God tells Abram to journey to a land that He shall show him and there He will make him into a great nation. The Israel Bible cites Rashi, who explains God’s unusual phrasing: Go for you. According to the sage, it is for Abram’s benefit that he make this journey, even though he is giving up nearly everything familiar. God vows that if Abram does as he is told, God will be with him, blessing those who bless him and cursing those who curse him. As the Israel Bible points out, the evidence of this promise can be seen to this day.
Abram takes his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot and does as he is told, arriving in the land of Canaan — what is today Israel. Once there, God promises him the land for his descendants, and Abram builds an altar. Although at the age of 75 Abram still has no children, he trusts in God’s promise. As the Israel Bible relates, Abram’s patience (it took 400 years for the promises God makes in this portion to be fulfilled!) set an example for his children. After 2,000 years of exile, they have returned to the State of Israel.
Almost immediately upon Abram’s arrival, a famine descends upon the land. Abram and Sarai travel to Egypt, where there is food, but Abram asks her to tell everyone they are brother and sister, lest the locals kill him and take her. Their subterfuge is successful, and Abram is given great wealth on account of his “sister”, who is taken to Pharaoh. God protects Sarai, however, and Pharaoh quickly figures out the truth. He sends the couple on their way, along with the riches they have acquired.
Upon their return to the Promised Land, Abram’s great wealth becomes a source of tension with his nephew, who is also very well-to-do. Abram suggests the two part ways, offering Lot the choice of destination. Lot chooses the lush, though wicked, region of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abram remains in the Holy Land. The Israel Bible relates that although other places look attractive, there is no place full of sanctity and Godliness like the Land of Israel.
Once the two have separated, God again reiterates His commitment to giving Abram and his descendants the Land of Israel.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think God chose to leave Abram in suspense about his destination?