Read Genesis 12:10-20
“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.”
In yesterday’s reading, God promised Abram that he would give the land (Canaan) to Abram’s offspring (his children). Ironic, isn’t it? God promises Abram the land and then sends famine on it.
Of course, it’s no less ironic than promising it to Abram’s children in the first place, since he has none. Earlier, we were told that Sarai was unable to become pregnant, and had no children (11:30). But never mind that, God’s very first promise to Abram is “I will make you into a great nation” (12:2).
Clearly, Sarah’s barrenness is not a problem for God.
The rest of his promise to Abram has to do with how Abram and his family will affect the world: “you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you,” (12:2-3).
Armed with these great, almost unbelievable, promises, Abram heads to Egypt, hoping to stay alive through the famine. And then we come to this troubling part where he uses Sarai for his own advancement. With apparent disregard for her or their marriage, he basically hires her out to Pharaoh in exchange for gifts.
I wish the story told us more about what people were thinking and feeling. We know Abram acts out of fear, but does it trouble him at all? Is he in anguish, helplessly standing by while Pharaoh’s men take her away? Or is it all going according to plan? “I will be treated well for your sake.”
Either way, Sarai is passed over to Pharaoh as if she is property and Abram stands by and lets it happen.
In his first real display of power to Abram, God rescues Sarai by sending plagues on Pharaoh and his household. “Whoever curses you I will curse,” (12:3). Apparently the promise is for Sarai, too – who knew?
Who knew that God cared so much about the woman?
Who would have guessed that the marriage matters to him?
I wonder if Abram ponders this as he’s escorted out of Egypt. And Sarai, what is she feeling? She is saved. She is rescued.
She matters to God.