What does Genesis 12:19 mean?
ESV: Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.”
NIV: Why did you say, 'She is my sister,' so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!'
NASB: Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for myself as a wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her and go!'
CSB: Why did you say, 'She's my sister,' so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife. Take her and go! "
NLT: Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!'
KJV: Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
Verse Commentary:
Pharaoh's one-sided conversation with Abram ends with this. This and the previous verse record Pharaoh's three pointed questions: What have you done to me? Why did you not tell me? Why? Pharaoh took with deadly seriousness the Lord's affliction of his household with plagues. He understood he was guilty of wrongdoing, and he held Abram responsible for putting him in that terrible position.

This makes Abram's attempt to protect himself all the more ironic. A pagan king recognized the moral crime of taking another man's wife—but Abram's deception almost cost him his wife! It's not surprising, therefore, that the Bible does not record any meaningful answer from Abram to Pharaoh. What could he say? Abram was guilty of causing all of this with his deceptive plan to protect himself from harm instead of trusting the Lord to protect him and Sarai from harm.

Pharaoh concludes by returning Sarai to Abram and telling him to "take her and go." It's impossible not to hear the foreshadowing of what will happen between Moses and another Pharaoh many years later. Again, the Lord will send plagues; again, God's people will be sent away. Again, God will keep His promises to Abram's descendants.
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.
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