Genesis 12:10-20

 |  March 21, 2018

Gen. 12:10-20

  1. Locate the passage

This passage chronicling Abram’s lack of faith in God follows immediately after God’s promise to Abram and Abram’s faithful response.  It demonstrates the immaturity of Abram’s faith and a shocking disregard for his wife.

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative and contains the initial selfish “favor” Abram asks of Sarai and the resulting conversations between Pharaoh and Abram.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

12:10-13 – Abram stumbles quickly after just getting started

12:10 – Famine drives Abram to Egypt

12:11-13 – Abram’s selfish lack of faith and

12:14-16 – Pharaoh and his assistants recognize Sarai’s beauty and Pharaoh takes her as    his wife

12:14-15 – Abram’s prediction comes true

12:16 – Abram profits for disgracing his wife

12:17-19 – The Lord judges Pharaoh and Pharaoh confronts Abram

12:17-19 – The Lord’s judgment on Pharaoh

12:18-20 – Pharaoh confronts Abram and protects Sarai

  1. Exegete the passage

It’s odd how quickly Abram seems to leave the land God just promised to him.

This passage is the first of a series of flights by Israel to Egypt.  It foreshadows Jacob’s later flight to Egypt (Gen. 42:1-49:33), Israel’s flight to Egypt with Jeremiah as prisoner (2 Kings 25:23; Jer. 42-43), and Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt (Matt. 2:13-15).  See also Num. 14:4; 1 Kings 11:17; 12:2; and 2 Kings 18:21.

There are several similarities between this pericope and the children of Israel in Egypt

12:10 – “There was a famine … and Abram went down to Egypt”

12:20 – The “Negev”

12:11-12 – They will see you and kill me, but let you live

12:13 – “That it may be well with me”

12:13 – “Say that you are my sister”

12:13 – This is the first of three such episodes in Scripture (two from Abram and one from his son Isaac).  The three passages (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-18; and 26:1-11) share a number of things in common:

12:15 – Sarai was “taken”

12:15 – It is not clear in the text if Sarai was defiled by Pharaoh.[1]See Ross, Creation and Blessing, 276.  Ross suggests that the severity of the plagues prevented Sarai from being defiled.  See also Tremper Longman, Genesis. The Story of God Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2016), 262.  Longman states that “there is no clear statement that Pharaoh had not had sexual relations with Sarah.”  Finally, see Wenham, Genesis 1-15, 289.  Wenham suggests that it is more likely that the plagues suggest that adultery did take place. The plagues could have been judgment or grace.  It is possible that the plagues were for judgment on Pharaoh for committing adultery (although unknowingly).  It is also possible as in Gen. 20:6 that the plagues in 12:17 was God’s way of preventing Sarai was being defiled.  If so, what would have seemed like judgment, would have been God’s grace for Pharaoh in preventing him from sinning against God.

12:16 – Equally repugnant to Abram’s treatment of his wife was the fact that he financially gained from it.

12:17 “plagued … with great plagues”

12:18 – Pharaoh called Abram

12:19 – English translations differ on the translation of the verb “take”

12:20 – Pharaoh was a better “husband” for Sarai than Abram

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

References   [ + ]

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