Lech-Lecha Torah Portion: Genesis 12:1-17:27
Parshat Lech Lecha begins with God’s legendary call to Abraham (technically he is called ‘Abram’ when we are first introduced to him) to “Lech
Abraham arrives in Canaan, travels through the land, and builds an altar to God. Famine hits and the family heads to Egypt in search of food. Abraham misrepresents Sarah, introducing her as his sister, not his wife. They return from Egypt and, shortly thereafter, Abraham and Lot go separate ways: Lot to the east, to Sodom, and Abraham to the west. Soon thereafter, Lot is taken captive in a war between local kings, and Abraham hurries, with hundreds of armed men, to rescue him.
God appears to Abraham, explicitly promises that he will have a biological heir and that his descendants will be as many as the stars. In what has become known as the Brit Bein HaBetarim (“Covenant of the Parts”), God foretells that Abraham’s descendants will one day experience exile and oppression in a foreign land, before finally returning to Canaan. Despite God’s promise, ten years after Abraham and Sarah moved to Canaan, Sarah continues to be barren. She asks Abraham to take her maidservant Hagar as a wife, hoping that Hagar will bear him a child and Sarah will thereby be “built up.” Hagar quickly conceives and Sarah is enraged when she detects that her maidservant is looking down upon her. So she oppresses her, and Hagar flees, only to return to Abraham’s home after an encounter in the desert with an angel of God. Soon, she bears Ishmael, Abraham’s first biological child. At this time, Abraham is eighty-six years old.
Finally, God appears to Abraham again, promises that he will have many descendants and that they will inherit the land of Canaan, and asks that he circumcise himself and all male members of his