Genesis 12 Commentary

Journey to Egypt and return (12:10-13:18)

A long drought in Canaan must have caused Abram to wonder just how reliable this promised land was. In the end he journeyed to Egypt in search of better pastures (10).

Fearing that the Egyptians would kill him in order to take his beautiful wife, he preserved himself by saying she was his sister. This was half true, because Sarai was a daughter of Terah by another wife (see 20:12); but Abram and Sarai did wrong in telling only half the truth in order to hide the full truth (11-16). Even the Egyptian king whom Abram had deceived was more open and straightforward than Abram.

Without delay he drove Abram from Egypt in disgrace (17-20).

Abram and his household returned to Canaan (13:1). Throughout these events he and Lot had preserved their flocks and herds, and even increased their wealth (cf. 12:5,16). In fact, they owned so many animals that the place they had moved to (near the northern tip of the Dead Sea) was not able to support them both and trouble arose between them (2-7).

In contrast to his behaviour in Egypt, Abram acted with generosity and faith. He allowed Lot first choice of the pasture lands available, agreeing to accept for himself whatever remained. No doubt he trusted God to look after him in the land God had promised him. Lot chose the fertile lands east of the Dead Sea (8-13).

God responded to Abram’s faith by renewing his promise to make Abram’s descendants into a great nation and give them Canaan for a homeland. Abram then moved to the pasture lands west of the Dead Sea and settled at Hebron (14-18).

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