“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
King James Version (KJV)
12:1 We have here the call by which Abram was removed out of the land of his nativity into the land of promise, which was designed both to try his faith and obedience, and also to set him apart for God. The circumstances of this call we may be somewhat helped to the knowledge of, from Stephen's speech, #Acts 7:2|, where we are told, That the God of glory appeared to him to give him this call, appeared in such displays of his glory as left Abram no room to doubt. God spake to him after in divers manners: but this first time, when the correspondence was to be settled, he appeared to him as the God of glory, and spake to him. That this call was given him in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, and in obedience to this call, he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran or Haran about five years, and from thence, when his father was dead, by a fresh command, he removed him into the land of Canaan. Some think Haran was in Chaldea, and so was still a part of Abram's country; or he having staid there five years, began to call it his country, and to take root there, till God let him know this was not the place he was intended for. Get thee out of thy country - Now, By this precept he was tried whether he loved God better than he loved his native soil, and dearest friends, and whether he could willingly leave all to go along with God. His country was become idolatrous, his kindred and his father's house were a constant temptation to him, and he could not continue with them without danger of being infected by them; therefore get thee out, (Heb.) vade tibi, get thee gone with all speed, escape for thy life, look not behind thee. By this precept he was tried whether he could trust God farther than he saw him, for he must leave his own country to go to a land that God would shew him; he doth not say, 'tis a land that I will give thee nor doth he tell him what land it was, or what kind of land; but he must follow God with an implicit faith, and take God's word for it in the general, though he had no particular securities given him, that he should be no loser by leaving his country to follow God.
12:2 Here is added an encouraging promise, nay a complication of promises, I will make of thee a great nation - When God took him from his own people, he promised to make him the head of another people. This promise was. A great relief to Abram's burden, for he had now no child. A great trial to Abram's faith, for his wife had been long barren, so that if he believe, it must be against hope, and his faith must build purely upon that power which can out of stones raise up children unto Abraham. I will bless thee - Either particularly with the blessing of fruitfulness, as he had blessed Adam and Noah; or in general, I will bless thee with all manner of blessings, both of the upper and nether springs: leave thy father's house, and I will give thee a father's blessing, better than that of thy progenitors. I will make thy name great - By deserting his country he lost his name there: care not for that, (saith God) but trust me, and I will make thee a greater name than ever thou couldst have had there. Thou shalt be a blessing - That is, thy life shall be a blessing to the places where thou shalt sojourn. I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee - This made it a kind of league offensive and defensive between God and Abram. Abram heartily espoused God's cause, and here God promiseth to interest himself in his. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed - This was the promise that crowned all the rest, for it points at the Messiah, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.
12:4 So Abram departed - He was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. His obedience was speedy and without delay, submissive and without dispute.
12:5 They took with them the souls that they had gotten - That is, the proselytes they had made, and persuaded to worship the true God, and to go with them to Canaan; the souls which (as one of the Rabbins expresseth it) they had gathered under the wings of the divine Majesty.