Genesis 12:16 “Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.”
Observation: God had supernaturally led Abram to migrate to Canaan with his entire household. As famine there became severe, Abram decided on his own to move once more, this time into Egypt where food was plentiful. The problem was, Abram anticipated his wife Sarai’s beauty would capture Pharaoh’s eye. To save his own skin, Abram and Sarai agreed to the lie that they were siblings, thus enabling her to be taken into Pharaoh’s harem legally, without necessity of first making her a widow, as David later did to Bathsheba.
Application: We are not told how Pharaoh discovered the ruse, merely that illness in the house somehow led to the lie’s exposure. But what we do know is that when Pharaoh learned the truth, he acted far more honorably than had Abram. Pharaoh’s response was first to give Abram a good tongue-lashing, then he returned Sarai to Abram and unceremoniously gave them both the boot from Egypt, along with “everything he had”. (v. 20)
We are not told how quickly this whole episode played itself out, but I have delicately presumed that Sarai’s expulsion from Pharaoh’s harem was quick enough that the two had no time for dallying between the sheets. Even so, her time in the harem could have been months, given how long a beauty was prepped for her first conjugal visit. However much time elapsed, Abram had opportunity to grow wealthy, acquiring sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, and servants aplenty to manage his expanding fortunes.
Abram is here exposed as having accommodated himself quite nicely to his wife’s horrible predicament, growing prosperous while she no doubt shriveled in fear. The man who should have been her knight in shining armor plotting to rescue his beloved, was apparently content to remain in the marketplace bettering the family’s portfolio. “But honey”, he may have written her, “I’m doing this for us. I want our children to have a better life, to not have to work as hard as we have.” All the while, Sarai died little by little as the months ground slowly by.
Abram was thriving in a place God had not called him to. Rather than remaining in Canaan dependent upon God’s provision he acted on his own, apparently trading Sarai for worldly success. I must ask myself: what have I pursued that God never called me to? What price have I paid for such pursuits? What price has been extracted from my loved ones?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, as You unfolded this application to my heart I am undone. I reflect with shame upon my own heart’s connivance with the world’s systems. Forgive me, Lord, and restore me and my loved ones to ever-deepening intimacy with one another and with You.