Genesis 13
Benson Commentary
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
Genesis 13:1. Into the south — That is, the southern part of Canaan, from whence he had come, Genesis 12:9, which, however, was north-east of Egypt. The Scriptures being written principally for the Jews, its language, respecting the situation of places, is accommodated to their manner of speaking.

And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
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;
Genesis 13:3. He went on to Beth-el — Because there he had formerly had an altar, and although the altar had fallen down, as being probably built of earth, or had been taken down by Abram, lest it should be polluted by the idolatrous Canaanites; yet he came to the place of the altar, either to revive the remembrance of the communion he had had with God at that place, or perhaps to pay the vows he had there made to God, when he undertook his journey into Egypt. And there Abram, prevented by no legal restraints, deterred by no pains or penalties, or insurrection of the inhabitants, although idolaters, “called on the name of the Lord,” worshipped God by prayer and thanksgiving, by offering sacrifices, and instructing his family, Genesis 18:19.

Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.
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.
Genesis 13:6. The land was not able to bear them — The Canaanites and other former inhabitants of the country undoubtedly occupied the best of the land, and what remained was not sufficient to supply their flocks and herds with pasturage.

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.
Genesis 13:7. The Canaanite and Perizzite dwelt in the land — This made the quarrel, 1st, Very dangerous: if Abram and Lot cannot agree to feed their flocks together, it is well if the common enemy do not come upon them and plunder them both. 2d, Very scandalous: No doubt the eyes of all the neighbours were upon them; because of the singularity of their religion, and the extraordinary sanctity they professed; and notice would soon be taken of this quarrel, and improvement made of it to their reproach by the Canaanites and Perizzites.

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.
Genesis 13:8-9. Although Abram was the elder, wiser, and every way worthier person than Lot, yet he voluntarily, and without reluctance or hesitation, relinquishes his own right to his inferior for the sake of peace, that no scandal might be brought on the true religion, hereby leaving a noble example for our imitation. Let there be no strife between me and thee

So nearly related as kinsmen, and as worshippers and children of the one living and true God. Betwixt us a contention will be very indecent, and of scandalous tendency.

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.
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.
Genesis 13:10. Lot beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered — Lot seems to have had nothing in view but his temporal convenience and advantage. His flocks and herds were already too numerous, and his substance too great; and yet he wishes them to be still more enlarged, and therefore makes choice of this fertile and pleasant spot. He does not inquire into the character of the inhabitants, nor consider what sort of society he should find there; nor does he appear to express any reluctance at leaving Abram’s family, and losing the benefit of his conversation, counsel, and instructions. God, however, in the course of his providence, disappointed his views and expectations, and he soon had cause to repent of his choice.

Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
Genesis 13:13. Sinners before the Lord exceedingly — That is, impudent and daring sinners, who despised and openly defied God. Alas for Lot! He has got into bad company, and will find the beauty and fertility of the country but a poor recompense for the daily grief their wickedness and reproaches will cause him!

Genesis 13:14-15. The Lord said unto Abram — To comfort him after “Lot was separated from him,” and he was left alone, and in a less pleasant and fruitful soil than that which Lot had chosen; Lift up thine eyes, all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it. — But, how was this land given to Abram, when it is expressly said by Stephen, Acts 7:5, “He (God) gave him no inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on!” The answer is, God gave him the right to it, though not the actual possession, until the time appointed, when the inhabitants of the land should prove themselves to be irreclaimable, and fully ripe for destruction. God explains it, “To thee and thy seed,” that is, to thee “in thy seed.” But how could it be said to be given them “for ever,” when, after a few hundreds of years they were turned out of it? To this it must be replied, that the promise was made to them, and intended to be fulfilled, upon condition of their obedience, as is often expressed in other places. And the expression עד עולם, here rendered for ever, often signifies only long continuance, as is evident from many passages of Scripture, in which the subjects to which it is applied do not, in their nature, admit of an eternal duration. Indeed, when the word is applied to the Jewish rites and ceremonies, as it often is, it signifies no more than during the standing of that dispensation, or till the coming of the Messiah. And thus it may be here understood.

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:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
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.
Genesis 13:16. I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth — That is, they shall increase incredibly, and, take them all together, shall be such a multitude as no man can number. When Moses wrote this history, these predictions had been in some measure fulfilled. But the increase of Abram’s seed at that time bore no proportion to what it was in the days of Solomon, when Israel and Judah, without taking his descendants by Ishmael, Esau, and the children he had by his second wife Keturah, into the account at all, were as many as the sand which is by the sea in multitude. Now what human foresight could have perceived that this would be the case? And who that was prudent, and professed to be a messenger of God to man, and to be intrusted with the revelation of his counsel, would have ventured to predict such a thing, and thereby to risk his character as a true prophet of the Lord on the accomplishment of the prediction, if he had not known, on the most solid grounds, that God had actually made such a promise? How thankful we ought to be for the demonstration this affords us, that Moses spake by inspiration of God, and that our faith in the divine revelation made by him is built on a firm foundation!

Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
Genesis 13:17-18. Arise, walk through the land — Enter and take possession, for thy posterity; survey the parcels, and it will appear better than upon a distant prospect. Abram himself, however, was not to think of fixing in it, but expect to be always unsettled, and walking through it to a better Canaan: and in compliance with God’s will herein, “he removed his tent,”

conforming to the condition of a pilgrim. And he built there an altar — In token of his thankfulness to God for the kind visit he had made him.

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.
Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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