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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 13

 

 

Verses 1-18

Genesis 13. The Separation of Abraham and Lot.—In the main from J, as is shown by the frequent mention of Yahweh, the reference to the garden of Yahweh, the preparation for the story of Sodom's overthrow in the mention of its exceeding sinfulness, and the phraseology. But Genesis 13:11 b - Genesis 13:12 a ("and they . . . the Plain") belongs to P, which characteristically avoids all explanation of the separation as due to strife; it was occasioned rather by their abounding wealth. Wellhausen regards Genesis 13:14-17 as an insertion on the ground that J does not represent Yahweh as speaking to Abraham except in a theophany (but cf. Genesis 12:1-3); or make Abraham half a nomad as Genesis 13:17 does; nor can the whole land be seen from Bethel; we have also a similar promise in Genesis 13:15, but fuller and much more solemn, with no indication that the promise in our chapter had already been given. If Genesis 13:14-17 is removed Genesis 13:18 connects immediately with Genesis 13:12 b, Genesis 13:13, which it should naturally follow. The addition, assuming it to be such, was probably made to supply a firmer basis for Abraham's right to Canaan. In the rest of the chapter this is based on Lot's choice of the Jordan Valley. Abraham is thus left with Canaan, and when Sodom is destroyed, Lot has to betake himself to the mountains. To the later writer this explanation presumably seemed not religious enough. The historical circumstances which lie behind the story are probably the fortunes of the settlers who were the ancestors of the Hebrews and Edomites on the one hand, and the Moabites and Ammonites on the other.

From the Negeb, Abraham and Lot return by stages to Bethel. But owing to the abundance of the flocks and herds difficulties arose between their herdsmen as to pasturage and water, the situation being complicated by the fact that the land was not otherwise unoccupied, but inhabited by the Canaanites and Perizzites. Abraham deals with it in a conciliatory spirit, and instead of insisting on his rights as senior and chief, offers Lot his choice of pasturage, since separation is inevitable. Lot, instead of imitating his uncle's magnanimity, chooses the well-watered basin of the lower Jordan Valley, fertile as Eden or Egypt, and the whole of it; but with the moral perils of contact with Sodom. To Abraham Yahweh makes a promise of the land for himself and his descendants. So while Lot camped in the neighbourhood of Sodom, Abraham had to take the poorer land, and dwelt by the terebinths in Mamre, here said to be in Hebron.

Genesis 13:7. Perizzite: possibly the name of a people, but perhaps the dwellers in hamlets as distinguished from the dwellers in cities.

Genesis 13:10. Plain of Jordan: the circle (mg.) of Jordan was the wide valley on the W. of the Jordan from about 25 miles N. of the Dead Sea down to, and apparently in the judgment of the narrator including what is now the Dead Sea itself (pp. 32f.). Zoar was in the neighbourhood of Sodom, and probably the cities of the Plain were on the S. of the Dead Sea. The meaning is that the district was "well watered as thou goest to Zoar," i.e. the writer thought of the Dead Sea as covering what in Abraham's time was fertile land, and as coming into existence and submerging this land when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. The Syr., however, reads Zoan, i.e. Tanis; if correctly, the inference just drawn would not necessarily hold good, though the reference to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah implies that the character of the country changed after the catastrophe. The Heb. text should probably be retained.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Genesis 13:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/genesis-13.html. 1919.

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