There are three statements in Genesis 12:15:

וַיִּרְאוּ אֹתָהּ שָׂרֵי פַרְעֹה וַיְהַלְלוּ אֹתָהּ אֶל פַּרְעֹה וַתֻּקַּח הָאִשָּׁה בֵּית פַּרְעֹה

And Pharaoh's princes saw her, and they praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken to the house of Pharaoh.

(emphases mine)

In the first two statements, the subject is Pharaoh's princes, and the object is "her." In the third statement, the verb is passive, and the object is now "the woman" instead of a pronoun.

Why these two shifts?


2 Answers 2


Just a thought: Being seen and being praised is something you can't avoid. There is nothing you can do about it. But being taken is something you can resist. So the third phrase gives us the understanding that it was against Sharah's will : She was taken (Vatukach) instead of They took here (vayikchu otah).

  • 4
    Tora Sh'lema 157, q.v., cites something like this from Agadas Ester 2:7.
    – msh210
    Nov 6, 2011 at 8:58

To me, this implies two different group of people who play two different roles. The princes are the ones who saw her and told Pharaoh about her. They're actively affecting the story and therefore are mentioned. Subsequently Pharaoh had her brought to him by lower level agents who do not independently affect the narrative and therefore aren't mentioned.

  • Ie 3 separate acts that happened at different times: The princes saw Sarai. Later they told the Pharaoh. Later Pharaoh had her taken to his house. Very nice!
    – Larry K
    May 18, 2012 at 4:22

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