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Genesis 12

12
Abram’s Call and Migration. 1The Lord said to Abram: Go forth#Go forth…find blessing in you: the syntax of the Hebrew suggests that the blessings promised to Abraham are contingent on his going to Canaan. from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.#Acts 7:3; Heb 11:8. 2#The call of Abraham begins a new history of blessing (18:18; 22:15–18), which is passed on in each instance to the chosen successor (26:2–4; 28:14). This call evokes the last story in the primeval history (11:1–9) by reversing its themes: Abraham goes forth rather than settle down; it is God rather than Abraham who will make a name for him; the families of the earth will find blessing in him. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.#Gn 17:6; Sir 44:20–21; Rom 4:17–22. 3#Gn 18:18; 22:18; Acts 3:25; Gal 3:8. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you.#Will find blessing in you: the Hebrew conjugation of the verb here and in 18:18 and 28:14 can be either reflexive (“shall bless themselves by you” = people will invoke Abraham as an example of someone blessed by God) or passive (“by you all the families of earth will be blessed” = the religious privileges of Abraham and his descendants ultimately will be extended to the nations). In 22:18 and 26:4, another conjugation of the same verb is used in a similar context that is undoubtedly reflexive (“bless themselves”). Many scholars suggest that the two passages in which the sense is clear should determine the interpretation of the three ambiguous passages: the privileged blessing enjoyed by Abraham and his descendants will awaken in all peoples the desire to enjoy those same blessings. Since the term is understood in a passive sense in the New Testament (Acts 3:25; Gal 3:8), it is rendered here by a neutral expression that admits of both meanings.
4#Gn 11:31; Jos 24:3; Acts 7:4. Abram went as the Lord directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. 5#The ancestors appear in Genesis as pastoral nomads living at the edge of settled society, and having occasional dealings with the inhabitants, sometimes even moving into towns for brief periods. Unlike modern nomads such as the Bedouin, however, ancient pastoralists fluctuated between following the herds and sedentary life, depending on circumstances. Pastoralists could settle down and farm and later resume a pastoral way of life. Indeed, there was a symbiotic relationship between pastoralists and villagers, each providing goods to the other. Persons: servants and others who formed the larger household under the leadership of Abraham; cf. 14:14. Abram took his wife Sarai, his brother’s son Lot, all the possessions that they had accumulated, and the persons they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6#Abraham’s journey to the center of the land, Shechem, then to Bethel, and then to the Negeb, is duplicated in Jacob’s journeys (33:18; 35:1, 6, 27; 46:1) and in the general route of the conquest under Joshua (Jos 7:2; 8:9, 30). Abraham’s journey is a symbolic “conquest” of the land he has been promised. In building altars here (vv. 7, 8) and elsewhere, Abraham acknowledges his God as Lord of the land. Abram passed through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, by the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land.
7The Lord appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants I will give this land. So Abram built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.#Ex 33:1; Dt 34:4; Acts 7:5. 8From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel, pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. He built an altar there to the Lord and invoked the Lord by name. 9Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.#The Negeb: the semidesert land south of Judah.
Abram and Sarai in Egypt.#12:10–13:1] Abraham and Sarah’s sojourn in Egypt and encounter with Pharaoh foreshadow their descendants’ experience, suggesting a divine design in which they must learn to trust. The story of Sarah, the ancestor in danger, is told again in chap. 20, and also in 26:1–11 with Rebekah instead of Sarah. Repetition of similar events is not unusual in literature that has been orally shaped. 10There was famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, since the famine in the land was severe.#Gn 26:1. 11When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai: “I know that you are a beautiful woman. 12When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘She is his wife’; then they will kill me, but let you live. 13Please say, therefore, that you are my sister,#You are my sister: the text does not try to excuse Abraham’s deception, though in 20:12 a similar deception is somewhat excused. so that I may fare well on your account and my life may be spared for your sake.”#Gn 20:12–13; 26:7. 14When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15When Pharaoh’s officials saw her they praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16Abram fared well on her account, and he acquired sheep, oxen, male and female servants, male and female donkeys, and camels.#Camels: domesticated camels did not come into common use in the ancient Near East until the end of the second millennium B.C. Thus the mention of camels here (24:11–64; 30:43; 31:17, 34; 32:8, 16; 37:25) is seemingly an anachronism.
17But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.#Ps 105:14. 18Then Pharaoh summoned Abram and said to him: “How could you do this to me! Why did you not tell me she was your wife? 19Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now, here is your wife. Take her and leave!”
20Then Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning Abram, and they sent him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.
12
God picked Abram
1This story about Abram started when God said to him, “Abram, I want you to leave your country, your father’s family and all your relatives, and go to the country that I will show you.#Acts 7:2-4; Hebrews 11:8 2And I will give you a big family, and they will become a great nation, and I will do good things for you and your family, and I will make your mob strong. Then everyone will know about you and your family, and everyone will respect you. And you and your family will do good things for other people. 3If anyone does good things for you and your family, I will do good things for them. But, if anyone does bad things to you, and if they make trouble for you and your family, I will curse them and make trouble for them. I will use your family to do good things for all the families in the world.”#Galatians 3:8
Abram and his family went to Canaan country
4-5Abram was 75 years old when he left the town called Haran and went to the country called Canaan. That was the country that God told him to go to. He took his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot with him. He also took all the things and all the workers that they got in Haran, and they all went to the new country called Canaan. 6Abram and everyone with him walked through that new country, and they went to a town called Shekem, and they camped there, near a big tree at a place called Moreh. The people that lived in that country were called the Canaan mob, and they didn’t know God. 7God showed himself to Abram there, and he said to him, “I will give this country to your son, and to all the people that will be born into his family later on.” So Abram piled up stones to make a table with a flat top. It was a special place for him to burn an animal to show right respect to God.#Acts 7:5; Galatians 3:16
8Later on, Abram and his mob left Shekem, and they went south to the hill country that was on the east side of a town called Bethel, and they camped between Bethel and another town called Ayi. Bethel was to the west of his camp and Ayi was to the east. Then Abram piled up stones there to make another special table, and he burned animals on it to show respect to God. He prayed to God, and he called God by his special name Yahweh.
9After that, Abram and his mob kept going south to the dry desert country.
Abram and his family went to Egypt
10At that time, there wasn’t much food in that country. Everyone was short of food, so Abram and everyone with him went south to live in another country, called Egypt. 11Just before they got to Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “You are a really beautiful woman. 12I reckon the men in Egypt will see you, and they will say, ‘That beautiful woman is Abram’s wife. Let’s kill Abram, so that we can have her for ourselves.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13So listen. You have to tell everyone that you are my sister. Then they will be good to me, and they will not kill me.”#Genesis 20:2; 26:7
14And that’s what happened. They got to Egypt, and the people there looked at Sarai, and they saw that she was really beautiful. 15Some of them worked for the big boss of Egypt, and they told him, “Sarai is really beautiful.” So that big boss took her to live in his house. 16That boss was very good to Abram, because he thought that Abram was Sarai’s brother. He gave Abram sheep, and goats, and cows, and bulls, and donkeys, and camels, as well as men and women that had to work for Abram.
17God was not happy, because Sarai was living with the big boss of Egypt, so God made him really sick, and God made everyone that lived in his house really sick too. 18-19Then that big boss found out that Sarai was already Abram’s wife, and he got really wild. He sent somebody to get Abram, and he said to Abram, “You did a really bad thing to me. You tricked me. You didn’t tell me that Sarai is your wife. You said, ‘She is my sister,’ and you let me marry her. Now, here is your wife. Take her back, and then get out of my country.” 20Then the big boss told his soldiers, “Get Abram, and Sarai, and everything they own, and all their workers, and send them out of Egypt. Send them away, and do it right now.” So his soldiers did that. They sent Abram and his mob away from Egypt.