Genesis 13


Abram and his family return out of Egypt to Canaan, 1, 2.

He revisits Beth-el, and there invokes the Lord, 3, 4.

In consequence of the great increase in the flocks of Abram

and Lot, their herdmen disagree; which obliges the patriarch

and his nephew to separate, 5-9.

Lot being permitted to make his choice of the land, chooses

the plains of Jordan, 10,11,

and pitches his tent near to Sodom, while Abram abides in

Canaan, 12.

Bad character of the people of Sodom, 13.

The Lord renews his promise to Abram, 14-17.

Abram removes to the plains of Mamre, near Hebron, and builds

an altar to the Lord, 18.


Verse 1. Abram went up out of Egypt-into the south.] Probably

the south of Canaan, as In leaving Egypt he is said to come from

the south, Ge 13:3, for the southern part of the promised land

lay north-east of Egypt.

Verse 2. Abram was very rich] The property of these patriarchal

times did not consist in flocks only, but also in silver and gold;

and in all these respects Abram was cabed meod, exceeding

rich. Josephus says that a part of this property was acquired by

teaching the Egyptians arts and sciences. Thus did God fulfil his

promises to him, by protecting and giving him a great profusion of

temporal blessings, which were to him signs and pledges of

spiritual things.

Verse 3. Beth-el] See chap. 8.

Verse 6. Their substance was great] As their families

increased, it was necessary their flocks should increase also, as

from those flocks they derived their clothing, food, and drink.

Many also were offered in sacrifice to God.

They could not dwell together] 1. Because their flocks were

great. 2. Because the Canaanites and the Perizzites had already

occupied a considerable part of the land. 3. Because there appears

to have been envy between the herdmen of Abram and Lot. To

prevent disputes among them, that might have ultimately disturbed

the peace of the two families, it was necessary that a separation

should take place.

Verse 7. The Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the

land.] That is, they were there at the time Abram and Lot came to

fix their tents in the land. See Clarke on Ge 12:6.

Verse 8. For we be brethren.] We are of the same family,

worship the same God in the same way, have the same promises, and

look for the same end. Why then should there be strife? If it

appear to be unavoidable from our present situation, let that

situation be instantly changed, for no secular advantages can

counterbalance the loss of peace.

Verse 9. Is not the whole land before thee.] As the patriarch or

head of the family, Abram, by prescriptive right, might have

chosen his own portion first, and appointed Lot his; but intent

upon peace, and feeling pure and parental affection for his

nephew, he permitted him to make his choice first.

Verse 10. Like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.]

There is an obscurity in this verse which Houbigant has removed by

the following translation: Ea autem, priusquam Sodomam

Gornorrhamque Do minus delerit, erat, qua itur Segor, tota

irrigua, quasi hortus Domini, et quasi terra AEgypti. "But before

the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, it was, as thou goest

to Zoar, well watered, like the garden of the Lord, and like the

land of Egypt." As paradise was watered by the four neighbouring

streams, and as Egypt was watered by the annual overflowing of the

Nile; so were the plains of the Jordan, and all the land on the

way to Zoar, well watered and fertilized by the overflowing of the


Verse 11. Then Lot chose him all the plain] A little civility or

good breeding is of great importance in the concerns of life. Lot

either had none, or did not profit by it. He certainly should

have left the choice to the patriarch, and should have been guided

by his counsel; but he took his own way, trusting to his own

judgment, and guided only by the sight of his eyes: he beheld all

the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered, &c.; so he chose

the land, without considering the character of the inhabitants, or

what advantages or disadvantages it might afford him in spiritual

things. This choice, as we shall see in the sequel, had nearly

proved the ruin of his body, soul, and family.

Verse 13. The men of Sodom were wicked] raim, from ,

ra, to break in pieces, destroy, and afflict; meaning persons who

broke the established order of things, destroyed and confounded

the distinctions between right and wrong, and who afflicted and

tormented both themselves and others. And sinners,

chattaim, from chata, to miss the mark, to step wrong, to

miscarry; the same as αμαρτανω in Greek, from a, negative, and

μαρπτω to hit a mark; so a sinner is one who is ever aiming at

happiness and constantly missing his mark; because, being

wicked-radically evil within, every affection and passion

depraved and out of order, he seeks for happiness where it never

can be found, in worldly honours and possessions, and in sensual

gratifications, the end of which is disappointment, affliction,

vexation, and ruin. Such were the companions Lot must have in the

fruitful land he had chosen. This, however, amounts to no more

than the common character of sinful man; but the people of Sodom

were exceedingly sinful and wicked before, or against, the

Lord-they were sinners of no common character; they excelled in

unrighteousness, and soon filled up the measure of their

iniquities. See chap. xix.

Verse 14. The Lord said unto Abram] It is very likely that the

angel of the covenant appeared to Abram in open day, when he could

take a distinct view of the length and the breadth of this good

land. The revelation made Ge 15:5, was evidently made in the

night; for then he was called to number the stars, which could

not be seen but in the night season: here he is called on to

number the dust of the earth, Ge 13:16, which could not be seen

but in the day-light.

Verse 15. To thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.]

This land was given to Abram, that it might lineally and legally

descend to his posterity; and though Abram himself cannot be said

to have possessed it, Ac 7:5, yet it was the gift of God to him

in behalf of his seed; and this was always the design of God, not

that Abram himself should possess it, but that his posterity

should, till the manifestation of Christ in the flesh. And this

is chiefly what is to be understood by the words for ever,

ad olam, to the end of the present dispensation, and the

commencement of the new. olam means either ETERNITY, which

implies the termination of all time or duration, such as is

measured by the celestial luminaries: or a hidden, unknown period,

such as includes a completion or final termination of a particular

era, dispensation, &c.; therefore the first is its proper meaning,

the latter its accommodated meaning. See Clarke on Ge 17:7.

See Clarke on Ge 21:33.

Verse 18. Abram removed his tent] Continued to travel and pitch

in different places, till at last he fixed his tent in the plain,

or by the oak, of Mamre, see Ge 12:6,

which is in Hebron; i.e., the district in which Mamre was

situated was called Hebron. Mamre was an Amorite then living,

with whom Abram made a league, Ge 14:13; and the oak probably

went by his name, because he was the possessor of the ground.

Hebron is called Kirjath-arba, Ge 23:2; but it is very likely

that Hebron was its primitive name, and that it had the above

appellation from being the residence of four gigantic or powerful

Anakim, for Kirjath-arba literally signifies the city of the four;

See Clarke on Ge 23:2.

Built there an altar unto the Lord.] On which he offered

sacrifice, as the word mizbach, from zabach, to slay,


THE increase of riches in the family of Abram must, in the

opinion of many, be a source of felicity to them. If earthly

possessions could produce happiness, it must be granted that they

had now a considerable share of it in their power. But happiness

must have its seat in the mind, and, like that, be of a spiritual

nature; consequently earthly goods cannot give it; so far are they

from either producing or procuring it, that they always engender

care and anxiety, and often strifes and contentions. The peace of

this amiable family had nearly been destroyed by the largeness of

their possessions. To prevent the most serious misunderstandings,

Abram and his nephew were obliged to separate. He who has much in

general wishes to have more, for the eye is not satisfied with

seeing. Lot, for the better accommodation of his flocks and

family, chooses the most fertile district in that country, and

even sacrifices reverence and filial affection at the shrine of

worldly advantage; but the issue proved that a pleasant worldly

prospect may not be the most advantageous, even to our secular

affairs. Abram prospered greatly in the comparatively barren part

of the land, while Lot lost all his possessions, and nearly the

lives of himself and family, in that land which appeared to him

like the garden of the Lord, like a second paradise. Rich and

fertile countries have generally luxurious, effeminate, and

profligate inhabitants; so it was in this case. The inhabitants

of Sodom were sinners, and exceedingly wicked, and their

profligacy was of that kind which luxury produces; they fed

themselves without fear, and they acted without shame. Lot however

was, through the mercy of God, preserved from this contagion: he

retained his religion; and this supported his soul and saved his

life, when his goods and his wife perished. Let us learn from this

to be jealous over our own wills and wishes; to distrust

flattering prospects, and seek and secure a heavenly inheritance.

"Man wants but little; nor that little long." A man's life-the

comfort and happiness of it-does not consist in the multitude of

the things he possesses. "One house, one day's food, and one suit

of raiment," says the Arabic proverb, "are sufficient for thee;

and if thou die before noon, thou hast one half too much." The

example of Abram, in constantly erecting an altar wherever he

settled, is worthy of serious regard; he knew the path of duty was

the way of safety, and that, if he acknowledged God in all his

ways, he might expect him to direct all his steps: he felt his

dependence on God, he invoked him through a Mediator, and offered

sacrifices in faith of the coming Saviour; he found blessedness in

this work-it was not an empty service; he rejoiced to see the day

of Christ-he saw it and was glad. See Clarke on Ge 12:8.

Reader, has God an altar in thy house? Dost thou sacrifice to him?

Dost thou offer up daily by faith, in behalf of thy soul and the souls

of thy family, the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the

world? No man cometh unto the Father but by me, said Christ: this

was true, not only from the incarnation, but from the foundation

of the world. And to this another truth, not less comfortable,

may be added: Whosoever cometh unto me I will in no-wise cast out.

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