt, this Pharaoh may have been "one of the shepherd kings who partly lived at Avaris, the Zoan of Scripture," a region much inhabited by strangers (Poole in Kitto, art. Camel); and

(3) if camels have not been discovered among the delineations on the monuments, this may have been because of its connection with the foreign conqueror of Egypt, which caused it to be regarded as a beast of ill omen; though

(4) according to Heeren they do appear on the monuments (Havernick, § 18, p. 142). That horses, though the glory of Egypt, were not included among the monarch's gifts was doubtless owing to the fact that they could not have been of much service to the patriarch. Genesis 12:16The princes of Pharaoh finding her very beautiful, extolled her beauty to the king, and she was taken to Pharaoh's house. As Sarah was then 65 years old (cf. Genesis 17:17 and Genesis 12:4), her beauty at such an age has been made a difficulty by some. But as she lived to the age of 127 (Genesis 23:1), she was then middle-aged; and as her vigour and bloom had not been tried by bearing children, she might easily appear very beautiful in the eyes of the Egyptians, whose wives, according to both ancient and modern testimony, were generally ugly, and faded early. Pharaoh (the Egyptian ouro, king, with the article Pi) is the Hebrew name for all the Egyptian kings in the Old Testament; their proper names being only occasionally mentioned, as, for example, Necho in 2 Kings 23:29, or Hophra in Jeremiah 44:30. For Sarai's sake Pharaoh treated Abram well, presenting him with cattle and slaves, possessions which constitute the wealth of nomads. These presents Abram could not refuse, though by accepting them he increased his sin. God then interfered (Genesis 12:17), and smote Pharaoh and his house with great plagues. What the nature of these plagues was, cannot be determined; they were certainly of such a kind, however, that whilst Sarah was preserved by them from dishonour, Pharaoh saw at once that they were sent as punishment by the Deity on account of his relation to Sarai; he may also have learned, on inquiry from Sarai herself, that she was Abram's wife. He gave her back to him, therefore, with a reproof for his untruthfulness, and told him to depart, appointing men to conduct him out of the land together with his wife and all his possessions. שׁלּה, to dismiss, to give an escort (Genesis 18:16; Genesis 31:27), does not necessarily denote an involuntary dismissal here. For as Pharaoh had discovered in the plague the wrath of the God of Abraham, he did not venture to treat him harshly, but rather sought to mitigate the anger of his God, by the safe-conduct which he granted him on his departure. But Abram was not justified by this result, as was very apparent from the fact, that he was mute under Pharaoh's reproofs, and did not venture to utter a single word in vindication of his conduct, as he did in the similar circumstances described in Genesis 10:11-12. The saving mercy of God had so humbled him, that he silently acknowledged his guilt in concealing his relation to Sarah from the Egyptian king.
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