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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 13

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

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

Went up ... south. Palestine being a highland country, the entrance from Egypt by its southern boundary is a continual ascent.

Verse 2

And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Very rich - compared with the pastoral tribes to which Abram belonged. An Arab sheich is considered rich who has a hundred or two hundred tents, from sixty to a hundred camels, a thousand sheep and goats respectively. And Abram, being very rich, must have far exceeded that amount of pastoral property. 'Gold and silver' being rare among these people, his probably arose from the sale of his produce in Egypt.

Verse 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;

Went on his journeys. His progress would be by slow marches and frequent encampments, since he had to regulate his movements by the prospect of water and pasturage.

Unto the place ... between Beth-el and Hai - `a conspicuous hill-its topmost summit resting on the rocky slopes below, and distinguished by its olive groves-offering a natural base for the alter and a fitting shade for the tent of the patriarch' (Stanley).

Verse 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.

There Abram called. We find the patriarch here pitching again in the same place, making use of the same altar, and performing the same sacred rites as before. He felt a strong desire to re-animate his faith and piety on the scene of his former worship: it might be to express humility and penitence for his misconduct in Egypt, or thankfulness for deliverance from perils-to embrace the first opportunity, on returning to Canaan, of leading his family to renew their allegiance to God, and offer the typical sacrifices which pointed to the blessings of the promise.

Verses 5-6

And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verses 7-10

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.

And there was a strife. Strife from similar causes frequently breaks out among the Arabs in Mesopotamia, as well as in Syria; and this is a reason which is often heard for changing the situation of their encampments-namely, that the herdsmen have had a quarrel. Abram's character appears here in a most amiable light. Having a strong sense of religion, he was afraid of doing anything that might tend to injure its character or bring discredit on its name, and he rightly judged that such unhappy effects would be produced if two persons whom nature and grace had so closely connected should come to a rupture.

The Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land. The Canaanite dwelt chiefly in the Phoenician towns in the west; but were scattered in early times throughout the whole country. The Perizzite denoted the inhabitants of open country villages (see the note at Genesis 12:6; 1 Samuel 6:18). The two terms probably indicate the urban and rural populations respectively (Negeb).

Verse 8. Abram said unto Lot, let there be no strife ... between me and thee ... Waiving his right to dictate, he gave the freedom of choice to Lot. The conduct of Abram was not only disinterested and peaceable, but generous and condescending in an extraordinary degree, exemplifying the Scipture precepts, Matthew 6:33; Romans 12:10-11; Philippians 2:4.

Verse 10. Lot lifted up his eyes. Travellers describe that from the top of this hill (see the note at Genesis 13:3.), a little to 'the east of Beth-el,' they can see the Jordan, the broad meadows on either bank, and the waving line of verdure which marks the course of the stream. It is a curious instance of the use of this phrase, "lifted up his eyes," for Lot must have looked down upon the plain of Jordan lying below.

All the plain of Jordan, [Hebrew, kikar (H3603) and hakikaar (H3603), Genesis 13:12; Septuagint, teen (G3588) perichooron (G4066)], (cf. Matthew 3:5). The Greek means: the circle or circuit space, the tract of country along the Jordan. 'The plain thus chosen was situated in, or at least included, the tract then on the south of the Dead Sea, and now covered by the shallow southern bay of that sea' (Robinson). There were copious springs, which have not yet entirely disappeared, and many small streams which issued from the mountains, east and west, so that there was abundance of sweet water in the plain (namely, of Siddim, Genesis 14:3), lying to the south of the lake, which thus, from the almost tropical climate, exhibited a rich luxuriance of vegetation.

As thou comest unto Zoar. - [Septuagint Zogora]. Lot was looking in the direction; but the little town itself was beyond the range of vision. Our translation, as the original text, clearly asserts that, before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, there was a state of wholesome irrigation which did not exist after that destruction. Any understanding whatever leads to the conclusion that the historian, speaking of the choice which Lot made of the country of his after residence, had based that choice upon an irrigation of the land, and a corresponding beauty and fertility which, in the writer's mind, caused it to resemble a garden of the Lord (Eden). Its previous state was that of the Delta in Egypt, where the waters were distributed in rills, or little artificial channels through the fields.

Verse 11

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

Then Lot chose him all the plain - a choice excellent in a worldly point of view, but most inexpedient for his best interests. He seems, though a good man, to have been too much under the influence of a selfish and covetous spirit; and how many, alas! imperil the good of their souls for the prospect of worldly advantage.

They separated themselves the one from the other. 'The social bond would be weak among a people who lived as herdsmen, the scarcity of herbage for their cattle not admitting of the advantage or comfort of settled abodes. Hence, though originally connected together as families from one common ancestor, their association in later times would depend almost wholly upon chance. Separations would take place, like that narrated in this chapter; and it is clear that, among a population so situated, there could be little of what is understood by civil society ('Nin. and Persep.,' p. 23). The incident, however, related here is of memorable interest, as a turning point in the history of Abram. For being now separated from the last of his kindred, as well as his father's house, a new and greater development of the divine promise was made to him.

Verse 12

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

Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain. Lot, though a good man, was weak in the faith, and therefore too easily induced to conform to the world; whereas Abram, believing "in the city which hath foundations" - in that only which can have foundations, because it is the only one whose foundations are laid in perfect righteousness and perfect truth-the city "whose builder and maker is God," - looked for this, and because he looked for it, would take no portion in the cities of corruption round him, but, dwelling in tents, witnessed against them, and declared plainly that he sought a country, (Trench, 'Huls. Lect.')

Verse 13

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

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 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:

Lift ... thine eyes ... all the land which thou seest. So extensive a survey of the country, in all directions, can be obtained from no other point in the neighbourhood; and those plains and hills then lying desolate before the eyes of the solitary patriarch were to be populated with a mighty nation, "like the dust of the earth in number," as they were in Solomon's time (1 Kings 4:20). On inquiring into the manner in which this promise was fulfilled, we learn that God did not see fit, in His adorable wisdom, to begin giving effect to it until 430 years after it was announced, and that, through the obstinate unbelief of the children of Israel, forty years more elapsed before they obtained possession of the promised land. As to the extraordinary increase of the posterity of Abram, repeated testimonies are borne to the actual accomplishment of this part of the promise, in terms which attribute the increase to the special exercise of the Providence of God in effecting a result greatly exceeding what the history and experience of all other nations can parallel (Exodus 4:12; Numbers 22:5; Deuteronomy 1:10; Deuteronomy 10:22).

Verses 15-17

For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 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.

Abram ... came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron - [Hebrew, bÂȘ'eeloneey (H436), in the oaks; Septuagint, para teen drun; Vulgate, juxta convallem; from the latter of which our translation has evidently been made.] "Mamre," a Canaanitish chief in alliance with Abram (Genesis 14:13; Genesis 14:24), "which is in Hebron," - by or near Hebron (originally Kirjath-Arba, Genesis 33:2; Joshua 21:2; Joshua 15:13-14; Judges 1:10), called also Mamre (Genesis 23:17; Genesis 35:27), the frontier town of Palestine in the south, twenty miles south of Jerusalem, and the same distance north of Beer-sheba. This oak is said by Josephus to have been a terebinth (now butm), which is an evergreen; and Jerome says, 'it was standing in his childhood.' Celsius ('Hierobotan.') maintains the same view; but Gesenius, that Ellon denotes any durable tree, especially an oak. There is still, a little from Hebron, an ancient oak tree called by the Arabs Balut-es-Sebta, said to be the only surviving relic of the patriarchal oak groves; and 'it is highly probable,' says Van de Velde, 'that this elegant and majestic tree is an offshoot from the group which stood here in Abram's time.

No wonder that the patriarch, ravished with the delightful climate of this hill country, and with the splendid oaks of Mamre, pitched his tent here.' Dr. Hooker says that this tree, 'Abram's oak' (Quercus pseudo-coccifera), is popularly supposed to indicate the spot where grew the oak or lentisk (for it is disputed which), under which the patriarch pitched his tent, and is reverenced accordingly by Jews, Mahomedans, and Christians. In general habit, it much resembles the Q. Ilex, as grown in this country, but does not branch so much from the base; the bark is similar in colour and fissuring, the branches in direction, and the foliage in colour, etc. The diameter of foliage is 90 feet, and the girth of the trunk Isaiah 23:0 feet. One of the finest boughs of this tree, broken down by a storm in the winter of 1856-1857, was sawn as timber for transportation to Jerusalem, nearly 25 miles off, and loaded seven camels with the wood of the one limb of this fine tree. In geographical distribution, the Q. pseudo-coccifera completely overleaps Q. coccifera, extending from Spain and Algeria to the borders of the Mesopotamian desert, whereas the latter is not described as inhabiting any country further east than Asia Minor' ('Trausac. of Linn. Society,' vol. 23:, sec. 2).

Hebron - alliance (cf. Genesis 14:13).

Built there an altar unto the Lord. The renewal of the promise made to Abram (Genesis 13:14-17) was acknowledged by a fresh tribute of devout gratitude.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/genesis-13.html. 1871-8.
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