This chapter tells of the "success" (increased wealth in money and flocks) Abraham and Lot had in Egypt. However, that was at the expense of Abraham's wife being a concubine (or later wife) of the Pharaoh. Because Pharaoh thought Abraham was Sarah's wife (Abraham lies about the marriage - even though they also were really step-siblings), Pharaoh starts having health problems and attributes that to Abraham. It really was caused by God because of Abraham. Now the Pharaoh throws the whole family out with all their possessions. Now they return to the land of Canaan to "start over again".
Abraham and Lot had become very rich since they left Haran. It is interesting to note the Hebrew for rich is "kabed" which means "heavy", burdensome", many, or difficult". So at the time they were leaving Egypt, they knew a problem was on its way from being "rich". They traveled through Negev and back to the original altar at the location of his former stay between Bethel and Ai. He may have gone back to this spot to literally start all over again. It is very interesting that even with the questionable following of God's directives to Abraham, Abraham still prospered. Even with the lies in Egypt; in fact, it was the lies in Egypt that helped him prosper. Since Lot was related to Abraham, the Pharaoh helped Lot prosper. When the group reached the previous altar area (between Bethel and Ai), it was obvious the land would not support Lot's and Abraham's flocks and herds. In that land were the Canaanites and the Perrizites. The Perrizites were villagers that lived in the open country. They were the grazers, farmers, and peasants of the time. They would later be driven out by the descendants of Abraham.
This is a point where it appears Abraham really is more considerate of someone other than himself. He and Lot had become rich. The land could not handle both of these persons' blessings. Abraham did not take the rights of the eldest and choose first. Abraham gave Lot the choice of land. Lot chose the land of Jordan known for its richness and water. This area at that time included the very wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot also left to live in Sodom. Abraham took what was left, which was the land of Canaan.
There is probably another spiritual reason for Abraham's and Lot's separation. Abraham and Sarah were chosen by God to start the lineage of the Hebrew peoples. From this lineage would come the Messiah, Jesus the Christ (Messiah, the anointed one). Throughout the Bible Old Testament (O.T.), God made in his own way separation of His chosen ones and all else. From this line would come the Savior. Abraham probably looked at the separation as a natural thing simply because of the conditions. However, God knew this would have to be.
The v. 13 gives a preliminary idea of the conditions in Sodom and Gomorrah. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah are historically heavily laden with homosexual activities. Since this is an abomination to the Lord, this problem with Sodom is being expressed at this time.
God now tells Abraham this is where He wants him to stay. He was told by God to look to the north, south, east, and west. This was the covenant land; this was Abraham's ultimate destination. Abraham now moves his living quarters to an area near Hebron called, again, the oaks of Mamre. This was probably also named after an owner named Mamre and because of the oak groves in the area.
Reflections on Chapter 13 as Related to Us Today
This is perhaps a major point in Abraham's life when he did not think of himself. It is very obvious that he loved Lot and other family members. When Abraham left Egypt, he was not definitely not a poor man. He had done very well in accumulating some riches (herds, gold, and silver). Pharaoh allowed Abraham to leave with everything. Lot also had many flocks. Abraham may have taken a positive step when he returned to the original altar that he had made when he first arrived in Canaan. This may have been a new "starting point" in his life. As time went on, he knew he and Lot had too many flocks to be maintained by the land. Someone had to go. Abraham told Lot to choose. There were very lush areas about which they both knew. However, Lot had first choice and took the valley of the Jordan (with Sodom and Gomorrah). Abraham took what was left.
Abraham called Lot and himself brothers. So he did not want any strife. I believe this might be one of the "easiest" decisions he had to make. It is not like he had nothing with what was left. Did he know what Lot would take? I think so. If we give choices to others, we probably have a good idea what the choice will be. But when we allow a choice, we must also accept that decision.
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