ABRAHAM SEPARATES FROM LOT
In chapter 13 we see the return of Abram from the land of Egypt. Abram and Lot leave Egypt and return to the Land of Promise. Lot separates from Abram and goes to Sodom, and then God appears to Abram for the third time.
As long as Abram is in the land of Egypt and as long as he is still holding on to Lot, God does not appear to him. The minute that he comes back to the land and there is the separation from Lot, God appears to him.
Genesis 12 ended with Abram and his large company being kicked out of Egypt by an angry Pharaoh. Back in Canaan, Abram and his nephew Lot are forced to split up due to the large size of their herds.
Lot’s choice to live near the wicked city of Sodom will have grave implications in coming chapters. God reaffirms and expands on His promises to Abram, who settles near Hebron, building another altar to the Lord and worshiping God there.
Genesis 13:1-9 KJV
 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth–el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth–el and Hai;
 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
Genesis 13:1 KJV
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
If Abraham went “down” into Egypt in 12:10, Grace brings him “up” out of Egypt, as recorded in this Verse; they left the south to go north, back to Canaan.
Abram and his company were forced to enter the land of Egypt in search of food in a time of famine. Now they have been sent back out of Egypt by an angry Pharaoh.
God had afflicted Pharaoh’s household with a plague, because Pharaoh took Abram’s wife Sarai for his own wife. This incident was caused by two factors. The first was Sarai’s great beauty (Genesis 12:14).
The other was Abram’s decision to tell a lie in the form of a half-truth: that Sarai was his sister (Genesis 12:13). This was Abram’s cowardly attempt to keep jealous men from attacking him in order to have access to Sarai (Genesis 12:12).
Even though Abram lied, God intervened to protect His own plan for Abram and Sarai’s lives. In short, Abram had been faithless, but God had proved Himself faithful.
Abram had even become wealthier, leaving Egypt with all the goods Pharaoh gave to him when taking Sarai for his own. Now the company arrives back in the desert-like area of the Negeb (or Negev), in the southern part of the land of Canaan.
Genesis 13:2 KJV
And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
These were the Blessings of God, but it did not make up for his lapse of Faith. Abram was the John D. Rockefeller of that day. He was a very wealthy man at this time.
Even prior to the incident in Egypt, it was clear that Abram was wealthy (Genesis 12:5). Now we’re told that he is very rich, specifically in livestock, silver, and gold. This is the first mention of Abram possessing gold and silver.
It is likely that Abram became much wealthier during his stay in Egypt. For one thing, Genesis 12:16 tells us that Pharaoh had treated Abram well and had given to him many animals, as well as human servants, when he took Sarai for his own wife.
It is likely that Pharaoh allowed Abram to keep all he had given, and may have given him more, in light of his nearly-adulterous relationship with Sarai.
Pharaoh would have been motivated to appease Abram’s God, as well as getting Abram out of the country, to end the plague on his household.
So even though Abram failed to trust God, instead choosing to lie to protect himself, God was faithful to Abram in the end, both protecting and profiting him.
Genesis 13:3 KJV
And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth–el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth–el and Hai;
Abram went far north of Jerusalem. He had come to the south, around Hebron, and now he goes north of Jerusalem to Bethel.
After being forced out of Egypt by an angry Pharaoh, wealthy Abram and his company traveled north through the Negeb, then farther north up into the heart of Canaan.
In truth, they were journeying back up the way they had come down, arriving back in the area of Bethel. This is the same spot, between Bethel and Ai, where they had lived for a time after arriving in Canaan.
As we’ll be reminded in the following verse, this is the spot where Abram had previously built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. It’s possible Abram came here specifically because he was hoping to hear from God once more.
Genesis 13:4 KJV
Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
He went back to the mountaintop where his tent had been at the beginning, and there, doubtless with tears and shame, he called by Sacrifice on the Name of the Lord.
His backslidings were forgiven, his soul was restored, and he resumes his true life as a pilgrim and a worshipper with his tent and his Altar, neither of which he had in Egypt.
Until the Believer comes back to the Cross, of which the Altar is a Type, true Restoration cannot be found.
In the previous verses, Abram and his company left Egypt behind and travelled north, arriving at their former campsite between Bethel and Ai. This was after being given great wealth by Pharaoh, over his desire for Sarai (Genesis 12:10–20).
In particular, Abram seems to be returning to the altar he had built during their previous stay in the region (Genesis 12:7). Again, Abram used this altar to call on the name of the Lord.
We’re not told so, but it’s possible that Abram used the altar to make animal sacrifices to the Lord as a way of worshiping Him. Perhaps Abram was hoping to hear from God again about what next steps he should take.
Genesis 13:5 KJV
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
Lot didn’t seem to realize that his blessings were strictly because of Abraham.
Abram left Egypt as a wealthy man, with a large entourage. This company included his wife, his nephew Lot, various kinds of livestock, other animals, and male and female servants.
Together, they had traversed from Egypt north all the way to the heart of Canaan, arriving at Bethel and the altar to the Lord Abram had previous built.
Here we learn that Lot also had his own wealth, including flocks and herds and tents. In the following verses, we’ll learn that Lot was, in fact, very affluent in his own right.
It’s unclear how much of this property Lot entered into Canaan with and how much he might have picked up in Egypt. What is clear is that God was abundantly blessing Abram and all who were with him.
As it turns out, these blessings will set up the narrative of next few chapters. Abram and Lot will need to separate in order for their families to thrive. This leads Lot into several incidents of trouble, where he has to be rescued.
Genesis 13:6 KJV
And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.
Worldly substance generally causes problems, even as it did here. There was strife in the Church. In fact, the “Church” of that day consisted of the families of Abraham and Lot, at least as far as we know.
Abram’s large company of travelers included Lot, his nephew. God’s blessing on Abram extended to Lot, who had also become quite wealthy in flocks and herds and servants.
In fact, God’s blessing was so great that the land could not support Abram’s and Lot’s possessions living near each other. They would soon exhaust all the local resources.
The following verses will make clear that Abram and Lot were going to need to separate and spread out from each other. This development will set up the events of the next several chapters.
Lot will choose to live close to the rich—but infamously wicked—city of Sodom. Lot’s wealth will result in his own kidnapping, and a rescue by Abram (Genesis 14:1–16).
Pursuit of wealth will also lead Lot to an eventual life within Sodom itself, necessitating a rescue when God judges the city for its sin (Genesis 19).
Genesis 13:7 KJV
And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.
The strife no more produced the worldliness in Lot than it produced the faith in Abraham; it only manifested, in the case of each, what was really there. The Canaanite and the Perizzite observed this “strife,” as they always observe such.
What did they see?
God had blessed Abram and Lot abundantly, including in the size of their herds of livestock. According to this verse, that growth has gotten to the point where their herdsmen were quarreling over resources.
Even the most fertile land can only support so many livestock and people. One can imagine herdsmen from either family trying to graze and water their flocks in the same areas, fighting over the right to those fields.
Once Lot and Abram’s combined tribes became large enough, the only real option was to split up to prevent stagnation.
Though there was room to spread out in the area around Bethel, the land was not empty. This verse reminds us that it was occupied both by the Canaanites and a people group called the Perizzites.
This is part of the land God has promised to Abram’s descendants (Genesis 12:7), but for the time being, it is under the control of a different culture.
Genesis 13:8 KJV
And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.
The bent toward Sodom is now beginning to exert itself in the heart of Lot. This “bent” demands its “rights,” which demands to be able to choose for itself, which, at the same time, means that it does not trust God to make the choice.
Previous verses revealed a conflict had between Abram’s servants and Lot’s servants. Both had extremely large herds of animals, and there simply was not room for them to occupy the same limited space when they had settled around Bethel.
Abram didn’t want conflict with his kinsman Lot, his brother’s son. He didn’t want any reason to quarrel to exist between them. So Abram begins, in this verse, to propose a solution.
Genesis clearly shows that Abram has a soft spot in his heart for Lot. His nephew is mentioned as part of Abram’s original traveling entourage (Genesis 12:4).
Abram will later rescue Lot from kidnappers in a full-blown military raid (Genesis 14:1–16).
After taking the name Abraham, Abram will plead with God on behalf of Lot’s hometown of Sodom (Genesis 18:22–33).
The offer made in the next verse is yet another example of Abram’s gracious love for Lot. That offer turns the normal convention of seniority—or the rights of the elder—upside down.
Genesis 13:9 KJV
Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
This was a test for both Abraham and Lot.
Abram is proposing a solution to end the quarreling between his herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. The reason for the budding feud was due to the limited space available for both of their large herds of animals.
According to this passage, God has blessed Abram and his family abundantly, and this includes Lot (Genesis 13:5–6). Even the richest landscape can only support so many men and animals.
To keep the ever-growing families from bickering over resources, Abram suggests that they split up and settle in separate regions.
To ensure that there is no reason for Lot or Lot’s servants to claim that Abram has taken the best land for himself, Abram generously gives Lot the choice of which parcel of land to occupy.
This is a remarkably humble gesture on the part of Abram. As the elder, he would have had the right of first choice.
Granting this advantage to Lot is not only generous, it reinforces the unique fondness Abram seems to have for his nephew. The following verses reveal Lot’s self-serving choice, which will prove to be quite fateful.
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