Abraham 2:1 the Lord caused the famine to wax sore in the land of Ur
What was the result of the idolatrous Chaldeans offering women and children to their dumb idols? Were they blessed by their idol gods? Did they get rich and wax fat and enjoy the fruits of their labors? Instead of a blessing, they received a cursing, for the jealous and offended Jehovah would send a sore famine as payment.
Abraham 2:3 Abraham, get thee out of thy country
Elder John W. Taylor
The Lord commanded Abraham to leave his father's house, because his father, Terah, was preparing to offer him as a sacrifice unto his god.
Here is another instance where you will see the necessity of the Lord revealing himself and raising up a prophet, because all the children of men had gone into idolatry and had gone astray from the plan of life and salvation which the Lord had previously revealed unto them. Nevertheless they had the written word in their midst. Did the written word save them? No. Would the written word have accomplished the object of turning that great people from idolatry? No, What was necessary? It was necessary to do just what was done for our Father in heaven to come and make a personal visit to Abraham. Afterwards the Lord said, in speaking of Abraham, "I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment." Therefore, He pronounced upon him the great blessing that his posterity should become as innumerable as the stars in heaven and as countless as the sands upon the seashore. (Conference Report, October 1897, First Day-Morning Session)
Abraham 2:4 Therefore I left the land of Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan
"The Abraham narrative begins with his obedient response to the command of God in leaving Ur of the Chaldees. To Abraham the Lord said, 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee' (Abraham 2:3). So Abraham departed his country, his kindred, and the honors of his father's house, 'not knowing whither he went,' yet willing that God be his guide (Hebrews 11:8). Ultimately this and the sacrifices yet to follow would be rewarded with a greater country, a faithful posterity, and the fulness of the honors of his divine Father's house. Yet the journey would be long, the trials plentiful, and for the moment of mortality he would be but a stranger and pilgrim on the earth." (Joseph Fielding McConkie, Gospel Symbolism [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1999], 151)
Abraham 2:6 a strange land which I will give unto thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession
With this promise begins the fight over the holy land. It was nothing special before Abraham. The Lord even called it "a strange land," but it would become the most coveted piece of land on the whole planet. No other land has prompted more wars, contentions, claims, or conflict. Abraham would honor and Jesus Christ would sanctify the small tract of land we call "the Holy Land."
"Strabo, a Greek geographer of the first century after Christ, discounted Jerusalem as inconsequential, describing it as a place that 'would not be envied, one for which no one would fight.' That assessment has certainly not rung true to the war-cries of history; Jerusalem has always been a coveted, high-tension zone...Saul B. Cohen wrote: 'No other city in the world has been subject to such intense competition for control as Jerusalem during its 4,000 years of recorded history.' Contrary to the opinion of Strabo, history concludes that few, if any, cities in the world have seen as much armed conflict and destruction as has Jerusalem. Isaiah's foreshadowing that 'they all gather themselves together and come to thee' (Isa. 60:4) has certainly seen its negative as well as its positive fulfillment.
"Thomas Idinopulos noted that 'nothing sacralizes stones like blood, and Jerusalem is a city founded on sanctity, sacrifice, and blood. A lot of blood.' In fact as Barbara Tuchman asserted in Bible and Sword, 'more blood has been shed for Jerusalem than any other spot on earth.' 'With Jerusalem's sanctification,' wrote Norman Kotker, 'has come bloodshed-the sacrifice of animals at the temple, the sacrifice of Christ, the endless sacrifice of its citizens striving to defend the holy city against the attacks of enemies... Abraham sacrificed there, the victim to be his own son Isaac, until God saved the boy by sending a ram as a substitute. And then, it is said, God Himself performed a sacrifice at Jerusalem, to Himself, of Himself, the victim, His own son Jesus.'" (David B. Galbraith, D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner, Jerusalem: The Eternal City [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 3-4)
Abraham 2:8 My name is Jehovah, and I know the end from the beginning
An interesting translation of Exodus records, "And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the Lord; and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, but the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them." (Ex. 6:2-3) Yet, here we have Abraham's record distinctly declaring the name of Jehovah. Exodus says Abraham never knew the name Jehovah; the book of Abraham says he did.
As usual, the Joseph Smith Translation of Ex. 6:2-3 solves the conflict, "I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob. I am the Lord God Almighty; the Lord JEHOVAH. And was not my name known unto them?"
Abraham humbly worshipped the Lord Jehovah and knew him by name. How ironic, then, is the inquiry made of Jesus, the pre-mortal Jehovah, "Art thou greater than our father Abraham...?" (John 8:53) The answer is an unequivocal, YES! The Savior could have responded, "I am greater than Abraham; I spoke to him before he left Haran for the land of Canaan. I promised him that all the blessings of the gospel would come through him and his descendants. You call me Jesus of Nazareth, but I used to be called, 'Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Lord God Almighty!'"
The Savior's actual answer was more subtle and more humble, "Before Abraham was I AM" (John 8:58, capitals added).
Abraham 2:9 I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great
Joseph Fielding Smith
We have already mentioned the fact that the Lord would have gladly conferred the blessings of the Gospel and the power of the Priesthood upon all peoples, if they would have received it, but in their failure he called Abraham and placed upon him this wonderful blessing, because of his faithfulness. This honor and blessing places Abraham as the father of all those who receive the Gospel from his day forth to the end of time. No person can receive the Gospel and the Priesthood without becoming of the seed of Abraham. The scattering of Israel, which came because of rebellion, the Lord turned into a blessing in behalf of all other nations by infusing the blood of Abraham among all other peoples. Notwithstanding the peoples of the earth in ancient times turned away from the truth to the worship of false gods, yet the Lord continued to reach after them and to extend to them the blessings of salvation. This has been done both by the scattering of the blood of Israel and by adoption. At any event, when an individual, even today, receives the Gospel he has to come into the fold of Israel and thus become a son of Abraham. (The Progress of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 117 - 118)
Abraham 2:9 thy seed... shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations
"You will observe that [the Abrahamic Covenant] is amplified and expanded [in the Book of Abraham] and has been given a setting; it shows forth a wisdom and understanding that no one in the world would suppose just by reading the Genesis account. In Abraham it says: 'My name is Jehovah.' This is the Lord Jesus. 'And I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee above measure, and make thy name great among all nations' (Abr. 2:8-9). That is almost the language of Genesis. 'And thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations' (Abr. 2:9). And it happens that we, as the seed of Abraham, for our day, are now attempting as much as we have strength, to do that very thing. We are bearing the ministry here involved to all nations, carrying this same priesthood and this same ministry everywhere that we as of now have an opportunity to go. That is missionary work." (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 3: Genesis to 2 Samuel [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 53)
J Richard Clarke
The covenant children of Abraham were to be distinguished by their sacred obligation to declare to the world the true and living God. Not only were they to be believers and worshipers, but His witnesses, boldly testifying of Him among the unbelievers.
God has once again spoken from the heavens and restored the fulness of the gospel through His chosen prophet. We have become the covenant children of Abraham, a new generation of witnesses to bear testimony that God lives and Jesus is the Christ. We are to be a pure people, a holy people, fully committed and zealous in our proclamation of the gospel in word and deed. This is an awesome responsibility.
In the Book of Mormon we are told that "to be called His people" we must be willing "to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places, ... even until death." (Mosiah 18:8-9.) As individual members of the Church it is in the everyday context of our lives that this witness we exemplify comes under constant scrutiny. (Ensign, May 1985, 73-74)
Abraham 2:10 as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name
"Since the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when gospel blessings have been on earth they have been made available through the house of Israel. Thus, Abraham's and Sarah's descendants are chosen people. They are chosen not because they have an easier path to salvation, or because God loves them more than other people. They are chosen to service, in the same sense that individual Latter-day Saints are chosen for callings in the Church. If we consider the house of Israel's chosen status to be a calling to serve-like any other calling in the gospel-then we can keep the calling in proper perspective.
"The Abrahamic covenant blesses those who are not of Abraham's lineage in a very direct way. The house of Israel is the family of the Lord's Saints. According to the scriptures, those who accept the gospel and join in the Abrahamic covenant become members of the family of Israel, even if they are not Abraham's literal descendants. The Lord taught Abraham concerning the nations of the earth who would not be his physical offspring:
I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father. (Abr. 2:10.)
"Paul taught the same doctrine about non-Israelites being adopted into the family of Abraham:
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek [in other words, neither Israelite nor non-Israelite], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal. 3:27-29.)
"The principle of adoption brings those who are not Abraham's descendants but who accept the gospel into his family. The Lord accounts them heirs of the covenant with its blessings and obligations; they become members of the house of Israel. (We learn of our lineage through a patriarchal blessing.) We thus make no distinction between the literal seed of Abraham and his heirs through adoption, for they are 'all one in Christ Jesus.'" (Kent P. Jackson, "The Abrahamic Covenant: A Blessing for All People," Ensign, Feb. 1990, 53)
Abraham 2:11 this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee (that is to say, the literal seed of the body)
We go to the promise made to Abraham, which was that in him and in his seed all the families of the earth should be blessed. Moses, as I have said was of his seed, and he was the deliverer of the whole of that nation. And who were the prophets that existed among ancient Israel? They were descendants of Abraham; and to them came the word of God and the light of revelation. Who was Jesus? After the flesh of the seed of Abraham. Who were his Twelve Apostles? Of the seed of Abraham. Who were the people that came to this continent-Lehi and his family, about 600 years B. C.? Of the seed of Abraham. Who were the Apostles they had among them that spread forth among the millions that then lived upon this continent? Of the seed of Abraham. Who was Joseph Smith? Of the seed of Abraham; and he, we are told, was to be the son of Joseph, and should himself be called Joseph. And he was raised up for what purpose? To injure or destroy mankind? No; but to bring life and immortality to light through the Gospel. He, like other prominent men of God, came in the fulness of times to do the work which the Lord had appointed unto him, being called of God and taught of God; and being thus taught he possessed an intelligence second to none on the earth. He introduced principles, that no philosopher, or scientist, or all the wisdom of this world combined was capable of developing; neither was it possible for anybody to bring to light such principles, unless through the revelations of God-principles of truth, principles of intelligence, principles which affect man in time and in eternity; principles which affect the world in which we live; principles which affect thousands and myriads that have lived before; principles of salvation that extend to all nations and all peoples living or dead, pertaining to time and pertaining to eternity. (Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. [London: Latter-day Saints' Book Depot, 1854-1886], 20: 225 - 226)
Abraham 2:11 all the families of the earth [shall] be blessed, even with the blessings of the gospel
"In brief, then, through the Abrahamic covenant, the Lord has a message for all of us who have received the gospel and are therefore Abraham's seed. The message could be said to be: I promise you the blessings of the priesthood that lead to exaltation with eternal increase, but in exchange you must take my gospel to every family in every nation in all the world so that they, too, can receive the same blessings of the priesthood." (S. Michael Wilcox, "The Abrahamic Covenant," Ensign, Jan. 1998, 46)
Henry B. Eyring
It's my belief that we were permitted to come into the world at a time when and in a place where we could hear the gospel in return for our covenant that we would then take the gospel to others. That's how I interpret this scripture, where the Lord told Abraham, (quotes Abr. 2:9-11.)
You and I have been blessed with that gospel. It's our obligation now to try to bless all the families of the earth. A full-time mission is the best way I know to do that. I'd put opportunity to pay debts ahead of creating new ones. Of course, there's this about a mission: the harder you work, the more the Lord blesses you, and the further you get in his debt. The happy problem in the kingdom is that the Lord keeps his blessings far ahead of our payments, as long as we keep paying. ("Q&A: Questions and Answers," New Era, May 1979, 40)
Bruce R. McConkie
In the nearly four thousand years since Abraham, uncounted millions of his literal seed have lived in the world, most of them in a day when the gospel, with its saving ordinances and truths was not found among men. Yet the Lord promised Abraham, their father that these millions who have sprung from him, these millions who are his literal seed, these hosts of his posterity who comprise a major portion of a multitude of nations, that all these are entitled by lineage and as of right to the blessings of the priesthood, of the gospel, of salvation, and of eternal life.
May I here note that in order for men to gain salvation in the kingdom of God, they must receive the ordinances of baptism and of the laying on of hands for the receipt of the Holy Ghost; and in order for them to gain eternal life, which is the fulness of the Father's kingdom, and be joint-heirs with his Son, they must in addition enter into the ordinance of celestial marriage. (Conference Report, April 1959, Afternoon Meeting 118)
Abraham 2:12 thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee
"The hearts of righteous men and women hunger for more contact with their Savior, and to find him is manna to the soul. To be in his favor is even more refreshing than drinking cool water in a thirsty land or finding a covering from the sun in time of heat. Knowledge and testimony of Christ are food for the hungry spirit, just as meat and potatoes are food for the hungry body." (Robert J. Matthews, Selected Writings of Robert J. Matthews: Gospel Scholars Series [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1999], 237)
Students of Abraham are impressed by the way in which he seems to start from scratch. The whole world had ground to a stop, was dead center. Who could possibly get it moving again? Well, of course, God could send an angel or something like that, but regarding Abraham is the famous saying, "There must be a stirring below before there can be a stirring above." You have to make the first approach, as we read in Abr. 2:12, "Thy servant has sought thee earnestly; now I have found thee." But he had to seek diligently first. You must seek before you find. You must ask before you receive. You must knock before it is opened to you. So Abraham seems to start from scratch. With the world all going in one direction, he steadily pursues his course in the opposite direction. This marvelous independence of Abraham is wonderful. (Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe [n.p., n.d.], 8.)
Abraham 2:14 I, Abraham, was sixty and two years old when I departed out of Haran
"According to Genesis 12:4, Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran, though Abraham 2:14 makes him sixty-two. In Conflict of Adam and Eve IV, 1:4-6 (as numbered in this collection), he was seventy years of age at the time. The Book of Jasher has him leaving Haran more than once, the last time at age seventy-five (Jasher 13:26). Al-Tayyib, whose account is included in this collection, also has him leaving twice to come to the land of Canaan." (J. Tvedtnes, B. Hauglid, J. Gee, Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, [Provo: FARMS, 2001], p. 149, footnote 50)
Abraham 2:15 we had gathered... the souls that we had won in Haran
"Today, only those who have received the gospel, entered into covenants, and become spiritually the children of Abraham have the responsibility to do missionary work and take the promises of Abraham to the rest of the Lord's children." (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 92)
As children of the covenant, we know we are to be missionaries. Abraham, himself, was a great example of missionary service. In Chaldea, he taught kings, priests, and his family about the one true God and almost lost his life. Undeterred, he taught the people of Haran the gospel as well. Rabbinical teachings tell us Sarah was just as involved in preaching, "Abraham converted men to faith in the one God and Sarah converted women." (J. Tvedtnes, B. Hauglid, J. Gee, Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, [Provo: FARMS, 2001], 83)
The Book of Jasher records:
"And the people of the land of Haran saw that Abram was good and upright with God and men, and that the Lord his God was with him, and some of the people of the land of Haran came and joined Abram, and he taught them the instruction of the Lord and his ways; and these men remained with Abram in his house and they adhered to him...
"Abram dwelt in Haran five years. And many of the people of Haran, about seventy two men, followed Abram and Abram taught them the instruction of the Lord and his ways, and he taught them to know the Lord." (J. Tvedtnes, B. Hauglid, J. Gee, Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, [Provo: FARMS, 2001], 149-150)
Abraham 2:18 we passed from Jershon through the land unto the place of Sechem
See commentary for Genesis 12:6
Abraham 2:21 I, Abraham, concluded to go down into Egypt... for the famine became very grievous
Most likely, Abraham and Sarah were well situated in Haran. They had moved from Ur, settled in Haran, preached the gospel, and obeyed the Lord. Just when they had become comfortable, the Lord asked them to leave. How did Sarah feel about Abraham being commanded to leave Haran? How did Sariah feel about Lehi being commanded to leave Jerusalem?
"The world into which Abraham moved after leaving Haran brought far different experiences than he had when he left Ur. Both Ur and Haran, even though six hundred miles separated, were part of the same Neo-Sumerian culture. Leaving Haran, Abraham soon stepped out into lands controlled by the Egyptians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, and the Hittites." ("In the Steps of Abraham" by Stanley Kimball, Improvement Era, 1954, Vol. Lvii. May, 1954. No. 5.)
Not only were they leaving their familiar home, surroundings, and culture, the land was cursed with a famine. Now here is the chance to complain, "OK, Lord, you told us you would take care of us. You asked us to leave Ur, and we left Ur. Now you ask us to leave Haran and we left Haran. Now we come here to this god-forsaken land of strange peoples, and instead of blessing us, the land is cursed with a famine. We can't even support ourselves here. We are running out of water and food with no hope that we can go on any longer."
Was that Abraham's response? God had told Abraham to go to Canaan, but rather than blame God, Abraham decided how to solve his own dilemma, "I, Abraham, concluded to go down into Egypt." Abraham took matters into his own hands without complaining. When things got bad, he didn't blame God, he made the best of it. But the tests and trials would not end in Egypt. In fact, Sarah's greatest test would come when the Egyptians beheld her beauty.
Abraham 2:22 the Lord said unto me: Behold, Sarai, thy wife, is a very fair woman to look upon
"This placed the burden on Sarah. Would she risk her own rights as wife in order to preserve the life of her husband as the Lord had asked? Indeed, Sarah's visit to Egypt became a period of intense trial for her. Even though the Lord protected her from the pharaoh's intent to make her his wife-and protected her virtue-the pharaoh was nevertheless allowed to take her into his household (Gen. 12:15-20). We see, then, that Egypt represented at the same time a haven from the famine and a place of testing for Sarah." (S. Kent Brown, "Biblical Egypt: Land of Refuge, Land of Bondage," Ensign, Sept. 1980, 45, 47)
Non-biblical sources tell this story in many different and colorful ways. One such account follows below but there are many others which describe horrifying plagues that came upon Pharaoh whenever he came near Sarah. In one account, every time he reached towards her, his arm would wither all the way up to the shoulder. In another, he was blinded, and in another the plague was on his private parts. (J. Tvedtnes, B. Hauglid, J. Gee, Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, [Provo: FARMS, 2001], 325, 367-368, 410, 472)
"Abram... took Sarai and placed her in a chest and concealed it amongst their vessels, for Abram was greatly concerned about Sarai on account of the wickedness of the Egyptians.
And Abram and all belonging to him rose up from the brook Mitzraim and came to Egypt; and they had scarcely entered the gates of the city when the guards stood up to them saying, Give tithe to the king from what you have, and then you may come into the town; and Abram and those that were with him did so.
And Abram with the people that were with him came to Egypt, and when they came they brought the chest in which Sarai was concealed and the Egyptians saw the chest.
And the king's servants approached Abram, saying, What hast thou here in this chest which we have not seen? Now open thou the chest and give tithe to the king of all that it contains.
And Abram said, This chest I will not open, but all you demand upon it I will give. And Pharaoh's officers answered Abram, saying, It is a chest of precious stones, give us the tenth thereof.
Abram said, All that you desire I will give, but you must not open the chest.
And the king's officers pressed Abram, and they reached the chest and opened it with force, and they saw, and behold a beautiful woman was in the chest.
And when the officers of the king beheld Sarai they were struck with admiration at her beauty, and all the princes and servants of Pharaoh assembled to see Sarai, for she was very beautiful. And the king's officers ran and told Pharaoh all that they had seen, and they praised Sarai to the king; and Pharaoh ordered her to be brought, and the woman came before the king.
And Pharaoh beheld Sarai and she pleased him exceedingly, and he was struck with her beauty, and the king rejoiced greatly on her account, and made presents to those who brought him the tidings concerning her.
And the woman was then brought to Pharaoh's house, and Abram grieved on account of his wife, and he prayed to the Lord to deliver her from the hands of Pharaoh.
And Sarai also prayed at that time and said, O Lord God thou didst tell my Lord Abram to go from his land and from his father's house to the land of Canaan, and thou didst promise to do well with him if he would perform thy commands; now behold we have done that which thou didst command us, and we left our land and our families, and we went to a strange land and to a people whom we have not known before.
And we came to this land to avoid the famine, and this evil accident has befallen me; now therefore, O Lord God, deliver us and save us from the hand of this oppressor, and do well with me for the sake of thy mercy.
And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Sarai, and the Lord sent an angel to deliver Sarai from the power of Pharaoh.
And the king came and sat before Sarai and behold an angel of the Lord was standing over them, and he appeared to Sarai and said to her, Do not fear, for the Lord has heard thy prayer.
And the king approached Sarai and said to her, What is that man to thee who brought thee hither? and she said, He is my brother.
And the king said, It is incumbent upon us to make him great, to elevate him and to do unto him all the good which thou shalt command us; and at that time the king sent to Abram silver and gold and precious stones in abundance, together with cattle, men servants and maid servants; and the king ordered Abram to be brought, and he sat in the court of the king's house, and the king greatly exalted Abram on that night.
And the king approached to speak to Sarai, and he reached out his hand to touch her, when the angel smote him heavily, and he was terrified and he refrained from reaching to her.
And when the king came near to Sarai, the angel smote him to the ground, and acted thus to him the whole night, and the king was terrified.
And the angel on that night smote heavily all the servants of the king, and his whole household, on account of Sarai, and there was a great lamentation that night amongst the people of Pharaoh's house.
And Pharaoh, seeing the evil that befell him, said, Surely on account of this woman has this thing happened to me, and he removed himself at some distance from her and spoke pleasing words to her.
And the king said to Sarai, Tell me I pray thee concerning the man with whom thou camest here; and Sarai said, This man is my husband, and I said to thee that he was my brother for I was afraid, lest thou shouldst put him to death through wickedness.
And the king kept away from Sarai, and the plagues of the angel of the Lord ceased from him and his household; and Pharaoh knew that he was smitten on account of Sarai, and the king was greatly astonished at this.
And in the morning the king called for Abram and said to him, What is this thou hast done to me? Why didst thou say, She is my sister, owing to which I took her unto me for a wife, and this heavy plague has therefore come upon me and my household.
Now therefore here is thy wife, take her and go from our land lest we all die on her account. And Pharaoh took more cattle, men servants and maid servants, and silver and gold, to give to Abram, and he returned unto him Sarai his wife.
And the king took a maiden whom he begat by his concubines, and he gave her to Sarai for a handmaid.
And the king said to his daughter, It is better for thee my daughter to be a handmaid in this man's house than to be mistress in my house, after we have beheld the evil that befell us on account of this woman.
And Abram arose, and he and all belonging to him went away from Egypt; and Pharaoh ordered some of his men to accompany him and all that went with him.
And Abram returned to the land of Canaan, to the place where he had made the altar, where he at first had pitched his tent." (The Book of Jasher, 15:7-34, http://www.sacred-texts.com/chr/apo/jasher/15.htm)
Abraham 2:24-25 Let her say unto the Egyptians, she is thy sister
Some have worried about God telling Abraham to lie about his wife. Certainly, it seems deceptive. Certainly, in conveys a falsehood. How can we come to terms with this? Well, one justification is that the life of this great prophet must be weighed in the balance. As Joseph Smith taught, "God said, 'thou shalt not kill;' at another time He said, 'Thou shalt utterly destroy.'... Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 256) Which is worse, for Abraham to tell Pharaoh Sarah is his sister, or for Nephi to chop off Laban's head? Both were exceptions to the rule. If God makes the rules, he can make exceptions to them.
One of the Ten Commandments is "thou shalt not bear false witness" (Ex. 20:16). Over the centuries, Rabbis recognized the conflict. They explain that Abraham was not lying at all.
"But in that Araham said, 'Sarah is my sister,' he did not lie; inasmuch as Terah, his father, married two wives; one of which was called Tona, the mother of Abraham, who died shortly after he was born.
Then Terah married again another wife whose name was Tahdif, who bare him Sarah, whom Abraham married, and who for that reason, said, 'She is my sister'-on my father's side, but not on my mothers." (J. Tvedtnes, B. Hauglid, J. Gee, Traditions about the Early Life of Abraham, [Provo: FARMS, 2001], 223)
This raises another issue. Which is more unsettling, that Abraham misrepresented his relationship with Sarah, or that he married his half-sister?
"Women of Sarai's day considered travel the one thing most fatal to beauty; yet when Sarai arrived in Egypt, her still-radiant beauty was enough to cause a minor sensation. It was a matter of course in those days for a prince to help himself to any handsome woman who caught his eye, and to kill her husband if the husband objected. Knowing that Sarai's beauty would endanger Abram, the Lord suggested that he conceal his real relationship to her. (See Abraham 2:22-25.)
"Being so directed, Sarai agreed to call herself Abram's sister. It was a partial truth, as Sarai was indeed Abram's half-sister. They shared the same father." (Jerrie W. Hurd, Our Sisters in the Bible [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 8)