Genesis 12:11-20

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Genesis 12

Law Analysis overview

11 When he had come near to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “See now, I know that you are a beautiful woman to look at. 12 It will happen that when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ They will kill me, but they will save you alive. 13 Please say that you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that my soul may live because of you.” 14 When Abram had come into Egypt, Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 The princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 He dealt well with Abram for her sake. He had sheep, cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 YHWH afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this that you have done to me? Why didn’t you tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now therefore, see your wife, take her, and go your way.” 20 Pharaoh commanded men concerning him, and they escorted him away with his wife and all that he had. Genesis 12:11-20WEB


The Command[/Principle]

This passage contains a case where Abraham incites his wife to tell a partial-truth in order to deceive Pharaoh, which resulted in Pharaoh marrying Sarai and God sending a plague on Pharaoh's household. The passage describes the pursuant plague and reconciliatory interactions.


This case is relevant to the Moral Law. It involves Lies and, debatably, Adultery.


The incident has a definitive beginning and end.


This case has direct relevance to an understanding of the following topics:

Notes on Interpretation/Application

It is noteworthy that Abraham here attempts to protect himself from death, before having any children, and after receiving a promise from God that God would make Abraham's descendants into a great nation -- that is, he fears Pharaoh more than he trusts God. It is also noteworthy that Abraham finds himself in this situation as a result of his decision to flee the famine in Canaan, although God did not give him a directive to go anywhere except Canaan, and had only told him to go to Canaan -- Abraham demonstrated that he feared famine more than he trusted God.

It is also noteworthy that God did not here protect Pharaoh as he did with Abimelech in the similar scenario described by Genesis 20.