A very curious aspect of Abraham’s introduction into the Torah’s narrative is the fact that almost immediately after reaching Canaan – or, as God had called it, “the Land that I will show you” – he leaves for Egypt. Having discovered that Canaan is in the midst of a famine (Gen. 12:10), he abandons the Promised Land and heads for the fleshpots of Egypt, to ride out the storm elsewhere. Before arriving in Egypt, he instructs his wife, Sarah, to lie about her identity, to save him from certain death – a very strange thing for a man of faith to do.
Chazal cite this curious episode as Abraham’s first test, which they seem to indicate he passed with flying colors. Meanwhile, Ramban sees the whole saga in rather a different light.
Rabbi Dunner goes through the details of what happened, explains Chazal’s and Ramban’s differing interpretations, and then reveals a remarkable Alshich that tries to find a middle path between these two opposing opinions.