The First Sitcom

Genesis 12
The story now focuses on Abram, a descendent of Shem, one of Noah’s sons. God tells Abram to move, that God will show him a land where Abram will have a great nation, and all kinds of blessings will be upon him and his people. So Abram packs up with his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot, all of their possessions and servants and set out for the land of Canaan. When they arrived, Abram built an alter, and then kept heading east, building more alters along the way until he came to the Negeb, a desert.

Unfortunately there was famine, so Abram and Sarai head on down to Egypt.

Before they get there, Abram tells Sarai that she is too pretty, and if the Egyptians learn that he is her husband, they will kill him and take her. To prevent this, he says that they will pretend to be brother and sister. Sure enough, when they enter Egypt, the officials spot Sarai, tell Pharaoh about her, and she gets taken “into Pharaoh’s house.” Which I think means that she becomes one of his wives. For this, Abram gets all kinds of rewards, listed are sheep, oxen, male and female servants, male and female donkeys, and camels. God evidently was not happy with this situation, so he caused Pharaoh and his house to get plague. Pharaoh gets the point, summons Abram, asks why Abram lied to him, and then sends them both away, with everything that Abram was given.

This all just sounds like the setup to some bad sitcom. Abram complaining to Sarai how there is nothing in Canaan, so they a going to Egypt. Then he gets happy with all the stuff pharaoh gives him, while she is unsatisfied with the situation. He keeps convincing her that they need to keep it up just a little longer.

Really though, I get the impression that Sarai was more like a commodity, and was just whored out because of Abrams lie. A lie that he was not punished for, but rather, rewarded handsomely. It was Pharaoh who was punished, and his whole household was struck with plague. I understand that God liked Abram, but this just doesn’t seem fair at all. It’s as though God came in at the end of the story, missing the whole first part with Abram and Sarai colluding to be siblings, and just noticed that Sarai was suddenly with Pharaoh instead of Abram and had a WTF moment.

Lessons I learned:

  • It’s ok to trick the wealthy in order to get stuff.
  • A beautiful wife is fodder for a crazy scheme.
  • God will punish innocent victims of fraud.
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