Abraham Sets Forth

*After Terah died*, God said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your fellow countrymen and your father’s house, and go to a land that I will show you. I’m going to make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make your name great. I will also bless those who bless you, and will curse those who curse you. In you, all families of the earth will be blessed.”

On hearing this, Abraham dismissed all thoughts of how disruptive it always is to pull up roots and migrate. He immediately prepared to leave Haran, as God had ordered. Just the same, Abraham knew the journey wouldn’t be easy. For starters, he was now seventy-five, and had to take along his wife Sarai, nephew Lot, all his chattels, and all the dependents and hangers-on who had attached themselves to him throughout his years in Haran. His destination was Canaan.

Abraham and his party eventually arrived in Canaan. The first settlement there that he stopped at was Sechem [1], where, near some terebinth trees at the hill of Moreh [2], God suddenly appeared to Abraham, and said, “I give this land to your descendants”. What else could Abraham do but build, right then and there, an altar to God.

After that, Abraham went on to a mountain east of Bethel [3], and pitched his tent at a spot between Bethel and the city of Ai [4]. Not content with just pitching his tent, he also built another altar to God. Was this really necessary, given the other altar at Moreh?

Abraham, ever restless, soon pulled up his tent and moved on by stages towards the Negeb [5]. Even in the Negeb there was no rest for Abraham, for there came a famine so severe that Abraham, with tummy rumbling, went on to Egypt to tarry there awhile. He must have brought his wife, Sarai, with him, for he said to her as he was approaching Egypt, “I know you are a beautiful woman to look upon. But when the Egyptians see you, they are going to say, ‘She is his wife’. Then they will kill me, but let you live. Therefore I want you to tell them that you are my sister, so that I won’t be killed because of you.”

“OK”, said Sarai.

When Abraham entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was very beautiful, as Abraham had thought they would. When the Pharaoh’s courtiers saw Sarai, they recommended her to him (the Pharaoh). The Pharaoh, trusting that his courtiers knew his tastes in women, took Sarai into his household as one of his wives, after his courtiers had assured him that Sarai was Abraham’s sister.

Abraham being now a de facto brother-in-law, the Pharaoh treated him well, giving him sheep, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female slaves, and camels. Meanwhile, God, fuming at the spectacle of Sarai as one of the Pharaoh’s wives, sent great plagues upon the Pharaoh and his household.

The Pharaoh, learning that these plagues were because Abraham hadn’t been totally forthcoming about who Sarai really was, was furious. In an apoplectic rage, he summoned Abraham and said, “You bastard. What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that Sarai is your wife? Why did you tell me she’s your sister, so that I would take her as a wife? Here she is. Take her and be gone.”

The chastened Abraham and the humiliated Sarai were hustled out of the Pharaoh’s presence by security men, who told them to leave Egypt forthwith, or else.

Source: Genesis 12

Notes on Place Names:

[1] Sechem is now Nablus (Nabulus) in northern Palestine

[2] Moreh allegedly is now Nebi Dahi in Israel

[3] Bethel, twenty miles south of Sechem, is where the village of Beitin in Palestine now is

[4] Ai allegedly is today’s Et-Tell archaeological site in Palestine

[5] Negeb is Israel’s Negev Desert

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5 Responses to Abraham Sets Forth

  1. jenny says:

    This part is called “Lech L’cha” in Hebrew, which really just means go, get moving.

    This phrase, this concept, is often repeated around my house, and something I’m thinking about lately.

  2. Christopher says:

    Time waits for no man….er……I mean…..no woman.

  3. jenny says:

    Yes. I suggest that you adopt the Hebrew phrase. It has ruah.

    Waiting for the destruction of Sodom stories–some of my favorites.

  4. Richard says:

    Seems these Egyptians go for sisters in a big way.

  5. Christopher says:

    @Jenny – I can see you’re a “Special Effects” person.

    @Richard – Ancient Egyptians knew that going out with sisters of men they knew, was better than going on blind dates.

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