Genesis 12:10-13:18 and 20:1-13 First: Because of border checks nobody could enter Egypt secretly. As we mentioned earlier Abraham’s family was quite unprotected because the rest of the family was not around to protect them through blood revenge. The distance between Negev and Egypt is about 300 km. See the map.
• What options did Abraham and Sarah have when they were running out of food in the promised land? (Why didn’t they go back to Chaldean?)
• What do you think about a husband who asks his wife to do as Abraham did in verses 11-13?
• Peter writes about Sarah: “For this is the way the holy women of the past…They were submissive to their own husbands – like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master (1 Pet. 3:5-6). What does it mean in practice that a Christian woman is submissive to her husband? (What is going to happen in an intimate relationship if it is the wife who dominates the family?)
• In what kind of matters had Sarah already been submissive to her husband? What might she have been thinking about this proposal?
• Did something happen to Sarah in Pharaoh’s palace or not? (What does it tell that Pharaoh gave Abraham cattle and servants?)
• Did Abraham know beforehand where the lie would lead? Did it really mean nothing to him that his wife might end up in Pharaoh’s bed? Explain your answer.
• How did Pharaoh find out the main reason for all the diseases in his household? (Who perhaps told him and in what situation that Sarah was a married woman?)
• How must Sarah have felt the time in the Palace if she loved Abraham from her heart? And how did she get over the fact that Abraham did not defend her chastity?
In verse 20 it is told that Abraham behaved the same way again in Canaan. Read verses 20:1-9 in silent.
• What does it tell about Abraham that he acted in the same way again, for the second time?
• What might Sarah have felt when she was again put into danger to end up in bed with a stranger?
• What does Abimelech’s reaction tell about Abraham’s behaviour?
Verses 20:10-13. We can now notice that Abraham asked his wife to tell only a half-lie, not the whole lie. Because Moses’s law was not yet in force, sisterhood marriages were possible. For example, Pharaohs in Egypt quite often married their own sisters.
• Does that general habit make Abraham’s request more understandable or perhaps even worse? Explain why.
• How can Abraham be called “the father of all who believe” (Rom. 4:11) after all these happenings?
• Paul describes Abraham’s relationship with God like: “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5). So, how was Abraham saved?
• Why is this episode written into the Bible?
Verses 13:1-4. Check on the map of Egypt – Negev – Bethel – Ai. In verse 4 it is said that Abraham called on the name of the Lord. It means that at that place they held a service and sacrificed a sin offering.
• What does it tell about Abraham that he wanted to hold a service and sacrifice an offering right after getting away from Egypt?
• How do sacrificing and righteousness belong together?
Verses 13:5-9. We know that Lot was Abraham’s late brother’s son who had inherited his father’s property. At some point Lot had married a secular woman.
• What was perhaps Abraham and Lot’s relationship like at that time? (What might have been Lot’s opinion on his uncle’s trip to Egypt? Quite obviously Lot took part in that trip as well.)
• What options did Lot and Abraham have when they realised that the land was not big enough for both of their cattle?
• Why didn’t Abraham use his right, as the eldest in the family, and take the better land?
Verses 10-13. It appeared later that Sodom’s “depravity” meant homosexuality. Lot settled into town and soon he was a part of a council. The tent life was over.
• What does that choice tell about Lot?
• It is not told that Lot would have built any altars in his land. Why didn’t he build any?
• In his letter Peter says about Lot: “For that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.” (2 Pet. 2:8.) Why did Lot stay in Sodom though he suffered from its godlessness? Why did he even let his daughters get engaged to men of that town?
• What comfort did the Lord’s words give to Abraham?
• Why does the Lord want to repeat the same promises to us as well, time and time again? Finally: The Hebrews reveals us something important about Abraham’s faith as he travelled from one place to another. “By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents (…) For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Heb. 11:9-10.) So, beyond the land of Canaan Abraham saw yet another homeland and a city built by God Himself. It is the same New Jerusalem towards which we all are on our way as well.