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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Genesis 12

Verse 1

Said: not after his father's death, but before he left Ur; (Menochius) unless, perhaps, Abram received a second admonition at Haran, which, from his dwelling there with his father, &c., is styled his country. He leaves his kindred, Nachor and his other relations, except Sarai and Lot, who go with him unto Chanaan; and even his own house, or many of his domestics and effects, and full of faith, goes in quest of an unknown habitation, Hebrews xi. 8. (Haydock) --- St. Stephen clearly distinguishes these two calls of Abram. From the second, the 430 years of sojournment, mentioned Galatians iii; Exodus xii, must be dated. (Calmet) --- This is the third grand epoch of the world, about 2083, when God chooses one family to maintain the one faith, which he had all along supported. See Worthington &c.

Verse 3

In thee, &c., or in the Messias, who will be one of thy descendants, and the source of all the blessings to be conferred on any of the human race, Galatians iii. 16. Many of the foregoing promises regarded a future world, and Abram was by no means incredulous, when he found himself afflicted here below, as if God had forgot his promises. (Calmet) --- He was truly blessed, in knowing how to live poor in spirit, even amid riches and honours; faithful in all tribulations and trials; following God in all things, ver. 1.

Verse 5

Gotten, ( fecerant ): made or acquired, either by birth or purchase, &c. (Menochius)

Verse 6

Sichem. At the foot of Mt. Garizim, where Abram offered his first sacrifice in the land, Deuteronomy xi. 30. (Kennicott) --- Noble; on account of the many tall and shady oaks, whence the Septuagint have the high oak. Hebrew Elon more , the plain of Moreh, or of ostension, because God shewed Abram from this place, situated about the middle of the promised land, what countries he would give to him in his posterity, after having exterminated the Chanaanites, who then occupied the land as their own. The mentioning of these idolatrous nations here, gives us reason to admire the faith and constancy of Abram, who neither doubted of the fulfilling of this promise, nor hesitated to adore the true God publicly, ver. 7. Hence there is no reason for accounting this an interpolation. (Haydock)

Verse 8

Bethel, as it was called in the days of Moses, being the ancient Luza, chap. 28. On the west , Hebrew, towards the sea or Mediterranean, which lay west of Palestine. Bethel signifies the house of God, being honoured with two altars. (Haydock)

Verse 9

Proceeding to the south, Hebrew: means also the desert, as the Septuagint generally translate negeb : other interpreters agree with the Vulgate. (Calmet)

Verse 10

Down into Egypt, which lies lower than Judea: here the famine did not rage. God would not allow him to go back to his friends. (Menochius)

Verse 11

Beautiful: having yet had no children, though she must have been 65 years old. Abram acts with prudence, and does not tempt God: if he had made known that the woman was his wife, he would have exposed his life to imminent danger, amid a cruel and lascivious people; and being convinced of the chastity of Sarai, he did not, in the least, apprehend that she would consent to any violation of her conjugal engagements. He did not, therefore, expose her virtue as the Manichees pretended. (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xxii. 33; City of God xvi. 19.) (Haydock; Calmet) --- The event proved the justice of Abram's suspicions, and God's interference shewed that he was not displeased with his concealing part of the truth. Who can be so simple as to suppose, that we are bound to explain all our concerns to a foe? Do not we every day act with the like caution as Abram did, when we have reason to fear danger? Do not we wish, when fleeing from an enemy's country, that he should conclude we were taking a walk of pleasure? (Haydock)

Verse 13

My sister. This was no lie; because she was his niece, being daughter to his brother Aran, and therefore, in the style of the Hebrews, she might truly be called his sister; as Lot is called Abraham's brother. (Genesis xiv. 14.) See Genesis xx. 12. (Challoner) --- Others say, Sarai was the half-sister of Abraham, by another mother. (Haydock)

Verse 15

Pharao: The usual title of the kings of Egypt, in Ezechiel's time, Ezechiel xxxii. 2. Couriers are often too ready to flatter the passions of the prince: these are punished along with Pharao (ver. 17); whence we may conclude, that they concurred with him, to take Sarai against her will.

Verse 16

Well. Perhaps they made him some presents to gain his favour; (Menochius) or, at least, they suffered him to remain quietly among them.

Verse 17

Scourged Pharao with unusual pains, sterility, &c. that he might easily perceive that his taking Sarai was displeasing to God. (Haydock) --- He did not intend to commit adultery indeed, but his conduct was tyrannical and oppressive to the stranger, whom God protects, Psalm 44. (Menochius)

Verse 20

Led him away: perhaps without allowing him time to vindicate his conduct, and with a degree of contumely, to shew the king's displeasure; who durst not, however, injure Abraham in his effects, nor suffer any of his subjects to hurt him. The holy patriarch received his wife untouched, and departed with joy. (Haydock)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Genesis 12". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/genesis-12.html. 1859.