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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 12

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-20

Chapter 12

Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy family ( Genesis 12:1 ),

So Abraham really wasn't totally obedient at this point. And this to me is interesting, because Abraham is always held as the model of faith in the New Testament, the model of a man who believed and trusted God. He's the prime example of the man who believes. And so many times when we read about faith and the exploits of faith, we think, "But I'm so weak and I've blown it so many times, surely I can't do it". It's good to know that Abraham wasn't perfect nor was his faith perfect. It's good to know that you don't have to be perfect and your faith doesn't have to be perfect for God to honor you.

So God said, "Get away from your family". He took his dad with him from the Ur of the Chaldees to Haran. That was an incomplete obedience. Stopping at Haran was incomplete obedience to God. So even men noted as men of faith have their moments. And just because you slipped back and have your moments doesn't mean that God won't honor you and honor your faith, or that God doesn't love you and wants to still work in a powerful way in your life, just because you blow it and you stop at Haran. It doesn't mean that the call of God is going to be removed and there's no chance for you to go on and fulfill that which God has laid upon your life and your heart to do.

Many people have stopped at Haran, but the time came for him to move on, which he did. Maybe the time has come for you to move on from your Haran. "The Lord said, Get thee out of thy country, from thy father's family."

from your father's house, to a land that I will show you ( Genesis 12:1 ):

So by the very virtue of the fact that Terah went with him, it could be the old man was saying, "Oh no, don't leave. I want to go with you, son". Or it could be Abraham was saying, "Okay, dad, all right", you know. And he could have been weak in this area. But then his dad began to drag him down and slow him down, until his father died spiritually following after the pagan practices, and Abraham moved on.

I will make of thee [God said] a great nation ( Genesis 12:2 ),

Now God is establishing covenant with Abraham. "Get away from your family, your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I'll make you a great nation".

I will bless you, I will make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing ( Genesis 12:2 ):

All of these promises God fulfilled to Abraham. He made of him a great nation. God has blessed him and made the name of Abraham great. It's honored and respected. "And thou shalt be a blessing."

And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed ( Genesis 12:3 ).

And from that is the promise that the Messiah would come from Abraham. "In thee all the families of the earth." Not just the Jews but all the families of the earth will be blessed from Abraham's progeny, even Jesus Christ.

So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go to the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came ( Genesis 12:4-5 ).

Four hundred-mile journey, which in those days, with all of the animals and everything else, must have taken quite a long time indeed.

And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanites [or the descendants or Canaan] were then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there he built an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him ( Genesis 12:6-7 ).

Now the promise of giving the land to Abraham's seed at this point would also include the Palestinians, because the Arabs also were descendants of Abraham through Ishmael. So at this point, the land is promised not just to the Jews but also to thy seed, which would include the Arabs, Palestinians. But later on, when God repeats it to Jacob, it excludes the Arabs.

And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai [or Ai] on the east ( Genesis 12:8 ):

Now when Joshua came in later to conquer the land, he came up from Jericho and conquered Ai and then onto Bethel. Abraham now has a favorite spot there near Bethel in between Bethel and Ai. It's the highest part of the land in that particular area. It gives you just a fabulous view. It's about ten miles north of Jerusalem and about twenty miles or so from Shechem. But from there you can see down into the Jordan valley, you can see up towards the area of Samaria, you can see Jerusalem and the area south. You can look over towards the Mediterranean. It just is a beautiful vantage-point in that mountainous area between Bethel and Ai. And when Abraham came to this area, he built an altar. "And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed I give this land."

he built an altar unto the LORD, and called on the name of the LORD. And Abram journeyed, going on down now to the south. And there was a famine in the land: so Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land ( Genesis 12:8-10 ).

So there was a drought in the-of course, he went on south towards Beersheba. There is always a drought down there. The place is really dry. It's 'deserty'.

And it came to pass, when he was come near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife ( Genesis 12:11 ),

Now here's our great man of faith, our example.

Behold now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look upon ( Genesis 12:11 ):

Hey, that's saying a lot to your wife when she's sixty-five years old. But because of the longevity, at sixty-five you were still really, you know, in your prime of youth in a sense of beauty. Abraham lived to be over one hundred and sixty. So at sixty-five you're really not that old yet in those times. But it does, you know, when you think of sixty-five years old and talking about her great beauty, it does sound to be very interesting. "I know that you are a beautiful woman to look upon."

Therefore when it comes to pass, when the Egyptians will see you, they will say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, and keep you alive ( Genesis 12:12 ).

They'll take you into their harem. Now this was a common practice among the Egyptian kings is to just, if a man, if he saw a beautiful woman, he'd kill her husband and take her as his wife. And so he said,

I pray that you'll tell them that you are my sister: that it might be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee ( Genesis 12:13 ).

Hey, this is our great man of faith, Abraham. You see, even great men of faith have their weaknesses and their moments. Now that encourages me for some silly reason because I also have my moments of weaknesses. But I have the concept that when I get weak, God just says, "All right, that's it. You had your chance". You know, wipe out, but not so. God continued to honor Abraham. God continued to bless Abraham. He wasn't perfect.

God doesn't use perfect people because they don't exist. So don't worry that you're not perfect. Don't think that God is going to reject you because you're not perfect. Don't think that God can't use you because you're not perfect. God blessed Abraham. God used Abraham though he had his lapses of faith, just like we have our lapses of faith.

So it came to pass, that, when Abram was come to Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very beautiful. And the princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and they commended her before the Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into the Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram [or he treated Abraham] well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and asses, and menservants, maidservants, she asses, camels. And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. And the Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What have you done to me? Why didn't you tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, She is my sister? I might have taken her to be my wife: now behold your wife, take her, go your way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had ( Genesis 12:14-20 ).

So he came under then a special protective edict of the Pharaoh so that he would not fall prey to the men in order that they might take Sarai his wife.

So an introduction now to Abraham. We're beginning now to follow and we will from now on follow Abraham as we come on down towards Christ, as the Bible now is the developing of the nation and from the nation the coming forth of the Savior of the world.

So next week we'll continue on beginning with chapter thirteen. Shall we stand? God bless you and enrich your heart and your mind in the things of the Spirit, giving you understanding of His Word. And may God increase your faith and your knowledge and understanding of Him. God go with you and bless you and watch over you and keep you in all your ways, strengthening you and ministering to you through His love. In Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 12". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/genesis-12.html. 2014.
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