Thru The Word Ministries
Genesis 12-13


1 - Now Yahweh said to Abram, “You are to go out from your country, and from your kindred, and from the dwelling place of your father, to the land that I will show you;

2 - “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and I will exalt your name; and you shall be a blessing.

What so many fail to realize is that Abraham did not start out as a giant in the faith. He was not willing to obey in faith at all in the beginning. In Acts 7 Luke gives the account of Stephen before the Sanhedrin. At this hearing he recounts what we regard as the Old Testament, and he does so in summary form. He starts out his account by sharing the history of Abraham. In the beginning of this account he shares how Yahweh spoke to Abram (at the time) as to how he was to move on from Mesopotamia, where he was at the time, and on to Haran. This was not easy for him to do, hence he did not do it. It was only after the death of his father that he pulled up stakes and began to move on. And even then he didn’t do so in complete faith. More on that later.

3 - “And I will bless those blessing you, and I will curse him cursing you; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.”

There’s a promise if ever there was! And because it’s a promise of God, that makes it a guarantee. How blessed and cursed are all the families (nations) of the earth in Abraham?

When the Greeks overran Palestine and desecrated the altar in the Jewish temple, they were soon conquered by Rome. When Rome killed Paul and many others, and destroyed Jerusalem under Titus, Rome soon fell. Spain was reduced to a fifth-rate nation after the Inquisition against the Jews; Poland fell after the pogroms; Hitler’s Germany went down after its orgies of anti-Semitism; Britain lost her empire when she broke her faith with Israel.1

We need to see the place of the United States in this as well. The solidarity of the US with Israel following its nationalization in 1948 is directly tied to America’s prosperity of the 1950s and ‘60s. I believe it is inextricably tied to this promise. This period will be regarded as the golden age in America. A time of unprecedented freedom and prosperity ensued as a direct result of America’s attitude/conduct toward Israel. Does that mean America no longer needs to repent and turn to God and from sin? Of course not! In fact there’s no nation that needs to do so more than the nation of Israel. God’s conditional command of 2 Chronicles 7:14 is spoken directly to Israel. And yet He gave His promise to Abraham that whether any nation repents or not eventually, they will be blessed by Him as a direct result of this promise.

The church enters into this scenario as well. The church benefits as we realize from the line of Abraham will come the promised seed of the Deliverer. If this seems a little too obvious we need to understand how filled with carnality the local church really is today. For those who never hear the Word of God in the church assembly this is particularly sad. God’s offer to impute the righteousness of His Son to our account still stands no matter what the outward circumstances may impart. We have His Word that those who seek after Him with all their heart will never be denied (Jeremiah 29:13). God continues to extend the opportunity to bless all those who accept the free gift of salvation by grace alone through faith alone as the direct result of the finished work of His only begotten Son on the cross at Calvary (John 3:14-18; Romans 10:9-10). Believe me when I tell you the church is not the cluster of buildings on the prominent street corner with the state-of-the-art signage in the midst of the finely-manicured lawn. The church is the assembly of believers who have been born again into the Kingdom of God. You cannot ‘join’ the church; you must be born into it by the Spirit of God. Any sort of bureaucratic paperwork a church wants to do to verify that is between that local assembly and the Lord Himself. I personally don’t believe in such paperwork, mainly because in most cases it’s not worth the paper on which it’s written! As far as I’m concerned it’s the life of a church member that verifies whether or not they’ve been born from above and not a name on a piece of paper. In the meantime I will defer all record-keeping to the Record-keeper who resides in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20-23).

Suffice it to say as the church lives in the promises of God, it will be blessed in a tangibly beneficial way.

You’ll also notice the emphasis on Yahweh’s words, “I will…” in these three verses. This is why context is so very important as we examine passages such as this. You’ll notice before chapter twelve comes chapter eleven. Chapter eleven elaborated on the plans and programs of man. But out present chapter is all about the plans of God; what He desires to do, what He has done, and what He is going to do.

4 - So Abram departed according to that [which] Yahweh had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Who says age is a factor when it comes to obedience to the Lord? In any event, here we see another potential obstacle to the development of Abraham’s faith: Lot, the tag-along nephew. In the New Covenant context, Abraham is a type of the Spirit-filled believer who seeks to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Lot, on the other hand, is the type of worldly or carnal believer who desires all the benefits of relationship with God, but none of fellowship with Him. I would think this would become more obvious as our study goes on.

5 - And Abram took Sarai and Lot, his brother’s son, and all their property that they had acquired, and all the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; then they came into the land of Canaan.

After God tells him to leave his family, he decides to take it all with him. Pardon the inherent sarcasm, but I couldn’t help notice that from the text. By the way…would any of us have done any less than did Abram? If we’re honest, most if not all of us wouldn’t have gone to begin with!

We notice here, don’t we, that Abram had obviously made it big in some business endeavor. He had all these belongings including things and people. All these things Abram possessed not because he acquired it by unethical means, but because he worked for it! This is indicative of the character of the person God wants to use. Not someone who is always wanting something for nothing. Honest work teaches character and integrity. That’s why possibly your parents and/or grandparents tried to teach us that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”

And also pardon me for observing, but as I’ve read this text through over the years, Lot always seemed a little on the whiny side to me; spoiled, if you will, and possibly the least bit cunning. I believe whatever he was in, he was in it for what he could get out of it no matter the circumstance and would in many cases stop at nothing in order to get it. Hence the typology noted in the commentary on the previous verse. I hope and pray this doesn’t sound like a description of some church members you know … including yourself … and myself!

6 - And Abram passed through the land as far as the place of Shechem, up to the terebinth trees of Moreh. And the Canaanite at that time [was] in the land.

In other words the culture was reflective of the Canaanites. They ruled the culture, therefore they ruled the land. This, by the way, was not a good thing, for the Canaanite is a type of the unregenerate man before God. Being lost means having absolutely no proper perspective on spiritual things. Paul wrote in the New Testament that spiritual things are foreign to him. Hence Abram and company as they proceed through the land will serve as a witness and testimony to the Lord … for better or worse!

7 - Then Yahweh appeared to Abram and said, “To your seed I will give this land.” And he built there an altar to Yahweh, appearing before him.

Do you notice anything different about this verse in light of the previous eleven chapters? Notice that it says “Yahweh appeared to Abram.” We know as the result of our study that others had “walked” with or heard the voice of Yahweh. Noah received instructions on building the ark as the result of the voice of God. We talked at some length about Enoch and his special relationship with God in chapter five. Adam had the most unique relationship of anyone of this day, mainly because he was the only one in existence. But this is the first instance of His appearing to someone. This is what is known as a theophany - a real-life visible manifestation of God. This is the first but hardly the last of these we will see in the Old Testament. Because it is an appearance of God, we do well to view it as the preincarnate Christ on the basis of John 1:18 which says, “No man hath seen God at any time…”

8 - And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he stretched out his tent [with] Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to Yahweh and called upon the name Yahweh.

He’s worshiping the Lord as he goes. Abram senses His leadership and guidance and gives praise to Yahweh as his Leader and Guide.

9 - And Abram pulled up stakes, going steadily on toward the south.

10 - And there became a famine in the land; and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, because the famine was oppressive in the land.

Before he knew it, Abram and company were in the midst of famine. Not having enough to eat can take its toll after a while. The more people that are involved, the more critical it seems and the more conscientious one becomes regarding the personal welfare of the others. How strange it must appear to the average onlooker how Yahweh provided when it seemed as if supply were not an issue. Now however, when it appears as if they will suffer for lack, Abram does what would appear to be the unthinkable based on verses seven and eight. He moves on in an effort to what may well appear to be an effort to provide for those of his entourage. I can’t prove it, but it could be that Sarai and Lot are the main culprits influencing Abram’s decision to pull up stakes and head for Egypt.

Although the Bible doesn’t say so, it is possible that this decision was reached in part because of the complaining of his wife and nephew, who had never been accustomed to hardship and whose faith was not yet as strong as that of Abram.2

11 - And it came about when he had come near to Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Behold, now, I know fully well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance.

The Hebrew verb for “know” is in the perfect tense. Abram was stating the obvious to himself…and others. This situation begins to get a bit sticky for Abram, so he has some quick thinking to do, or so he believes.

12 - “So it shall be that when the Egyptians shall see you, that they shall say, ‘This is his wife,’ and they will kill me, but they will let you live.

13 - “Please say that you are my sister in order that it may be well with me for your sake and that my soul shall live on account of you.”

In either case the outcome won’t be great for Sarai, but if she tells them she’s his sister then things will be all right for him. Hmmm…. If we consider this further, that is, if we carry this out this scenario to its logical conclusion, he believes the Egyptians will have their way with her no matter what. If he lives, however, he possibly gets to be a first-hand observer as to their treatment of her. Which would be worse? Would it be death or having to endure the sight of Sarai’s mistreatment? No matter how this winds up, at this point they both have to be sorry they ever decided to head for Egypt.

14 - And it came to be as Abram had come into Egypt , the Egyptians saw the woman that she was very beautiful.

15 - And the officials of Pharaoh also saw her, and praised her before Pharaoh; and the woman was taken into the house of Pharaoh.

This verse features the Bible’s first use of the Hebrew verb hallal, meaning “to praise.” You’re probably more familiar with this verb by way of the word hallelujah, which means “[you] praise God.” She didn’t just fall into the hands of the everyday ordinary Egyptian. She was “praised” before Pharaoh himself by his emissaries who were no doubt keeping tabs on strangers wandering into the land unexpectedly. In other words Sarai had “hit the big time.”

16 - And he did well to Abram for her sake; and he had for himself sheep, and cattle, and male donkeys, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels.

It wound up being better than Abram thought it would…at least in the beginning. Let’s go on to see what happens from there.

17 - Then Yahweh struck Pharaoh and his house with great plagues with reference to Sarai, wife of Abram.

You either love it or hate it when Yahweh becomes supernaturally involved in a matter. Both Pharaoh and Abram were not faring so well as a direct result of God’s judgment.

18 - Then Pharaoh called for Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not declare to me that she was your wife?

19 - “Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’, so that I might have taken her to me to [be my] wife? And now, behold, your wife! You are to take [her] and go.”

The ‘sister line’ was true, but only partly so. Sarai was his half-sister, seeming as to how such marriages were considered common at the time and at least somewhat necessary. It was not until later when Yahweh banned such arrangements due to inherent problems, plus they were no longer necessary.

I can’t help but wonder though… How did Pharaoh know she was the “sister” of Abram? How could he have possibly been ‘tipped off’ as to her relation to Abram? It’s interesting to me how this is not apparent in the text, but I would submit that it had to do with the supernatural ability of Yahweh to make known a matter that ordinarily would not be known. Think of it as the supernatural sovereignty of God intervening in the interest of Abram, the man of promise. Yahweh allowed him to be thrown out rather than become trapped in a place/culture where he was not supposed to be under less-than-favorable circumstances. Most important of all, however, when God becomes supernaturally involved, it is for His benefit and honor. In such cases man is more the beneficiary than the one in whose interest God is acting directly. He acts in His interest to achieve His purpose so that He may bring about His will. In this case the whole world past, present, and future becomes the beneficiary and God is glorified supremely. Here He is preserving the life of the one from whom will eventually come the promised Messiah (Genesis 3:15).

Nonetheless the order from Pharaoh was to, in the words of the old Western movie, “get outta Dodge.”

20 - So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that was belonging to him.

Leaving nothing to chance, Pharaoh’s men kindly (or not so kindly) escort Abram and his entourage in the direction Pharaoh says they are to go. So where does this leave poor, beat-up, seemingly-despairing Abram? The beginning of the next chapter informs us in a rather profound way!


1 - Then Abram went up from Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that [were] belonging to him, and Lot with him, to the south.

When he first started out with all his possessions and people, Abram appeared to have lived the nomadic lifestyle. Although he appeared free-spirited he was being led by God all the while. Then at once he struck out on his own, headed for Egypt where everyone knew they would find food instead of the place where they were, where it appeared food was in short supply. Yet with all the good intentions one could muster, it became painfully obvious that was not where they were supposed to be. This is what makes the text somewhat comical to me at this point. “Then Abram went up from Egypt,” even though they were going “to the south.” After all they had been through in Egypt, with help from the vernacular, it would seem they had nowhere to go but “up.”

2 - And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Dr. McGee likens Abram to John D. Rockefeller in his day. We would compare him to Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in our day. He was an extremely wealthy man.

3 - And he went on his journeys from the south and up to Bethel, up to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,

4 - To the place of the altar that he had made there at the first; and [it was] there Abram called on the name Yahweh.

He went back to the place where he last built an altar and worshiped Yahweh. Talk about a wise and appropriate thing to do! This is the sure sign of repentance. We know we have wronged the Lord so we go back to Him in order to make things right.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Abram lived out this verse approximately 1,930 years prior to being written by the apostle John. In a way we could say Abram wrote it, couldn’t we? Not with paper and ink, but with heart and life! He confessed his sin before Yahweh, asked Him to forgive him, He did, and Abram moved on. This time it was not so much with Sarai and Lot as it was with the Lord. That doesn’t mean there weren’t consequences to be suffered as a result, but it does mean his relationship with Yahweh was mended; that is, it was back to being what it should have been all along. There was a trust factor once again that had been there originally, but was severed by Abram. That’s why Jesus continues to speak to us concerning this business of abiding in Him.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. John 15:5

As long as we are living connected to Him, our lives will bear much fruit for His glory. This is why God became supernaturally involved in Abram’s life when he was in Egypt. I am convinced God spoke to Pharaoh so that inevitably Abram could be run out of Egypt. Otherwise he may have stayed indefinitely. God was raising up Abram to do a great work through him. But He couldn’t do it while Abram was not “abiding in the vine.” He had to move him back to both relationship and fellowship. The end result would be that Abram’s faith would be strengthened and he would be more trusting of Yahweh … at least where provision for he and his family were concerned. That’s exactly the place where He desires each of us to be in relation to Him - in the place of trust.

5 - And also belonging to Lot, going with Abram, had sheep, and cattle, and tents;

6 - And the land could not bear them, for to dwell together; for their possessions had become so great they were not able to dwell together.

Well, here comes trouble. Where you have people and possessions, you have envy and strife. Such is the case in verses five and six, where Abram and Lot have so much between them that it’s impossible for them to get along, or go along, or go along to get along!

7 - And there was strife between those tending Abram’s cattle, and between those tending Lot’s cattle. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite at that time were dwelling in the land.

8 - So Abram said to Lot, “Now let there not be strife between you and I, and between my shepherds and between your shepherds, because we are brothers.

9 - “Is not all the land before you? Please separate yourself from me. If [you go] to the left, I will go to the right; and if you go to the right, I will go to the left.”

Here Abram gives us a lesson in leadership. And who better to give it than one who is committed to being led? There is a biblical principle that I believe is being fleshed out here by Abram. He is setting himself up as a hero of the faith here in this situation. Part of the realization of this involves studying the culture in which this was written. Abram is the patriarch among the two and as a result has all privileges and rights to whatever land he wishes in whatever quantity. Yet he gives away his rights for the sake of good, God-honoring family relations, not to mention an honorable witness of the Lord in the land where he is traveling. The Christian is always to remember that wherever he goes and whatever he does, the lost man is watching. He’s watching to see if the one representing the Lord has anything of merit in his life. If he does, the saved man may well wind up leading the lost man to the Lord. That’s why each of us who profess to be Christians need to be living our life in a manner that is pleasing first to the Lord. If we’re honoring Him with our lives, as was the case with Abram at this time, we will seek to do the right thing before God first. Abram tells Lot that he’ll take whatever is left over after he’s done with his picking and choosing.

10 - And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the vicinity around the Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere, before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt [as] you come to Zoar.

Lot is enthralled by what he sees down by the Jordan River. So much so that it reminded him of what he had been privy to in Egypt; even reminded him of the garden of Eden. How he would’ve known about the garden of Eden I’m not sure, other than hearing stories told about it. But the text clearly states the land of Sodom and Gomorrah was like unto it. He was considering the possibilities as to what he could have done in and with such a land and no doubt was ‘lickin’ his chops’ as he did so. This land was naturally attractive to those looking to settle in those days.

11 - So Lot chose for himself all the vicinity of Jordan; and Lot set out for the east. So they separated, one man from the other.

The interpretation would lend itself to what would be viewed as all the choice land of the region belonged now to Lot. If this were to have been considered a test of leadership by Yahweh offered to Abram, he would have passed with flying colors in my view.

12 - Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

No one could know at this time how tragic an error in judgment Lot made. Dr. J. Vernon McGee puts it this way:

This is interesting. Probably during all the time Lot spent in that land with Abram, at night he would push back the flap of his tent and look out and say to Mrs. Lot, “Isn’t that a beautiful spot down there?” In the morning he would get up and say, “My, it looks so attractive down there!” The grass is always greener in the other pasture. When the day came that Lot could make a decision and go, you know the direction he went. No man falls suddenly. It always takes place over a period of time. You lift the flap of your tent, and you pitch your tent toward Sodom - and that’s the beginning. Lot lifted up his eyes, he saw the plain, and he headed in that direction. That is the biggest mistake he ever made in his life.3

The devil loves it when each of us make the biggest mistake of our lives. He wants to use that to beat us up, down, and all around. And yet Lot, of all things, was declared a righteous man. More on that later in our book study.

13 - But the men of Sodom were evil, and vile sinners toward Yahweh.

The word “but” is used in the translation to show a change of course. In this case, Lot was thinking his relocation was going to reap big dividends, “but” there were some things Lot did not have the capacity to know prior to his choice of where to settle. This truth Moses shares in verse thirteen was the one that would carry the greatest impact.

14 - And Yahweh said to Abram, after Lot separated from him, “Now lift up your eyes and see from the place where you are - north, and south, and east, and west;

15 - “For all the land that you are seeing, to you I will give it, and to your offspring forever.

16 - “And I will make your seed like the dust of the earth, [so] that if man were able to count the dust of the earth, moreover your seed could be counted.

17 - “Arise! Walk about the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it, for I will give it to you.”

Yahweh is very specific with Abram concerning the land in which he is standing and the future of it. He is also specific with Abram about his future. He is given a direct prophecy as it concerns his offspring. We will see how that particular prophecy begins to pan out later on in our study of Genesis.

18 - So Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the terebinth trees at Mamre, which [is] in Hebron. And he built there an altar to Yahweh.

It is said that Mamre means “richness,” and Hebron means “communion.”4 So then it can be said that Abram had the richness of fellowship (communion) with Yahweh right where he was. More than one songwriter has been led of the Lord to pen lyrics that deal with the forsaking of this world’s riches in exchange for fellowship with Jesus. And everyone who professes Christ as Savior and Lord needs to be living out this truth before the world. We need to be satisfied with Jesus and Him alone! The time is short and this world is passing away.

Abram was learning lesson after lesson that was building his faith. These building blocks of faith would literally impact generations to come as the promised Messiah of Genesis 3:15 would be ushered in through this man of faith. But let’s observe and meditate upon another facet of this text.

He was also experiencing the Lord’s provision here in the land even at this early stage. The terebinth trees which were at Mamre were rich in and of themselves. The terebinth trees are famous for their density. When gathered in a cluster, or grove as translated elsewhere in the text, they provided shade that would prove to be vital in such an arid land as this. But the terebinth is said to also provide food in the form of pistachio nuts. Truly Yahweh was providing for his physical needs as well as ministering to him spiritually. It’s all a part of His awesome plan to provide for Abram or any of us who choose to step out in faith and follow Him wherever He leads. We all do well to learn the lesson Abram had to learn - where God guides, God provides! But as we are in the process of learning that truth, let us be thankful we serve a God that is as patient with each of us as He was with Abram. 


1Donald G. Barnhouse as quoted at

2Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record, 297.

3J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume One, Genesis-    Deuteronomy (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Radio, 1981), 62.