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Thursday, September 21st, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 13

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Verses 1-4

Abram Back at Bethel

After his deviation and humbling lessons Abram returns to Bethel. It is said so remarkable: “The place where his tent had been at the beginning … the place of the altar which he had made there formerly.” If we deviate and the Lord makes that clear to us, we must always return to the place where we last were with the Lord.

Again Abram there calls “on the name of the LORD”. He will have done so with a deeper understanding of the grace of God. Every fall in our lives followed by a recovery increases our admiration for God. Not that it doesn’t matter if we deviate. Deviation also has other consequences, also for others. We see that in the case of Lot in the following verses.

Verses 5-7


When Abram left Egypt, Pharaoh gave him a lot of livestock (Genesis 12:16). His nephew Lot also goes with him. Lot is not a man with own power of faith. He follows the faith of his uncle. He also is very wealthy. Their wealth becomes the cause of strive between the shepherds of Abram’s livestock and the shepherds of Lot’s livestock. That is not a good thing. It is telling that is says in Genesis 13:7 that the Canaanite and Perizzite live in the country at that time. It means, as it were, that the world is watching the outbreak of strife between these foreigners.

The devil and the world see with gloating the strives between people who profess to be strangers on earth. Especially when it is also a strive about earthly things. Paul points out to the Corinthians that they should not stand up for their rights in such matters (1 Corinthians 6:7). The Lord can allow fraternal disputes to see in what mind they are resolved.

Verses 8-13

The Choice of Lot

Abram, the eldest of the two and also the uncle of Lot, gives Lot the first choice. Abram is not standing on his right. Lot does not take the humblest place, but accepts this offer with both hands. We are informed about his considerations. He looks at everything according to his own advantage, which choice gives him the most benefit. With him it is about an immediate pleasure. With Lot, there is no future-oriented thinking. He is the man who lives for here and now. His heart follows his eyes, just like with Eve.

Lot sees the valley of the Jordan as if it is a paradise. But, it says, it also looks like the land of Egypt. Lot has joined Abram in his deviation to Egypt. He who relies on the faith of another person will fall into the mistakes of that other person. Abram learned lessons from his deviation to Egypt. Lot does not show that he has learned lessons from his deviation. The valley reminds him of Egypt. It seems that he has been overwhelmed by what he saw. That is why he chooses the valley of the Jordan.

A sideways lesson is that the deviation of Abram has caused Lot to get the taste of Egypt. Parents should take that lesson to heart. If they deviate and love the world for some time, but are then restored by God’s grace and give up the world again, it may be that their children have gotten the taste of the world and stay in it.

Lot then moves to live close to Sodom, as it were under the smoke of the city, a smelly smoke. The wickedness of that city is indicated, as a preparation for the history in Genesis 19. All men are sinners. But there is a difference in wickedness (cf. Revelation 20:12). God says of the people in Sodom that they are “wicked and sinners exceedingly”. They are it proverbial (Isaiah 3:9; Ezekiel 16:49), but Lot seems to be insensitive to it. The way down has been taken by him. Later he lives in Sodom, in a house – the tent has disappeared – and is even part of the city council – he is in the gate.

He settles in the city where God’s judgment comes. He helps them to build it up, because he sees a future for it. But he loses everything, it all perishes in judgment. He does save his body, but he ends his life in the darkness of a cave and in acts that arouse disgust. He lets himself be led drunk and begets Israel’s enduring enemies with his own daughters.

A practical application can be made when we face the choice of changing jobs, moving, or which school we let the children go to. So what are our considerations, the criteria of assessment? Do we have an eye for the moral and religious atmosphere that prevails somewhere? Do we think forward-looking, that is to say that we look beyond life on earth? Do we have in mind the spiritual well-being of our family, or only the social well-being?

Verses 14-18

The Part of Abram

Abram gives Lot the choice. Is he the one who is worst off? No. Now that he is free from Lot, the LORD comes to him. And He shows him something! Lot himself has lifted up his eyes (Genesis 13:10), but the LORD tells Abram to lift up his eyes. Then he doesn’t see a small part of the country, but the whole country. He not only sees it now, but also gets a look into the future: his offspring, who cannot be counted, will also live there.

First he gets to see everything and then he can enjoy it. He is allowed to walk through the country in all its vastness. By going on walking he takes possession of it, as it were. So it is for us with regard to our spiritual blessings. We may know that we own them, but by engaging in them, investigating them in Scripture under prayer, we will practically take them into our possession and enjoy them.

Abram is not put before the choice – he may see what the LORD has chosen for him (Psalms 47:4). Then you’re fortunate! That is the reward for being dependent on God. Lot wants to have everything and loses everything, Abram leaves everything and gets everything. Whoever leaves the choice to God never will be disappointed (Psalms 22:5).

Abram does not settle at Sodom, but at Hebron. “Hebron” means ‘fellowship’. Abram lives in fellowship with God. Again he builds an altar to worship the LORD. All we have enjoyed of the spiritual blessings God has given us will lead us to worship its Giver.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Genesis 13". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/genesis-13.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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