A Daily Genesis

Genesis 12:12-20

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:13 . . I beseech you; say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.[/B]

Abram didn't have to entreat Sarai to go along with his scheme. According to Gen 18:12 and 1Pet 3:6, she regarded her husband's position above her own.

This scene is useful for exemplifying the gracious nature of this amazing man of God. Though he was a king in his own home, Abram wasn't a callous despot like Kim Jong Un and/or Robert Mugabe who care little for either the feelings or the welfare of their citizens.

Abram was shrewd. He was not only concerned about saving his skin, but also about taking advantage of his being Sarai's kin; and actually that part of it did work out pretty well. However, I would have to scold him on this point because his conduct reveals a lack of confidence in God's promises back in Gen 12:2-3 and Gen 12:7.

He has to be kept alive to engender heirs so God can make good on His promise to give them the land of Canaan. No one could kill Abram at this point; not even a Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Not even The Almighty God Himself could kill Abram at this point because it was too late for that. God passed His word back at Shechem that he would make of Abram a great nation and He can't go back on it without seriously compromising His own integrity.

Some people might be inclined to call that a character weakness; but to those of us relying upon God to honor His word, His integrity is the very basis of our confidence. God's promises-- especially His unconditional promises --are not only human-proof; but God-proof too.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:14 . .When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw how very beautiful the woman was.[/B]

When men talk about a woman's beauty, they're not talking about the sterling character of a woman like Ruth; no, they're talking about the woman's physical attributes. (cf. Gen 6:1-2)

How did the Egyptians see Sarai was a looker? Well, the dress code for women in her day was nothing like the totally unflattering burqas that Islam imposes upon women in the Mid East.

Depicted in a wall painting in the tomb of an Egyptian nobleman named Khnum-hotpe, at Beni-Hasen on the Nile river, dating from about 1900 BC, is a Semitic troupe passing customs to enter Egypt. The women are wearing form-fitting, highly colored, sleeveless wrap-around dresses whose hems stop at mid calf. Their décolletage swoops from the left shoulder to just under the opposite armpit, leaving that side's shoulder completely bare.

Their hair-- fastened by a thin white ribbon around the forehead and covered with neither a shawl, nor a scarf, nor a hijab --falls loosely over bosoms and shoulders, and there's stylish little curls just in front of the ears. Adorning their feet are dark brown, half-length boots. In attire like that, a woman filled out in all the right places would be very easy to notice.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:15a . . Pharaoh's courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh,[/B]

Webster's has a couple of definitions for "courtiers". They are people in attendance at a royal court; and they are also people who practice flattery. Apparently Pharaoh's toadies kept their eyes out for appealing women to add to their sovereign's harem; and thus gain for themselves his favor and approval.

Their sighting of Sarai wasn't just happenstance. Entry into Egypt in those days was tightly controlled and the only way in was past specified check points. At one time in Egypt's past, there existed a long chain of forts, watchtowers, and strong points designed to watch over immigration and possible invasions by the Sand People from the east.

The "wall" stretched north and south across the desert approximately along the same path as today's Suez Canal. Each check point was manned by armed soldiers accompanied by officials of the Egyptian government; sort of like the customs agents and border patrols of the modern world today.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:15b . . and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's palace.[/B]

Not good. A woman in the harems of that day would never have a home of her own nor freedom to travel. Never would she be allowed to pursue romance nor to associate with her friends and relatives ever again.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:16 . . And because of her, it went well with Abram; he acquired sheep, oxen, jack donkeys, male and female slaves, jenny donkeys, and camels.[/B]

Life is much better when you're connected. Because of Sarai, Abram was a bit of a celebrity and thus treated very well.

So Abram is getting rich. After all, his sister is in the White House. You think anyone is going to cheat him or make him pay full price for goods and services? No way. If anything, people were more than willing to give him lots of expensive gifts and deep discounts, hoping to remain in Pharaoh's good graces by doing so.

But what's going on in Pharaoh's boudoir at night? There is just no way Abram could block that out of his mind. If only he had believed God's promise, Sarai's honor wouldn't be in such immediate danger of compromise. Abram could have swaggered into Egypt totally fearless of Pharaoh and his country; and kept his wife within her own camp, safe and snug among her own people.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:17 . . But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Abram.[/B]

I, for one, don't blame Pharaoh for any of that. It was totally Abram's fault. Pharaoh and his courtiers were duped into thinking Sarai was available. How could they have known she was spoken for?

Our hero didn't tell the Egyptians about his adventures with The Lord. All he could think about was how to survive and stay alive. ¡Error! If he had instead been a faithful witness for God, rather than looking out for his own skin, I think things would have gone much better for Abram and Sarai down there in Egypt.

But now they will be forcibly deported; in shame and disgrace. So, instead of being a positive influence for their god, they became a very bad one. God's people are supposed to believe in their god, and reflect that confidence to others; and at the very least they ought to be honest. And God's people should never be reluctant to tell others about their religion even if those others appear to be pagan heathens.
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[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 12:18-20 . . Pharaoh sent for Abram and said: What is this you have done to me! Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say "She is my sister" so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone! And Pharaoh put men in charge of him, and they sent him off with his wife and all that he possessed.[/B]

One can scarcely blame Mr[B].[/B] Pharaoh for blowing his top. Nobody likes to be duped, especially monarchs.

Just exactly how Pharaoh found out that Sarai was Abram's wife is not said. Probably the very same way King Abimelech discovered the truth about her in a later incident. Here's how that will go when we get there later on. (Gen 20:1-7)

From a totally humanistic point of view, it would appear that God is terribly unfair. I mean, after all, Pharaoh and Abimelech couldn't possibly have known that Sarai was married, especially when both she and her husband were telling people otherwise. But these incidents are valuable to reveal that sin is just a wee bit more complicated than Man's inadequate little sense of right and wrong is able to fully comprehend.

Well anyway; as the texts says: Abram acquired female slaves during this brief stopover in Egypt; and quite possibly one of their names was-- you guessed it --Ms. Hagar: the mother of Ishmael, the father of the Arab world; from whence ultimately came Muhammad and the religion of Islam. Just goes to show that chaos theory may not be 100% right, but it isn't 100% wrong either.

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