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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 13

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Genesis 13:0


Abram and LotAbram Inherits CanaanAbraham and LotAbram and Lot SeparateAbram and Lot Separate
Genesis 13:1Genesis 13:1-4 Genesis 13:1-4Genesis 13:1-4
Genesis 13:2-7 Genesis 13:2-7
Genesis 13:5-13 Genesis 13:5-7Genesis 13:5-9
Genesis 13:8-13 Genesis 13:8-13Genesis 13:8-9
Genesis 13:10-13Genesis 13:10-13
Abram Moves to Hebron
Genesis 13:14-18Genesis 13:14-18Genesis 13:14-18Genesis 13:14-18Genesis 13:14-17
Genesis 13:18

READING CYCLE THREE (see Guide to Good Bible Reading)


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verse 1

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 13:1 1So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

Genesis 13:1 Abram returns from Egypt to the Negev. The Negev means the dry southern portions of Canaan. He had migrated to this same region earlier (cf. Genesis 12:9) and will return to it again in Genesis 20:1. It is also where Isaac lived (cf. Genesis 24:62).

Verses 1-18

INTRODUCTION TO Genesis 11:24-18

A. This section of Genesis begins the fuller discussion of the line of the Messiah through Abraham.

B. Genesis' fifty chapters are concerned with the redemption of God's covenant people, not creation. Calling one to call all is the focus of the book.

C. Abram is seen in his weaknesses as well as in his faithfulness. The God of election and mercy calls him out for his own redemptive purposes.

D. God chose Abraham to choose a world (cf. Genesis 12:3c; Exodus 19:4-6; 2 Peter 2:5, 2 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). God wants all people made in His image to be redeemed (cf. Genesis 3:15; Ezekiel 18:23, Ezekiel 18:32; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

E. The Talmud specifies seven blessings of the call.

1. Abram would be the father of a great nation.

2. He would be blessed in his lifetime.

3. His name would be renowned.

4. He would be a blessing to others.

5. Those who honor him would be blessed

6. Those who rejected him would be cursed.

7. His influence would be universal.

Verses 2-7

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 13:2-7 2Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. 3He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. 5Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together. 7And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

Genesis 13:2 Abram was a wealthy man. The book of Genesis documents two sources of his wealth.

1. his possessions from Ur, Genesis 12:5

2. his accumulations from Egypt, Genesis 12:16

In the Ancient Near East there were several ways of accumulating and retaining wealth.

1. precious metals

2. jewels

3. clothing

4. food stuffs

5. livestock

Genesis 13:4 "Abram called on the name of the LORD" This phrase implies a specific type of worship setting, probably involving an animal sacrifice (cf. Exodus 20:24). It is first used in Genesis 4:26, but recurs in Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 21:33; Genesis 26:25. See Special Topic at Genesis 12:8. Because of the parallelism of 1 Chronicles 16:8; Psalms 105:1; Psalms 116:17; and Isaiah 12:4, calling on the name also involved acts of "praising" or "thanksgiving" to YHWH. See Special Topic: "The Name" of YHWH.

The "name" (BDB 1027) represented the personal presence of Abram's covenant God. It's full significance will not be known until Exodus 3:13-16. As Elohim represented the "Creator," YHWH represented the covenant-making, personal, present, promising God of Seth and Shem. See Special Topic: NAMES FOR DEITY at Genesis 12:1.

Abram returned to his first altar in Canaan (cf. Genesis 12:8).

Genesis 13:6 The land in southern Canaan did not get enough annual rainfall to allow the native grasses to flourish. It took many acres to support one flock. Usually April through September was wet enough for grasses to grow, but in October through March the herds had to be moved to higher pastures.

Genesis 13:7 "the Canaanite and the Perizzite" The term "Canaanite" is a collective term for the inhabitants of Palestine, as is "Amorites." Some have seen a distinction in these names based on: (1) Perizzite can mean "villager," while (2) Canaanite refers to walled-city dwellers. This is the only place where these two groups are listed as the inhabitants of Palestine alone. See Special Topic at Genesis 12:6. For "Canaanite" see note at Genesis 12:6. See Special Topic: The Pre-Israelite Inhabitants of Palestine.

Verses 8-13

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 13:8-13 8So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. 9Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left." 10Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere-this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah-like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. 11So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. 13Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.

Genesis 13:8-9 "Please let there be no strife" There is a series of grammatical features that describe this dialogue.

1. please let there be no strife (BDB 937) - BDB 224, KB 243, Qal JUSSIVE, Genesis 13:8

2. please separate from me - BDB 825, KB 962, Niphal IMPERATIVE, Genesis 13:9

3. I will go to the right - BDB 412, KB 415, Hiphil COHORTATIVE

4. I will go the left - BDB 970, KB 1332, Hiphil COHORTATIVE

It is surprising that Abram (the older and wealthier) let Lot choose, since Canaan had been designated by YHWH as His special gift to Abram. YHWH used Lot's greed to motivate him to choose the eastern side of Jordan.

Only after Lot left and Abram stayed in Canaan did YHWH reappear to him.

Genesis 13:8 "brothers" Here this word (BDB 26) is used in the sense of a relative (cf. Genesis 14:14, Genesis 14:16; Genesis 29:12, Genesis 29:15).

Genesis 13:10 "Lot lifted up his eyes and saw" Lot chose based on self-interest. The wickedness (cf. Genesis 13:13) of the place did not deter him.

"this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah" Here is another editorial comment from a later event. Exactly who and when this original account was penned is unknown, but it seems to have been one of the priests who served as Moses' scribe and biographer (i.e., recorded his death [Deuteronomy 34:0] and made comments about him, as in Numbers 12:3).

"like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt" Rashi (a rabbi of the Middle Ages) says the land had trees like Eden and vegetables like Egypt. The irony is that as Eden was a place of judgment, so too, the Jordan Valley!

"Zoar" Zoar (BDB 858) is one city located in the Jordan Valley (cf. Genesis 13:10), just south of the Dead Sea. The account of its name is found in Genesis 19:20-22, which is a word play on "small" (BDB 859 I). It was an oasis (cf. Josephus, Jewish Wars 4.8.4).

There are several cities located in this area: (1) Sodom; (2) Gomorrah; (3) Admah; (4) Zeboiim; and (5) Zoar/Bela. They were collectively called "the cities of the plain." All but Zoar were destroyed by God (cf. Deuteronomy 29:23).

Genesis 13:13 The population of Sodom is characterized in several negative ways.

1. evil - BDB 948, cf. Genesis 2:9; Genesis 3:22; Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Genesis 37:33; Genesis 38:7

2. sinners - BDB 308, cf. Numbers 16:38; Numbers 32:14

3. against the Lord

4. exceedingly wicked

However, the text does not specify how. The account of chapter 19 gives us a window into their evil.

Numbers 1:0 and 2 are hendiadys, which are often combined in translations as "evil sinners."

Verses 14-18

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Genesis 13:14-18 14The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever. 16I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth, so that if anyone can number the dust of the earth, then your descendants can also be numbered. 17Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you." 18Then Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

Genesis 13:14 "The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him" Perhaps this fulfilled the condition of Genesis 12:1. Abram moved by revelation ("lift up your eyes," BDB 669, KB 724, Qal IMPERATIVE; "look," BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal IMPERATIVE); Lot by self-interest (cf. Genesis 13:10).

Genesis 13:15 "all the land. . .forever" Two things must be remembered in this statement: (1) God's covenant is always conditional on a human faith response (i.e., Deuteronomy 11:31-32; Deuteronomy 28:36, Deuteronomy 28:63-68; Deuteronomy 30:19-20) and (2) the Hebrew term "forever" ('olam) must be interpreted in its context (see NIDOTTE, vol. 4, pp. 1252-1253). It does not usually mean "forever" in the modern English sense of the term. See Special Topic: Forever following Special Topic: Covenant.

This is the heart of the issue about the Jews having a biblical claim in Palestine today. I am impressed by

1. Israel in Prophecy by William Hendricksen

2. Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis Over Israel and Palestine by Colin Chapman



Genesis 13:16 "I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth" Here again is the metaphorical promise (cf. Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:14; Exodus 32:13; Numbers 23:10) of a son, a family, a tribe, and a great nation (YHWH also promises to bless Ishmael, cf. Genesis 16:10; Genesis 17:20). The promise is not to be through Lot; he is gone! Abram believes this promise (cf. Genesis 15:6) and Paul uses this as the basis for his justification by grace through faith in Romans 4:3 and Galatians 3:6.

In Genesis Abraham receives many promises from YHWH.

1. land - Genesis 12:1-2; Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 15:7, Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:8

2. seed/descendants - Genesis 12:2; Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:5, Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:2, Genesis 17:4-7, Genesis 17:16, Genesis 17:19; Genesis 22:17

3. covenant - Genesis 17:7, Genesis 17:19, Genesis 17:21

4. special blessing of all nations through him - Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:14

However, these are not conditional promises. There is an emphasis on obedience and actions on his part, Genesis 12:1; Genesis 13:17; Genesis 17:1, Genesis 17:23; Genesis 18:19; Genesis 22:16-18; Genesis 26:4-5 (see Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, p. 3). Abram does not initiate, but he must respond appropriately!

Genesis 13:17 YHWH commands Abram to check out his new gift.

1. "arise" or "go" - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal IMPERATIVE (idiomatic, see note below)

2. "walk about" - BDB 229, KB 246, Hithpael IMPERATIVE (possibly a legal requirement for ownership of land)

The UBS's Handbook on Genesis makes a good point about "arise" when used in combination with another command.

"Arise does not mean that Abram was seated or lying down when he was commanded to walk. In Hebrew the term has a rhetorical function when it occurs as a command followed by another command, indicating that the command is important and that the person should begin immediately to do the action commanded. For other examples in Genesis see Genesis 19:15; Genesis 21:18; Genesis 28:2" (p. 304).

"I will give it to you" See note at Genesis 13:15.

Genesis 13:18 "the oaks of Mamre" Sacred tree(s) (BDB 18) are recurrent themes in early Israel (PLURAL in MT, but SINGULAR in the LXX and Peshitta).

1. great tree at Moreh - Genesis 12:6; Deuteronomy 11:30

2. great tree at Mamre - Genesis 13:18; Genesis 14:13; Genesis 18:1 (cf. Josephus, Antiq. 1.10.4)

3. great tree at Shechem - Genesis 35:4; Judges 9:6

4. great tree at Zaanannim - Joshua 19:33; Judges 4:11

5. great tree at Ophrah - Judges 6:11, Judges 6:19

6. great tree at Tabor - 1 Samuel 10:3 (no mention of an altar)

7. BDB 18 is equated with BDB 781 in Genesis 18:1, Genesis 18:4, Genesis 18:8. BDB 781 is what the special tree(s) of Genesis 2-3 are called (cf. Genesis 2:9, Genesis 2:16, Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:1, Genesis 3:2, Genesis 3:3, Genesis 3:6, Genesis 3:8, Genesis 3:11, Genesis 3:12, Genesis 3:17, Genesis 3:22, Genesis 3:24)

"Hebron" At this time it was known as Kiriath-arba (cf. Genesis 23:2; Genesis 35:27), which shows that this account was written down at a later period after the name was changed by the invading Israelites.

"there he built an altar to the LORD" This new altar (often in the area of a pre-existing Canaanite worship site) is a recurrent theme of Abram's sojourn in Canaan (cf. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:18; Genesis 22:9). These altars probably involved an animal sacrifice, which had become a characteristic of the worship of YHWH.

1. Abel - Genesis 4:4 Genesis 4:4. Isaac - Genesis 26:25

2. Noah - Genesis 8:20 Genesis 8:5. Jacob - Genesis 33:20; Genesis 35:7

3. Abram - Genesis 13:18; Genesis 15:12-21 Genesis 15:6. Job - Job 1:5

Animal sacrifices are continued in the Exodus (cf. Exodus 12:0) and developed in the Mosaic covenant (Leviticus 1-7, Leviticus 1:16).

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Genesis 13". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/genesis-13.html. 2021.
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