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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Genesis

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FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 12 (scroll down)

PART 2A: Gen 12-25: Abram's Story

1) Opening

Ch.12: The Call, going to Canaan and on to Egypt

2) Problems with Lot

Ch.13: Abram & Lot separate

Ch.14: Lot gets taken in a local conflict & Abram rescues him

3) The Lord's Revelation, the Couple's Failure

Ch.15: The Lord's Covenant with Abram

Ch.16: Hagar has Ishmael

4) Interactions with God

Ch.17: Reassurances & Circumcision

Ch.18: Visitors, Reassurances & Intercession

5) Failures of this family

Ch.19: Lot & the destruction of Sodom

Ch.20: Abraham & his failure with Abimelek

6) Ongoing

Ch.21: Isaac born

Ch.22: Abraham tested through Isaac

Ch.23: Death & burial of Sarah

Ch.24: Abraham's servant finds Rebekah for Isaac

Ch.25: Abraham's death

[Isaac appears in his own right from chapter 25 on, but appears in these earlier chapters in his early role as Abraham's son, born as a miracle.]


FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 12: Abram – to Canaan & Egypt


v.1-3 The Call of Abram

v.4-9 Abram Obeys and goes to Canaan

v.10-13 Abram continues to Egypt

v.14-16 Sarai is taken to Pharaoh's palace

v.17-20 The Lord Intervenes on Sarai's behalf


v.1-3 The Call of Abram


v.1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you.

v.2 “I will make you into a great nation,   and I will bless you; I will make your name great,   and you will be a blessing.

v.3 I will bless those who bless you,   and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth   will be blessed through you.”




1.The Call & Destination: The text [v.1] clarifies that Abram had received God's call some time before. Although Canaan is mentioned as their goal in 11:31 this text suggests the call was not specific where they would end up. The journey to Canaan would, to avoid the massive desert area to the south of the trade route that went west from Ur via Harran and then down through Canaan to Egypt, as we've just noted, take them first to Harran. As we suggested previously Abram must have continued to sense that this wasn't their goal and continued along the trade route and down through Canaan.

2.The Outcome: The promise, [v.2] which perhaps added motivation to the childless Abram, was that God would make him into a great nation, i.e. he would have children. This did happen but took a couple of generations to occur.


3.The World: The second part of the promise [v.3] indicated that Abram would become a special figure in world affairs bringing blessing on those who blessed and treated him well, and a curse on any who treated him badly and cursed him. In addition, in some unspecified way, Abram would become a blessing to peoples throughout the earth. That he became father to the three theocratic faiths of the world: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, maybe indicates something of that. In Judaism he was considered the father of the nation, in Christianity the man of faith who revealed justification by faith alone.]



v.4-9 Abram Obeys and goes to Canaan


v.4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

v.5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

v.6 Abram travelled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.

v.7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord , who had appeared to him.

v.8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord .

v.9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.




1.Disobedience? Commentators discuss whether Abram was disobedient to the call to Go from your country, your people and your father's household by taking his nephew, Lot, along with him,. which resulted in problems at least twice later on.


2.Arrival: Shechem [v.6] was about a third of the way down Canaan and it is reasonable to assume he was just following the trade route and might have expected to end up in Egypt. It is therefore significant that it was here [v.7] that God ‘appeared' to him and told him that this is the land his offspring will receive. In response to this, he built an altar, indicating a desire to acknowledge and worship God there. From there he travelled on to Bethel, [v.8] further south, built another altar indicating yet again his awareness of the Lord, but then he travelled further on towards the south [v.9]. Perhaps he had not taken in that it was this land and only this land that would belong to his descendants for it is not long before he ends up in Egypt.]



v.10-13 Abram continues to Egypt


v.10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.

v.11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

v.12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.' Then they will kill me but will let you live.

v.13 Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.”


[Notes: Abram is nudged on to go to Egypt by the fact that there is a food shortage in Canaan but clearly not in Egypt. Whereas Canaan was populated by tribes with not very strong leaders (as we'll see later) Egypt has a strong king and is a much more developed people. Abram fears he will be mistreated because Sarai is so beautiful and so asks her to pretend she is simply his sister.]



v.14-16 Sarai is taken to Pharaoh's palace


v.14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.

v.15 And when Pharaoh's officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace.

v.16 He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.


[Notes: In Egypt, comment is made about Sarah's beauty and word gets to the king who takes her into his palace. Abram does well out of this and becomes rich while staying there.]



v.17-20 The Lord Intervenes on Sarai's behalf


v.17 But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram's wife Sarai.

v.18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn't you tell me she was your wife?

v.19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”

v.20 Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had.


[Notes: The Lord is clearly unhappy about this and inflicts disease on the royal palace. Pharaoh seeks for why this is and finds out that Sarai is Abram's wife. He rebukes Abram and sends them off and so he returns north to Canaan again.

Perhaps we should not be too hard on Abram for he has only a very embryonic faith and we are uncertain how God communicated with him. He is very much feeling his way in this adventure and thus does not appear very good by modern standards in the way he allows Sarai to be treated in Egypt.]



Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 12


1. God uses Abram's childlessness as a motive to believe His call on his life. Do we realise that indeed God is working in all things, good AND bad of our lives to bring good to them? (Rom 8:28)

2. Abram – who becomes Abraham – becomes known as the father of faith, but it is clear from these early chapters of his life, it is a stumbling faith, as his time going to Egypt shows. Nevertheless, as we will see again and again, God does not give up on him (or us) but helps him out of the mess he created.

3. We don't know how Sarai responded to the way Abram allowed her to be treated in Egypt but the New Testament testifies to what an amazing example she was (1 Pet 3:6) and thus received God's acclaim.



Continue to Chapter 13