Abram Enters Canaan
God appears to Abram at Haran and establishes a relationship with Abram through a covenant. The covenant is not made all at one time, but is revealed bit-by-bit over time. Each time, more details are revealed to Abram. These pieces can be taken as parts of one covenant -- God's covenant with Abram.
God tells Abram to leave his father's family and go to an unspecified place, which would be revealed later (See Hebrews 11:8-10). In exchange, God makes a series of promises to give to Abram.
1) To form a great nation from Abram's descendants.
2) To give blessings to Abram.
3) To make Abram famous.
4) To give blessings to Abram's friends and curses to Abram's enemies.
5) To bless all nations through the lineage of Abram.
Notice that all these promises are made to a man who is seventy-five years of age and has no children. While it is true that some of Abram's ancestors had children late in life (Terah had Abram at the age of seventy) it was a rare occurrence. Even in Terah's case, we don't know the age of his wife. We do know that Sarai, Abram's wife, was long past the age of having children.
We know that Abram believed God's promises because he left with his wife, his nephew, and his possessions. Most people, by the time they reach seventy-five, are planning to slow down and settle in for the remainder of their lives. Abram uproots his whole family and begins a new adventure.
The place where they stop is near the oak of Moreh near the town of Shechem. The literal translation is "the turpentine tree of the teacher." The translators are uncertain if "Moreh" is referring to a person's name or his occupation. If it is his occupation, then Abram stopped by the tree where school for the local community took place.
We also are told that the descendants of Canaan have already settled the land. Even so, Abram builds an altar to God, showing that he believes his descendants would one day occupy this land instead of the Canaanites.
Abram's next stop was in the hills between the towns of Bethel and Ai. He builds another altar there and then continues traveling to an area known as the Negev, which means "the South."
Due to a famine in the region, Abram is forced to move to Egypt. Before entering Egypt, Abram is concerned that someone would kill him to take his wife. Even at the age of sixty-five, Sarai is said to be very beautiful. Abram should have trusted in God's protection of him and his family, but as we will continue to see, Abram often thinks he must help God fulfill His promises. Abram tells Sarai to only refer to herself as Abram's sister, since she is his half-sister. They may still take Sarai, but at least he would be left alive to fulfill God's promises. At this time, Abram did not realize that God's covenant included Sarai as well as himself.
Sarai's beauty was called to Pharaoh's attention and since she was available (as far as Pharaoh knew), Sarai was brought to Pharaoh's household. Abram was paid a generous dowry for his sister, yet he never told Pharaoh that Sarai was also his wife. We see that even great men, such as Abram, still succumb to sin.
God struck Pharaoh's household with serious diseases and Pharaoh soon realizes that it is because Sarai was Abram's wife. We see that Egyptians had strong standards of morality. They understood it was wrong to take another man's wife. They also knew it was wrong to lie. Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abram and had his men throw Abram and his family out of Egypt.
Notice the subtle foreshadowing of the children of Israel's exit from Egypt over 700 years later. They too are given riches as they were thrown out of Egypt (Exodus 12:34-35).