Bible Commentary: Genesis 13

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Genesis 13

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Abram and Lot; Expansion of the Promises

The story of the separation of Lot from Abram gives us a concise and interesting picture of Abram and how he dealt with others, as well as how he trusted God. When he and Lot returned to Canaan from Egypt, both were rich and had large flocks and herds. But as pasturage and water were in short supply, with all their possessions it was inevitable that strife would result. When the trouble came, Abram took the lead in resolving the dispute. Though he could have made the decision unilaterally, being the elder, the patriarch of the clan and possibly Lot’s foster father (since his real father had died years earlier, Genesis 11:28 Genesis 11:28And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
American King James Version×
), he instead behaved himself with deference, care and entreaty. Not only was this an act of good will and humility, but it was also an act of faith—for Abram trusted that God would make good whatever would fall to him as a result of Lot’s choice. Abram’s motivation, faith and conduct are an example for all of us.

Lot’s motivation, faith and conduct here are also an example for all of us—and, as the results would show, not the best example for us. Lot saw the richness of the well-watered Jordan River valley and chose to dwell among the cities of the plain—“toward” Sodom (verse 12, KJV). At the time he simply made the best choice human reason would indicate. However, when we next meet Lot he is no longer dwelling “toward” Sodom but actually living in it (Genesis 14:12 Genesis 14:12And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelled in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
American King James Version×
). Later we find him even sitting in the gate participating in that evil city’s government (Genesis 19:1 Genesis 19:1And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
American King James Version×
). Though a “righteous man” who was severely troubled by the depravity of the people of Sodom (2 Peter 2:7-8 2 Peter 2:7-8 [7] And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: [8] (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
American King James Version×
), he was nevertheless corrupted by it, to the point of offering his daughters to be sexually assaulted (Genesis 19:8 Genesis 19:8Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and do you to them as is good in your eyes: only to these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
American King James Version×
) rather than trusting in God’s protection (although it is possible that this was a lying ploy, which still shows lack of trust in God). When we last see Lot, though delivered with his life and posterity, his life is in shambles. He has lost his possessions in Sodom’s destruction, he has lost at least two married daughters who remain behind (compare verses 12-15), he has lost his wife to the desire for Sodom instilled in her by living there (verse 26), and he has incestuously fathered children by both his remaining daughters (verse 30 ff.). The lesson is clear: Seeking our own paths without God’s guidance and immersing ourselves in a corrupt environment can gradually seduce us into the ways of the world and lead eventually to ruin.

After Abram and Lot separated, God appeared to Abram. He told Abram to look toward the four cardinal directions, surveying the land of Canaan. All that he could see, God assured him, would be given to him and his seed forever. In addition, God expanded His promises by telling Abram he would have vast numbers of descendants. It is probably significant that this incident occurs after Abram had expressed faith in God’s providence by giving Lot first choice as to where he would dwell and pasture his flocks.

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