“And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abraham’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? So I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way” (Gen 12:17-19).
Of the many corruptions in the modern bible versions which are not found in the King James Bible, that of Abram’s (later Abraham) sister/wife Sarai (later Sarah) being taken into the harem of the Pharaoh is one which seems to have escaped the notice of KJV defenders. But one implication of this corrupt reading has recently become a whole new theory and reinterpretation of bible history.
In a bizarre series of books, author Ahmed Osman completely overturns history and has the bloodline of Jesus originating from Pharaoh. Joseph, Moses, David, and Solomon, are wiped from history as biblical figures, having never existed as such, and various Egyptian Pharaohs have taken their places. And ultimately Jesus himself is “proved” to have never existed.
It’s not my intention to look at Osman’s theory; I only mention it in passing to show the confusion that mistranslations of the bible can produce. I’m not saying that Mr Osman has based his books on the bible; but he is said to have gone beyond the bible as we have it, and refers to rabbinic literature about the bible.
My purpose is to demonstrate that when textual critics and bible translators, mere humans, disregard the received and preserved word of God and change it according to their whims, false theology, and corrupt manuscripts, serious implications and ramifications MUST ensue. Once the door is broken down, the house is left vulnerable, and this is shown to be true with the bible and the theology which is within its pages. “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (Hos 8:6).
The different readings
In the account of Abram and Sarai going into Egypt, Abram asks Sarai to lie for him, and tell anybody who asked that she was his sister, not his wife. “Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass that when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well for me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee” (Gen 12:11-13).
What Abram feared came to pass and when the Egyptian princes saw that Sarai was beautiful, they commended her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his house. In the King James Bible, Pharaoh only intended to marry Sarai and bring her into his harem as a wife. His intention is made clear in the God-preserved Hebrew text where an angry Pharaoh says to Abram: “Why saidst thou, She is my sister? So I might have taken her to me to wife”?
In contrast, the NIV (as do the other versions), says that Pharaoh actually took her as his wife: “So Pharaoh summoned Abram. ‘What have you done to me?’ he said. ‘Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!’”. The difference is very important and significant. Was Sarai an adulteress? Did she have sex with Pharaoh? If so, did she have Pharaoh’s child?
There is safety with the KJV text
The answer is simple if you read the KJV. It is “No” to these questions and doubts about her status and purity. But the modern bible versions would have you believe that Sarai was a “fallen woman”, an adulteress, even though she may have been an unwilling participant.
And if you believe the modern versions, you may be deceived into believing that the reason she couldn’t conceive, the reason that God closed her womb, was because she was “soiled”, according to ancient and Old Testament culture and values.
If Pharaoh actually married Sarai, the necessary implication is that he had sex with her. If Sarai conceived and bore Pharaoh’s son, one implication of this is that Jesus’ bloodline is Egyptian, not Hebrew. But we know that Isaac was not the son of Pharaoh and Sarai but was the son of Abraham and Sarah. Even the modern bible versions agree in this.
- When Sarai was taken in to Pharaoh’s house (Gen 12:15) she was around 65 years old, being 10 years younger than Abram (Gen 12:4). But when God promised that she would conceive and bear a son of her own, he also re-named her Sarah; and by this time she was 90 years old and still childless (Gen 17:17).
- Sarah finally conceived and bore a son to Abraham, whom he named Isaac when he was 99 years old and Sarah 90 years old (Gen 21:5). And this was in the land of the Philistines under Abimelech (Gen 21:22, 34), not in Egypt under Pharaoh (Gen 12:11-20).
- And it was Sarai who was barren, not Abram (Gen 16:1-2, 4); he had already fathered Ishmael by Hagar before Isaac (Gen 16:4), but Isaac was Sarah’s first and only child (Gen 21:1-2).
But not only does the KJV make it clear in this verse (Gen 12:19) that Pharaoh and Sarai were NOT married; we see that God prevented both Pharaoh and Abimelech from even touching her sexually. When Abimelech had taken Sarah into his house, God came to him in a dream and told Abimelech, “Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife” (Gen 20:3). The passage continues: “But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? And she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her….So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife” (Gen 20:4-6, 17-18).
So, although the text in Gen 12 doesn’t say that God didn’t warn Pharaoh in a dream and verbally as he did with Abimelech, it stands to reason that Pharaoh was warned and that he recognised it was from God. We’re told: “And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? Why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? So I might have taken her to wife? Take her, and go thy way” (Gen 12:17-19). If God had prevented the Philistine king Abimelech from touching Sarah sexually, and consequently sinning against him, he most certainly would have done the same with Pharaoh.
So the King James Bible protects Sarah’s chastity and sexual purity and rejects the possibility of her having born a child to Pharaoh while she was in his house. And all because it has the God-preserved reading: “So I might have taken her to me to wife” (Gen 12:19). None of the modern versions, NKJV excepted, give this certainty, but state that Pharaoh did marry Sarai. It clearly demonstrates the importance of the purity of a foundational text – of the God-preserved Received Text – over the cobbled-together Critical Text of modern unbelieving scholars. The scripture says: “Every word of God is pure” (Prov 30:5). It is the difference which makes all the difference.