King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 12

God calls Abram, and blesses him with a promise of Christ. (1-3) Abram departs from Haran. (4,5) He journeys through Canaan, and worships God in that land. (6-9) Abram is driven by a famine into Egypt, He feigns his wife to be his sister. (10-20)

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God calls Abram, and blesses him with a promise of Christ

1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

Abram departs from Haran

4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 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 into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

He journeys through Canaan, and worships God in that land

6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

Abram is driven by a famine into Egypt, He feigns his wife to be his sister

10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.

15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.

17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.

18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.

20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Said: not after his father’s death, but before he left Ur; (M.) unless, perhaps, Abram received a second admonition at Haran, which, from his dwelling there with his father, &c., is styled his country. He leaves his kindred, Nachor and his other relations, except Sarai and Lot, who go with him unto Chanaan; and even his own house, or many of his domestics and effects, and full of faith, goes in quest of an unknown habitation. Heb. xi. 8. H. — S. Stephen clearly distinguishes these two calls of Abram. From the second, the 430 years of sojournment, mentioned Gal. 3. Ex. 12, must be dated. C. — This is the third grand epoch of the world, about 2083, when God chooses one family to maintain the one faith, which he had all along supported. See W. &c.

Ver. 3. In thee, &c. or in the Messias, who will be one of thy descendants, and the source of all the blessings to be conferred on any of the human race. Gal. iii. 16. Many of the foregoing promises regarded a future world, and Abram was by no means incredulous, when he found himself afflicted here below, as if God had forgot his promises. C. — He was truly blessed, in knowing how to live poor in spirit, even amid riches and honours; faithful in all tribulations and trials; following God in all things. v. 1.

Ver. 5. Gotten, (fecerant): made or acquired, either by birth or purchase, &c. M.

Ver. 6. Sichem. At the foot of M. Garizim, where Abram offered his first sacrifice in the land. Deut. xi. 30. Ken. — Noble; on account of the many tall and shady oaks, whence the Sept. have the high oak. Heb. Elon more, the plain of Moreh, or of ostension, because God shewed Abram from this place, situated about the middle of the promised land, what countries he would give to him in his posterity, after having exterminated the Chanaanites, who then occupied the land as their own. The mentioning of these idolatrous nations here, gives us reason to admire the faith and constancy of Abram, who neither doubted of the fulfilling of this promise, nor hesitated to adore the true God publicly. v. 7. Hence there is no reason for accounting this an interpolation. H.

Ver. 8. Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza. C. 28. On the west, Hebrew, towards the sea or Mediterranean, which lay west of Palestine. Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars. H.

Ver. 9. Proceeding to the south, Heb.: means also the desert, as the Sept. generally translate negeb: other interpreters agree with the Vulgate. C.

Ver. 10. Down into Egypt, which lies lower than Judea: here the famine did not rage. God would not allow him to go back to his friends. M.

Ver. 11. Beautiful: having yet had no children, though she must have been 65 years old. Abram acts with prudence, and does not tempt God: if he had made known that the woman was his wife, he would have exposed his life to imminent danger, amid a cruel and lascivious people; and being convinced of the chastity of Sarai, he did not, in the least, apprehend that she would consent to any violation of her conjugal engagements. He did not, therefore, expose her virtue as the Manichees pretended. S. Aug. c. Faust. xxii. 33. de C. D. xvi. 19. Ha. C. — The event proved the justice of Abram’s suspicions, and God’s interference shewed that he was not displeased with his concealing part of the truth. Who can be so simple as to suppose, that we are bound to explain all our concerns to a foe? Do not we every day act with the like caution as Abram did, when we have reason to fear danger? Do not we wish, when fleeing from an enemy’s country, that he should conclude we were taking a walk of pleasure? H.

Ver. 13. My sister. This was no lie; because she was his niece, being daughter to his brother Aran, and therefore, in the style of the Hebrews, she might truly be called his sister; as Lot is called Abraham’s brother. Gen. xiv. 14. See Gen. xx. 12. Ch. — Others say, Sarai was the half-sister of Abraham, by another mother. H.

Ver. 15. Pharao: The usual title of the kings of Egypt, in Ezechiel’s time. C. 32. 2. Couriers are often too ready to flatter the passions of the prince: these are punished along with Pharao (v. 17); whence we may conclude, that they concurred with him, to take Sarai against her will.

Ver. 16. Well. Perhaps they made him some presents to gain his favour; (M.) or, at least, they suffered him to remain quietly among them.

Ver. 17. Scourged Pharao with unusual pains, sterility, &c. that he might easily perceive that his taking Sarai was displeasing to God. H. — He did not intend to commit adultery indeed, but his conduct was tyrannical and oppressive to the stranger, whom God protects. Ps. 44. M.

Ver. 20. Led him away: perhaps without allowing him time to vindicate his conduct, and with a degree of contumely, to shew the king’s displeasure; who durst not, however, injure Abraham in his effects, nor suffer any of his subjects to hurt him. The holy patriarch received his wife untouched, and departed with joy. H.