Genesis 12:18
And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that you have done to me? why did you not tell me that she was your wife?
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Genesis 12:18. What is this that thou hast done — What an ill thing: how unbecoming a wise and good man! Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? — Intimating, that if he had known that he would not have taken her. It is a fault, too common among good people, to entertain suspicions of others beyond what there is cause for. We have often found more of virtue, honour, and conscience in some people, than we thought there was; and it ought to be a pleasure to us to be thus disappointed, as Abram was here, who found Pharaoh to be a better man than he expected.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.Pharaoh upbraids Abram for his deception, and doubtless not without reason. He then commands his men to dismiss him and his, unharmed, from the country. These men were probably an escort for his safe conduct out of Egypt. Abram was thus reproved through the mouth of Pharaoh, and will be less hasty in abandoning the land of promise, and betaking himself to carnal resources. 18-20. Here is a most humiliating rebuke, and Abram deserved it. Had not God interfered, he might have been tempted to stay in Egypt and forget the promise (Ps 105:13, 15). Often still does God rebuke His people and remind them through enemies that this world is not their rest. How great an injury hast thou done to me in concealing this from me, that she was thy wife! How knew Pharaoh this?


1. He guessed it from the quality of his plague, which also awakened his conscience.

2. Upon a serious inquiry into the cause of this plague, he understood it either by Divine instinct, as Genesis 20:3, or by Sarai’s confession, whom doubtless he severely examined about it. And she, being awakened by this warning, durst no longer conceal herself, and thought she might securely make herself known. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said,.... Understanding how it was, that Sarai was his wife, which he came at the knowledge of, either by consulting his priests and diviners, as some say, on account of the plagues inflicted; or rather suspecting they were on the account of Sarai, from the nature of them, sent for her, and questioned her about this affair, who confessed the whole matter to him; unless it can be thought that he was warned of God in a dream, as Abimelech was on a like occasion; however he sent for Abram on what intelligence he had, and justly, though gently, reproved him:

what is this that thou hast done unto me? to impose upon me, and deceive me after this manner, by giving out that Sarai was thy sister, when she is thy wife; by which means I have been led to prepare to take her for my wife, and have brought plagues upon myself and family? and thus he resented it as an injury done him, as he well might:

why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? when he first took her into his house, and no doubt Abram was present then, and very often afterwards was in company with Pharaoh, and conversed with him, having respect for him for the sake of Sarai, he took to be his sister, and yet would never tell him she was his wife.

And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
18. Pharaoh called Abram] How Pharaoh discovered the truth is not recorded in our condensed version. All other explanations of the epidemic failing, possibly the wise men and magicians connected it with the presence of a foreigner in the palace serving Jehovah, and with the indignation of the offended local deities.Verses 18, 19. - And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me t why didst thou not tell me she was thy wife? In which case we are bound to believe the monarch that he would not have taken her. Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife (which as yet he had not done; an indirect proof both of the monarch's honorable purpose towards Sarai and of Sarai's unsullied purity): now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. According to Josephus ('Bell. Jud.' 5. 9:4) Sarah was only one night in Pharaoh's house; but this is obviously incorrect. Abram in Egypt. - Abram had scarcely passed through the land promised to his seed, when a famine compelled him to leave it, and take refuge in Egypt, which abounded in corn; just as the Bedouins in the neighbourhood are accustomed to do now. Whilst the famine in Canaan was to teach Abram, that even in the promised land food and clothing come from the Lord and His blessing, he was to discover in Egypt that earthly craft is soon put to shame when dealing with the possessor of the power of this world, and that help and deliverance are to be found with the Lord alone, who can so smite the mightiest kings, that they cannot touch His chosen or do them harm (Psalm 105:14-15). - When trembling for his life in Egypt on account of the beauty of Sarai his wife, he arranged with her, as he approached that land, that she should give herself out as his sister, since she really was his half-sister (Genesis 11:29). He had already made an arrangement with her, that she should do this in certain possible contingencies, when they first removed to Canaan (Genesis 20:13). The conduct of the Sodomites (Genesis 19) was a proof that he had reason for his anxiety; and it was not without cause even so far as Egypt was concerned. But his precaution did not spring from faith. He might possibly hope, that by means of the plan concerted, he should escape the danger of being put to death on account of his wife, if any one should wish to take her; but how he expected to save the honour and retain possession of his wife, we cannot understand, though we must assume, that he thought he should be able to protect and keep her as his sister more easily, than if he acknowledged her as his wife. But the very thing he feared and hoped to avoid actually occurred.
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