Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #13 of Genesis, chapter 12 and we are going to begin by reading Genesis 12:17:
And JEHOVAH plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.
In our last study we saw that Pharaoh is a type of Satan. The plagues that came upon Egypt and Pharaoh’s house were prefiguring the plagues that would later come upon the land of Egypt and a Pharaoh a couple hundred years later when Israel would be bondmen and bondwomen in the land of Egypt for 430 years. During the early part of the 430 years, they had a privileged place within Egypt. The judgment of God, which a plague typifies, was brought down upon a Pharaoh in Egypt and, again, it prefigured plagues that would come later on Egypt, but it also prefigured the spiritual judgment that would come upon Satan and his kingdom, as typified by Egypt.
We discussed a little bit how the judgment of Satan at the time of the cross could be in view, spiritually, because that was the time that the “strong man” was bound and his goods could then be spoiled. Satan was bound at the cross for a figurative “thousand years” and God did ransack his house by saving the elect from the nations during the course of the church age.
Also, the plagues upon Egypt that took place until Pharaoh released Sarai can spiritually represent God’s judgment upon the corporate church, as judgment began at the house of God at the end of the church age when God issued forth the command to His people to depart out of the midst. It is interesting that in the historical judgment upon Egypt and Pharaoh, the Lord commanded through Moses, again, and again: “Let my people go.” Pharaoh would refuse and God would bring a further plague. The judgment upon the corporate church was also a plague upon “Egypt” because the corporate church was spiritually identified as “Egypt” in Revelation, chapter 11 where we read of the death of the “two witnesses” that were lying in the streets of the city that was spiritually called “Sodom and Egypt.” So, the churches were returned again to “Egypt” by ships, as it says in the Book of Deuteronomy; that is, via the churches themselves, as the Holy Spirit departed out of the midst of the congregations. The Holy Spirit is the essence of the “Jubilee” and the essence of deliverance of the captives through salvation and, therefore, when the Holy Spirit abandoned the corporate churches and turned them over into the hands of Satan, the New Testament churches and congregations became spiritual Egypt. They, once again, became the “house of bondage,” because there was no more deliverance possible for those within the corporate church because there would be no more salvation within any congregation in the world over the 23-year Great Tribulation period during the judgment on the corporate church.
All of that is underlying in the spiritual dimension of what we are reading here. It is an interesting prefiguring here, as God is looking forward to a historical fulfillment that would take place in the days of Israel when Jacob would enter into Egypt, but it has a spiritual dimension that plays out about four thousand years into the future.
Again, it says, “And JEHOVAH plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.” It was more than one plague and this fits in with the plagues that God would bring upon Egypt. There were numerous plagues. Even though this is concise, we are not given a lot of details. The Lord does not go into a description of the nature of the plagues. We are not told what they were, but we can know some things from this word “plague.” We know that plagues are grievous and there could have been a broad spectrum of things that may have been happening to Pharaoh personally as well as to his house. It could have been that God shut the wombs of all his wives and concubines. It could have been any number of things, but according to the Word of God there were plagues and they must have been happening one after the other, so that Pharaoh realized there was a connection between the plagues and the fact that he had taken the woman Sarai into his house. Again, there are many things God is not telling us about this historical account. One of the things He did not tell us is how Pharaoh knew that Sarai was Abram’s wife, as it says in Genesis 12:18-19:
And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
How did Pharaoh know that Sarai was Abram’s wife? There is a similar historical event that took place with Abraham and his wife and the king of Gerar, found in Genesis, chapter 20 and there is another similar occurrence in the life of Isaac when Isaac went into the land of the Philistines, also resulting from a famine. He does almost the same thing that Abram did by telling his wife to tell the king of the Philistines in Gerar that she is his sister. The king of Gerar in the Philistines took her, but then he saw Isaac and Rebecca sporting with one another and he came to the realization that she was really Isaac’s wife.
Again, we do not know how Pharaoh of Egypt could have known that Sarai was Abram’s wife. It could have been a similar situation and they may have been together at some point and they were involved in hugging or kissing one another as a married couple would do, but a brother and sister would not do. Eventually, it was put together and it could have been Pharaoh’s princes or servants that noticed something and tied the two things together and noticed that since Sarai had come to Pharaoh’s house they had been plagued and now they were seeing evidence that it was not a brother/sister relationship, but that Abram and Sarai were husband and wife. That could be it. But, for whatever reason, Pharaoh came to understand that this was the case and he called Abram and said, “What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.” It sounds like Pharaoh was innocent and he had done nothing wrong. He had thought she was Abram’s sister and, therefore, she was taken into his house. It all sounds upright in his dealings in this situation and it sounds as if Abram is the one that has done the offense and Abram is the one that had done wrong.
It sounds that way, but notice that Abram is not responding to Pharaoh or God is not telling us that Abram was saying what he had said earlier when he made the arrangement with Sarai in Genesis 12:11-13:
Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
Abram has very definite reasons for why he wanted Sarai to say she was his sister. He feared for his life and that is more than likely the reason why he was silent. Or, it could be that God did not report Abram’s response, but it is more likely that he kept silent when Pharaoh asked these questions: “Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister?” What would have been an honest response? It would be a response like, “I thought your people would kill me and then take Sarai.” That thought obviously came from some account of others that had traveled into Egypt and experienced things along those lines. Very wisely, Abram did not say this to Pharaoh. There was no sense in saying something that would provoke the Pharaoh to anger. It seemed the situation was working itself out, as God worked it out for Abram and Sarai’s good, so Abram did not respond, as far as we know in the Bible.
Then it goes on to say in Genesis 12:19:
Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife…
Given the fact that the Egyptians would slay a man and take his wife if she happened to be fair, that means that Pharaoh is not “innocent” and he was not dealing uprightly. So, when Abram said that Sarai was his sister, it saved his life, as he could have been killed and Pharaoh is not as innocent in the matter as he is trying to make it appear. Then Pharaoh says in Genesis 12:19-20:
… now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Again, we see the spiritual tie-in to the exodus, which the next book of the Bible will lay out. The Book of Exodus will detail the long period of captivity in Egypt and the bondage of the Israelites under cruel taskmasters until the great deliverance and the setting free of the captives. God sent Moses and He brought the plagues, which were instrumental in the deliverance of the people of God, just as were the great plagues that God sent to Pharaoh and his house were instrumental in the release of Sarai. It says in Exodus 11:1:
And JEHOVAH said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
Then we read more about this last plague in Exodus 11:4-8:
And Moses said, Thus saith JEHOVAH, About midnight will I go out into the midst of Egypt: And all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sitteth upon his throne, even unto the firstborn of the maidservant that is behind the mill; and all the firstborn of beasts. And there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there was none like it, nor shall be like it any more. But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that ye may know how that JEHOVAH doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel. And all these thy servants shall come down unto me, and bow down themselves unto me, saying, Get thee out, and all the people that follow thee: and after that I will go out. And he went out from Pharaoh in a great anger.
Then in Exodus, chapter 12 we read of that last plague, in Exodus 12:29-32:
And it came to pass, that at midnight JEHOVAH smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve JEHOVAH, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
In Genesis 12 we see the format of Exodus, chapter 12, except it lacks the detail and it just says: “And JEHOVAH plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.” It was just like God plagued Pharaoh and the Egyptians because of the people of Israel being held as bondservants. Finally, as the plagues worked out, there came the final plague that convinced the Pharaoh of Egypt that he must let the people go. Again, note the similarity of what the Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron, in Exodus 31: “Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go…” Compare it to our verse in Genesis 12:19:
Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
So, we see, again, strong parallels because God is prefiguring what He will do later in history and what He would do spiritually in the New Testament age.
Then it says in Genesis 12:20:
And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
Although we do not read that Abram “spoiled” the Egyptians, it would tie in with Exodus 12 after Pharaoh told Moses and Aaron to go. He said in Exodus 12:32:
Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
Now what did Abram have? They sent him away and his wife and all that he had. If we go back to verse 16, it says in Genesis 12:16:
And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
So, there were his flocks and herds, as well as menservants and maidservants, so Abram would have had more people and it was not just Sarai and Abram, but a large group of people that were coming out of Egyptian captivity, because Abram could not move on as Sarai had been taken into Pharaoh’s house. But now they were all sent forth and keep in mind that very soon Abram will arm his trained servants and they will number over three hundred men. That was not counting the maidservants, so there was a good number of people that were being sent out of Egypt along with Abram and Sarai. He had been entreated well for Sarai’s sake, so he had acquired herds of cattle, and so forth.
Again, we see a historical parable that points to things God will do in the future with Israel as well as the New Testament churches and congregations.