Click here to read Genesis 12:1-14:24

This passage marks the beginning of the second major section of Genesis—the patriarchal history, which focuses on the male head of each generation (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph) and God’s relationship with them.  Another important shift between the first section and this one is that the first section focused a lot on man’s rebellion (Adam’s sin, Cain killing Abel, leading to the flood, and the tower of Babel), but this section (Genesis 12-50) focuses on showing how God blesses mankind!

Abram’s (later Abraham) story begins with God calling him to leave his country, his people, and his father’s household and to go to a land that He will show Abram.  God promises Abram that He will 1) “make his name great,” 2) “make him into a great nation,” and 3) “all the people on earth will be blessed through him.” Abram obeys God’s call to leave and go to a new land, and once he (and Lot, Sarai, and all their people/possessions) get to the land of Canaan God further promises that He will give that land to Abram’s offspring.

In the passages ahead God will reveal (to Abram and us) more specifics of these promises, but for now it’s just important to note that God promised Abram that his descendants would be a great nation, that they would possess the land of Canaan, and that God would bless everyone on earth through Abram’s descendants.  In response to these great promises, Abram built an altar to worship God.

Because of a famine, Abram moves everyone to Egypt (for complete map of Abram’s travels, see the map below).  While in Egypt he begins what will be a pattern of failing to trust God completely by telling Sarai to pretend to be his sister so he won’t be killed.  Through this ordeal with Pharaoh God reinforces the understanding that He keeps His promises and His plan will not (and cannot) be thwarted.

The promises that God made to Abram are once again threatened after Abram, Sarai, and Lot return to the altar Abram previously built near Bethel.  As Lot and Abram went different ways, Abram was most likely wondering how God would keep His promise since Abram no longer had any blood relatives with him and no children.  But God reminds Abram of His promise and further tells Abram that his offspring will be innumerable, like the dust of the earth.

This passage closes with Abram acting much more boldly in God’s promises by not accepting gifts from the King of Sodom after Abram’s surprising victory against a powerful coalition of kings.  Instead, Abram acknowledges God as the reason for his victory and proclaims that he will rely on God to provide for him so that God will receive all the credit.

Names Places

God – God

Abram – son of Terah, descendant of Shem

Sarai – Abram’s wife

Lot – Abram’s nephew

Pharaoh – ruler of Egypt

Melchizedek – King of Salem and “priest of God Most High”



Haran – the city that Abram left

Canaan – the land that God promised to Abram’s descendants

Egypt – where Abram went because of a famine

Bethel – near the place that Abram built an altar after hearing from God

Ai – city on the eastern side of the altar that Abram built



Ruling Alliance

Amraphel – King of Shinar

Arioch – King of Ellasar

Kedorlaomer – King of Elam

Tidal – King od Goiim


Rebelling Kings

Bera – King of Sodom

Birsha – King of Gomorrah

Shinab – King of Admah

Shemeber – King of Zeboiim

King of Bela


plain of Jordan – where Lot chose to settle

Sodom – where men were “wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord”

Mamre – great tree grove in Hebron where Abram built an altar

Valley of Siddim (the Dead Sea) – where the rebellious kings joined forces

lands conquered by Kedorlaomer – see red on map below

Valley of Shaveh – where the King of Sodom and Melchizedek met up with Abram

Interesting fact:

What’s the deal with Melchizedek?

Melchizedek, the king of Salem, is the first person in the Bible to be referred to as a priest of God Most High.  The text shows that they both worshiped the true God and that Abram recognized him as a priest—receiving a priestly blessing and offering him 10% of what he took in battle, which would have been a common act of worship.  Melchizedek and these events will also be mentioned later in the New Testament book of Hebrews.

Also, notice that the blessing/curse given by Noah in Genesis 9 is already starting to play out.  God tells Abram (a descendant of Shem) that his offspring will inherit the land that is currently inhabited by Canaan’s offspring!

Abram's Journey

Abram's Journey (Logos Bible Software) - click to make it bigger