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Genesis 13


Abram and Lot Abram Inherits Canaan Abraham and Lot Abram and Lot Separate Abram and Lot Separate
13:1 13:1-4   13:1-4 13:1-4
13:2-7   13:2-7    
  13:5-13   13:5-7 13:5-9
13:8-13   13:8-13 13:8-9  
      13:10-13 13:10-13
      Abram Moves to Hebron  
13:14-18 13:14-18 13:14-18 13:14-18 13:14-17



This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

13:1 Abram returns from Egypt to the Negev. The Negev means the dry southern portions of Canaan. He had migrated to this same region earlier (cf. 12:9) and will return to it again in 20:1. It is also where Isaac lived (cf. 24:62).

Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. 3He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the Lord. 5Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. 7And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

13:2 Abram was a wealthy man. The book of Genesis documents two sources of his wealth.

1. his possessions from Ur, 12:5

2. his accumulations from Egypt, 12:16

In the Ancient Near East there were several ways of accumulating and retaining wealth.

1. precious metals

2. jewels

3. clothing

4. food stuffs

5. livestock


 13:4 "Abram called on the name of the Lord" This phrase implies a specific type of worship setting, probably involving an animal sacrifice (cf. Exod. 20:24). It is first used in 4:26, but recurs in 12:8; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25. See Special Topic at 12:8. Because of the parallelism of I Chr. 16:8; Ps. 105:1; 116:17; and Isa. 12:4, calling on the name also involved acts of "praising" or "thanksgiving" to YHWH.

The "name" (BDB 1027) represented the personal presence of Abram's covenant God. It's full significance will not be known until Exodus 3:13-16. As Elohim represented the "Creator," YHWH represented the covenant-making, personal, present, promising God of Seth and Shem. See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at 12:1.

Abram returned to his first altar in Canaan (cf. 12:8).

13:6 The land in southern Canaan did not get enough annual rainfall to allow the native grasses to flourish. It took many acres to support one flock. Usually April through September was wet enough for grasses to grow, but in October through March the herds had to be moved to higher pastures.

13:7 "the Canaanite and the Perizzite" The term "Canaanite" is a collective term for the inhabitants of Palestine, as is "Amorites." Some have seen a distinction in these names based on: (1) Perizzite can mean "villager," while (2) Canaanite refers to walled-city dwellers. This is the only place where these two groups are listed as the inhabitants of Palestine alone. See Special Topic at 12:6. For "Canaanite" see note at 12:6.

So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. 9Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left." 10Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere-this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah-like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.

13:8-9 "Please let there be no strife" There is a series of grammatical features that describe this dialogue.

1. please let there be no strife (BDB 937) - BDB 224, KB 243, Qal jussive, v. 8

2. please separate from me - BDB 825, KB 962, Niphal imperative, v. 9

3. I will go to the right - BDB 412, KB 415, Hiphil cohortative

4. I will go the left - BDB 970, KB 1332, Hiphil cohortative

It is surprising that Abram (the older and wealthier) let Lot choose, since Canaan had been designated by YHWH as His special gift to Abram. YHWH used Lot's greed to motivate him to choose the eastern side of Jordan.

Only after Lot left and Abram stayed in Canaan did YHWH reappear to him.

13:8 "brothers" Here this word (BDB 26) is used in the sense of a relative (cf. 14:14,16; 29:12,15).

13:10 "Lot lifted up his eyes and saw" Lot chose based on self-interest. The wickedness (cf. v. 13) of the place did not deter him.

▣ "this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah" Here is another editorial comment from a later event. Exactly who and when this original account was penned is unknown, but it seems to have been one of the priests who served as Moses' scribe and biographer (i.e., recorded his death [Deuteronomy 34] and made comments about him, as in Num. 12:3).

▣ "like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt" Rashi (a rabbi of the Middle Ages) says the land had trees like Eden and vegetables like Egypt. The irony is that as Eden was a place of judgment, so too, the Jordan Valley!

▣ "Zoar" Zoar (BDB 858) is one city located in the Jordan Valley (cf. v. 10), just south of the Dead Sea. The account of its name is found in Gen. 19:20-22, which is a word play on "small" (BDB 859 I). It was an oasis (cf. Josephus, Jewish Wars 4.8.4).

There are several cities located in this area: (1) Sodom; (2) Gomorrah; (3) Admah; (4) Zeboiim; and (5) Zoar/Bela. They were collectively called "the cities of the plain." All but Zoar were destroyed by God (cf. Deut. 29:23).

13:13 The population of Sodom is characterized in several negative ways.

1. evil - BDB 948, cf. 2:9; 3:22; 6:5; 8:21; 37:33; 38:7

2. sinners - BDB 308, cf. Num. 16:38; 32:14

3. against the Lord

4. exceedingly wicked

However, the text does not specify how. The account of chapter 19 gives us a window into their evil.

Numbers 1 and 2 are hendiadys, which are often combined in translations as "evil sinners."

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you." 18Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

13:14 "The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him" Perhaps this fulfilled the condition of 12:1. Abram moved by revelation ("lift up your eyes," BDB 669, KB 724, Qal imperative; "look," BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative); Lot by self-interest (cf. v. 10).

13:15 "all the land. . .forever" Two things must be remembered in this statement: (1) God's covenant is always conditional on a human faith response (i.e., Deut. 11:31-32; 28:36,63-68; 30:19-20) and (2) the Hebrew term "forever" ('olam) must be interpreted in its context (see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 1252-1253). It does not usually mean "forever" in the modern English sense of the term. See Special Topic: Forever following Special Topic: Covenant.

This is the heart of the issue about the Jews having a biblical claim in Palestine today. I am impressed by

1. Israel in Prophecy by William Hendricksen

2. Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine by Colin Chapman




13:16 "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth" Here again is the metaphorical promise (cf. 15:5; 22:17; 26:4; 28:14; Exod. 32:13; Num. 23:10) of a son, a family, a tribe, and a great nation (YHWH also promises to bless Ishmael, cf. 16:10; 17:20). The promise is not to be through Lot; he is gone! Abram believes this promise (cf. Gen. 15:6) and Paul uses this as the basis for his justification by grace through faith in Rom. 4:3 and Gal. 3:6.

In Genesis Abraham receives many promises from YHWH.

1. land - 12:1-2; 13:14-15; 15:7,18; 17:8

2. seed/descendants - 12:2; 13:16; 15:5,18; 17:2,4-7,16,19; 22:17

3. covenant - 17:7,19,21

4. special blessing of all nations through him - 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14

However, these are not conditional promises. There is an emphasis on obedience and actions on his part, 12:1; 13:17; 17:1,23; 18:19; 22:16-18; 26:4-5 (see Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p. 3). Abram does not initiate, but he must respond appropriately!

13:17 YHWH commands Abram to check out his new gift.

1. "arise" or "go" - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative (idiomatic, see note below)

2. "walk about" - BDB 229, KB 246, Hithpael imperative (possibly a legal requirement for ownership of land)

The UBS's Handbook on Genesis makes a good point about "arise" when used in combination with another command.

"Arise does not mean that Abram was seated or lying down when he was commanded to walk. In Hebrew the term has a rhetorical function when it occurs as a command followed by another command, indicating that the command is important and that the person should begin immediately to do the action commanded. For other examples in Genesis see 19:15; 21:18; 28:2" (p. 304).

▣ "I will give it to you" See note at v. 15.

13:18 "the oaks of Mamre" Sacred tree(s) (BDB 18) are recurrent themes in early Israel (plural in MT, but singular in the LXX and Peshitta).

1. great tree at Moreh - 12:6; Deut. 11:30

2. great tree at Mamre - 13:18; 14:13; 18:1 (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 1.10.4)

3. great tree at Shechem - 35:4; Jdgs. 9:6

4. great tree at Zaanannim - Josh. 19:33; Jdgs. 4:11

5. great tree at Ophrah - Jdgs. 6:11,19

6. great tree at Tabor - I Sam. 10:3 (no mention of an altar)

7. BDB 18 is equated with BDB 781 in Gen. 18:1,4,8. BDB 781 is what the special tree(s) of Genesis 2-3 are called (cf. 2:9,16,17; 3:1,2,3,6,8,11,12,17,22,24)


▣ "Hebron" At this time it was known as Kiriath-arba (cf. 23:2; 35:27), which shows that this account was written down at a later period after the name was changed by the invading Israelites.

▣ "there he built an altar to the Lord" This new altar (often in the area of a pre-existing Canaanite worship site) is a recurrent theme of Abram's sojourn in Canaan (cf. 12:7; 13:18; 22:9). These altars probably involved an animal sacrifice, which had become a characteristic of the worship of YHWH.

1. Abel - 4:4 4. Isaac - 26:25

2. Noah - 8:20 5. Jacob - 33:20; 35:7

3. Abram - 13:18; 15:12-21 6. Job - Job 1:5

Animal sacrifices are continued in the Exodus (cf. Exodus 12) and developed in the Mosaic covenant (Leviticus 1-7,16).

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