Abraham in Egypt

Genesis 12:10  

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.

Abraham left Canaan and traveled south to Egypt due to famine. It is interesting to note that Abraham’s descendants also had a tendency to look to Egypt for refuge and help in times of trouble.

Consider the experience of Jacob and his 12 sons. Due to another famine in Canaan, the sons of Jacob went to Egypt for food—where they encountered their brother Joseph (Genesis 42:5-6). Their move to Egypt eventually resulted in the Israelites’ enslavement in Egypt.

Later, as Babylon besieged the nation of Judah, some in Judah advocated trusting in Egypt for political security—something the prophet Jeremiah warned against (Jeremiah 37:1-9).

The remainder of Genesis 12 tells of Abraham’s encounter with the Egyptian Pharaoh. When Abraham’s caravan approached Egypt, Abraham became concerned that his wife Sarai’s beauty would attract attention from the Egyptians and result in his being killed to get to her (verses 11-12). Instead of trusting God, Abraham asked Sarai to portray herself as his sister, not his wife. He believed the Egyptians wouldn’t threaten him if they thought Sarai was merely his sister.

Though Sarai was his wife, she was also his half-sister—the daughter of Terah from another mother (Genesis 20:12). But did this technicality make Abraham’s plan right?


Abraham’s intention to deceive was a sin. The account clearly shows the negative consequences of that deception (Genesis 12:17-20). God was clearly not pleased with Abraham’s decision, which showed a lack of faith.

The Bible stands apart from other religious documents because it presents both the triumphs and failures of the men and women with whom God was working. The main reason we are told about the failures of great men and women of faith is to show us that when sin enters our lives (no matter how righteous we are at other times) the consequences will be negative.

To learn more about the purpose of Old Testament accounts of the strengths and weaknesses of the people with whom God worked, study 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.

To learn more about the knowledge of God’s law before Moses, read “Were the 10 Commandments Around Before Moses?

Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “Abraham and Lot Separate.”

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