In thinking about Abram and Sarai during their stay in Egypt, I began to wonder how it came that Sarai was eventually brought to the palace of the Pharoah. The Bible only tells us that the Egyptian men noticed how beautiful she was and mentioned it to the Pharoah. So I imagine one of two things happened.
Maybe a detachment of soldiers and a representative for the Pharaoh went to the location where Abram and Sarai were staying in the land of Egypt, and the representative knocked on the door and had a sit down with Abram to ask about the beautiful woman who was with him. Maybe the representative made an offer of gold, cattle, men servants and maid servants. Maybe all this was done with Sarai in the next room listening and becoming frightened, not knowing what was going to happen to her as her husband bartered for her like a piece of land.
Or maybe the Pharoah himself came to the place where they were staying. Maybe he was the one who came to offer items for Sarai. However it happened, Abram gave away his wife to the strangers in the land of Egypt in order to protect his own life. This very life that God had already begun working in to bring him to his final destination in the land of Israel. And while Abram was becoming wealthy in the land of Egypt for trading away his wife, Sarai was basically a prisoner of the king of Egypt.
I wonder how many nights Abram thought about how he was going to get his wife back. I wonder if he really did think about that or if she, in his mind, was just a casualty in his plan to save himself from the famine that brought him to Egypt in the first place. After all, it wasn’t like he could just storm the palace and expect to get her back. And with all the new riches and maid servants that were now in his possession, I doubt that Abram lay awake at night thinking about Sarai.
But God thought about Sarai. She was part of His plan even if Abram had not known that and shielded himself with her. God would intervene and get her back, AND he would do it in such a way that Abram’s life would still be spared. The Bible tells us that he caused disease to come upon Pharoah to such an extent that he realized what was happening and gave Sarai back without taking Abram’s life for the deceipt. It is a foreshadowing of the great Exodus that would take place in the future with Moses and the Israelites. Nothing was going to stop God’s plan for Abram, even though Abram had complicated things.
Ironically, this dealing with the Pharaoh’s belief in God is a bit different than what would take place during the Exodus. Here we see the Pharoah coming down with disease and realizing it was because he had Sarai in his household. So one of three things had occurred. 1) He had a wise man among him who knew of God and advised him that the disease was because he had Sarai in his household, 2) He knew of God himself and immediately realized what was happening, or 3) Sarai said something to him about her being the wife of another man and how God had told Abram to leave his previous land etc. Whichever way this went, the Pharoah revered the power of God to such an extent that he released her without incident. In the future however, the Pharoah during the times of Moses would not be so easy to convince. In fact, it would take 10 plagues to change his mind!
What strikes me with this story is that nothing stops the plan of God. Even when Abram took a detour to Egypt and gave away his wife instead of calling upon the Lord to protect him in the land of Egypt and provide for him during the famine, God was faithful.
We never hear about this Pharoah again, but I wonder if this incident left an impression in him so deeply that he began a pursuit of the true God or did he just go back to his many other gods that he and the other Egyptians worshipped? I am sure he didn’t just send Sarai away in secret. There were others who knew. But did ANY of them stop and really consider the true power and greatness of the God of Israel or not? We will never know. And so it is the same with people today.