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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 13

 

 

Verse 1

RETURN FROM EGYPT, Genesis 13:1-4.

1. Abram went up out of Egypt — An exodus typical of that later one of Israel, when another Pharaoh was plagued, and Abram’s sons and daughters went forth with much Egyptian spoil. Exodus 12:36.

Lot with him — Hitherto Lot had accompanied his uncle in all his wanderings to the west and to the south; but the time of separation draws near.

Into the south — The Negeb, or south country, (Genesis 20:1,) a name constantly used to designate the district immediately south of Palestine.

So, whether Abram journeys southward, as in Genesis 12:9, or northward, as here, he goes into the Negeb; that is, enters the South Country bordering on Canaan. See note on Joshua 10:40.


Verse 2

2. Very rich in cattle — Largely acquired in Egypt. Comp. Genesis 12:16.

In silver, and in gold — “This species of wealth is intended to describe a higher social scale to which the patriarch had risen, and which significantly points to a future more settled state, when the bare necessities of life would be adorned by comforts, and cheered by embellishments.” — Kalisch.


Verse 3

3. On his journeys — An expression peculiar to the nomadic life — a pulling up of tent-pins, breaking up of camp, and moving onward. Comp. Genesis 12:9, note.

Even to Beth-el — See on Genesis 12:8.

At the beginning Formerly. His first stop was then at Sichem. Genesis 12:6.


Verse 4

4. There Abram called on the name of the Lord — At the old altar, where he had once faithfully worshipped the holy Name, he offers sacrifice again, and calls aloud in praise and prayer to Him who has saved him from famine and from the power of Pharaoh. Blessed worship after long and hazardous exile!


Verse 5

5. Lot also… had flocks — His associations with Abram had been to him a source of temporal prosperity, as well as a means of grace.


Verses 5-13

SEPARATION OF ABRAM AND LOT, 5-13.

The time has come to separate Abram and his household more fully from kindred and connexions which he cannot “command.” Genesis 18:19. His father’s house in far-off Chaldea was tainted with idolatry, and he was to be removed from its power, and so Jehovah ordered him thence. But the love of kindred is strong, and Terah, his father, accompanied him as far as Haran. There he dwelt and died, and Abram resumed his journey westward. Lot, his brother’s son, still clings to him, but his earthly love and selfishness, as now to be exhibited, made him an unfit companion for the father of the chosen seed, and in the providence of God a peaceable separation is effected.


Verse 6

6. Land was not able to bear them — Having been impoverished by the recent great famine, and being already occupied, as the next verse states, by other dwellers, they were cramped for pasturage for their immense flocks and herds.


Verse 7

7. A strife between the herd-men — “Such disputes were unavoidable in the circumstances. Neither party had any title to the land. Every body availed himself of the best spot for grazing he could find unoccupied. We can easily understand what facilities and temptations this would offer for the strong to overbear the weak. We meet with many incidental notices of such oppression: Genesis 21:25; Genesis 26:15-22; Exodus 2:16-19.” — Murphy. “The germinal divisions of masters ofttimes reveal themselves clearly in the strifes of their servants and dependents. Even the wives are often in open hostility while their husbands are still at peace. Abram teaches us how to observe these symptoms in the right way.” — Lange.

The Canaanite — Comp. Genesis 12:6.

Perizzite — This name, not appearing among the descendants of Canaan in Genesis 10:15-17, is supposed to designate some tribe not of Hamite origin. The Hebrew word, which means rustics, or countrymen, may designate them as nomads, or dwellers in the country as distinguished from dwellers in towns and cities. See note on Joshua 3:10. They probably occupied the best pastures, and so partly occasioned the strife between Abram and Lot’s herdmen.


Verse 8

8. Abram said — Abram’s words and proposition on the occasion are most magnanimous, and every way worthy of the father of the faithful. “He walks,” says Murphy, “in the moral atmosphere of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 5:38-42.”

We be brethren — Hebrews, Men brethren are we. Compare Acts 15:13; Acts 23:1. Their kinship and religious affinity would authorize this warm expression.


Verse 10

10. Lot… beheld all the plain of Jordan ככר, here rendered plain, means the region around, or circuit; η περιχωρος, Matthew 3:5. “At the time when Abram and Lot looked down from the mountain of Beth-el on the deep descent beneath them, and Lot chose for himself the circle of the Jordan, that circle was different from any thing that we now see.

It was well watered everywhere… as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt — And this description is filled out in detail by subsequent allusions. It is described as a deep valley, distinguished from the surrounding desert by its fertile fields. If any credence is to be attached to the geological conclusions of the last fifty years, there must have been already a lake at its extremity, such as that which terminates the course of the Barada at Damascus, or of the Kouik at Aleppo. Then, as now, it must have received in some form or other the fresh streams of the Jordan, of the Arnon, of En-gedi, of Callirrhoe, and at the southern end, as Dr. Robinson has observed, more living brooks than are to be found in all the rest of Palestine. On the banks of one or some of these streams there seems to have been an oasis, or collection of oases, like that which is still, from the same causes, to be found on a smaller scale in the groves of En-gedi and of Jericho, and in the plain of Gennesareth, or, on a larger scale, in the paradise of Damascus. Along the edge of this lake or valley Gentile and Jewish records combine in placing the earliest seat of Phoenician civilization. Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, are (with Lasha [probably Laish] by the sources of the Jordan, and Sidon on the seashore) mentioned as the first settlements of the Canaanites. Genesis 10:19. When Lot descended from Beth-el, ‘the cities of the round’ of the Jordan formed a nucleus of civilized life before any city, except Hebron, had sprung up in Central Palestine.” — STANLEY: Sinai and Palestine, p. 281. The mention of the garden of the Lord shows how the traditions of Eden still lingered in the thoughts of men, and Lot’s recent sojourn in the valley of the Nile would naturally prompt the comparison of the well-watered Jordan valley to the land of Egypt. The words, as thou comest unto Zoar, are not to be connected, grammatically, with land of Egypt, but with plain of Jordan, from which they are separated by the intervening description of the Jordan plain.


Verse 12

12. Lot dwelt in the cities… and pitched his tent — He seems to have divided his interests between city and country. Having pitched his tent toward Sodom, ( עד סדם, unto Sodom, or at Sodom,) and leaving his flocks and herds in charge of herd-men, he himself “dwelt in Sodom.”

Genesis 14:12. It is thought that he was not married until after his separation from Abram, and that then he took a woman of Sodom for his wife, thus mingling himself with the ungodly.


Verse 13

13. Wicked and sinners — As more fully exhibited in chap. 19. The fairest and most inviting regions of the earth,

“Where every prospect pleases,

And only man is vile,”

may furnish the conditions of excessive licentiousness and crime. Sadly did Lot mistake in looking more on outward and temporal beauty than on moral and religious worth.


Verse 14

THE PROMISE RENEWED TO ABRAM, Genesis 13:14-18.

14. After that Lot was separated from him — Now, in the gracious providence of Jehovah, the father of the faithful is cut loose from all his kindred according to the flesh. Thoroughly separated from home, country, and kin, (comp. Genesis 12:1,) he is free to move in the line of the divine call and purpose.

In this renewal of the promise to Abram, (Genesis 13:14-17,) we notice the following:

1.)

Look — Feast thine eyes on it in all directions.

2.) It is thine for ever, and will be known through the centuries as the Land of Promise.

3.) Thy seed shall be as the multitudinous particles of the dust of the earth, innumerable by man.

4.)

Walk through the land — At pleasure; survey it as thine own, although thou, in thy lifetime, dost not possess it.

5.) Know and remember it as a GIFT. אתננה, I will give it, is twice repeated. Genesis 13:15; Genesis 13:17.


Verse 18

18. Plain of Mamre — Rather, oaks of Mamre. Abram now pitches his tent among the oaks (or in the oak-grove) of Mamre, as formerly at the oak of Moreh. Genesis 12:6, note. About a mile from Hebron is one of the largest oaks of Palestine, and bears the name of “Abram’s Oak.” Mamre is not to be identified with Hebron, but seems to have been the name of the oak-grove or plain in Hebron, that is, at or near Hebron; perhaps so called from Mamre the Amorite, the friend and confederate of Abram.

Genesis 14:18. Hebron is celebrated as the most ancient city of Canaan, “built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.” Numbers 13:22. Its more ancient name was Kirjath-arba. Genesis 23:2; Joshua 14:15. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob spent much of their lives in the vicinity of this city, and here was Machpelah, the tomb of these patriarchs. Chap. 23. Hebron is now called El-khalil, “the friend.”

Built there an altar — The third altar he had built in Canaan, (comp. Genesis 12:7-8,) and thus is he careful to “keep the way of the Lord.” Genesis 18:19. “This remarkable narrative,” says Bunsen, “bears upon its face every evidence of historic truth, and is most fitly assigned to a time soon after 2900 years before Christ.” Notable concession from such a source.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 13:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/genesis-13.html. 1874-1909.

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