Genesis 12:13

Hebrew Bible

11 As he approached Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, I know that you are a beautiful woman. 12 When the Egyptians see you they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will keep you alive. 13 So tell them you are my sister so that it may go well for me because of you and my life will be spared on account of you.” 14 When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 When Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. So Abram’s wife was taken into the household of Pharaoh, 16 and he did treat Abram well on account of her. Abram received sheep and cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

1Q20 20

Genesis Apocryphon
Dead Sea Scrolls

‘... and beautiful is her face! How ... fine are the hairs of her head! How lovely are her eyes! How desirable her nose and all the radiance of her countenance ... How fair are her breasts and how beautiful all her whiteness! How pleasing are her arms and how perfect her hands, and how [desirable] all the appearance of her hands! How fair are her palms and how long and slender are her fingers! How comely are her feet, how perfect her thighs! No virgin or bride led into the marriage chamber is more beautiful than she; she is fairer than all other women. Truly, her beauty is greater than theirs. Yet together with all this grace she possesses abundant wisdom, so that whatever she does is perfect (?).’ When the king heard the words of Harkenosh and his two companions, for all three spoke as with one voice, he desired her greatly and sent out at once to take her. And seeing her, he was amazed by all her beauty and took her to be his wife, but me he sought to kill. Sarai said to the king, ‘He is my brother,’ that I might benefit from her, and I, Abram, was spared because of her and I was not slain. And I, Abram, wept aloud that night, I and my nephew Lot, because Sarai had been taken from me by force. I prayed that night and I begged and implored, and I said in my sorrow while my tears ran down: ‘Blessed art Thou, O Most High God, Lord of all the worlds, Thou who art Lord and king of all things and who rulest over all the kings of the earth and judgest them all! I cry now before Thee, my Lord, against Pharaoh of Zoan the king of Egypt, because of my wife who has been taken from me by force. Judge him for me that I may see Thy mighty hand raised against him and against all his household, and that he may not be able to defile my wife this night (separating her) from me, and that they may know Thee, my Lord, that Thou art Lord of all the kings of the earth.’ And I wept and was sorrowful. And during that night the Most High God sent a spirit to scourge him, an evil spirit to all his household; and it scourged him and all his household. And he was unable to approach her, and although he was with her for two years, he knew her not.

 Notes and References

"... This journey to Egypt certainly troubled interpreters. For one thing, as the couple was preparing to cross the Egyptian border, Abraham instructed the beautiful Sarah to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister rather than his wife, lest they kill him in order to take her for themselves. "Say you are my sister," he says, "so that it may go well with me because of you, and so that my life may be spared on your account" (Genesis 12:13). These hardly sounded like heroic words! To make matters worse, the Bible records that Sarah acted on Abraham's advice and that, as a result, she was taken by Pharaoh to his palace for an unspecified period of time ... Interpreters were understandably disturbed by Abraham's apparent cowardice and subsequent silence ... Many ancient writers, in retelling the story, thus felt entitled to add in what the story had somehow left out, an account of Abraham's deep distress at these events ..."

Kugel, James L. The Bible as it Was (p. 143) Harvard University Press, 1998

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