So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house. He treated Abram well for her sake. … But the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. (Genesis 12:14-17)
Just as famine drove Abram into Egypt, so too would his descendants be driven into Egypt to sojourn during a time of famine. And like her descendants later, Sarai was taken by Pharaoh against her will. When it says that she was “taken to Pharaoh’s house,” it is traditionally understood to mean that she was abducted by the servants of Pharaoh. As it turns out, Abram was treated well when everyone thought Sarai was his sister but things weren’t so promising for her. Had God not intervened by “plaguing Pharaoh and his house” (notice the pattern for the future) she may have become his property for all time.
Because God intervened where Abram couldn’t or wouldn’t, Pharaoh sent Abram and his entire company away. What is not expressed in the text plainly here is that when Pharaoh sent them away, he did so with gifts. Just as Israel would leave Egyptian bondage with spoils, so too did Abram and his wife. In fact, it becomes clear that one of those gifts presented to Sarai was an Egyptian handmaid by the name of Hagar — that becomes important later.
What would have happened if Abram had told the Egyptians that Sarai was his wife? Would they have killed him as he feared? Not according to what God had promised him. Would she have been abducted anyway? That’s doubtful considering Pharaoh’s reaction to discovering that she was indeed married to Abram. But as a consequence of Abram’s intention to pass her off as his sister, they ended up with Hagar. In other words, if Abram had not denied that he was married to her, would Pharaoh have felt compelled to bestow gifts upon Sarai, especially the Egyptian handmaid? And if they had left Egypt without Hagar, would there have been an Ishmael?
Consider the long-term and far reaching ramifications of not trusting God completely. Not only did Hagar complicate Abram’s life, but his descendants were affected for many generations because of Ishmael. Frankly, considering that Ishmael is one of the ancestors of the Arab peoples and it was from among the Arabs that Islam sprang, we are still feeling the affects of what happened in Egypt so long ago. That is not to say that all Arabs are bad people but it is to amplify the fact that many of those who hate God’s people have direct ties to Ishmael. So here’s the point: not trusting God can be quite detrimental to our health.
You and I need to learn from this how important it is to trust Him in any and all situations. We should not depend on our understanding of things but in all ways, trust Him.
Blessings and Shalom,