12:11 As he approached 1 Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “Look, 2 I know that you are a beautiful woman. 3 12:12 When the Egyptians see you they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will keep you alive. 4 12:13 So tell them 5 you are my sister 6 so that it may go well 7 for me because of you and my life will be spared 8 on account of you.”
1 tn Heb “drew near to enter.”
2 tn The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) is deictic here; it draws attention to the following fact.
3 tn Heb “a woman beautiful of appearance are you.”
4 tn The Piel of the verb חָיָה (khayah, “to live”) means “to keep alive, to preserve alive,” and in some places “to make alive.” See D. Marcus, “The Verb ‘to Live’ in Ugaritic,” JSS 17 (1972): 76-82.
5 tn Heb “say.”
6 sn Tell them you are my sister. Abram’s motives may not be as selfish as they appear. He is aware of the danger to the family. His method of dealing with it is deception with a half truth, for Sarai really was his sister – but the Egyptians would not know that. Abram presumably thought that there would be negotiations for a marriage by anyone interested (as Laban does later for his sister Rebekah), giving him time to react. But the plan backfires because Pharaoh does not take the time to negotiate. There is a good deal of literature on the wife-sister issue. See (among others) E. A. Speiser, “The Wife-Sister Motif in the Patriarchal Narratives,” Oriental and Biblical Studies, 62-81; C. J. Mullo-Weir, “The Alleged Hurrian Wife-Sister Motif in Genesis,” GOT 22 (1967-1970): 14-25.
7 tn The Hebrew verb translated “go well” can encompass a whole range of favorable treatment, but the following clause indicates it means here that Abram’s life will be spared.
8 tn Heb “and my life will live.”