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12 One day, the Eternal One called out to Abram.

Eternal One: Abram, get up and go! Leave your country. Leave your relatives and your father’s home, and travel to the land I will show you.[a] Don’t worryI will guide you there. I have plans to make a great people from your descendants. And I am going to put a special blessing on you and cause your reputation to grow so that you will become a blessing and example to others. I will also bless those who bless you and further you in your journey, and I’ll trip up those who try to trip you along the way. Through your descendants, all of the families of the earth will find their blessing in you.[b]

Out of all the descendants of Noah, God chooses Abram to have a special relationship with Him. He calls Abram to enter into a particular kind of relationship that changes the course of his life and the lives of his people forever. God has a plan to rescue the world from sin and destruction, and that plan begins with one man. He promises to make Abram a great nation, to bless and protect him, and ultimately to bring true and lasting blessing to the world through his children. To enter into that promise, Abram must do something daring; he must leave everything he knows and put his trust in God.

4-5 Without any hesitation, Abram went. He did exactly as the Eternal One asked him to do. Abram was 75 years old when he left Haran. He took with him his wife Sarai, his brother’s son Lot, all of their possessions, and all of the persons they had acquired for their household while in Haran; and they all set off toward the land of Canaan. When they reached Canaan, Abram kept going through it to a sacred place called Shechem where the oak of Moreh stood. (At this time, the Canaanite people were living on this land, so Abram could not take it as his own.) There the Eternal appeared to Abram.

Eternal One: I am going to give this land to your future generations.[c]

So, out of honor and respect, there Abram built an altar table to the Eternal One, who had appeared to him and spoken these words of promise. After that, Abram traveled on to the hill country east of Bethel, and there he pitched a tent and made a home for himself and his family between Bethel in the west and Ai in the east. Here Abram built another altar table for the Eternal One, where he called upon the name of the Eternal frequently. Then Abram journeyed south toward the Negev region.

This is the southernmost part of the land God promises to give Abram. One day his children will possess it.

10 Now at this time, there came a severe famine in the land of Canaan. Food was scarce, so Abram made his way to Egypt to live there for a while as a foreigner. 11 As Abram was about to enter Egypt, he pulled Sarai his wife aside.

Abram: Sarai, you are a very beautiful woman, and I am well aware that 12 when the Egyptians see you, they will say, “Look, she’s his wife”; then they will kill me and let you live so they can have you for themselves. 13 Tell them you are my sister so that nothing will happen to me because of you. In this way you can save my life.

Sarai is an unusually attractive woman. Even at her age of 65, Abram is afraid of what the Egyptian men might do when they see her and desire her. So he takes matters into his own hands and devises a half-truth to conceal their marriage. We learn later—when Abram repeats this half-truth to Abimelech (chapter 20)—that Sarai and Abram have the same father but a different mother.

14 So when Abram came into Egypt with Sarai and his family, the Egyptians did indeed see that Sarai was very beautiful. 15 And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they told Pharaoh just how beautiful she was. So Sarai was taken into Pharaoh’s house and made part of his harem. 16 She pleased the Pharaoh, so he treated Abram very well, giving him gifts of sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. 17 But the Eternal One was not pleased and began afflicting the Pharaoh and his household with skin diseases because of what was happening to Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram to come before him.

Pharaoh: What have you done to me? Why didn’t you tell me this woman was your wife? 19 Why did you say she was only your sister, so that I felt free to take her to be one of my wives? Here she is—take your wife, and get out of here!

20 And Pharaoh gave his men orders to make sure Abram went on his way along with his wife and all of his belongings.

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