What does Genesis 12:10 mean?
ESV: Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.
NIV: 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.
NASB: Now there was a famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a time, because the famine was severe in the land.
CSB: There was a famine in the land, so Abram went down to Egypt to stay there for a while because the famine in the land was severe.
NLT: At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner.
KJV: And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
NKJV: Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.
Verse Commentary:
After spending some time in the land God has promised to his offspring, Abram and his large company are forced to leave Canaan. The land of the Negeb, where Abram's family has most recently been (Genesis 12:9), is dry and hilly. It was prone to famine in seasons of drought, especially before modern methods of farming came along.

A severe famine, then would most likely have forced most inhabitants of the region to travel to find resources. There simply was no food or water to support them in the Negeb. Egypt, on the other hand, had the advantage of the flat lowlands along the Nile river. People of the surrounding regions often immigrated to Egypt hoping to survive a famine.

Abram will not be the last of the patriarchs, the fathers of Israel, to move to Egypt in a time of drought. The sons of Jacob, Abram's grandson, will travel there to seek food and encounter their estranged brother, Joseph (Genesis 37—47).
Verse Context:
Genesis 12:10–20 tells a story of Abram's fearfulness and God's faithful intervention to keep His promises. A famine forces Abram's large company to enter the land of Egypt in search of food. Pharaoh's sons quickly notice Sarai's great beauty, and Pharaoh takes her for one of his wives. This occurs because Abram, fearful for his life, has claimed that Sarai is his sister. In spite of Abram's lie and failure to trust Him, God afflicts Pharaoh's household for this dishonor, bringing the truth to light. Pharaoh, angry and fearful, sends Abram, Sarai, and the company back to the land of Canaan.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 12 contains one of the key moments in the history of the world. God chooses Abram as the first step in building His people Israel. Abram obeys God's call, and heads into the land of Canaan, territory which God promises to Abram's offspring. Quickly, though, Abram fails a test of faith in the land of Egypt while seeking food in a famine. God does not fail, however, to step in to save Abram's family and protect His agenda for Abram's life.
Chapter Context:
The end of Genesis 11 tells the story of Terah, Abram's father, and the family's journey to a new home in Haran. Genesis 12 shifts the story to Abram and his journey on into the land of Canaan. God promises to make Abram the father of a great nation, and to give Abram's descendants that very land. Abram begins to worship the Lord, but quickly fails a test of his faith in Egypt. God shows Himself faithful in a miraculous way, preparing Abram for what's to come in chapter 13.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
Accessed 7/22/2024 12:16:58 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com