Abraham’s Cunning Politics

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

“Please say that you are my sister, that they do good to me because of you, and that I may remain alive on your account” (Gen. 12:13).

We would assume that a wise man like Abraham would reverse the order and prioritize his life over a financial benefit. But there must be greater wisdom than what meets the eye. I can't remember who I heard it from, but the brilliant answer is that Abraham understood politics. If he became an admired public figure, it would be impossible for that society to suddenly kill him to take Sarah. Abraham's plan was that by saying Sarah was his sister, they would lavish him with gifts to win over Sarah to become the king’s wife. Meaning, in any culture, greater success is met through political means, then through force, also removing any threat of an uprising against the government by society members who disapprove. Now, once Abraham was favored, there's no way leaders would kill him to take Sarah. His life would thereby be saved, and this is the precise order of the verse: receiving political gifts wold ensure the safety of his life.