Genesis 12:20
And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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. Pharaoh gave them a charge concerning him for his safe conduct whither he pleased. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him,.... His courtiers and servants, not to do him any hurt or injury in his person or substance; who he might suppose would be enraged at hearing how the king and they had been imposed upon and deceived; he ordered a guard about him while he was there, and to conduct him, and all that belonged to him, safely out of his dominions, as appears by what follows: but Dr. Lightfoot (m) is of opinion, that he gave charge to the Egyptians, making it as it were a law for the time to come, that they should not converse with Hebrews, nor with foreign shepherds, in any so near familiarity, as to eat or drink with them, which the Egyptians observed strictly ever after, Genesis 43:32.

and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had; they did not drive him out by force, or in any disgraceful manner, but being committed to a guard of men, appointed by the king, he had safe conduct out of the land, with his family, and all that he had; all that he brought with him, and all the increase he had made there, and all the gifts he had received of the king. The Jews (n) interpret it of the writings and gifts he had given to Sarai; and they (o) observe a great likeness between Abram's descent into Egypt, his being there, and departure out of it, and that of his posterity in later times; as that they both went thither on account of a famine; that they both went down to sojourn there; and that they both went out with great substance; with other particulars observed by them.

(m) See his Works, vol. 1. p. 694. (n) Pirke Eliezer, c. 26. (o) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 40. fol. 35. 3.

And Pharaoh {p} commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

(p) To the intent that none should hurt him either in his person or goods.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
20. they brought him on the way] i.e. they escorted him to the frontier, treating with respect and honour a man of wealth and substance, and a foreigner whose God had been a protection to himself and a peril to the Egyptian royal family. Abram apparently retained the wealth that he had procured on false pretences. For the word rendered “bring on the way,” in the sense of “escort,” cf. Genesis 18:16, Genesis 31:27 (“sent away”).

On this narrative, see the remarks of J. G. Frazer in Psyche’s Task, p. 40, “among many savage races breaches of the marriage laws are believed to draw down on the community public calamities of the most serious character … in particular they are thought to blast the fruits of the earth through excessive rain or excessive drought. Traces of similar beliefs may perhaps be detected among the civilised races of antiquity.” Frazer quotes, in illustration, Job 31:11 sq., and the two narratives of Genesis 12:10-20; Genesis 20:1-18. “These narratives,” he says, “seem to imply that adultery, even when it is committed in ignorance, is a cause of plague and especially of sterility among women.”Verse 20. - And Pharaoh commanded his men (i.e. certain officers designated for the purpose) concerning him (to see to his departure): and they seat him away, and his wife, and all that he had. The partitionists assign this entire section to the Jehovist.



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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