1 Hashem 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
א וַיֹּאמֶר 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.7 comments
2 I will make of you a great nation, And I will bless you; I will make your name great, And you shall be a blessing.
ב וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ וֶהְיֵה בְּרָכָה׃
3 I 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
ג וַאֲבָרֲכָה 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.8 comments
5 Avram 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,
7 Hashem 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
ז וַיֵּרָא 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.
ח וַיַּעְתֵּק מִשָּׁם הָהָרָה מִקֶּדֶם לְבֵית־אֵל וַיֵּט אָהֳלֹה בֵּית־אֵל מִיָּם וְהָעַי מִקֶּדֶם וַיִּבֶן־שָׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהֹוָה וַיִּקְרָא בְּשֵׁם יְהֹוָה׃
9 Then Avram journeyed by stages toward the Negev.
ט וַיִּסַּע אַבְרָם הָלוֹךְ וְנָסוֹעַ הַנֶּגְבָּה׃
י וַיְהִי רָעָב בָּאָרֶץ וַיֵּרֶד אַבְרָם מִצְרַיְמָה לָגוּר שָׁם כִּי־כָבֵד הָרָעָב בָּאָרֶץ׃
11 As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are.
יא וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר הִקְרִיב לָבוֹא מִצְרָיְמָה וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־שָׂרַי אִשְׁתּוֹ הִנֵּה־נָא יָדַעְתִּי כִּי אִשָּׁה יְפַת־מַרְאֶה אָתְּ׃
12 If the Egyptians see you, and think, ‘She is his wife,’ they will kill me and let you live.
יב וְהָיָה כִּי־יִרְאוּ אֹתָךְ הַמִּצְרִים וְאָמְרוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ זֹאת וְהָרְגוּ אֹתִי וְאֹתָךְ יְחַיּוּ׃
13 Please 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.”
יג אִמְרִי־נָא אֲחֹתִי אָתְּ לְמַעַן יִיטַב־לִי בַעֲבוּרֵךְ וְחָיְתָה נַפְשִׁי בִּגְלָלֵךְ׃
יד וַיְהִי כְּבוֹא אַבְרָם מִצְרָיְמָה וַיִּרְאוּ הַמִּצְרִים אֶת־הָאִשָּׁה כִּי־יָפָה הִוא מְאֹד׃
16 And because of her, it went well with Avram; he acquired sheep, oxen, asses, male and female slaves, she-asses, and camels.
טז וּלְאַבְרָם הֵיטִיב בַּעֲבוּרָהּ וַיְהִי־לוֹ צֹאן־וּבָקָר וַחֲמֹרִים וַעֲבָדִים וּשְׁפָחֹת וַאֲתֹנֹת וּגְמַלִּים׃
יח וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה לְאַבְרָם וַיֹּאמֶר מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ לִּי לָמָּה לֹא־הִגַּדְתָּ לִּי כִּי אִשְׁתְּךָ הִוא׃
19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her as my wife? Now, here is your wife; take her and begone!”
יט לָמָה אָמַרְתָּ אֲחֹתִי הִוא וָאֶקַּח אֹתָהּ לִי לְאִשָּׁה וְעַתָּה הִנֵּה אִשְׁתְּךָ קַח וָלֵךְ׃