Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

Lech Lecha in a Nutshell

Lech Lecha in a Nutshell

Genesis 12:1–17:27


G‑d speaks to Abram, commanding him, “Go from your land, from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you.” There, G‑d says, he will be made into a great nation. Abram and his wife, Sarai, accompanied by his nephew Lot, journey to the land of Canaan, where Abram builds an altar and continues to spread the message of a one G‑d.

A famine forces the first Jew to depart for Egypt, where beautiful Sarai is taken to Pharaoh’s palace; Abram escapes death because they present themselves as brother and sister. A plague prevents the Egyptian king from touching her, and convinces him to return her to Abram and to compensate the brother-revealed-as-husband with gold, silver and cattle.

Back in the land of Canaan, Lot separates from Abram and settles in the evil city of Sodom, where he falls captive when the mighty armies of Chedorlaomer and his three allies conquer the five cities of the Sodom Valley. Abram sets out with a small band to rescue his nephew, defeats the four kings, and is blessed by Malki-Zedek the king of Salem (Jerusalem).

G‑d seals the Covenant Between the Parts with Abram, in which the exile and persecution (galut) of the people of Israel is foretold, and the Holy Land is bequeathed to them as their eternal heritage.

Still childless ten years after their arrival in the Land, Sarai tells Abram to marry her maidservant Hagar. Hagar conceives, becomes insolent toward her mistress, and then flees when Sarai treats her harshly; an angel convinces her to return, and tells her that her son will father a populous nation. Ishmael is born in Abram’s eighty-sixth year.

Thirteen years later, G‑d changes Abram’s name to Abraham (“father of multitudes”), and Sarai’s to Sarah (“princess”), and promises that a son will be born to them; from this child, whom they should call Isaac (“will laugh”), will stem the great nation with which G‑d will establish His special bond. Abraham is commanded to circumcise himself and his descendants as a “sign of the covenant between Me and you.” Abraham immediately complies, circumcising himself and all the males of his household.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the discussion
1000 characters remaining
Email me when new comments are posted.
Sort By:
Discussion (18)
November 14, 2016
Re: Malki-Zedek
It may not have been built to the extent that it was later on, but the land could still have been inhabited, and there could certainly have been a king.
Eliezer Zalmanov
November 12, 2016
How could there be a King of Jerusalem at that point in history? I have read elsewhere the alter on which Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac was on the site where the temple would later be built, which means it was in what would become Jerusalem, but the next week's Torah portion describes the trip to that site as though Abraham and Isaac are going through wilderness, not a city. So Jerusalem wasn't built yet. Right?
Camarillo, CA, USA
November 12, 2016
Hashem doesn't need any lessons. Hashem is the creator of all, and perfect.
As far as the Ahkeda killing Sarah... if she did have a heart attack because of the news, maybe She, although our "Torah Mothers are heavenly perfect", maybe she learned that treating Hagar harshly wasn't the way to go... I don't know, according to Torah, She did no wrong. Abraham losing Sorah could have been because he listened to a mortal human being (Sarah) instead of His word. Whatever... the Torah is powerful and needs to be respected and cherished. Hagar eventually ended up being the "mother" of a very angry jealous nation making up their own fake Koran. Their nasty work begins with a lie saying Abraham , their father, chose them, not Isaac. Now the world has to watch all the hate ooze-ing out of the Arab nations at Israel and the world.
Sorah Weiss
Vernon Hills
November 10, 2016
I grew up in a Yashiva in England and was blessed with a team of Rabbis yet there was no argument,what is written is what it is ,the written word of G-d and the way it is,all this thinking and multiple ideas of the way it could mean or should mean is just insane to me,simply put the Torah is the written word and not to be misunderstood end of story.Man has argued this since the time of the written Torah's creation, the meaning of each word.I think if we keep watering it all down and dilute G-d's word why not just become Goyim? and just make up another book like the Goyim did.I am not sure what is being taught today but it seems to be a lot of dilution going on,it scares me,i don't feel the solidarity yet i do feel an on going presence of antisemitism daily all around me.Yes I understand we are allowed to question but to those that have doubt or to be unsure of the Word,those people scare me.I am only one humble man,i was taught what i was taught to be right.
October 9, 2015
To Ruth
As much as a parent would wish to ask Hashem to substitute their life for their child's, that is not halachically allowed. A person may not substitute their life for another's life, as Hashem has a different plan for each person.
Chanah Ariella Rosencrantz
September 18, 2015
to ruth housman
If you read the Sefer Yasher, you will see one of the reasons Iyov could have been punished, was because his injustice and cruelty towards Bnei Israel in Egypt. He was one of the main reasons they were enslaved and treated so cruelly. He was a got, after all...
October 8, 2013
Ho old was Abraham when Hashem told him Lech Lecha
End of Parashat: Noach: Terach took Abram, Sari and Lot to go to Canaan on the way they stopped in Haran
Lech Lecha M' Artzecha ibn Ezra opinion is Ur Kasdim (not Haran)
This is not to be confused with the Passuk that abram left Haran when was 75
Berit Ben HaBetarim Hashem tells Abram I am the one that took you out of Ur Kasdim ( not Haran)
Parashat BO Perek 12 Pasuk 40-41 and Beni Ysrael were enslaved for 430 years to the very Day
From Yitzchak Birth in the year 2048 to yetzait Mitzriam in 2448 is 400 years.
Abraham was 100 years old in 2048.
Subtract 430 from 2448 is 2018 Abraham is 70 years old when the Journey started the date was 15 Nisan and the place Hashem Spoke to Abraham Lech Lacha was Ur Kasdim.
Terach took Abraham Sari and lot on the way to Eretz Cannan at the request of Abraham when Abraham was 70 . they landed in haran and Abram helped his father living in Haran for 5 years
November 27, 2012
Did G-d cause the famine that Abraham reacted to by going to Egypt
I am struggling with this idea right now. Did G-d specifically cause the famine just to test Abraham or was it at act of nature like those that occur in all our lives? Was Abraham smart or in a panic when he told Pharoah that Sarah was only his sister and not his wife? Was Sarah forced to obey Abraham by her position or was she complacient with the lie? I am behind on my bible reading. Peace.
Sacramento, CA
October 29, 2012
the test
It could be G_d tested Abraham, he failed, and mercy followed anyway, as Raf suggests. But this does not explain The Book of Job, because JOB lost everything, ad had to submit to derisive friends he thought were loyal, and he lost his family, and in fact, that test seems to me, to have been inordinately cruel. A test of, what? It's a puzzling and often dark story.. So I am stumped, about JOB and think about this often. I can say, we all suffer, and those who are righteous among us, suffer too. And for me there is no question JOB was a most righteous man. Is this our "JOB", to figure all of this out, to dialogue about mercy and goodness, and G_d?
ruth housman
marshfield hills, ma
October 27, 2012
I see it another way entirely God tested Abraham - and this time he failed ( but God passed him anyway).