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American Standard Version with Notes

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An * beside a note indicates it was taken from a bible student source.

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Genesis Chapter Twelve


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50



1. Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee:

God had promised to make a definite covenant with Abram before he left his native land, Haran. (Gen. 12:1-4.) He actually made that covenant after Abram had complied with the conditions and come into the land of Canaan. (Gen. 12:6,7.) And now, in the words of this lesson, we find God encouraging Abram's faith by amplifying and explaining that covenant, and counseling him to continue to keep his heart in the proper attitude to receive such favors, saying, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will perform my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly." R1617 

VERSE 1. The Lord had commanded Abraham to leave his native land, etc., while he was yet in Haran (verse 4); and later, when his father was dead, and when he arrived in the land of Canaan, God showed him the land and gave him the title to it for himself and his seed after him for an everlasting possession. (Verse 717:8.) Thus we have a very important point in chronology established, viz., the date of the Abrahamic covenant. See MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., pages 44-47. R1615 

We have already referred to the fact that God agreed to make a covenant with Abraham while he was still living in the land of Chaldea, and that the covenant itself was consummated and made applicable to Abraham from the time that he set his foot upon the land of promise in obedience to the divine call. But for his encouraging and the strengthening of his already great faith, God repeated this promise over and over in different terms. (See Gen. 12:1-313:14-1715:1,5,1817:1-1018:1921:1222:16-18.) There was in fact but one covenant, but various statements of it. R3944 

ABRAM received his special call about four centuries after the deluge. The three sons of Noah became the roots, so to speak, of the different branches of the human family—spreading out in different directions. In the words of another, "The world was populated in three different lines by the sons of Noah: Shem, from whom were derived the Jews and other Semitic races; Ham, the ancestor of the colored races; and Japheth, amongst whose descendants are the European nations. To these three, the diverging races and the languages of men converge, as rays of light to their sources."

The four centuries had undoubtedly accomplished much in the way of populating the immediate district which is called the "cradle of the race," in the vicinity of Babylonia. During these four centuries the downward tendency of our fallen race was farther manifested; for altho Noah was evidently a man of faith in God, and his sons and their wives, saved in the Ark with him, were doubtless firm believers in Jehovah God—their experiences attesting his greatness and his wisdom—nevertheless, in a comparatively short time their posterity, lacking faith in God and in his promises that there would never more be a flood, undertook the erection of the Tower of Babel as a protection, little realizing, apparently, the folly of such an attempt to outwit the Almighty.

It was here that the oneness of the race, exercised injuriously, was effectually broken up by the Lord, by confounding the language of the people. Just how he accomplished this division of language is not explained, nor is such an explanation necessary. The fact is that language is split up not only into great divisions, but into minor dialects, notwithstanding the fact that, as surely as the whole race was originally one, the language at first must likewise have been one. This divergency of language tended to the disintegration of the race and its scattering into various bands[R2846 : page 230] or tribes—ultimately into every corner of the world, as at present. And such changes of conditions, in temperature, habits of life, etc., have undoubtedly had much to do with the great variety of types amongst men which we see today—these racial changes coming in gradually during the past 4000 years.

Abram, and so far as we may know from the Scriptures, his father and all of his brethren, maintained to a considerable degree a faith in Jehovah; and in harmony with this, enjoyed divine favors similar to those which operated in, and brought blessings to, Noah. But during those four centuries, so far as the records show, the world in general had become idolatrous and morally corrupt.

During all those four centuries there was no preaching of the gospel, because there was no gospel to preach, no good tidings authorized to be proclaimed. Nor was there any threatening of men with an eternity of torture, because no such thing is true. The world simply moved along, taking its own course, which, as we have seen, is a downward one. We may safely say that while an individual might for a time hold himself from a moral decline, or might even take a few upward steps toward a better condition, mentally, morally and physically, yet we cannot surmise, from what we know of the race and the tendencies of sin working in its members, that any number would make upward progress: on the contrary, experience proves that the tendencies on the part of the whole is continually downward, in response to some moral force corresponding to gravitation. Observation of the Scripture records as well as observation of life teach us that any particular and extended uplift of our race or its members must come through a power from on high—a power outside of mankind. And this power of God operates chiefly through the mind, and is conveyed generally through divine promises, which the Apostle declares are designed of God to work in us both "to will and to do God's good pleasure."

Here we find Abram, the youngest son of Terah, living with his father and with his brother Nahor. His elder brother Haran was of the same family group, and is supposed to have left two children when he and his wife died—Lot and Sarah. It was at this time that in some manner, not explained to us, the Lord manifested to Abram his favor, calling him to separate himself; to leave his own country and his father's house, and to expect, in so doing, increased manifestations of divine favor and blessing. Apparently this call, while given before his father Terah's death, was understood by Abram to be a preparatory admonition so that he might respond, as he did, directly after his father's death. Meantime he had reached the age of 70 years, had married Sarah and had considerable possessions in the way of flocks and herds, with quite a retinue of servants and assistants necessary to the care of these. Abram, for his name had not yet been changed to Abraham, was what is called in that country a sheik, and his change of abode in response to the Lord's call meant a great deal in the way of breaking up of established usages, sundering of family ties, etc. How large his camp must have been may be judged from the fact that a little later on (Gen. 14:14), the number of his armed servants born in his own household was 318—implying a general household of at least 1,000 persons. Abram was thus a sort of king according to the conditions of that time; or a feudal lord or baron according to later conditions and usages in Great Britain; a sheik, father or ruler, according to his own time and country.

Few seem to get the proper thought respecting the call of Abram: he was not called to escape hell and eternal torment, nor was he called to go to heaven. He was called to leave Chaldea and go forth whithersoever the Lord in his providence might direct. Terah, his father, was not called, nor was Nahor, his older brother. Sarah, who had become his wife, shared with him in the call, of course, but altho he took with him his nephew, Lot, the latter was not included in the call; altho a sharer in God's favors to Abram, he had neither part nor lot in the call and the subsequent promises and covenant connected with it; and this was all right. It implied no injustice on God's part. God had a great and wonderful plan for man's salvation which he purposed to work out largely through human instrumentality, and it was his own business, and no one else's, whom of the fallen race he would elect to use as his servant and as the channel for these purposed blessings—the character of which will be more clearly delineated in future lessons.

During the five years between the time God first called Abram and the time when he started for Canaan, after his father's death, there was abundant opportunity for doubt and fear to do their work in his heart, and to hinder his obedience. Undoubtedly he thought the whole matter over carefully; and from what we know of his general character, we must assume that he decided the matter speedily—his confidence in the Lord being so great he could not question the wisdom of following such a guide.  Nevertheless, the time must have come when it would be necessary to inform his friends and relatives respecting his departure and respecting his call of God. We may reasonably surmise their opposition, their lack of faith in the matter, and how they would endeavor to dissuade Abram from going, telling him he was deceiving himself, and that his chances for becoming great were far better at home than in his proposed emigration. No doubt they [R2847 : page 231] taunted him with a call which did not clearly specify where he was to go;—for we have the assurance of the Apostle that he obeyed God, "not knowing whither he went."—Heb. 11:8. R2846

2. and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make they name great; and be thou a blessing;

VERSES 2,3. In partial fulfilment of this promise, the nation of Israel has indeed become a great nation—a nation unique in its separation from other nations, and in its peculiar history under the divine guidance. And the promises and threatenings of verse 3 will in due time be dealt out to those who bless and to those who oppress her.

The blessing of all the families of the earth through Abraham and his seed—which seed is Christ, head and body, as the Apostle Paul explains (Gal. 3:16,29)—is a promise which few Christians have duly considered. All the families of the earth must certainly include the families that have died, as well as the families that are living. And it points forward, therefore, to the grand millennial reign of Christ, when, according to his Word, all that are in their graves will [R1615 : page 31] hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth.—John 5:25,28.

Nor is God's dealing with this nation yet ended; for the gifts and callings of God are not things to be repented of or changed. In God's due time, after the full completion and glorification of the elect Gospel Church, the mercy of the Lord shall again turn toward the seed of Jacob. And so all of fleshly Israel shall be saved from present blindness, as it is written, "There shall come out of Zion the deliverer [the Gospel Church, the spiritual seed of Abraham—Gal. 3:29], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob;" for this is God's covenant with them.—Rom. 11:25-33.The remaining verses of the lesson show that Abraham obediently followed the Lord's direction, walking by faith in his promise. Thus his acts attested his faith, and his faith, thus attested, was acceptable to God.—Jas. 2:22. R1615 

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


Naturally enough, Israel will then in a natural way come first into harmony with the Divine arrangement and be the first to get the blessing. However, during the thousand years of the Kingdom, as the Scriptures declare, all nations shall bless themselves in becoming Abraham's seed—in coming into relationship with the Kingdom, which will have an Israelitish basis. (Jeremiah 4:2Isaiah 65:16Genesis 12:3.) Eventually, all will be destroyed who do not thus become true Israelites. Thus Abraham's seed will eventually include all the families of the earth—all for whom God has provided life eternal. As for Gentiles—strangers from God—none will remain. R5809

From the very beginning, the Covenant which God had in mind was the one which is in operation in the Church—the Abrahamic Promise, or Covenant. St. Paul declares (Gal. 3:8) that God preached the Gospel to Abraham in advance, saying, "In thee and in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:328:14.) The same Apostle also shows that the original Abrahamic Covenant mentions two seeds, represented in the statement, "I will multiply thy seed (1) as the stars of heaven, and (2) as the sand which is upon the sea shore." (Gen. 22:17.) As Abraham here typified God, the Promise shows two classes developed as God's children—(1) Christ and the Church, on the spirit plane; and (2) the Restitution class of mankind, on the human plane. R5300

4. So Abram went, as Jehovah 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.  
6. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.


From Strong's 7927, shekem, ridge; Abraims Publications, from the noun שכם (shekem), shoulder, the seat of a person's interests.

A city of central Canaan, between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal, thirty-four miles north of Jerusalem. It is also called Sychar and Sychem. The valley is five hundred yards wide. Here Abraham pitched his tent and built his first altar in the Promised Land, and received the first divine promise (Genesis 12:6, 7). Here the Jacob bought a field and here Joseph was buried. (Genesis 33:1935:4Judges 9:37)

Shechem became one of the cities of refuge (Joshua 20:7). Rehoboam was appointed king in Shechem (1 Kings 12:1, 19), but Jeroboam reigned there.  It is mentioned in connection with the woman at the well (John 4:5).

Shechem; Shechem Map

Shechem Ruins



From Strong's 4176, moreh, from 3384, yarah, yara, to throw, to shoot. Abraim Publications, from the verb ירה (yara), to cast or shoot. Translators translate it variously as teacher, archer, stretching, fruitful.

The oak of Moreh was the first halting-place of Abram after his entrance into the land of Canaan. It was near Shechem," close to the mountains of Ebal and Gerizim. It may be the same as the place mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:30. It is not identified.

The hill of Moreh is mentioned of Gideon's battle with the Midianite. (Judges 7:1) Some identify it with Jebel ed-Duhy or Little Hermon, on the North side of the valley.





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


8. And he removed from thence unto the mountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west, and Ai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto Jehovah, and called upon the name of Jehovah.



3 names in the Bible

From Strong's 1008, betheel, from bayith (a house) and el (god); House of God.

A location 10 miles north of Jerusalem. It was at the head of the pass of Michmash and Ai. It was at one time the Canaanite city of Luz (Genesis 28:19). The name was given to the city after its conquest by the tribe of Ephraim. It was Abram's second encampment between Bethel and Hai (Genesis 12:8). He returned to it after leaving Egypt. (Genesis 13:4). Jacob had a vision of the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder at the location (Genesis 28:10, 19); On a second visit God talks with him (Genesis 35:1-15), and he builts an altar and calls it Bethel. (Hosea 12:4, 5). It became place where the Jews sought God (Judges 20:18, 31; 21:2). where Samuel judged (1 Samuel 7:16), where the ark was housed (Judges (20:26-28), and it was the place of one of the golden calves in Israel (1 Kings 12:28-33; 13:1). Idoltry was finely ended at the site under Josiah (2 Kings 23:15-18). It was still in existence in the time of Ezra (Ezra 2:28Nehemiah 7:32). Hosea calls it the house of idols.  (Hosea 4:155:810:5, 8) It is identified with the ruins of Beitin, 9 miles south of Shiloh.

2. A city in Judah (1 Samuel 30:27), also called Bethul (Joshua 19:4) and Bethuel (1 Chronicles 4:30). Location unknown.

3. A hilly area called Mount Bethel, which was located near Bethel. (Joshua 16:1)

IT WAS doubtless to be free from the immoral influences of the Canaanites, and to have his people separated from these, that Abraham removed subsequently to the mountainous country near Bethel. There he established his home, there he reared an altar to the Lord and prayed. Would that each head of a family were thus careful to look out for the interests of those under his charge, that these interests should be advantageous to their welfare everywhere! Would that more could realize how indispensable it is to have an altar to the Lord in their home, where the prayer incense would ascend to the Father through the merit of the Redeemer. Z'07-42 R3936:3 (Hymn 153) S0707 

Bethel ; Bethel map ; Bethel Ruins



2 names in the Bible

From Strong's 5857, Ay, Ayya, Ayyath, unknown; Abraim Publications, from the verb עוה ('awa), to bend or twist. Most translators use the word ruins as the defination.

A city of the Canaanites. It is called Aija in Nehemiah 11:31 and Aiath in Isaiah 10:28. Here Israel suffered a defeat after Achan disobeyed Jehovah. (Joshua 7:2-5) After Achan's execution, Israel took the city. (Joshua 8:1) It was the second city taken by Israel. It was rebuilt by the Benjamites. (Ezra 2:28Nehemiah 7:3211:31) It's existance is mentioned in Isaiah 10:28. It is East of Bethel.

2. A city in the Ammonite territory (Jeremiah 49:3).  This could perhaps be the city of Ar (Isaiah 15:1)

AI; AI Map; AI ruins


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


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

IN OUR last lesson we left Abraham located at Bethel, where he had erected an altar to the Lord, indicating his continued reverence and his determination to accept the Lord's terms in all of his affairs. A famine in the land shortly after must have served to test the patriarch's faith. Was this the goodly Canaan, flowing with milk and honey? and would it be subject to drouths and famines? and if so, would it compare at all with the rich country of Ur of the Chaldees, whence he had come? Had he made a mistake? Was God as good as his word? Why was the famine permitted to be more disastrous to him than to the Canaanites, who were not a herding and shepherding people? Never questioning the Lord's wisdom, Abraham moved southward through the promised land and into Egypt, in whose rich lowlands of Goshen, well watered, there was usually an abundant pasturage—possibly, too, he made sale of some of his stock. We are not told that this visit to Egypt was contrary to the divine word or will, but the record does show that it brought Abraham into trying experiences. His wife Sarah was very beautiful, and, as he had surmised, the king was charmed with her and desired her for a wife. Here it was that Abraham showed a weakness in suggesting that Sarah should be known only as his sister—that her relationship as his wife should be kept secret, lest the king should kill Abraham in order to possess his wife. This is perhaps the only blemish we find in the history of Abraham. And doubtless the reproof administered by the human king for his lack of faith and lack of sincerity in the matter proved ultimately a great blessing to the patriarch; even as many a Christian has been made stronger through a realization of his blemishes.

How improper it would be for us to judge Abraham according to that one misstep, and how equally improper it would be to judge Christians in so harsh a manner. If he who is styled "the father of the faithful" on one occasion exhibited so great a lack of faith, yet profited by his rebuke and became stronger than ever and more than ever the "friend of God," what may we not hope from others who have made some missteps? Not that we encourage such lapses from duty, but that we encourage those who have unwillingly stumbled to be not utterly cast down thereby, but to arise and take a more firm hold upon the hand of the Lord and to press with vigor on. Another lesson is in respect to the faithfulness of the Word of the Lord in portraying the weaknesses as well as the strong elements of character of those with whom it deals. In this respect it is not, like other histories and narratives, so arranged as to hide their blemishes and to disclose their virtues. The Bible sets forth matters very plainly, truthfully, in a manner that carries conviction respecting the honesty of the recorder and the faithfulness of the record. R3938

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

DEVELOPMENT of character implies a variety of experiences and tests. In choosing Abraham as his agent and channel through whom he would bring to the world his purposed blessings, God chose a good man, but not a perfect one—for there was not a perfect man to choose, as there has not been since, of all Adam's posterity. While God called Abraham, he made him only partial promises until he had manifested faith by obedience. And it was appropriate that various and severe tests of faith should come before the fulness of divine favor should be guaranteed him. One of these faith-tests came through a drouth in the land of Canaan, and, as a result, a food scarcity, a famine, in the region where Abraham had settled, flocks and herds.

It would naturally be a severe test of faith for him to see his cattle lean and dying, and to think of [R2848 : page 232] the fertile country which he had left, and that this drouth-stricken land was the one to which the Lord had called him. He must go somewhere to find water and sustenance, and concluded not to go back to Babylon, but to journey south-westward into the country bordering Egypt. Egypt was well advanced in civilization, and like Chaldea, his former home, was a heathen land—to the extent that the people had considerably lost sight of the one God and his worship, and had become worshipers of various deities. It was a dangerous experiment: Abram might have become enamored of the civilization, etc., of Egypt and have lost his respect for the Lord's promise in regard to Canaan; yet it did not have this effect, but apparently, on the contrary, became a blessing to him; for his experience there convinced him more and more that he could not have true happiness under the prevailing conditions: he would rather wander about and have no continuing city, and not be bound by any of the customs and rules of the world which recognized not God. His experience taught him to look for, to hope for, to wait for, the New Jerusalem city or government, which has not yet been established, but for which the Lord's people still pray: "Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth."[R2848 : page 233] Abraham little realized how much he needed to pray, "abandon us not in temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." On arrival he, as a great man, was brought to the attention of the king, and Sarah, his wife, was introduced,—but as his sister, or niece, not as his wife. Abraham heard probably about this time of an incident which had occurred with one of the Pharaohs, of which we now know through recently discovered papyrus records—that at the instance of his princes he sent an armed force and took a beautiful woman from her husband for his harem. Sarah was a beautiful woman, and Abraham feared that Pharaoh might kill him in order to have his wife. This difficulty probably did not occur to him when he started his journey, nor until he had arrived there and was called before the king. Thus the Lord's people always find it: if they leave the land of promise, seeking better things in the world, they find their difficulties and trials greatly increased.

Abraham determined that as an expedient for the preservation of his life he would tell but a part of the truth and speak of Sarah as his sister, without acknowledging her as his wife. The transaction was an ignoble one every way, and quite unworthy of the man; but the Lord did not forsake him, but, as the record shows, returned Sarah to him with a rebuke from the heathen king which must have stung Abraham severely, and have served as a lesson for the remainder of his life. Thus all things work together for good to them that love God—even their mistakes and slips become lessons and blessings under divine providence. Having learned his lesson, Abraham quickly retraced his steps to the land of promise, returning again to Bethel where first he had built an altar to the Lord and formally consecrated himself: there again Abraham called upon the name of the Lord. The prompt retracing of his steps is also a lesson for the Lord's people of this Gospel age. If we find that through lack of faith or weakness of the flesh a wrong step has been taken, contrary to the Lord's will and our best spiritual interests, no time should be lost in retracing the steps and in calling upon the Lord. We have an altar consecrated with the precious blood of Christ, far superior every way to that which Abraham consecrated with the blood of typical animals; and the Apostle exhorts us, "Let us come boldly [courageously—full of faith] to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in every time of need."—Heb. 4:16. R2847

13. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister; that it may be well with me for thy sake, and that my soul may 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. And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.


6547, Paroh, unknown: The name is derived from the Egyptian word Pire, or Phre, signifying the sun.

Pharaohs mentioned in the Bible.

1. The Pharaoh who was on the throne when Abram went down into Egypt.

2. The Pharaoh of Joseph's days.(Genesis 41)

3. The king who knew not Joseph. (Exodus 1:8-22)

4. The Pharaoh of the Oppression.

5. The Pharaoh of the Exodus.

6. The Pharaoh of 1 Kings 11:18-22.

7. Pharaoh So. (2 Kings 17:4).

8. The Pharaoh of 1 Chronicles 4:18.

9. The Pharaoh, who gave his daughter to Solomon as wife. (1 Kings 3:17:8).

10. The Pharaoh, in whom Hezekiah put his trust in his war against Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:21).

11. Pharaoh Necho by whom Josiah was defeated and killed at Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:20-24; 2 Kings 23:29, 30).

12. Pharaoh-hophra, who tried in vain to relieve Jerusalem when it was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar. (2 Kings 25:1-4; Jeremiah 37:5-8; Ezek. 17:11-13)

See Pharaoh for more information;

Pharaoh Necho; Pharaoh-Hophra


16. And he dealt well with Abram for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he-asses, and men-servants, and maid-servants, and she-asses, and camels.



17. And Jehovah 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 that I took her to be my wife? now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.




20. And Pharaoh gave men charge concerning him: and they brought him on the way, and his wife, and all that he had.