Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.
5 And Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6 so that the land could not support both of them dwelling together; for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together, 7 and there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.
8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herdsmen and my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10 And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself all the Jordan Valley, and Lot journeyed east. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.
In the 13th chapter of Genesis, Abram and Lot encounter a problem built upon too much success.
(5, 6) Lot.—He, too, had possibly received presents in Egypt, for we find him rivalling his uncle in wealth; and the “tents” show that he had numerous followers, and, like Abram, was the chief of a powerful clan. The repetition that “the land was not able to bear them,” and that “they could not dwell together,” implies that the difficulty had long been felt before it led to an open rupture.
We are not told exactly how much wealth Abram or Lot were given in Egypt, or why, but it appears to be the case that both obtained a lot of wealth during their sojourn into Egypt.
From David Guzik:
a. Lot also, who went with Abram: God commanded Abram to leave his family behind when he came to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1), but Abram brought his nephew Lot along with him. Trouble like this was the result.
i. This conflict came after Abram did the right thing. When we get right with God, we can often expect attack from the devil.
b. There was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock: Something had to be done about this strife between the estates of Abram and Lot, because they could not continue a conflict like this before the unbelieving inhabitants of Canaan.
i. When the Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land, and saw the men of Abram and Lot fighting, they must have thought, “Oh, they’re just like us. They say they worship another God, a God they say is the true God, but I see they are really just like us.”
ii. “Many people will never listen to what any believer says because of what some believers are.” (Barnhouse)
c. Their possessions were so great: This is the first mention of wealth in the Bible. There was a great difference between the riches of Abram and the riches of Lot. They both had great wealth, but Lot’s wealth possessed him. Abram had great possessions, but they did not possess him.
Abram takes steps to end the strife between himself and Lot.
From the Pulpit Commentaries:
And Abram said unto Lot. Perceiving probably that Lot’s face was not towards him as usual, and being desirous to avert the danger of collision between his nephew and himself. Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and (i.e. either identifying himself and his nephew with their subordinates, or fearing that the strife of their subordinates might spread to themselves, hence, as) between my herd-men and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Literally, men brethren (cf. Genesis 11:27, Genesis 11:31; Exodus 2:13; Psalms 133:1). Abram and Lot were kinsmen by nature, by relationship, and by faith (vide Genesis 11:31; 2 Peter 2:7).
Is not the whole land before thee? The Bethel plateau commands an extensive view of Palestine (vide on Genesis 13:10). Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. Thus giving Lot the choice of the country. If thou wilt take the left hand (literally, if to the left hand (sc. thou wilt go), the Hebrew term being in the accusative after a verb of motion—then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
You can see from the topography how the land was divided up between the two men.
One sentence here that I find interesting is the comparison of the valley with The Garden of the Lord. The Garden of the Lord is a clear reference to the Garden of Eden. It is not surprising that it would be well known to Abram and Lot but one wonders whether any part of it remains after the Flood?
The verse also refers to the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar, as being well-watered.
Where is Zoar?
(smallness), one of the most ancient cities of the land of Canaan. Its original name was BELA. (Genesis 14:2,8) It was in intimate connection with the cities of the “plain of Jordan” –Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, See also (Genesis 13:10) but not Genesis10:19 In the general destruction of the cities of the plain Zoar was spared to afford shelter to Lot. (Genesis 19:22,23,30) It is mentioned in the account of the death of Moses as one (of the landmarks which bounded his view from Pisgah, (34:3) and it appears to have been known in the time both of Isaiah, (Isaiah 15:5) and Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 48:34) These are all the notices of Zoar contained in the Bible. It was situated in the same district with the four cities already mentioned, viz. in the “plain” or “circle” of the Jordan, and the narrative of (Genesis 19:1)… evidently implies that it was very near to Sodom. vs. (Genesis 19:15; 23:27) The definite position of Sodom is, and probably will always be, a mystery; but there can be little doubt that the plain of the Jordan was at the north side of the Dead Sea and that the cities of the plain must therefore have been situated there instead of at the southern end of the lake, as it is generally taken for granted they were. [SODOM] (But the great majority of scholars from Josephus and Eusebius to the present of the Dead Sea.)
Of course, the choice here made by Lot foretells calamity in the not too distant future. Verse 11 even gives us a parenthetical spoiler.
(This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Ellicott explains the danger below.
(12, 13) Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain.—Heb., of the Ciccar. Not as yet within their walls, but in their neighbourhood, and evidently with a longing “toward Sodom,” where, in Genesis 19, we find him sitting in the gate as a citizen, and with his tent changed to a house. While, then, Abram continued to lead a hardy life as a stranger upon the bracing hills, Lot sighed for the less self-denying habits of the city; and probably, when he had descended into the Ghor, the enervating climate, which so developed the sensual vices of the people as to make them “sinners before Jehovah” (see on Genesis 10:9), disposed Lot also to quit his tent, and yield himself to a luxurious and easy manner of living.
Sodom = סְדֹם Çᵉdôm, sed-ome’; from an unused root meaning to scorch; burnt (i.e. volcanic or bituminous) district; Sedom, a place near the Dead Sea:—Sodom.
wicked = רַע raʻ, rah; from H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (natural or moral):—adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displease(-ure), distress, evil((-favouredness), man, thing), + exceedingly, × great, grief(-vous), harm, heavy, hurt(-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief(-vous), misery, naught(-ty), noisome, + not please, sad(-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked(-ly, -ness, one), worse(-st), wretchedness, wrong. (Including feminine raaah; as adjective or noun.)
When we get away from self-denial, bad things can happen. For Lot and the people of the city who are now his neighbors, that will soon be evident in the text.