Genesis 12

1Hashem said to Avram, “Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you.

va-YO-mer a-do-NAI el av-RAM lekh l'-KHA may-ar-tz'-KHA u-mi-mo-lad-t'-KHA u-mi-BAYT a-VEE-kha el ha-A-retz a-SHER ar-E-ka

אוַיֹּאמֶר יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם לֶךְ־לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ׃

 12:1   Go forth from your native land

With the words lech l’cha (לך לך), literally ‘go for yourself,’ Avraham is commanded to leave everything behind and head to the Holy Land. It would have been enough for God to command him lech (לך), ‘go’; what is added by the word l’cha (לך), ‘for yourself’? According to Rashi, the word l’cha implies that the travel was for Avraham’s benefit. Though he is leaving his homeland, family, and father’s house, God promises Avraham that the journey will be beneficial to him. As a result of his relocation, he will merit the children he has always wanted and will become influential throughout the world, so that he will be able to accomplish his mission to positively influence the world. A journey to Eretz Yisrael is not always simple, but the impact it can have is immeasurable.

2I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing.

בוְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה׃

3I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.”

va-a-va-r'-KHA m'-VA-r'-KHE-kha um-ka-lel-KHA a-OR v'-niv-r'-KHU v'-KHA KOL mish-p'-KHOT ha-a-da-MAH

גוַאֲבָרֲכָה מְבָרְכֶיךָ וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה׃

 12:3   I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you

Avraham is commanded to travel to a land unknown to him. To assuage his fears that he would not find friends or supporters in his new home, Hashem promises that He will remain on Avraham’s side by blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. He concludes with the promise that Avraham and his descendants will become a source of blessing to the entire world. This promise has remained in effect through the generations. History has shown that whenever a nation persecutes the Jewish people, curses ultimately befall it. However, wherever the Children of Israel have been welcomed, they have made immeasurable contributions to society, thus earning divine favor for their host nation. On an individual level as well, many non-Jews look to this verse as an important reason to stand with the People of Israel and the Land of Israel.

4Avram went forth as Hashem had commanded him, and Lot went with him. Avram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.

דוַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר אֵלָיו יְהֹוָה וַיֵּלֶךְ אִתּוֹ לוֹט וְאַבְרָם בֶּן־חָמֵשׁ שָׁנִים וְשִׁבְעִים שָׁנָה בְּצֵאתוֹ מֵחָרָן׃

5Avram took his wife Sarai and his brother's son Lot, and all the wealth that they had amassed, and the persons that they had acquired in Haran; and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in the land of Canaan,

הוַיִּקַּח אַבְרָם אֶת־שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת־לוֹט בֶּן־אָחִיו וְאֶת־כָּל־רְכוּשָׁם אֲשֶׁר רָכָשׁוּ וְאֶת־הַנֶּפֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָשׂוּ בְחָרָן וַיֵּצְאוּ לָלֶכֶת אַרְצָה כְּנַעַן וַיָּבֹאוּ אַרְצָה כְּנָעַן׃

6Avram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, at the terebinth of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land.

ווַיַּעֲבֹר אַבְרָם בָּאָרֶץ עַד מְקוֹם שְׁכֶם עַד אֵלוֹן מוֹרֶה וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי אָז בָּאָרֶץ׃

7Hashem appeared to Avram and said, “I will assign this land to your offspring.” And he built a mizbayach there to Hashem who had appeared to him.

va-yay-RA a-do-NAI el av-RAM va-YO-mer l'-ZAR-a-KHA e-TAYN et ha-A-retz ha-ZOT va-YI-ven SHAM miz-BAY-akh la-do-NAI ha-nir-EH ay-LAV

זוַיֵּרָא יְהֹוָה אֶל־אַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת וַיִּבֶן שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהֹוָה הַנִּרְאֶה אֵלָיו׃

 12:7   Hashem appeared to Avram 

This is the first time that the Bible describes God revealing Himself to Avraham. Even at the beginning of this chapter when Hashem commanded Avraham to leave his land, it does not say that Hashem appeared to him. The Kli Yakar, a biblical commentator who lived in Prague in the early seventeenth century, explains this by reference to the principle that Hashem does not reveal Himself prophetically outside the Land of Israel. The command given in Haran at the start of this chapter was heard, but not seen. Only once he arrived in Israel did God actually appear to Avraham, which then prompted Avraham to build an altar to mark the occasion. God’s presence is felt most intensely in Eretz Yisrael.

 

8From there he moved on to the hill country east of Beit El and pitched his tent, with Beit El on the west and Ai on the east; and he built there a mizbayach to Hashem and invoked Hashem by name.

חוַיַּעְתֵּק מִשָּׁם הָהָרָה מִקֶּדֶם לְבֵית־אֵל וַיֵּט אָהֳלֹה בֵּית־אֵל מִיָּם וְהָעַי מִקֶּדֶם וַיִּבֶן־שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהֹוָה וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה׃

9Then Avram journeyed by stages toward the Negev.

טוַיִּסַּע אַבְרָם הָלוֹךְ וְנָסוֹעַ הַנֶּגְבָּה׃

10There was a famine in the land, and Avram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land.

יוַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וַיֵּרֶד אַבְרָם מִצְרַיְמָה לָגוּר שָׁם כִּי־כָבֵד הָרָעָב בָּאָרֶץ׃

11As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.

יאוַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה־נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת־מַרְאֶה אָתְּ׃

12If the Egyptians see you, and think, ‘She is his wife,' they will kill me and let you live.

יבוְהָיָה כִּי־יִרְאוּ אֹתָךְ הַמִּצְרִים וְאָמְרוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ זֹאת וְהָרְגוּ אֹתִי וְאֹתָךְ יְחַיּוּ׃

13Please say that you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that I may remain alive thanks to you.”

יגאִמְרִי־נָא אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב־לִי בַעֲבוּרֵךְ וְחָיְתָה נַפְשִׁי בִּגְלָלֵךְ׃

14When Avram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw how very beautiful the woman was.

ידוַיְהִי כְּבוֹא אַבְרָם מִצְרָיְמָה וַיִּרְאוּ הַמִּצְרִים אֶת־הָאִשָּׁה כִּי־יָפָה הִוא מְאֹד׃

15Pharaoh's courtiers saw her and praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's palace.

טווַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל־פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה׃

16And because of her, it went well with Avram; he acquired sheep, oxen, asses, male and female slaves, she-asses, and camels.

טזוּלְאַבְרָם הֵיטִיב בַּעֲבוּרָהּ וַיְהִי־לוֹ צֹאן־וּבָקָר וַחֲמֹרִים וַעֲבָדִים וּשְׁפָחֹת וַאֲתֹנֹת וּגְמַלִּים׃

17But Hashem afflicted Pharaoh and his household with mighty plagues on account of Sarai, the wife of Avram.

יזוַיְנַגַּע יְהֹוָה אֶת־פַּרְעֹה נְגָעִים גְּדֹלִים וְאֶת־בֵּיתוֹ עַל־דְּבַר שָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם׃

18Pharaoh sent for Avram and said, “What is this you have done to me! Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?

יחוַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה לְאַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִּי לָמָּה לֹא־הִגַּדְתָּ לִּי כִּי אִשְׁתְּךָ הִוא׃

19Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,' so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone!”

יטלָמָה אָמַרְתָּ אֲחֹתִי הִוא וָאֶקַּח אֹתָהּ לִי לְאִשָּׁה וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה אִשְׁתְּךָ קַח וָלֵךְ׃

20And Pharaoh put men in charge of him, and they sent him off with his wife and all that he possessed.

כוַיְצַו עָלָיו פַּרְעֹה אֲנָשִׁים וַיְשַׁלְּחוּ אֹתוֹ וְאֶת־אִשְׁתּוֹ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לוֹ׃