Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Genesis 13

Verses 1-18

The Separation of Abraham and Lot - Genesis 13:1-18 gives the account of Abraham and Lot separating themselves from one another in the land of Canaan because of the size of their flocks and herds. Although the faith of Abraham was not yet mature, his heart with right with God. This story reveals Abraham's faith in God in the area of divine provision. He entrusts himself into God's divine care and providence, which is an important step to take in believing the promises that God would soon give him.

Genesis 13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, Hebrews, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

Genesis 13:2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Genesis 13:3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;

Genesis 13:4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Genesis 13:4 — "and there Abram called on the name of the LORD" - Comments- The ancient world was polytheistic, worshipping many gods. The author of Genesis is making it clear by this statement that Abraham was serving the one true and living God "Jehovah."

Genesis 13:3-4Comments- Abraham Returns to Bethel - In Genesis 13:3-4 Abraham comes out of Egypt and returns to Bethel. Why would he journey back to this city? Most likely it was because this was the last place where God spoke to him. In other words, it was the last place where he knew he was in God's will for his life, since he very likely doubted it was God's will for him to enter Egypt. Song of Solomon, in Bethel Abraham believed he would be heard by the Lord and granted spiritual guidance and direction. There he "called upon the name of the Lord."

In our lives we too must evaluate our spiritual journeys, and return to the places where we knew we were last in God's will. For example, when I graduated from college in June 1979 I rededicated my life back to the Lord after being out of church and running with the worldly crowds by moving back to my hometown and joining the church where I grew up. This was the place where I was able to get back on the spiritual journey for my life. For each one of us, the physical location may be different, but the principle is the same.

Genesis 13:5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

Genesis 13:6 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.

Genesis 13:7 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.

Genesis 13:7 — "and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land" - Comments- Although Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, the statement, "and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land," ( Genesis 13:7) appears to be one of several editorial notes believed to have been inserted during the time of the final compilation of the Old Testament Scriptures, which many scholars believe took place during the time of Ezra the scribe after the Babylonian captivity. Obviously, the Canaanites were living in the land during the lifetime of Moses, since Israel had not gone in to possess the Promised Land.

We find the Perizzite coupled with the Canaanite again in Genesis 34:30 and Judges 1:4.

Genesis 34:30, "And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."

Judges 1:4, "And Judah went up; and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand: and they slew of them in Bezek ten thousand men."

Verse 8-9

Abraham the Peace Maker - In Genesis 13:8-9 Abraham confronts conflict with divine wisdom. Abraham was the peacemaker in this conflict between the tribesmen of him and Lot. Of course, it was his divine responsibility as head of his family. In these verses, he offers a resolution by divine inspiration and with great wisdom and meekness. We find a discussion on meekness of wisdom in the midst of strife in James 3:13-18. Abraham let Lot make the choice on this occasion. He had just gone through the difficult lesson in Egypt when he chose this land above the famished land of Canaan, hoping to find peace. Instead, he encountered the great trial of his wife being taken from him, so that this choice to go into Egypt did not bring a blessing, but rather, a curse. Now, in Genesis 13:8-9 Abraham has now learned ever so carefully to trust entirely in divine provision and divine providence and take the portion of land that Lot did not take. In contrast, Lot will choose the plush Jordon plains and encounter problems ( Genesis 13:10-13). This is the divine principle behind the casting of lots under the Mosaic Law, by which judgment was made and by which the land was divided unto the twelve tribes of Israel.

James 3:13-18, "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife Isaiah, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."

Illustration- Here is an important lesson for us to learn about our attitude towards receiving material possessions. Joyce Meyer illustrates this well in a story that she tells. Her and her husband, Dave, had a disagreement over a picture that she liked and wanted to purchase for their home. Since Dave did not like the picture, she argued and fussed with him about the issue until he finally gave in and told her to go ahead and get the picture if that would make her happy. Rejoicing to herself, she went to the store and purchased this picture. As she was leaving the store, the Lord spoke to her and said, "You did not win; you lost. Anytime that you get something that way, you lose." 172] Joyce had won through strife, and not by humility. Thus, she had not gained any true blessing from this event.

172] Joyce Meyer, Life in the Word (Fenton, Missouri: Joyce Meyer Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

Genesis 13:8 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.

Genesis 13:9 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.

Verses 10-13

Lot Chooses His Own Lot - In Genesis 13:10-13 Lot chooses the plain of Jordon. Having been given the opportunity to choose his portion of land, Lot took what appeared to be the best. The narrative plot of this passage of Scripture introduces irony by comparing Sodom and Gomorrah to the Garden of Eden. Lot believed he was choosing prosperity, not knowing this will cause much loss and grief in his life. It will cost him the life of his wife and all but two of his children, of whom will bear his descendants. The irony of this narrative is that this was a place of destruction, and not prosperity.

This story reveals Lot's lack of judgment and righteous before God. Lot had not learned to depend upon the Lord as Abraham had now learned. Therefore, he made his decision by sight and not by faith ( 2 Corinthians 5:7). Now, he will encounter grief and vexation of spirit the rest of his life ( 2 Peter 2:7-8). This story foreshadows impending judgment upon Lot's poor decision.

2 Corinthians 5:7, "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)"

2 Peter 2:7-8, "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)"

Abraham trusted the Lord God to place him wherever Lot did not choose. Note the wisdom of Abraham in this situation.

Lot is figurative of a believer who suffers the loss of all things on the Day of Judgment, yet he himself is saved ( 1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

1 Corinthians 3:12-15, "Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man"s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man"s work of what sort it is. If any man"s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man"s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

The Bible says that God considered Lot to be a righteous man ( 2 Peter 2:7).

2 Peter 2:7, "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:"

Yet, in his decision to choose the pleasant land of the plain of Jordan, he eventually suffered all loss. This chapter shows that he was a wealthy man. But, when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he lost everything that he possessed, save his soul only. In contrast, Abraham put his trust in God"s divine intervention in his life ( Hebrews 11:9-10).

Hebrews 11:9-10, "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

He is an example of a believer who is faithful and obedient to serve the Lord, and who does not seek the goods of this world. The rewards of this type of believer will be great. Both of these types of believers will go to heaven. One will receive great rewards, while the other will have few, if any, rewards.

Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

Genesis 13:11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Genesis 13:12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

Genesis 13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

Genesis 13:13Comments- We have a reference to Sodom in 2 Peter 2:7, "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:"

Verses 14-18

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth - In Genesis 13:14-18 we have the account of God revealing to Abraham his inheritance. This is the first time that Abraham will be shown by God the extent of his rightful inheritance. But the Lord did not reveal this to him until he had developed the humility to trust in God's divine providence, which Abraham demonstrated by letting Lot choose between the portions of land. This is what is meant by Jesus' statement in the Beatitudes that the meek shall inherit the earth ( Matthew 5:5). The word "earth" in this verse describes our earthly, possessions in this life. Meekness is how a man demonstrates his faith in God's divine providence and divine provision. In contrast, pride is demonstrated when a man looks to himself for material possessions and ignores divine principles to live by.

Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."

It is important to note that God did not draw any boundaries on this land. Rather he told Abraham to look to the north, south, east and west, and as far as he could see, this will be given to him ( Genesis 13:14-15). This suggests that God's divine plan was for the nations of the earth to obtain righteousness and extend Abraham's inheritance to the uttermost parts of the earth. This is essentially the commandment given to man in the beginning of Creation when God said, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it." ( Genesis 1:28) We can now understand how God could say that his descendants would be as the "as the dust of the earth" ( Genesis 13:16); for it would require the entire earth to provide habitat for such a number of people. Of course, Abraham as one man could only walk so far across the land ( Genesis 13:17), but God would take the Gospel across the earth through the feet of other righteous men and woman and possess nations and kingdoms. This was the office and ministry of the nation of Israel, to come in and possess the Promised Land and to extend it east to the Euphrates and west to Egypt ( Genesis 15:18). The office and ministry of the Church was to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth ( Acts 1:8). Thus, the meek shall indeed inherit the earth.

Genesis 15:18, "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:"

Acts 1:8, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

Genesis 13:14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

Genesis 13:14Comments- When reading Genesis 13:14 we want to ask the question, "What was the significance of God revealing to Abraham the fullness of his inheritance immediately after his separation from Lot?" Perhaps this was because Abraham had now separated from every one of his relatives and was in the perfect will of God, now for the first time having to entirely trust in Him for divine provision in this foreign land.

Genesis 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

Genesis 13:15Comments- Note Paul"s reference to the phrase "to thy seed" in Galatians 3:16, "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ."

Genesis 13:15Scripture Reference- We have a New Testament reference to Genesis 13:15 in Acts 7:5, "And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child."

Genesis 13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Genesis 13:16Comments- In Genesis 13:16 the Lord tells Abraham that he will multiply his seed as the dust of the earth. Within the context of this promise God has just told him to look north, south, east and west and behold the land that He will give him. Now, God uses the analogy of the soil to explain to him the extent of his promise by multiplying his descendants.

Genesis 15:5-6, "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD and he counted it to him for righteousness."

Genesis 13:17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Genesis 13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

Genesis 13:18Comments- Abraham builds his first altar in Sichem ( Genesis 12:6-7). The second altar was built in Bethel ( Genesis 12:8), where Abraham was dwelling when he settled the dispute between Lot and himself over the land. Now he moves to Hebron after this divine encounter with the Lord, where he and Sarah will eventually be buried, and builds his third altar.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 13". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.