Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees in 1975 B.C. when his father Terah was 130 years old. At the age of 200 Terah decides to move his family, which includes his grandson Lot, his son Abram and his wife Sarai (Sarah), to Haran (Genesis 11:31). Terah dies in Haran five years later. Abram, now 75 years old, leaves Haran and takes the family to the land of Canaan (the land of promise - Hebrews 11:9) in obedience to God's command:
"Now the Lord had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'" (Genesis 12:1-3, NKJV throughout).
Abram settles for a short time in Shechem, where God promises to give his descendents all the land around him (Genesis 12:6-7). He soon journeys south from Shechem to an area between Bethel and Ai. It is while living in this general area that a great famine comes upon the land (Genesis 12:10). Abraham takes Sarah, Lot, and all their possessions to Egypt to escape the famine.
As they near Egypt Abraham, fearful the Egyptians will kill him in order to take his beautiful wife, tells Sarah (who is now 67 years old):
"'Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, 'This is his wife'; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. PLEASE SAY YOU ARE MY SISTER, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.'" (Genesis 12:11-13)
Abraham's plan works, but with consequences. First, not only is his life spared, Abraham is treated well and given gifts by Egypt's Pharaoh (Amenemhat II) when the ruler brings Sarah to his house. God, however, brings plagues to Pharaoh and his house because of Sarah. The angry ruler soon confronts Abram about his lie:
"And Pharaoh called Abram and said, 'What is this you have done to me? WHY DID YOU NOT TELL ME THAT SHE WAS YOUR WIFE? Why did you say, 'She is my sister'? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.' " (Genesis 12:18-19)
Abraham and family leave Egypt and go back to Canaan.