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Genesis Chapter 12
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Abram's Call and Migration
12:1 God said to Abram, 'Go away from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father's house, to the land that I will show you.
12:2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you great. You shall become a blessing.
12:3 I will bless those who bless you, and he who curses you, I will curse. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.'
12:4 Abram went as God had directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was 75 years old when he left Charan.
12:5 Abram took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all their belongings, as well as the people they had gathered, and they left, heading toward Canaan. When they came to Canaan,
12:6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the area of Shechem, coming to the Plain of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land.
12:7 God appeared to Abram and said, 'I will give this land to your off-spring.' [Abram] built an altar there to God who had appeared to him.
12:8 From there, [Abram] moved on to the mountains east of Bethel. He set up his tent with Bethel to the West and Ai to the east. He built an altar there and called in God's name.
12:9 Abram then continued on his way, moving steadily toward the south.

Troubles
12:10 There was a famine in the land. Abram headed south to Egypt to stay there for a while, since the famine had grown very severe in the land.
12:11 As they approached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, 'I realize that you are a good-looking woman.
12:12 When the Egyptians see you, they will assume that you are my wife and kill me, allowing you to live.
12:13 If you would, say that you are my sister. They will then be good to me for your sake, and through your efforts, my life will be spared.'
12:14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that his wife was very beautiful.
12:15 Pharaoh's officials saw her, and spoke highly of her to Pharaoh. The woman was taken to Pharaoh's palace.
12:16 He treated Abram well because of her, and [Abram] thus acquired sheep, cattle, donkeys, male and female slaves, she-donkeys, and camels.
12:17 God struck Pharaoh and his palace with severe plagues because of Abram's wife Sarai.
12:18 Pharaoh summoned Abram and said, 'How could you do this to me? Why didn't you tell me that she was your wife?
12:19 Why did you say that she was your sister so that I should take her to myself as a wife? Now here is your wife! Take her and go!'
12:20 Pharaoh put men in charge of [Abram], and they sent him on his way along with his wife and all that was his.



Commentary:

Lot
  See Genesis 11:31, 37:25. Also see note on Exodus 7:22.

75 years old...
  According to the genealogies, Abram was born in 1948, so this was the year 2023.

the people they had gathered...
  Literally, 'the soul that they had made,' or 'the souls that they had made.' It can be interpreted to mean the servants they had acquired (Rashi), or the people that they had converted to God's cause (Rashi; Ibn Ezra). It can also denote the spiritual gifts that they had acquired (Sefer Yetzirah 6; Raavad ad loc.)

Shechem
  A city near the center of the Holy Land, in the vicinity of the present Nablus.

Plain of Moreh
  (Targum; Rashi). Elon Moreh in Hebrew. See Deuteronomy 11:30. Other sources translate it as 'the Terebinth of Moreh' (Ibn Ezra; Ramban on 14:6). The terebinth of the Torah is a large tree (Pistacia atlantica) of the sumac family, also related to the pistachio. It is also sometimes identified with the oak. The terebinth could live for over a thousand years, and was often as much as twenty feet in diameter. The Terebinth of Moreh would have been a particularly large tree that served as a landmark in the area. See Genesis 35:4, Judges 9:6.

Bethel
  Beth El in Hebrew, literally, 'the house of God.' This was a city some 20 miles south of Shechem. It is identified with the modern Beitin, some 10 miles north of Jerusalem.

Ai
  A town a little less than two miles east of Bethel. Identified with the modern Haiyin.

south
  Negev in Hebrew, literally the drylands.

headed south
  Literally, 'went down.'

they will assume...
  Literally, 'They will say, 'This is his wife.' '

his wife
  Literally, 'the woman.'

Pharaoh
  A generic name for Egyptian kings (Josephus, Antiquities 8:6:2), coming from the Egyptian par ao, the 'Great House.' This event occurred in 2023 (1737 b.c.e.), during the Second Intermediate Period, where the pharaohs are not known by name. However, there is a possible 163 year disparity in chronologies (see note on Exodus 2:23), so that his Pharaoh may be the one who is assumed to have reigned in 1900 b.c.e. This would be Amenemhet II of the 12th Dynasty.

palace
  Or, 'household.' Literally, 'house.'

How could you...
  Literally, 'What is this that you have done to me?'

Why did you...
  Literally, 'Why did you say, 'She is not my wife.' ' In the Hebrew idiom, a direct quote would be used where English uses an indirect quote.

put men in charge
  Or, 'gave men orders regarding him.'





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