Why Was There a Famine? A Look at Genesis Chapter 12

This past shabbat I led a study session in shul about the troubling event near the beginning of the portion Lech Lecha. In chapter 12 of Genesis we are told that God spoke to Abraham and his family to leave their land and venture to a new land which God will show him. God promises that if Abraham does so he will inherit the land, be a blessing, and be the first in an eternal line of generations with a covenant relationship with God. Abraham doesn't ask questions he gets up and goes. He arrives in the land, walks around, settles down. Then in verse 10 we're told that there's a famine and Abraham goes down to Egypt.

Why? Didn't we just read that the land will be blessed? Didn't we just read that Abraham had total faith in trust in God? Why did Abraham leave and why was there a famine? Click here to read the study sheet. Rashi and Nachmanides, great medieval commentators view this is God's will and a test of Abraham's faith. The modern Conservative chumash, Etz Hayim, sees this as Abraham's weakness and how he strived to overcome that and become great.

What do you think?