Abram returns out of Egypt with great riches. (Verse 1-4.)
Strife between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. Abram gives Lot his choice of the country. (Verse 5-9.)
Lot chooses to dwell at Sodom. (Verse 10-13.)
God renews his promise to Abram, who removes to Hebron. (Verse 14-18.)
1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
[Gen 24:35, Psa 112:3, Prov 10:22]
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;
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.
Abram should have called on the name of the LORD before going down to Egypt. Doing wrong to do right is never right. Stick with the truth. Unfortunately this is not the last time Abram tells Sarai to say she is his sister to save his neck.
Abram called on God from Bethel in the land of Canaan; compare with 12:7-8; there is no record of Abram ever calling on God out of Egypt just as most believers enjoying themselves in the world seldom call on God.
5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
[Gen 11:27, Gen 12:4, Gen 14:12, Gen 19:1, 2nd Pet 2:7]
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.
Where did Lot get his wealth from? Part of it was from his inheritance from his father Haran after his death as a third of the cut of what Terah would have divided amongst his sons at his death with Lot getting Haran’s share since he had died before Terah.
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.
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.
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.
[Gen 20:15, Gen 47:6]
as the younger, Lot should have had respect for his elder uncle and refused his generous offer. Lot should have allowed Abram to choose where he wished to go; instead, Lot greedily choose the best land in vs. 10.
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.
[Num 32:1, Deut 34:3 Gen 2:8]
11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
“pitched his tent toward Sodom” – it was only a matter of a short time from the point where Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom to the point where Lot was living in Sodom (see 14:12) – a city not renowned for its purity and righteousness according to 13:13
13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
[Gen 18:20, Eze 16:49, 2nd Pet 2:6]
The Sodomites and their neighbors from Gomorrah were descendants of Canaan and because their wickedness was exceeding before God’s eyes and they were defiling the land as mentioned in Deuteronomy 18.
God was not going to just overthrow them or have them taken away as captives but he was going to utterly destroy them for their wickedness.
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:
“after that Lot was separated” – separation from family was one of God’s original commands to Abraham in 12:1; if God can not get us to separate from the things He wants us to, He will often do the separating for us and there will be conflict involved as in this event from Abram’s life. If our compromise gets to the point where God must do the separating, there will usually be chastising (ie. punishment intended to correct us) involved as well – read Hebrews 12:6-11.
15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
Only after Lot was separated from Abram, who was not supposed to be with him in the first place, did God announce to Abram that the land he was going to give him that he would also give it to his descendants and to their descendants as well and it would continue to be theirs forever as part of an everlasting promise.
God here makes a promise to give this land to Abraham and his seed FOR EVER! Israel has a right to the land they are now in and woe be to the person or group who tries to invade them or get them to give up pieces of their land.
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.
[Gen 26:4, Exod 32:13, Num 23:10, Deut 1:10, 1st Chron 27:23, Jer 33:22, Rom 4:16, Heb 11:12]
God promises Abram innumerable children; this is quite a promise to an old man with no children!
17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
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.
[Gen 26:25 Gen 26:25]
When Abram finally arrived in Hebron after obeying God and walking through the length and breadth of the land he still dwelt in a tent, which is a temporary dwelling place.
Abram, as of yet, had not received one inch of land. He did eventually buy a place to bury his wife. Why is that so? Was God not able to fulfill his promise to Abram in his life time?
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-4 – Abram was very rich: he was very heavy, so the Hebrew word is; for riches are a burden; and they that will be rich, do but load themselves with thick clay, Habakkuk 2:6. There is a burden of care in getting riches, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, guilt in abusing them, sorrow in losing them, and a burden of account at last to be given up about them. Yet God in his providence sometimes makes good men rich men, and thus God’s blessing made Abram rich without sorrow, Proverbs 10:22. Though it is hard for a rich man to get to heaven, yet in some cases it may be, Mark 10:23,24. Nay, outward prosperity, if well managed, is an ornament to piety, and an opportunity for doing more good. Abram removed to Beth-el. His altar was gone, so that he could not offer sacrifice; but he called on the name of the Lord. You may as soon find a living man without breath as one of God’s people without prayer.
Verse 5-9 – Riches not only afford matter for strife, and are the things most commonly striven about; but they also stir up a spirit of contention, by making people proud and covetous. Mine and thine are the great make-bates of the world. Poverty and labour, wants and wanderings, could not separate Abram and Lot; but riches did so. Bad servants often make a great deal of mischief in families and among neighbours, by their pride and passion, lying, slandering, and talebearing. What made the quarrel worse was, that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land. The quarrels of professors are the reproach of religion, and give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. It is best to keep the peace, that it be not broken; but the next best is, if differences do happen, with all speed to quench the fire that is broken out. The attempt to stay this strife was made by Abram, although he was the elder and the greater man. Abram shows himself to be a man of cool spirit, that had the command of his passion, and knew how to turn away wrath by a soft answer. Those that would keep the peace, must never render railing for railing. And of a condescending spirit; he was willing to beseech even his inferior to be at peace. Whatever others are for, the people of God must be for peace. Abram’s plea for peace was very powerful. Let the people of the land contend about trifles; but let not us fall out, who know better things, and look for a better country. Professors of religion should be most careful to avoid contention. Many profess to be for peace who will do nothing towards it: not so Abram. When God condescends to beseech us to be reconciled, we may well beseech one another. Though God had promised Abram to give this land to his seed, yet he offered an equal or better share to Lot, who had not an equal right; and he will not, under the protection of God’s promise, act hardly to his kinsman. It is noble to be willing to yield for peace’ sake.
Verse 10-13 – Abram having offered Lot the choice, he at once accepted it. Passion and selfishness make men rude. Lot looked to the goodness of the land; therefore he doubted not that in such a fruitful soil he should certainly thrive. But what came of it? Those who, in choosing relations, callings, dwellings, or settlements, are guided and governed by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life, cannot expect God’s presence or blessing. They are commonly disappointed even in that which they principally aim at. In all our choices this principle should rule, That is best for us, which is best for our souls. Lot little considered the badness of the inhabitants. The men of Sodom were impudent, daring sinners. This was the iniquity of Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness, Ezekiel 16:49. God often gives great plenty to great sinners. It has often been the vexatious lot of good men to live among wicked neighbours; and it must be the more grievous, if, as Lot here, they have brought it upon themselves by a wrong choice.
Verse 14-18 – Those are best prepared for the visits of Divine grace, whose spirits are calm, and not ruffled with passion. God will abundantly make up in spiritual peace, what we lose for preserving neighbourly peace. When our relations are separated from us, yet God is not. Observe also the promises with which God now comforted and enriched Abram. Of two things he assures him; a good land, and a numerous issue to enjoy it. The prospects seen by faith are more rich and beautiful than those we see around us. God bade him walk through the land, not to think of fixing in it, but expect to be always unsettled, and walking through it to a better Canaan. He built an altar, in token of his thankfulness to God. When God meets us with gracious promises, he expects that we should attend him with humble praises. In outward difficulties, it is very profitable for the true believer to mediate on the glorious inheritance which the Lord has for him at the last.