Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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:
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).
And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
5. into the land of Canaan … they came—with his wife and an orphan nephew. Abram reached his destination in safety, and thus the first promise was made good.
And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
6. the place of Sichem—or Shechem, a pastoral valley then unoccupied (compare Ge 33:18).
plain of Moreh—rather, the "terebinth tree" of Moreh, very common in Palestine, remarkable for its wide-spreading branches and its dark green foliage. It is probable that in Moreh there was a grove of these trees, whose inviting shade led Abram to choose it for an encampment.
And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
7. Unto thy seed will I give this land—God was dealing with Abram not in his private and personal capacity merely, but with a view to high and important interests in future ages. That land his posterity was for centuries to inhabit as a peculiar people; the seeds of divine knowledge were to be sown there for the benefit of all mankind; and considered in its geographical situation, it was chosen in divine wisdom as the fittest of all lands to serve as the cradle of a divine revelation designed for the whole world.
and there builded he an altar unto the Lord—By this solemn act of devotion Abram made an open profession of his religion, established the worship of the true God, and declared his faith in the promise.
And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
10. there was a famine … and Abram went down into Egypt—He did not go back to the place of his nativity, as regretting his pilgrimage and despising the promised land (Heb 11:15), but withdrew for a while into a neighboring country.
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
11-13. Sarai's complexion, coming from a mountainous country, would be fresh and fair compared with the faces of Egyptian women which were sallow. The counsel of Abram to her was true in words, but it was a deception, intended to give an impression that she was no more than his sister. His conduct was culpable and inconsistent with his character as a servant of God: it showed a reliance on worldly policy more than a trust in the promise; and he not only sinned himself, but tempted Sarai to sin also.
Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
14. when Abram was come into Egypt—It appears from the monuments of that country that at the time of Abram's visit a monarchy had existed for several centuries. The seat of government was in the Delta, the most northern part of the country, the very quarter in which Abram must have arrived. They were a race of shepherd-kings, in close alliance with the people of Canaan.
The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
15. the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house—Eastern kings have for ages claimed the privilege of taking to their harem an unmarried woman whom they like. The father or brother may deplore the removal as a calamity, but the royal right is never resisted nor questioned.
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. he entreated Abram well for her sake—The presents are just what one pastoral chief would give to another.
And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's 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?
18-20. 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.
Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.