Abram and Lot separate, 1-18
We can see this as a further test of Abram’s obedience to God’s promise; a test that he passes with flying colours. Abram’s behaviour here ‘is a model of insight, good sense and generosity.’ (Kidner)
Gen 13:1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.
Gen 13:2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
Gen 13:3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier
The journey from Egypt would have been about 200 miles.
After his experiences in Egypt, Abram returns to a place where God has has met him and spoken to him before.
Gen 13:4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.
‘We have need to be reminded, and should take all occasions to remind ourselves, of our solemn vows; and perhaps the place where they were made may help to bring them afresh to mind, and it may therefore do us good to visit it.’ (MHC)
Gen 13:5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.
Gen 13:6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together.
Gen 13:7 And quarrelling arose between Abram’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
Quarreling arose – ‘Riches are often an occasion of strife and contention among relations and neighbours. this is one of those foolish and hurtful lusts which those that will be rich fall into, 1 Tim. 6:9. Riches not only afford matter for contention, and are the things most commonly striven about, but they also stir up a spirit of contention, by making people proud and covetous. Meum and tuum—Mine and thine, are the great make-bates of the world. Poverty and travail, wants and wanderings, could not separate between Abram and Lot; but riches did. Friends are soon lost; but God is a friend from whose love neither the height of prosperity nor the depth of adversity shall separate us.’ (MHC)
‘When Christians have disputes, it hurts the testimony of the Lord. In my pastoral ministry, I frequently visited the unsaved relatives and friends of church members, seeking to interest them in spiritual things, only to discover that they knew about every “church fight” in town. No wonder our Lord prayed that His people might be one, that the world might believe (John 17:20–23). Christian unity is fragrant and fruitful (Ps. 133), but disunity turns that fragrance into a stench and the garden into a desert.’ (Wiersbe)
Gen 13:8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarrelling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers.
Gen 13:9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
‘This time, instead of trying to manipulate the situation to his own advantage, Abram appealed for harmony and set the tone himself by displaying exemplary generosity towards his nephew and allowing him the pick of the land.’ (NBC)
‘Proposing a peaceable division of the land and giving Lot first choice, Abram showed the love of peace and a willingness to sacrifice self-interest that the Bible always applauds (cf. Ps. 133; Mt. 5:9; Phil. 2:1–15).’ (NBC)
‘It is a noble conquest to be willing to yield for peace’ sake; it is the conquest of ourselves, and our own pride and passion, Mt. 5:39, 40.’ (MHC)
‘Ironically, Abraham is on the verge of giving the Promised Land to Lot, who later (19:37–38) became the father of the Ammonites and the Moabites. These people throughout Israel’s subsequent history (Dt 23:3–6; Ezr 9:1) were the primary obstacle to the fulfillment of the promise. Thanks to Abraham the promise seems to teeter on the whim of the father of the Moabites. But Lot “chose” to go “east”; so Abraham remained in the land.’ (EBC)
Abram’s wisdom here ‘sprang from his faith. By faith he had already renounced everything; he could afford to refresh the choice: and by faith he had opted for the unseen; he had no need to judge, as Lot did, “by the sight of his eyes”.’ (Kidner)
Gen 13:10 Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, towards Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Lot looked up – A good view of the surrounding countryside – encompassing the Jordan valley and the area around the north of the Dead Sea – would have been possible from the hills around Bethel.
‘Lot had a tent but no altar (Gen 13:5), which meant he did not call on the Lord for wisdom in making decisions (James 1:5). Instead of lifting up his eyes to heaven, Lot lifted up his eyes to the plain of Jordan (Gen 13:10) and stopped there.’ (Wiersbe)
Well watered, like the garden of the Lord – Like Eden. But it is inhabited by sinful men, v13.
The quarrelling may well have been about the availability of water.
Gen 13:11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out towards the east. The two men parted company:
MHC notes that Lot expresses no reluctance to separate from Abram, nor remits the choice of land to his uncle.
‘Lot had a great opportunity to become a man of God as he walked with Abraham, but we don’t read of Lot’s building an altar or calling on the Lord. First, Lot looked toward Sodom (Gen. 13:10); then he moved toward Sodom (13:11–12); and finally, he moved into Sodom (14:12). Instead of being a pilgrim who made progress, Lot regressed into the world and away from God’s blessing (Ps. 1:1). He “journeyed east” (Gen. 13:11) and turned his back on Bethel (“house of God”) and toward Ai (“ruins”; see 12:8).’ (Wiersbe)
Gen 13:12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.
Lot lived among the cities of the plain – thus leaving the whole of the land of Canaan to Abram.
Pitched his tents near Sodom – ‘People do not decide to be drunkards, drug addicts, prostitutes, murderers, or thieves, but they pitch their tent toward Sodom, and the powers of evil overcome them.’ John H. Eastwood
‘Sensual choices are sinful choices, and seldom speed well. Those who in choosing relations, callings, dwellings, or settlements are guided and governed by the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, or the pride of life, and consult not the interests of their souls and their religion, cannot expect God’s presence with them, nor his blessing upon them, but are commonly disappointed even in that which they principally aimed at, and miss of that which they promised themselves satisfaction in. In all our choices this principle should overrule us, That that is best for us which is best for our souls.’ (MHC)
Gen 13:13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.
‘Some sinners are the worse for living in a good land. So the Sodomites were: for this was the iniquity of Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness; and all these were supported by the great plenty their country afforded, Eze. 16:49. Thus the prosperity of fools destroys them.’ (MHC)
‘It has often been the vexatious lot of good men to live among wicked neighbours, to sojourn in Mesech (Ps. 120:5), and it cannot but be the more grievous, if, as Lot here, they have brought it upon themselves by an unadvised choice.’ (MHC)
Gen 13:14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west.
Here (15-17) is a renewed and even richer expression of God’s promise to Abram.
Gen 13:15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring for ever.
‘That the land will be Israel’s everlasting possession is reaffirmed in 17:8; 48:4, and is the presupposition informing the jubilee year legislation and the inheritance laws (Lev 25:25–34; Num 36:5–9). The God-givenness of the land is a central theme of Deuteronomy (e.g., 3:18–21; 30:3–5) and the basis of the prophetic hope that Israel will return there after exile (e.g., Jer 31:2–21).’ (Wenham)
Gen 13:16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.
‘The NT sees believing Gentiles as well as faithful Jews as being counted as Abram’s descendants (Rom 4:16–18; Gal 3:29), so that in heaven there will be “a great multitude which no man can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues” (Rev 7:9).’ (Wenham)
The promise to Abraham (Gen 12:1–3; cf 13:14–18; 15:1–6, etc) and repeated in Ex 6:7; Lev 26:12; Dt 26:17–19; 29:12, 13; 2 S 7; 1 Ch 17, etc) is understood in the NT as being fulfilled in Christ (see, for example, Gal 3:14).
Gen 13:17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
Gen 13:18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.
‘When God meets us with gracious promises, he expects that we should attend him with our humble praises.’ (MHC)
‘The sequel for both men is instructive. Lot, choosing the things that are seen, found them corrupt, v13 and insecure; choosing selfishly, he was to grow ever more isolated the unloved. Abram, on the other hand, found liberation. With the call of Gen 12:1 amplified, v14, reiterated (note the threefold “thy seed” in v15f) and made, in token, tangible, v17. We may perhaps compare the sequence the verses 14 and 17 with that of Eph 3:18 and Eph 4:1.’ (Kidner)