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Program Descriptions Call and Promise

Sunday, November 10, 1996 at 6 p.m. (E.T.)
(Check local listings.)

God calls Abraham to leave his home, promising him that he will father a great nation. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, journey to Egypt where Abraham asks Sarah to pretend to be his sister for the sake of survival. Bill Moyers says: "God is founding a dynasty, the beginnings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. One might expect the storyteller to paint the First Family ten feet tall with several coats of whitewash. But the picture we get of these men and women is uncomfortably human. There is so much marital conflict and sibling intrigue they almost forfeit the call and fumble the promise. Yet the storyteller refuses to clean up their act. This is the amazing thing about the people of Genesis. The more we talk about them, the more they look like people we know -- faces in the mirror."

Featuring Robert Alter, Azizah Al-Hibri, Bharati Mukherjee, Eugene Rivers, Lewis Smedes, Elizabeth Swados, Burton L. Visotzky. See Biographies for more information about the participants.

Eugene Rivers

Audio Tales:

©Duane Michals
Mandy Patinkin
Play: RealAudio

See more information on audio downloads or on obtaining a RealAudio player. For RealAudio, we recommend 2.0 or later.

Singer, performer and actor Mandy Patinkin has lent his voice to the GENESIS television series as a storyteller. You may listen to the actual sound recording of this story either as RealAudio or as a download.
Narrative written by Elizabeth Swados.

The Lord called to Abraham, and said "Leave your native land, your birthplace, and your father's house. Go to a land I will show you. And I will bless you and make your name great and you will be the father of many nations. And all of your children will be blessed for I will be their God. I will bless those that bless you. And anyone that curses you I will curse. And all the families of the earth will be blessed in you."

So Abraham left his home and he took his wife Sarah, his nephew named Lot, and all their belongings and servants, and set out for the land of Canaan. Abraham saw that the Canaanites already dwelt there. He moved on, but the Lord appeared again. "Abraham, you and your children shall have this land." So Abraham built an altar to the Lord who had appeared to him.

When a terrible famine fell on Canaan, Abraham went down to Egypt. At the border, Abraham said to Sarah, "Listen, I know what a beautiful woman you are. If the Egyptians see you and think you are my wife, they'll kill me to get to you. Say that you are my sister so it will go well with me. And I will live because of you."

And it was true: the Egyptians found Sarah to be very beautiful. When Pharaoh heard of her beauty he took her into his house. And he treated Abraham well for her sake. Abraham was given sheep, oxen, donkeys, servants, and camels. But God caused great plagues to fall on Pharaoh because of Sarah. And Pharaoh sent for Abraham and said, "What have you done to me? Why didn't you tell me that she was your wife? Take her and be gone!"

So Abraham left Egypt with Sarah, Lot and his many servants. Now he was very rich in cattle, silver and gold. He went back to the place where he had first pitched his tent on the mountain, where he had built an altar for the Lord. And there, in that place, Abraham called out the name of God.
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