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Go to Bible: Genesis 13
|Gen 13:1||- (top)|
“wealthy.” The Hebrew is literally “heavy.” What Abraham had was indeed “heavy.” Abram came into Egypt with some wealth (Gen. 12:5), but left Egypt with a lot of wealth (Gen. 13:2; see commentary on Gen. 12:16).(top)
“making and breaking camp.” Abraham had flocks and herds that had to eat and rest. He could not do a forced march from one point to another. The time he spent in any one place would vary depending on the pasture, water, people around, etc.
“between Bethel and Ai.” Abraham and Joshua’s army both camped there (see commentary on Gen. 12:8).(top)
“earlier.” This is not the very first, but earlier, at the early stages of his travels.(top)
“and tents.” The word “tents” here indicates that like Abram, Lot was the head of a small tribe of people. We soon later find out that both of them had numerous flocks and herds (Gen. 13:6-7).(top)
|Gen 13:6||- (top)|
“the Canaanite.” The Canaanites were descendants of Ham (Gen. 10:6), although in this context it means more than just that the descendants of Ham’s son Canaan settled there (see commentary on Gen. 12:6).
“Perizzite.” A tribe of unknown origin that by the time of Joshua lived in the hill country of Judah and Ephraim. See commentary on Joshua 9:1. The Canaanites and Perizzites were wicked people, and would have been a threat to Abraham. Also, this lets us know that if there were Canaanites and Perizzites in the land at the time of Abraham, when Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land some 400 years later they would have had time to multiply greatly, which they did.
“were living in the land at that time.” This use of “land” is more specific to the part of the land where Abram was at the time, not the whole area of the Promised Land.(top)
|Gen 13:8||- (top)|
“If you go to the left, then I will go to the right.” The Biblical world was oriented to the east. While we Westerners think of “up” or “ahead” as north, in biblical times “ahead” was east. So if Lot went “to the left,” that would mean north, while “to the right” would be south. Abraham and Lot were in the Negev at the time (Gen. 13:1), so practically speaking, if Lot went north he would go into central Israel. Instead, Lot went east.(top)
“plain of the Jordan.” The Hebrew word translated as “plain” is kikkar (#03603 כִּכָּר), and its meanings include “round,” “circle” “talent” or in this context a flat valley. E. A. Speiser writes: “Plain. Not ‘circle’ as the Heb. is often translated, since ‘the circle of the Jordan’ would be difficult to justify topographically. The Heb. noun kikkār is used for the typical flap of bread, as well as the weight known as ‘talent.” Both shapes are round as well as flat. Here, however, it was evidently the latter feature that influenced the geographic application.”a Although there was a lush “plain of Jordan” at the time Lot viewed the property, it seems that after Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah the plain submerged and formed the southern part of the Dead Sea. The southern basin of the Dead Sea was shallow and quite flat, and one can easily imagine that at one time it was a fertile plain even though that is not the case today.
“Zoar.” The name “Zoar” means “Little” or “Small,” which did not mean the town stayed that way through history (cp. Gen. 19:20-22). This is almost certainly not the Zoar in Egypt, but the Zoar south of the Dead Sea, in the Jordan Rift. From where he was, Lot could see the plain of Jordan and it was well-watered in the direction of Zoar. Lot was looking east, and the Zoar of Egypt is southwest. More evidence that this Zoar is in the Rift Valley is in Genesis 14:2, 8, which lists the king of Zoar as fighting in the five-king coalition against the invading kings from Mesopotamia. Still more evidence that this Zoar is not the Zoar that is on the way to Egypt is that Lot wanted to hide there, but later thought better of it and went to the mountains (Gen. 19:20-22).
“So Lot chose the plain of the Jordan for himself.” We can give Lot the benefit of the doubt and say that perhaps at this time Lot did not know that the people of Sodom were exceedingly wicked, and he simply chose that area because he saw that it would be good for his herds and flocks. Plus, being in the Jordan Valley, although the summers would be hot, he would not be subject to the cold winters of the hill country of Judah, which was just to the west of him. On the other hand, in those times people stayed safe by being keenly aware of the people and tribes who lived around them. As wealthy as Abraham and Lot were, it is hard to believe that they would not have had some information about the wickedness of the people in the cities of the plain such as Sodom and Gomorrah.
In any case, if Lot did not know about the wickedness of the people of Sodom when he first moved there, he would have learned about it quite soon. Yet, even though he was a mobile shepherd like Abraham was, he refused to move. In 2 Peter, God comments about “righteous Lot, who was worn down by the unrestrained way of life of immoral people (for as he lived among them day after day, that righteous man kept tormenting his righteous soul by the lawless acts that he saw and heard” (2 Pet. 2:7-8). Lot could have and should have moved. Not only did the sinful behavior of the people of Sodom torment him, it almost cost him his life, both when the angels were in his house (Gen. 19:9) and again when the Mesopotamian kings carried him off as a captive (Gen. 14:12). Lot is an example of how being weak-willed and getting entangled with the world can cost a person dearly. Godly people avoid evil. Proverbs has a lot to say about avoiding evil: “A wise person is cautious and turns away from evil, but a fool is angry and is overconfident” (Prov. 14:16). Also, “A prudent person sees evil and hides, but the naïve continue on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3; 27:12).(top)
|Gen 13:12||- (top)|
“men of Sodom.” This is almost certainly the generic use of the word “men,” meaning “people,” because it seems clear that the women were unrighteous also. In fact, God said that if there were ten righteous people in the city he would not destroy it (Gen. 18:32), and since there would likely be close to the same number of men in the city as women, the women could not have been righteous either. However, as seems clear from Genesis 19:4-11, the men were certainly actively involved in wicked behavior.
“exceedingly wicked and sinful.” The Hebrew is written in such a way that the text means exceedingly wicked and exceedingly sinful. The wording of the text is emphatic.(top)
|Gen 13:14||- (top)|
“I will give to you.” This is the second time God told Abraham that his seed would get the “Promised Land,” and this time God clarified that the land would be given to “you” (Abraham) and “your seed.” The first time God spoke of giving the land, it was just to Abraham’s seed (Gen. 12:7). God repeated the promise that He would give the land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants many times, and said it in slightly different ways. He told Abraham that he and his descendants would get the land (Gen. 12:7; 13:15-17; 15:7, 18; 17:8). He told it to Isaac (Gen. 26:3). He told it to Jacob (Gen. 28:13; 35:12; 48:4). Then over and over He told Israel about the promise that He would give them the land (cp. Exod. 6:4, 8; 12:25; 13:5, 11; Lev. 14:34; 20:24; 23:10; 25:2). Also, in this context, the word “seed” can have a singular or plural meaning. In some contexts, the word is clearly plural, but here it can be either a plural meaning or a singular meaning, or both. Galatians 3:16 says, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. It does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your seed,’ which is Christ.” As the promise stated, Abraham’s “seed,” Christ, will rule the land forever.
[For more on the promise God made to give the land to Abraham and his descendants, see commentary on Genesis 15:18.](top)
“as the dust of the earth.” God promised Abraham that his seed would be a great multitude on a number of different occasions (Gen. 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 16:10 (via Hagar); Gen. 17:6; 22:17). This is the second time God told this to Abraham, and it is a clarification of what He had said to Abraham earlier, in Genesis 12:2.(top)
“I will give it to you.” See commentary on Genesis 13:15.(top)
“And Abram moved his tent and went.” Abram had been living between Bethel and Ai, about ten miles north of Jerusalem (Gen. 13:3). Now he moves his tent to Hebron, about 30 miles south of Jerusalem.
“lived by the oaks of Mamre that are in Hebron.” Genesis 14:13 tells us that these are “the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and the brother of Aner; and these were allies of Abram.” It would not be uncommon for a person to own property with trees, or even just the trees themselves. Abraham would have been allowed to tent there because Mamre and Abram were allies. Some scholars believe that here in Genesis 13:18, “Mamre” is a reference to a geographical site close to Hebron, but the fact that this text says the oaks were “in” (or “at”) Hebron, plus the clarification about the oaks being “the oaks of Mamre the Amorite” in Genesis 14:13, argues against that being the case.
“and he built an altar to Yahweh there.” This is the third altar that Abraham built in the Promised Land. He built one at Shechem (Gen. 12:6-7), one between Bethel and Ai (Gen. 12:8), and now one at Hebron (Gen. 13:18). In Hebrew, the word “altar” is more literally “slaughter site.” When Abraham built an altar, he killed animals on it—that was what altars were for. The killing and burning of an animal was not just to please God, although it did, but when properly understood, it was an indication that an “innocent” animal would die in place of a sinful human, and the death of the innocent would cover the sin of the guilt party. That is why 2 Corinthians 5:21 says that Christ died as an offering for sin.(top)