Genesis 13:1-18 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Abram and Lot Separate
Comments for Study 9

Genesis 13:1-18
Memory Verse 13:1


I. Abram Repentance and God's Blessing (1-4)

>1. When Abram left Egypt, where did he go? Why? What does this show about him? Who went with him? Why? What had been and continued to happen to Abram? (2) What does this show about God? About God's promise to Abram?

Genesis 13:1 "So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him."

* "So Abram went up from Egypt" -Israel's authoritative Scripture is historical narrative in form rather than theological discussion of doctrine or catechetical list of teaching. The narrative centers on people of minor or no significance for secular historians of the biblical period. Biblical history is concerned with the spiritual experiences of chosen people with God rather than with the political history of powerful nations. Only as international politics intersects with working out of God's purposes do international institutions and personalities receive notice in biblical history. Abram moved from Mesopotamia through Canaan to Egypt, but no kings, Pharaohs, or international events were named. Rather Abram's ability to bring blessing or cursing on nations and individuals is the focus. History is the story of God's blessing (12:2-3) and promise (13:14-17).

* "Negev" -The dry wasteland stretching southward from Geersheba. The same Hebrew word is translated "south" in 13:14. Abram had been here just before the famine and his trip to Egypt. (12:9-10)

* "with his wife" -Even though Abram did not act like a good husband, God rescued her for him. Even though Abram acted selfishly Sarai did not leave him.

* "and everything he had" -By now it had grow so that it was harder to move.

* "and Lot went with him" -Thus showing that up till now Lot went where Abram directed that they should go.

Genesis 13:2 "Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold."

* "Abram had become very wealthy" -Thus showing that God had blessed him more than saving his life. Although God did not say in chapter 12 that part of the blessing would be wealth, this is what happened. In the Old Testament wealth was often an indication of God's blessing. But not always, very few of the prophets where wealthy like Abram was.

>2. Then where did Abram go to? Why do you think he didn't go there right away? What was important to Abram about this location? What did he do there? What does this show about Abram at this time? How do you think he felt?

Genesis 13:3-4 "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 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD."

* "from place to place" -Thus showing that Abram had left with a sense of failure and condemnation. But now he had a chance to start over.

* "until he came to Bethel" -Abram was here in 12:8. It was here that he built his first alter. By returning here it shows that Abram remembered God and his word.

This ancient sanctuary dates back to the twenty-first century B.C. and is mentioned more often in Scripture than any other city except Jerusalem. It is situated on the road to Shechem, about ten or eleven miles north of Jerusalem.

* "There Abram called on the name of the LORD" -Abram repented of what he had done in Egypt. He missed his relationship with God. In Egypt Abram had not built any altars.

II. Lot's Choice (5-13)

>3. Why did a problem arise between Abram and Lot? What does this problem show about God's blessings? How did the Canaanites and Perizzites complicate the problem?

Genesis 13:5-6 "Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 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."

* "Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram"-Obviously Abram was the spiritual elder and Lot followed him.

* "also had flocks and herds and tents" -Lot's blessing by God. This came about in God keeping his promise to Abram, "Those who bless you I will bless." Lot staying with Abram was a blessing to Lot.

* "But the land could not support them" -Evidence of how great God's blessing to Abram was. Livestock made up; the greater part of their possessions, and the region around Bethel and Ai did not have enough water or pasture for such large flocks and herds.

* "while they stayed together" -They had to depart. It was the only solution.

* "they were not able to stay together" -It can cause problems if not handled in this manner. God's blessings sometimes becomes hard to manage in ways that we would like them to be.

Genesis 13:7 "And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsman and the herdsman of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time."

* "And quarreling arose" -In Hebrew "quarreling" is "mriba" indicating disputing, striving, and contentions.

Quarreling amongst God's people will happen. The passage is a good example of how to solve this kind of problem. Paul and Barnabas solved there problem this way as well. War and conflict are as ancient as humanity. For ages, people have acted upon the conciliatory impulses of God to seek peace. The distribution of goods and wealth is a major area of dispute leading to conflict. The willingness to compromise even to the extent of giving up economic advantages often leads to peace.

* "The Canaanites" -The same as those mentioned in 10:18-19.

* "and Perizzites" -Not mentioned in 10. May refer to rural inhabitants in contrast to city dwellers.

* "were also living in the land at the time" -Not only did the land need to support Abram and Lot, but these people too.

Abram was among sinners. He was a witness to them. They no doubt saw the quarrels that arose between Abram's herdsman and the herdsman of Lot.

>4. How did Abram propose to solve the problem? What does he reveal about himself in this proposal? How has his attitude toward material things and people changed since he went to Egypt?

Genesis 13:8-9 "So Abram said to Lot, "Let's not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsman and mine, for we are brothers. 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.""

* "So Abram said to Lot" -Abram was saying that Lot was going to be independent of Abram now.

Abram had a sense that their relationship was more important than material possessions and human power.

* "brothers" -They were physically not really brothers, but spiritually they were. Physically Lot was Abram's nephew, considered younger not only physically, but socially as well. Still Abram respected him.

* "If you go...I go" -Being the older Abram had the right to make the decision without consent. But Abram let Lot decide for several reasons. First, to help him grow in faith. Up until now Lot just followed Abram. If Lot made the right decision he would be blessed. If Lot made the wrong decision He would have problems.

Also it shows Abram's faith in God's promise to bless Abram. Abram believed God would bless him anywhere he went. Abram didn't worry. This is very hard to do and very expensive.

In some respects Lot owed Abram a lot. But Abram did not say any of this.

Abram wasn't bound by the problem.

Abram wasn't possessive.

* In Egypt Abram lied to save himself, now he put himself in the hand's of a younger man's decision. Also he wanted the best for Lot at self sacrifice.

>5. What did Lot choose? Why? What is significant about "the garden of the LORD and "the land of Egypt"?

Genesis 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, toward Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company."

* "like the garden of the LORD" -Man had everything there. Life was easy. This appealed to Lot. Lot chose this because it was beautiful, on human things not spiritual. He thought it would be good but he didn't see, or at least except, the dangers.

* "Like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar" -same as above. However, no godly men were there.

* "This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah" -Archaeology has confirmed that, prior to this catastrophe, the now dry area east and south-east of the Dead Sea had ample water and was well populated.

* "So Lot chose for himself" -Lot didn't pray before he decided.

Lot followed his eyes. He had weak faith. He had hope in the world. Wrong value system. He didn't learn Abram's lesson in Egypt. He was superficial.

Also, it could be questioned if Lot thought of Abram here. No where does it say that he consulted Abram.

>6. How did Lot's lifestyle change? What does this move toward Sodom show about him? Did he intend to do this?

Genesis 13:12-13 "Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD."

* "while Lot lived among the cities of the plain"

* "and pitched his tents near Sodom" -Lot slowly fell away.

Before Lot followed the Lord by following Abram. Now on his own he did not. Lot did not build any alters.

Perhaps Lot thought he could resist the temptation of Sodom. But he could not.

Most likely Lot did not intend to compromise. But he did. Why? Because in his heart he had weeds. When a time of an important decision came he could not make a sound decision. (2 Peter 2:7,8)

* "Now the men of Sodom were wicked" -Lot looked at the good land without looking at the people in the land.

III. God's Promise (14-18)

>7. After Lot left, why might Abram have been sorry and discouraged?

>8. What physical activity did God give him to do? Why was this good?

Genesis 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."

* "The LORD said to Abram" -The LORD visited Abram during his time of depression. God loved him and was concerned about his depression.

* "Lot had parted from him" -Now Abram was all alone.

* "lift up your eyes" -Abram was probably depressed because Lot was close to him, but now left him. All his family was not with him. Lot was his family, friend, and spiritual sheep. Abram couldn't find much joy in life. Also he had no son yet.

Abram was depressed because he wasn't thinking of God's promise. He was worried. So the LORD, in his great mercy and kindness visited Abram. In the time of depression God gave his words to Abram to hold onto. (John 8:31)

Genesis 13:15-16 "All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 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.

* Similar to the promise in chapter twelve, but this one is more concrete.

* "the dust of the earth" -A simile (common in the ancient Near East) for the large number of Abram's offspring. Similar phrases are "as numerous as the stars in the sky" and "as the sand on the seashore" In difficult times God reminds us, as he did Abram, of his words and promises.

>9. What promise did God give Abram? How is it similar to the promise in 12:2-3? How is it different? What does this teach about God?

Genesis 13:17 "Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.""

* Physically experience God's blessing plants hope. In this Abram would remember the LORD and his promises. This would be thinking time.

* God knows our problems and how to solve them.

>10. How did Abram respond to God's promise? What does this show about his faith?

Genesis 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."

* "So Abram moved his tents" -Abram's response proved he believed the LORD. Abram obeyed God.

* "great trees of Mamre" -Mamre was named after one of Abram's allies (14:13).

* "at Hebron" -An ancient city in southern Judah, nineteen miles south west of Jerusalem, at the junction of all the principal highways of the region. It stood out prominently on the landscape, 3,040 feet above sea level. Josephus speaks of it as being more ancient than the city of Memphis in Egypt. He also says that an old oak tree had been there since the creation of the world. Surrounding the city were olive trees, grapes, springs, and wells, and grazing ground. The cave of Machpelah, later bought by Abram for a tomb for Sarah, was very near. It became the burial place not only of Sarah, but of Abram, Isaac Jacob, Rebekah, and Leah.

* "where he built an altar to the LORD" -Abram sacrificed/prayed to God with a thankful heart. Abram made it through this hard time because he was with and worshiped God. I can make it through hard times if I believe by faith, walk with God and worship God with a thankful heart.