corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

The Pulpit Commentaries

Genesis 13

 

 

Verses 1-9

EXPOSITION

Genesis 13:1

And Abram went up out of Egypt, he and his wife. A special mercy that either of them returned, considering the sin they had committed and the peril in which they had been placed. And all that he had. Referring principally to the souls, "domestiei" (Poole), acquired in Haran (Genesis 12:5, Genesis 12:16), his material wealth being mentioned afterwards. And Lot (who does not appear in the preceding paragraph, no part of which relates to him, but is now reintroduced into the narrative, the present portion of the story being connected with his fortunes) with him into the south (sc. of Canaan, vide Genesis 12:9).

Genesis 13:2

And Abram was very rich. Literally, weighty; used in the sense of abundance (Exodus 12:38; 1 Kings 10:2; 2 Kings 6:14). In cattle. Mikneh, from kana, to acquire by purchase, may apply to slaves as well as cattle (cf. Genesis 17:12, Genesis 17:13, Genesis 17:23). In silver and gold. Mentioned for the first time in Scripture; implying an acquaintance among the Egyptians with the operations of mining and the processes of refining the precious metals. Cf. the instructions of Amenemhat I; which speak of that monarch, belonging to the twelfth dynasty, as having built for himself a palace adorned with gold.

Genesis 13:3, Genesis 13:4

And he went on his journeys. Literally, in his journeyings or stations!cf. Genesis 11:2; Exodus 17:1; Numbers 10:6, Numbers 10:12). The renderings καὶ ἐπορεύθη ὅθεν η}lqen (LXX.) and reversus est per iter quo venerat (Vulgate) imply without warrant that he used the same camping grounds in his ascent which he had previously occupied in his descent. From the south even to Bethel (vide Genesis 12:8), unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning. Before his emigration into Egypt, i.e. not to Shechem, the site of his first altar, where probably he had not encamped for any length of time, if at all, but to a spot between Bethel and Ai (the exact situation being more minutely described as) unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first. After entering the promised land. In reality it was the second altar he had erected (vide Genesis 12:7, Genesis 12:8). And there Abram called on the name of the Lord. Professed the true and pure worship of God (Calvin); preached and taught his family and Canaanitish neighbors the true religion (Luther). Vide Genesis 12:8; Genesis 4:26.

Genesis 13:5, Genesis 13:6

And Lot also (literally, and also to Lot), who went with Abram (literally, going with Abram), had (were) flocks and herds and tents. The uncle's prosperity overflowed upon the nephew. Rosenmüller includes in the tents the domestics and servants, qui in tentoriis degebant (cf. 1 Chronicles 4:41). And the land was not able to bear them. Literally, did not bear, i.e. support their households and flocks. That they should dwell together. In consequence partly of the scarce pasturage, the land probably having not yet sufficiently recovered from the drought, but chiefly because of their increasing wealth. For their substance (vide Genesis 12:5) was great, so that they could not (literally, and they were not able to) dwell together.

Genesis 13:7

And there was a strife (originating doubtless in the scarcity of pasture, and having for its object the possession of the best wells and most fertile grounds) between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite—the lowlander (vide Genesis 9:22; Genesis 12:6)—and the Perizzite—the highlander, or dweller in the hills and woods of Palestine (Josephus, Bochart); in the open country and in villages, as opposed to the Canaanites, who occupied walled towns (Kalisch, Wordsworth; a tribe of wandering nomads (Murphy), the origin of whose name is lost in obscurity (Keil), who, though not mentioned in Genesis 10:1-32; are commonly introduced with the Canaanites (Genesis 15:20; Genesis 34:30; Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17), as dividing the land between them, and are probably to be regarded as the remnant of an early Shemite race displaced by the Hamite invaders of Palestine. Their introduction here is neither a sign of post-Mosaic authorship nor an interpolation, but an explanation of the difficulty of finding pasture—the land was occupied (vide Genesis 12:6)—dwelt then in the land.

Genesis 13:8

And Abram said unto Lot. Perceiving probably that Lot's face was not towards him as usual, and being desirous to avert the danger of collision between his nephew and himself. Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and (i.e. either identifying himself and his nephew with their subordinates, or fearing that the strife of their subordinates might spread to themselves, hence, as) between my herd-men and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Literally, men brethren (cf. Genesis 11:27, Genesis 11:31; Exodus 2:13; Psalms 133:1). Abram and Lot were kinsmen by nature, by relationship, and by faith (vide Genesis 11:31; 2 Peter 2:7).

Genesis 13:9

Is not the whole land before thee? The Bethel plateau commands an extensive view of Palestine (vide on Genesis 13:10). Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. Thus giving Lot the choice of the country. If thou wilt take the left hand (literally, if to the left hand (sc. thou wilt go), the Hebrew term being in the accusative after a verb of motion—then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

HOMILETICS

Genesis 13:9

The magnanimity of Abram.

I. WHEN IT WAS EVOKED.

1. On returning to the land of Canaan. Departing into Egypt, the better nature of the patriarch became obscured and enfeebled, and he himself became the subject of timorous emotions, the deviser of guileful machinations, and the perpetrator of unworthy actions; retracing his erring footsteps to the holy soil, he seems as it were immediately to have recovered the nobility and grandeur of soul which he had lost in the land of Ham. When saints wander into sinful ways they inflict a hurt upon their spirits from which they cannot recover till they seek the good old paths. Sublime deeds of spiritual heroism are not to be expected at the hands of believers who con form to the world. The true champions of the faith, who by their personal behavior can illustrate its godlike character, are only to be found among those who walk as strangers and pilgrims on the earth, and do not stray from God's commandments.

2. After having committed a great sin. The recoil which Abram's spirit must have experienced when, in the light of God's merciful interposition, he came to perceive the heinous nature of the transgression into which his fears had betrayed him in Egypt, had doubtless something to do with the lofty elevation of soul to which he soon afterwards climbed upon the heights of Bethel. So oftentimes a saint, through grace, is profited by his backslidings. The memory of the matter of Uriah had its influence in ripening the piety of David, and the recollection of the judgment-hall of Pilate assisted Peter to a height of spiritual fortitude he might not otherwise have attained.

3. After an experience of rich mercy. After all, God's kindnesses to Abram and Sarai were the principal instrumentalities that quickened the better nature of the patriarch; and so it is generally in proportion as we meditate upon and partake of Divine mercy that our hearts are ennobled and enabled. It is the love of God in Christ that constrains a saint to holy and unselfish deeds.

II. HOW IT WAS OCCASIONED.

1. By the danger of collision between himself and Lot. The strife which had arisen between his nephew's herdsmen and his own was liable, unless promptly extinguished, to communicate its bad contagion to himself and Lot. But the patriarch, with that insight which belongs to simple minds, discerned a method of avoiding so unseemly a calamity, and, with that self-forgetful heroism which ever characterizes noble souls, had the fortitude and magnanimity to put it into execution. It indicates an advanced stage of Christian maturity when what might prove temptations to sin are, by spiritual discernment and unshrinking self-sacrifice, transformed into occasions for holy acting and suffering.

2. By the necessity of separation which had come on him and Lot, which necessity was owing

III. BY WHAT IT WAS PRECEDED.

1. By a solemn act of devotion. Suitable at all seasons, prayer is specially needful and becoming in times of danger and trial like those in which the patriarch was situated. Nothing is better calculated to soothe the troubled heart, to allay irritation, to prevent strife, to enable the assaulted spirit to resist temptation, to grace the soul for arduous duty and magnanimous self-renunciation, than communion with God. Had Abram's discernment of the growing danger to which he and Lot were exposed, and Abram's contemplation of the necessity of yielding Lot the choice of the land their influence in taking him back to Bethel with its altar?

2. By an earnest deprecation of the rising strife. If the Spirit's fruits will not flourish in the stagnant marsh of a dead soul, neither will they in the breast of an angry Christian. A peaceful mind and a quiet heart are indispensable pre-requisites to grace's motions. Heavenly virtue cannot prosper in an atmosphere of wrath and contention. But where saints cultivate a gentle and forgiving spirit it is not uncommon to find them strengthened to perform deeds of holy valor. The conciliatory disposition of the elder of the two travelers was an admirable preparation for, almost a foreshadowing of, the magnanimous act that followed; as the perpetuation of the strife or the indulgence of anger on the part of Abram would have rendered it impossible.

IV. IN WHAT IT WAS DISPLAYED.

1. A sublime act of self-renunciation.

2. A signal illustration of self-resignation, in which, when he beheld the meanness of Lot, and saw the best portion of the soil abstracted from him, there was neither a display of feeling towards his nephew nor the uprising of a pang of discontentment and regret at the result, but the most humble and self-satisfied acquiescence in what he knew to be the allotment of Heaven.

Learn—

1. That soul-wealth is greater than material prosperity.

2. That a man becomes spiritually rich in proportion as he practices self-renunciation.

3. That the higher one rises in true spiritual greatness, the less is he affected by the loss of earth's goods.

HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY

Genesis 13:1-13

The separation between Abram and Lot.

Return to Bethel—to the altar. The circumstances of the patriarch were very different. He was very rich. Lot is with him, and the sojourn in Egypt had far more depraving effect upon his weaker character than upon that of his uncle. We should remember when we take the young into temptation that what may be comparatively harmless to us may be ruinous to them. The subsequent misery of Lot's career may be all traced to the sojourn in Egypt.

I. The root of it lay in WORLDLY WEALTH LEADING TO CONTENTION. "They could not dwell together."

II. THE DIVERGENCE OF CHARACTER IS BROUGHT OUT IN THE COMPLICATION OF EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES. Lot is simply selfish, willful, regardless of consequences, utterly worldly. Abram is a lover of peace, a hater of strife, still cherishes the family feeling and reverences the bond of brotherhood, is ready to subordinate his own interests to the preservation of the Divine order, has faith to see that Canaan with the blessing of God is much to be preferred to the plain of Jordan with Divine judgments hanging over those who were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

III. LESSONS OF PROVIDENCE ARE NOT LOST ON THOSE WHO WAIT UPON GOD, and can be learnt in spite of infirmities and errors. Abram could not forget what Egypt had taught him; rich as he was, he did not put riches first. He had seen that that which seems like a garden of the Lord in external beauty may be a cursed land after all. There are people of God who pitch their tents towards Sodom still, and they will reap evil fruits, as Lot did. It is a most terrible danger to separate ourselves from old religious associations. In doing so we cannot be too careful where we pitch our tent.—R.

HOMILIES BY F. HASTINGS

Genesis 13:8

Abraham, the peaceable man.

"Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee." Abraham had a nephew who attached himself to his fortunes and shared his fate. Food, fodder, and water became scarce. The flocks of Lot and of Abraham are more than the land can sustain; the herdsmen of each strive together. Servants will often be more bitter towards the servants of a rival of their master, than those immediately concerned. Pathetic is the appeal of the patriarch for the maintenance of peace.

I. IT IS A MOST DESIRABLE THING TO LIVE IN PEACE WITH OTHERS. We are commanded to do so: "As much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men." We may not sacrifice any good principle for the sake of ease, but we are to strive to maintain peace. In matters of faith a man may have to take up at times such a position that others will speak ill of him, but in regard to the neighborly life he must by all means cultivate amity and concord. Little is ever gained by standing on "our rights." Scandal is always the fruit of quarrelling. The worldly-minded are sure to plume themselves on their superior goodness when the spiritually-minded contend. In many homes there is jangling, sneering, and strife; scathing remarks like hot cinders from Vesuvius fall carelessly around. Tyrannous tempers become like tornados, and moodiness kills like the choke-damp of an ill-ventilated mine. Among nations there should be maintenance of peace. The common sense of most should "hold the fretful realm in awe." In the Church strife should cease. It will when each sect seeks to make men Christ-like and not uniform bigots.

II. THERE ARE ALWAYS MEANS OF MAINTAINING PEACE WHEN IT IS DESIRED. Abraham acted most unselfishly with this view; he yielded his claim to a choice. Lot owed much to Abraham, yet he seized an advantage. Lot looks towards Sodom; the strip of green beside the lake and reaching to Jordan reminds him of the land of Nile. The spirit of Egypt, whence he had lately come, is in him; he chooses Sodom, but with its green pastures he has to take its awful corruption. Abraham turns away in the direction alone left to him. He has his tent, his altar, the promises, and his God; he will live in peace. His Father will not forsake him; indeed God very speedily renews his promises to Abraham, and thus the unselfishness of a peaceful man met with an appropriate reward.—H.


Verses 10-13

EXPOSITION

Genesis 13:10

And Lot lifted up his eyes. Circumspexit; with a look of eager, lustful greed (cf. Genesis 3:6). The same expression is afterwards used of Abram (Genesis 13:14), where perhaps also the element of satisfaction, though in a good sense, is designed to be included. And beheld all the plain. Literally, all the circle, or surrounding region ( כִּכָּר, from כָּרַר, to move in a circle; cf. arrondissement, Fr.; kreis or bezirk, Ger.); περίχωρος (LXX ; Matthew 3:5); now called El Ghor, the low country (Gesenius). Of Jordan. Compounded of Jordan, the names of the two river sources (Josephus, Jerome); but, according to modern etymologists, derived from יָרַד, to go down, and signifying the Descender, like the German Rhine, from rinnen, to run. The largest river of Palestine, rising at the foot of Antilibanus, and passing, in its course of 200 miles, over twenty-seven rapids, it pours its waters first into the lake of Merom, and then into the sea of Galilee, 653 feet, and finally into the Lacus Asphaltites, 1316 feet below the level of the Mediterranean. It is now called Esh-Sheri'ah, i.e. the ford, as having been of old crossed by the Israelites (Gesenius). That it was well-watered everywhere . Not by canals and trenches, as old interpreters imagined, but by copious streams along its course, descending chiefly from the mountains of Moab. Before the Lord destroyed—the same word is used for the destruction of all flesh in what is styled the Elohistic account of the Deluge—Sodom and Gomorrha (vide Genesis 14:2). Even as the garden of the Lord. Paradise in Eden, with its four streams (Genesis if. 10; Calvin, Lange, Keil); though by some this is deemed unsatisfactory (Quarry), and the phrase taken as—hortus amaenissimus (Rosenmüller), and in particular Mesopotamia, which was a land of rare re. cundity. Like the land of Egypt—which was irrigated by the Nile and by canals from it as well as by machines (Deuteronomy 11:10, Deuteronomy 11:11)—as thou comest unto Zoar—at the south-east corner of the Dead Sea (vide Genesis 14:3).

Genesis 13:11

Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan. Allured by its beauty and fertility, and heedless of other or higher considerations. And Lot journeyed east, מִקֶּדֶס = versus orientem (cf. Genesis 11:2). And they separated themselves the one from the other. Literally, a man from his brother.

Genesis 13:12

Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan. Strictly so called; in its larger sense Canaan included the circle of the Jordan. And Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain. Being desirous of a permanent settlement within the gates, or at least in the immediate neighborhood, of the wealthy cities of the laud; in contrast to his uncle, who remained a wanderer throughout its borders, sojourning as in a strange country (Hebrews 11:9). And (with this purpose in contemplation), he pitched his tent toward (i.e. in the direction of, and as far as to) Sodom.

Genesis 13:13

But (literally, and) the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners their wickedness is more specifically detailed in Genesis 19:1-38; q.v.)—before the Lord—literally, to Jehovah = before the face of Jehovah; ἐναντίον τοῦ θεοῦ (LXX.), vide Genesis 10:9; an aggravation of the wickedness of the Sodomites—exceedingly. Their vileness was restrained neither in quantity nor quality. As it passed all height in arrogance; so it burst all bounds in prevalence.

HOMILETICS

Genesis 13:10

The choice of Lot.

I. THE EXCELLENCE OF LOT'S CHOICE.

1. Beautiful. Viewed from the Bethel plateau, at the moment perhaps gilded with the shimmering radiance of the morning sun, the Jordan circle was a scene of enchanting loveliness; and in yielding to the fascinations of the gorgeous panorama that spread itself out on the distant horizon it cannot be affirmed that Lot committed sin. The Almighty Maker of the universe loves beauty, as his works attest (Ecclesiastes 3:11), and hath implanted the like instinct in the soul of man. Hence, so far from being a signal of depravity, the capacity of admiring and appreciating mere physical and external grace and symmetry betokens a nature not yet completely disempowered by sin; and so far from its being wrong to surround oneself with objects that are pleasing to the eye, it is rather incumbent so to do, provided always it can be accomplished without sin.

2. Productive. As there is no sin in having elegant mansions, fair gardens, and fine pictures to look upon, so neither is there evil in desiring fertile fields instead of barren rocks to cultivate. Sentenced to eat bread in the sweat of his brow, the Christian is not thereby required to prefer a tract of moorland to a farm of rich alluvial soil. Monkish asceticism may enjoin such self-mortification on its devotees; Christianity invites men to enjoy the good things which have been freely given to them by God. The well-watered fields of the Jordan circle were as open to the choice of Lot as were the bleak Judaean hills.

3. Suggestive. Already it had recalled to his memory the luxuriant plains of Egypt which he had lately visited, and to his imagination the resplendent Eden of man's primeval days; and doubtless it was such a region as could scarcely fail to inspire a devout mind with lofty thoughts, pure emotions, and holy aspirations, so leading the entranced worshipper from nature up to nature's God. Since the human soul cannot choose but be insensibly affected for good or evil by its material as well as moral environment, it is well, when Divine providence gives us the election, that we select for our abodes scenes and places that shall elevate and refine rather than deteriorate and depress.

II. THE DRAWBACKS OF LOT'S CHOICE.

1. Bad neighbors. The inhabitants of the Jordanic Pentapolis were sinners of an aggravated type. And while it may not be possible to avoid all contact with wicked men (1 Corinthians 5:10), it becomes God's people to keep as far aloof as possible from the ungodly; and especially from transgressors like the Sodomites. Mingling with and marrying into the families of the ungodly ruined the antediluvian world. The chief injury clone to the Church of Christ arises from a throwing down of the wall of separation between it and the world. Separation from and nonconformity to the world, and much more the wicked portion of it, is the duty of believers (Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 6:17).

2. Moral contamination. Though Lot was a good man, his piety would not prevent the gradual deterioration of his nature through the evil influence of his neighbors. There is a contagion, for good or evil, in example which is well nigh irresistible. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise; but the companion of fools shall be destroyed."

3. Bitter sorrow. Precisely in proportion to the eminence of his religious character would this be inevitable. The immoralities and infidelities of the Sodomites would plunge him into grief, if they did not cause "rivers of water" to run down his eyes. And so it eventually came to pass (2 Peter 2:8).

III. THE SINFULNESS OF LOT'S CHOICE.

1. Avaricious in its origin. Thus it was a sin against God. Had no drawbacks attended it, had it in all other respects been commendable and prudent, the lust of cupidity out of which it sprang would have condemned it. Few things are more frequently and emphatically reprehended in the word of God than the inordinate desire of possession (Luke 12:15; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; Hebrews 13:5).

2. Selfish in its character. Thus, besides being a sin against God, it was an offence against his uncle. Had Abram and Lot stood upon a platform of equality, religious principle should have dictated to Lot the propriety of either returning the right of choice to Abram, or himself selecting what he believed to be the inferior quarter (Romans 12:10; Philippians 2:3); but Abram was Lot's superior in age, and therefore entitled to take precedence of one who was younger; Lot's uncle, and, in virtue of that relationship, deserving of his nephew's honor; Lot's guardian and benefactor, and, as a consequence, worthy of acknowledgment and gratitude at the hands of one whom he had enriched; and, what was more important for the settlement of the question, the actual heir and owner of the land, to whom accordingly belonged the prerogative of claiming not its fattest portion only, but its entire domain. All these considerations rendered Lot's choice offensive in the extreme.

3. Dangerous in its issues. As such it was a sin against himself as well as against God. Even though evil should not come of it, it was not open to Lot, as a good man, to establish himself where injury to his spiritual interests was possible. That he did not reckon the moral bearings of his choice was an aggravation rather than an extenuation of his sin. He had time to calculate the chances of material prosperity; he should also have counted up the moral hazards before he elected to drive his flocks and herds to Sodom.

Lessons:—

1. All is not gold that glitters; hence the supreme unwisdom of judging either things or persons according to appearance.

2. In every man's lot there is a crook; hence the propriety of moderating our desires concerning everything.

3. It is possible to pay too dear a price for material prosperity. "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

4. It is a poor outcome of piety which prefers self-interest to the claims either of affection or religion; the man who loves himself better than his neighbor is still devoid of the spirit of Christ

5. In the long run the spirit of selfishness is certain to overreach itself and accomplish its own ruin.

HOMILIES BY W. ROBERTS

Genesis 13:10-13

The choice of Lot.

I. WHAT LOT TOOK INTO ACCOUNT.

1. His own worldly circumstances; and,

2. The suitability of the Jordan circle to advance them.

II. WHAT LOT DID NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.

1. The reverence due to his uncle.

2. The greater right which Abram had to the soil of Canaan.

3. The danger, in parting with Abram, of separating himself from Abram's God.

4. The risk of damage to his spiritual interests in settling in the Jordan circle.

Learn—

1. That while it may be right, in life's actions, to take our worldly interests into account, it is wrong and dangerous to take nothing else.

2. That no amount of purely worldly advantage can either justify or recompense the disregard of the higher interests of the soul.

3. That though good men may oftentimes find reasons for neglecting the soul's interests, they cannot do so with impunity.—W.

Genesis 13:10, Genesis 13:13

Sodom and the Sodomites, or the place and the people.

1. The physical beauty of the Jordan valley.

2. The moral corruption of its inhabitants.

Lessons:—

1. The weakness of nature as a moral educator.

2. The true design of nature as a moral educator.—W.

Genesis 13:11

The parting off friends.

I. The SADNESS Of this parting. It was a parting—

1. Of kinsmen (men, brethren).

2. Of kinsmen in a foreign land.

3. Of kinsmen by their own hand.

II. The CAUSE of this parting.

1. The difficulty of finding sustenance together.

2. The danger of collision if they kept together.

III. The MANNER of this parting.

1. After prayer.

2. In peace.

3. With magnanimity on the part of Abram.

4. With meanness on that of Lot.

Lessons:—

1. It is sad when brethren cannot dwell together in unity.

2. It is better that brethren should separate than quarrel.—W.

HOMILIES BY J.F. MONTGOMERY

Genesis 13:11

Lot's unwise choice.

"Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan." To Lot no doubt this seemed but a matter of prudence, a, choice of pastures, yet it stamped his after life. He was a godly man. We miss the point if we think of him as careless. The lesson is for God's people. At first guided by his uncle, but time came when he must act alone. Pastures of Bethel not sufficient. Strife between the herdsmen. God uses little things to work his will. In every life times when choice must be made. Perhaps definite and distinct, e.g. leaving home, or choice of a profession; perhaps less marked, as in the choice of friends and associates, or the habits imperceptibly formed. We must be thus tried; needful for our training (James 1:12). A sevenfold blessing "to him that overcometh" (Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22.).

I. EVIL OF LOT'S CHOICE. He chose the best pasture. Why should he not? The fault lay in the motive, the want of spiritual thought in a secular matter. He broke no positive law, but looked only to worldly good. The evil of Sodom was disregarded. No prayer for guidance; no thought how he could best serve God (cf. James 1:14).

II. EFFECT OF LOT'S CHOICE.

1. No real happiness. His soul vexed (2 Peter 2:8). His life; fretting at evil which he had not resolution to escape from.

2. Real injury. His character enervated. From dwelling in plain came into the city; formed connections there. Irresolute and lingering when warned to flee. His prayer for himself only. Was saved "as by fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15). We are tried daily, in the valley or on the mountain. We cannot avoid trials; not good for us if we could. The one way of safety: "Seek first the kingdom of God." There is an evil terribly widespread—of seeking first the world; thinking not to neglect God, but putting Christianity into corners of the life. What saith the world? Haste to be rich, or great; take thine ease; assert thyself; be high-spirited. And the customs of society and much of education repeat the lesson. But what saith Christ? Look unto me. Not at stated times, but always. The cause of much dispeace, of many spiritual sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10), is want of thoroughness in taking Christ as our guide. Lot was preserved. Will any say, "I ask no more"? "Remember Lot's wife." How narrow the line between his hesitation and her looking back! The grain may sprout through thorns (Matthew 13:22), but the thorns are ever growing.—M.

HOMILIES BY W. ROBERTS

Genesis 13:12

Going to Sodom.

I. How IT MAY HAVE LOOKED TO LOT.

1. As a matter of business it was good.

2. In its moral aspects the step was dangerous. But—

3. Doubtless at first Lot did not intend entering the city. And perhaps—

4. Lot may have justified his doubtful conduct by hoping that he would have opportunities of doing good to the Sodomites.

II. How IT MUST HAVE LOOKED TO THE SODOMITES. It must have—

1. Surprised them to see a good man like Lot coming to a neighborhood so bad.

2. Led them to think adversely of a religion that preferred worldly advantage to spiritual interest.

3. Rendered them impervious to any influence for good from Lot's example.

Lessons:—

1. It is perilous to go towards Sodom if one wants to keep out of Sodom.

2. It is useless preaching to Sodomites while gathering wealth in Sodom. W.

Going towards Sodom.

1. An inviting journey.

2. A gradual journey.

3. A sinful journey.

4. A dangerous journey.—W.


Verses 14-18

EXPOSITION

Genesis 13:14, Genesis 13:15

And the Lord said—speaking probably with an articulate voice; the third occasion on which the patriarch was directly addressed by God. The narrative, however, does not affirm that there was any actual theophany—unto Abram—who could readily recognize the voice which had twice already spoken to him. After that Lot was separated from him. Thus God approved that separation (Poole), and administered consolation to the troubled heart of the patriarch (Calvin), though Divine revelations are rather wont to be made to minds already quiet and sedate (Lyra). Lift up now thine eyes. Perhaps a studied reference to the act of Lot, which Moses describes in similar language (Genesis 13:10), and possibly designed to suggest the greater satisfaction which would be imparted to the soul of Abram by the survey about to be made. And look from the place where thou art. Between Bethel and Ai, on cue of the mountain peaks (cf. Genesis 12:8; Genesis 13:3), from which a commanding view of almost the entire country could be obtained. Northward—towards "the hills which divide Judaea from the rich plains of Samaria"—and southward—as far as to the Hebron range—and eastward—in the direction of the dark mountain wall of Moab, down through the rich ravine which leads from the central hills of Palestine to the valley of the Jordan, and across that very "circle" into which Lot has already departed with his flocks—and westward—literally, towards the sea. Cf. on the view from the stony but fertile plateau between Bethel and Ai, Stanley's ' Sinai and Palestine,' ch. 4. p. 218. For all the land which thou seesti.e. the entire country, a part being put for the whole—to thee will I give it. To avoid an apparent conflict between this Divine declaration and the words of Stephen (Acts 7:5), it is proposed by some to read the next clause as epexegetic of the present (Ainsworth, Bush); but the land was really given to Abram as a nomade chief, in the sense that he peacefully lived for many years, grew old, and died within its borders (Clericus, Rosenmüller, 'Speaker's Commentary'), while it was assigned to his descendants only because it had been first donated to him. And to thy seed. Not his bodily posterity alone, to whom the terrestrial Canaan was given, but also and chiefly his spiritual family, to whom was made over that better country, even an heavenly, of which the land of promise was a type. Forever. 'Adh 'olam (vide on Genesis 9:16)==in perpetuity; i.e.

Genesis 13:16

And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth. "As the land shall be great for thy people, thy posterity, so thy people shall be great or innumerable for the land" (Lunge). Afterwards the seed of Abram is likened to the stars of heaven for multitude (Genesis 15:5). So that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Genesis 13:17

Arise. According to a common mode of Oriental speech, pleonastically affixed to verbs of going, going forward, and of setting about anything with impulse. Walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it. To be understood not as a literal direction, but as an intimation that he might leisurely survey his inheritance with the calm assurance that it was his. For I will give it unto thee.

Genesis 13:18

Then—literally, and, acting immediately as the heavenly voice directed—Abram removed—or rather pitched (cf. Genesis 13:12)—his tent, and dwelt—settled down, made the central point of his subsequent abode in Canaan (Wordsworth)—in the plainבְּאֵלֹנֵי = oaks (Gesenius) or terebinths Celsins); vide Genesis 12:6of Mamre—an Amorite chieftain who afterwards became the friend and ally of Abram (Genesis 14:13, Genesis 14:24), and to whom probably the grove belonged—which is in Hebron—twenty-two miles south of Jerusalem on the way to Beersheba, a town of great antiquity, having been built seven years before Zoan, in Egypt (Numbers 13:22). As it is elsewhere styled Kirjath-arba, or the city of Arba (Genesis 23:2; Genesis 35:27), and appears to have been so called until the conquest (Joshua 14:15), the occurrence of the name Hebron is regarded as a trace of post-Mosaic authorship (Clericus, et alii); but it is more probable that Hebron was the original name of the city, and that it received the appellation Kirjath-arba on the arrival in the country of Arba the Anakite, perhaps during the sojourn of Jacob's descendants in Egypt (Rosenmüller, Bantugarten, Hengstenberg, Keil, Kurtz). The place is called by modern Arabs El Khalil, the friend of God. And built there an altar unto the Lord.

HOMILETICS

Genesis 13:14-18

Magnanimity rewarded, or Divine compensations.

I. A REVELATION GIVEN. Immediately on Lot's departure Jehovah approaches, the appearance of the heavenly Friend compensating for the loss of the earthly kinsman, as often happens in the Divine dealings with men and saints. The revelation now afforded to the patriarch was—

1. Personal. Essentially a self-revealing God, only through the medium of a person can Jehovah give a full and clear unveilment of himself. Of this description was the theophany accorded to the solitary flock-master on the Bethel plateau; and in the man Christ Jesus have the saints a like disclosure of the person and character of the unapproachable Supreme.

2. Gracious. The dignity of him who thus appeared to the patriarch, the all-sufficient and self-existent Deity, and the character of him to whom such revelation was vouchsafed, the father of the faithful, but still a mere creature, and, apart from Divine grace, exposed to just condemnation, attest its stupendous condescension. Yet "such honor have all the saints" to whom, notwithstanding their personal insignificance and deep unworthiness, the supreme Deity has approached and unveiled himself in Christ.

3. Opportune. At the time when it was made the patriarch's heart, we can imagine, was the seat of mingled emotions. Saddened by the loss of a kinsman who had been long his companion, and perhaps pained by the recollection of that kinsman's avarice, dejected as he realized his solitude among hostile neighbors and in a foreign land, though, doubtless, also sustained by a consciousness of having acted well in parting with his nephew, the patriarch was much in need of Divine consolation and succor. And so are Christ's visits to his people ever seasonable (Luke 24:15; John 6:20) and suitable to their wants.

4. Comforting. This was proved by his subsequent behavior. Plucking up the stakes of his tent, he resumed his travels, and at his next encampment built an altar for the worship of the Lord. It is a good sign that gracious visits to needy souls are having their desired effect when those souls are able to attend to the ordinary but necessary duties of life, and to preserve their relish for the public and private rites of religion.

II. A LAND GRANTED. For the loss of the Jordan circle the patriarch receives an express donation of the entire territory of Canaan. So Christ promises to reward his self-sacrificing followers in kind as well as quantity, and in the life that now is as well as in that which is to come (Matthew 19:29). The grant made to Abram was—

1. Magnificent. The grant of a land; of the land of Palestine in the first instance, and in the second of the better country, even an heavenly, of which the earthly Canaan was a type (Hebrews 11:8-10). The like grant is made to believers in the gospel (Matthew 5:5; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 2 Timothy 2:12).

2. Certain. The complete isolation of the patriarch, the occupation of the land, and especially the barrenness of Sarai, were all calculated to make the Divine donation of the country before him but a doubtful gift after all. And so sometimes to Christians may the heavenly inheritance appear highly problematical. But the ground of certainty for them is precisely what it was to Abram, the word of the living God; and as Abram staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, so neither should they.

3. Perpetual. To thee, and to thy seed forever, were the terms in which the earthly Canaan was conveyed to the patriarch. That is, so long as the seed of Abram according to the flesh existed as a separate nation they should occupy the land of Canaan; while for his spiritual posterity the heavenly Canaan should continue an inalienable possession. So earth to the believer is a perpetual inheritance in the sense that "the world is his," while heaven is an eternal country from which he shall go no more out.

III. A SEED PROMISED. The magnanimity of the patriarch had deprived him of a brother's son; the grace of God rewarded him by promising a child of his own. No man ever comes off a loser who makes sacrifices for God. The seed promised was to be—

1. Numerous. A multitude instead of one; exemplified in the untold millions of Abram's natural descendants. So God delights to reward his people, returning to them a hundredfold for what they give to him (Matthew 19:20; Ephesians 3:20).

2. Spiritual. An offspring united to him by bonds of grace in lieu of a kinsman connected with him by ties of blood; a prediction realized in the myriads of his believing children. Another principle which regulates the Divine compensations bestowed on saints is to take the less and give the greater, to remove the material and impart the spiritual (John 16:7; John 19:26).

3. Eminent. If Lot was renowned for wealth and worldly prudence, the unborn seed of Abram should be distinguished in the annals of both Church and world for riches of a more enduring character and wisdom of a nobler kind; a prophecy fulfilled in Israel after the flesh, which as a nation has always been more distinguished for intelligence and capacity than for numbers; in Israel after the spirit, or the Church of God, whose characteristics have ever been rare spiritual illumination and high moral potency; and in Israel's Savior, "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and "in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

Learn—

1. That God is the ever-present though unseen Spectator of noble deeds.

2. That every act of self-sacrifice performed for his sake elicits his approbation.

3. That while he who keeps his life shall lose it, he who, for Christ's sake and the gospel's, loses it shall ultimately find it.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 13:4". The Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/genesis-13.html. 1897.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology