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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 13

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 13:1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

Ver. 1. And Abram went up out of Egypt.] There must be likewise daily ascensions in our hearts, out of the Egypt of this world, to the heavenly Canaan, where Christ our altar is. The Church is compared to "pillars of smoke" ascending. [Song of Solomon 3:6] Black she is as smoke in regard of infirmities, yet hath a principle to carry her upwards. Who is this that ascends out of this Egypt below with pillars of smoke, elationibus fumi , that is, with her affections, thoughts, desires, upward, heavenward? Our Edward I had a mighty desire to go to the Holy Land; and because he was hindered, he gave his son a charge upon his deathbed, to carry his heart thither, and prepared 32,000 English pounds to that purpose. (a) The children of faithful Abram, though their bodies be on earth, yet they take much pains, and are at great charge, to get up their hearts to heaven. Hence they are called "eagles," [Matthew 24:28] for their high soaring, and are said to have "noses like the tower of Lebanon," [Song of Solomon 7:4] for their singular sagacity in resenting and smelling after Christ, the true all quickening body.


Verse 2

Genesis 13:2 And Abram [was] very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

Ver. 2. And Abram was very rich.] All rich men therefore are not rejected of God, though it be hard for such to hit on heaven. Poor Lazarus lies in the bosom of rich Abraham there. Riches neither further nor hinder in themselves, but as they are used: as a cipher by itself is nothing, but a figure being set before it, it increaseth the sum. Wealth, if well used, is an ornament, an encouragement to duty, and an instrument of much good. All the danger lies in loving these things. Have them we may, and use them too, as a traveller doth his staff, to help him the sooner to his journey’s end; but when we pass away our hearts to them, they become a mischief, and as the word here rendered rich, signifies in the original a burden. Let not therefore the bramble be king: let not earthly things bear rule over thy affections; "fire will rise out of them that will consume thy cedars," [ 9:15] emasculate all the powers of thy soul, as they did Solomon’s, whose wealth did him more hurt than his wisdom good. How many have we now-a-days, that when poor, could pray, read, &c., who, grown rich, resemble the moon, which, grown full, gets farthest off from the sun, never suffers eclipse but then, and that by earth’s interposition! Let rich men therefore take heed how they handle their thorns; let them gird up the loins of their minds, lest their long garments (a) hinder them in the way to heaven; let them see to it, that they be not tied to their abundance, as little Lentulus was said to have been to his long sword; (b) that they be not held prisoners in those golden fetters, as the king of Armenia was by Anthony, and so sent by him for a present to Cleopatra, (c) lest at length they send their mammon of unrighteousness, as Croesus did his fetters, for a present to the devil, who had deluded him with false hopes of victory. (d)


Verse 3

Genesis 13:3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;

Ver. 3. And he went on his journeys.] Many a weary step, and rested not till he came to his old altar at Bethel. Lo here a pattern of great piety and singular zeal, in father Abram. Egypt, with all her plenty and pleasure, had not stolen away his heart, so as not to hold his own in the promised land. Neither had he so laden himself with thick clay, but that he went "from strength to strength" (as those good souls did, Psalms 84:7); he took long strides; perexit per profectiones suas , as it is here. He went journey after journey, till he appeared before God at his altar, there to sanctify that good he bad got in Egypt, and to give God thanks for it; yea, to consecrate all to him the bestower of it. Oh, let us show ourselves children of Abram indeed, by "walking in these steps of our father Abram" [Romans 4:12] Otherwise our outward profession and privileges will profit us no more than it did Dives in hell, that be could call Abraham, father. [Luke 16:30]


Verse 4

Genesis 13:4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Ver. 4. Unto the place of the altar, &c.] There he had found God to his comfort, and there he looks now to find him so again. It will be some help to us, for the strengthening of our faith in prayer, to hold ourselves to the same place, to have a set oratory.


Verse 5

Genesis 13:5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

Ver. 5. And Lot also, which went with Abram.] So he lost not all, by leaving friends and means, to go with Abram. They that side with the saints, shall thrive with the saints. God had promised to bless Abram, and he did it; for it is the blessing of God that maketh rich. God had promised again to bless them that blessed Abram, or wished well to him, and did him any favour or furtherance. Let Lot speak now whether this were not made good to him in those flocks and herds of his (that is, in all kind of riches), (a) and tents, that is, servants dwelling in tents. [Jeremiah 49:29 1 Chronicles 4:41]


Verse 6

Genesis 13:6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

Ver. 6. And the land was not able to bear them.] This was sour sauce to their sweet meat, lest they should surfeit of their abundance. All earthly comforts are dissweetened with crosses, and there are thorns in all the world’s roses. It is seldom seen that God allows any, though never so dear to himself, a perfect contentment. Something they must have to complain of, that shall give an unsavoury verdure to their sweetest morsels, that they may long after heaven. It could not but be a great cut to this good couple, to be now at length sundered, and deprived of mutual society.


Verse 7

Genesis 13:7 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

Ver. 7. And there was a strife between.] How oft do servants set masters at variance! But the devil is in it, when good folk fall out especially. He is restless himself, and doth what he can to disquiet others. He loves to fish in troubled waters; and well knows out of his "devilish wisdom," saith St James, that "where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work". [James 3:15-16] But what was it that made the herdsmen fall out, but penury of pasture? and what bred penury of pasture, but plenty of cattle? Great riches many times breed great brabbles. This the heathen found, and therefore feigned that Mars was the son of Juno, (a) because Juno is the goddess of riches, which prove the cause of strife and stirs among many.

And the Canaanite and Perizzite dwelled then in the land.] This is added, either as a cause of their being straitened of fit pasture, because the Canaanites possessed the better grounds; or else to set forth how unseasonable and unsavoury it was, for such men to jar, and so to expose themselves to the scandal and scorn of such wicked neighbours as desired no better sport than to see them falling out. This latter is Lyra’s (b) gloss, and I like it well. One of the main scandals the Jews take at this day from Protestants, is their dissensions. Error condonari potest, modo fides adsit in Christum: discordiam, neque si sanguinem fundamus, expiabimus , said reverend Oecolampadius in a letter to the litigious Lutherans of Sueveland. (c)


Verse 8

Genesis 13:8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we [be] brethren.

Ver. 8. And Abram said to Lot.] Speech endeth anger, silence nourisheth it. Much malice and grudge would be avoided, and the very poison of it drawn out, did we but give it a vent at first, by reasoning with the party that wronged us, and expostulating the injury, which most times is but a mere mistake. Now many, on the contrary, harbour this viper in their bosoms, till it hath eaten to their hearts; they not only let "the sun go down," but go its whole round "upon their wrath," [Ephesians 4:26] and cannot find time from one end of the year to the other, to utter their minds, and compound their discords. Not only Abram, but Aristippus shall rise up in judgment against such pseudo-Christians, and condemn them. For when Aeschines and he had been at long debate, (a) and there was, I stout, and thou stout, and neither could find in their hearts to go to the other; Aristippus went at length to Aeschines, and said unto him, "Shall we not agree to be friends, before we make ourselves a common scorn to the whole country?" Whereunto when Aeschines answered, that he was content to be friends with all his heart; Aristippus replied, "Remember then, that although I were the elder and the better man, yet I first sought unto thee." "In very deed," said Aeschines, "thou art a far better man than I for I began the quarrel, and thou hast been first in making up the breach." And thus these two became fast friends for ever.

For we are brethren.] This is a cooler; and should be like the angel that stayed Abram’s hand when the blow was coming.


Verse 9

Genesis 13:9 [Is] not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if [thou wilt take] the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if [thou depart] to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Ver. 9. Is not the whole land before thee?] Abram chooseth rather to take wrong, than to strive for his right, which he here parts with for peace’s sake. They that do otherwise, though they think they do bravely, and get the better of their adversary, yet (if St Paul may judge) they sit down by the loss. For he purposely disgraceth their contentious courses, in standing for their utmost right, without respect to peace and quietness, by a word ( ηττημα) that signifieth disgrace, or loss of victory: - "Now therefore there is utterly a fault," or a defect of true manhood, "amongst you, because ye go to law one with another; why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?" [1 Corinthians 6:7] Aristotle (a) by the dim light of nature, could see and say, that it is better to suffer wrong than do it. It was a brave speech of Calvin: "Though Luther call me devil, yet I will honour him as a servant of God." And when a fierce friar, in dispute with Beza and his colleagues, called them foxes, apes, asses, &c., Beza answered no more but this, Nos non magis credere, quam Transubstantionem. In rixa is inferior est, qui victor est , saith Basil. And Demosthenes when he was reproached by one, thought it sufficient to say, Nolim tecum in hoc genus certaminis descendere, in quo qui vincitur ipso victore est melior .

Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me.] Sometimes, and between some natures, separation one from another better nourisheth friendship than nearer familiarity. (b) There are, that can never agree together.

If thou wilt take the right hand, &c.] As who should say; We will not be far apart, though we cannot be together; but still helpful one to the other, as the right hand is to the left. (c)


Verse 10

Genesis 13:10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it [was] well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, [even] as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

Ver. 10. And Lot lifted up his eyes.] This was "the lust of the eye" St John speaketh of, [1 John 2:16] as he afterwards fell into "the lust of the flesh," [Genesis 19:33] (a) his incestuous posterity into "the pride of life." We have heard of the pride of Moab, and the ambition of Ammon,. [Jeremiah 48:1-47; Jeremiah 49:1-39] Lot might not be suffered so much as to look at Sodom while it was burning, as Abram might. God knew his weakness, and so prevented the temptation. He should have had the good manners to let his uncle choose first; but the dust of covetousness had put out his eyes, that he saw not what beseemed him for the present, as afterwards he did, when God so crossed him [Psalms 66:12] in that which he chose, and so blessed Abram in that which was left him. [Psalms 107:33; Psalms 107:35] Lot was a good man, but this, το της φιλοχρημοτιας νοσημα, somewhat obscured his virtues. (b)

That it was well watered everywhere,] and so fruitful. Hence the inhabitants, through abuse of their plenty, became wholly drowned in fleshly delights. It faring with them in this respect, as with the inhabitants of Oenoe, (c) a dry island besides Athens, who bestowed much labour to draw into it a river to water it, and make it more fruitful. But, when all the passages were opened, and the receptacles prepared, the water came in so plentifully, that it overflowed all, and at the first tide, drowned the island, and all the people. "They that will be rich," saith the apostle, - that are resolved to rise in the world, by what means it matters not, these, - "fall into temptation and a snare," as Lot, (that is the least evil can come of it), "and into many foolish and noisome lusts," as his neighbours the Sodomites did, "which" desperately "drown (d) men in" double "destruction". [1 Timothy 6:9]

Like the land of Egypt.] Which was called of old, publicum orbis horreum the world’s great granary. A country so fair and fertile, that the Egyptians were wont to boast, they could feed all men, and feast all the gods, without any sensible diminution of their provision.


Verse 11

Genesis 13:11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Ver. 11. And they separated themselves the one from the other.] But not very far asunder. And herein they became a symbol of friendship: for friends, as parallel lines, neither go far apart, nor yet interfere one with another.


Verse 12

Genesis 13:12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched [his] tent toward Sodom.

Ver. 12. And Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain.] Not in the land of Canaan with Abram, and his seed: God had a holy hand in that.

Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom.] A good place to pass through, but an ill place to take up in: as one once said of Athens.


Verse 13

Genesis 13:13 But the men of Sodom [were] wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

Ver. 13. But the men of Sodom were wicked, &c.] See their chief sins set down, Ezekiel 16:49-50. The Chaldee Paraphrast here translateth, they were first unrighteous with their mammon: and secondly, sinners with their bodies, before the Lord. That unnameable sin had its name from them, who against nature were scalded εξεκαυθησαν in their lust, one toward another. [Romans 1:27] The apostle there gives it in of the heathen philosophers, many of whom were patrons of this abhorred filth; as Cicero complains of Plato; and Socrates was shrewdly suspected, to be no more honest than he should be with Alcibiades; nor Seneca with Nero. (a) "The wisdom from above is pure," saith St James; [James 1:17] and in this wisdom is "truth" and purity, saith Solomon, [Proverbs 8:7] whereas all worldly wisdom is stained with error or lewdness. God punisheth the pride of all flesh with some foul sin, and so sets a Noverint universi , as it were, upon the world’s wizards, that all men may know them to be but arrant fools.

And sinners before the Lord exceedingly.] They were grown so debauched and impudent in evil, that neither fear of God nor shame of men could restrain them. Though God looked on, they were no whit abashed or abased before him. God "found not" out their sins "by secret search," [Jeremiah 2:34] he needed not to search them with lights. [Zephaniah 1:12] For "the show of their countenance did witness against them"; they could blush no more than a sackbut: shamelessness sat in their foreheads; "they declared their sins," even to a proverb. [Isaiah 3:9] They "set them" in open view "upon the cliff of the rock". [Ezekiel 24:7] They faced the heavens, and held their heads aloft, as if they deserved commendation, rather than else. This is a high degree of sin, and an immediate forerunner of destruction.


Verse 14

Genesis 13:14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

Ver. 14. After that Lot was separated from him.] Till Lot was departed, and the strife ceased, God appeared not. He is the God of peace, and hates contention; which as it indisposeth us to holy duties, [1 Peter 3:7] so it keepeth God from us by his comforts and influences. They say of bees, that stir and strife among them is a sign their queen is about to remove, to leave the hive, and to be gone somewhere else. God refuseth to be served till the matter be agreed. [Matthew 5:24]

Lift up now thine eyes.] God’s comforts are therefore most sweet, because most seasonable. Abram had now parted with Lot, to his great grief: God makes up that loss to him in his own gracious presence and promise: which he here repeateth, to teach us, moreover, that the continual weakness of man needeth continual comfort from God.


Verse 15

Genesis 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

Ver. 15. For all the land which thou seest is thine.] "God gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as a foot breadth"; [Acts 7:5] yet he promised that he would give it to him: and that Abram took for good freehold. Men use to reckon their wealth, not by what ready money they have only, but by the good bonds and leases they can produce. A great part of a Christian’s estate lies in bonds and bills of God’s hand.


Verse 16

Genesis 13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, [then] shall thy seed also be numbered.

Ver. 16. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth.] Afterwards, [Genesis 15:5] God promiseth that his seed shall be as the stars of heaven. Abram’s seed, saith one, (a) are of two sorts: some are visible members of a church, yet have earthly hearts: others are as the stars of heaven, for spiritual light, motion, and influence.


Verse 17

Genesis 13:17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

Ver. 17. Arise, walk through the land.] Thus God rewards contented Abram with the whole country. He never suffers any man to lose by a humble remission of his right, in a desire of peace. "The meek shall inherit the earth," [Matthew 5:5] and have heaven to boot; which was the chief thing here promised to Abram, in this survey. [Hebrews 11:10; Hebrews 11:16]


Verse 18

Genesis 13:18 Then Abram removed [his] tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which [is] in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.

Ver. 18. Built an altar.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 12:8"}

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 13:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-13.html. 1865-1868.

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