Abraham (Genesis 13)

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Patriarchs

  • Abraham took Sarai, Lot, and all his people and left Egypt to go back to Canaan.
  • Because of Pharaoh's gifts, Abraham was very rich with cattle and silver and gold.
  • Yet he went right back to Bethel where he had built an altar. There, he prayed to the Lord.
  • It does not say how he prayed or if he was sorry for lying to Pharaoh.
  • Perhaps while there, he renewed his commitment to the Lord.
  • His nephew, Lot, had also been blessed and was rich in cattle, sheep, and servants.
  • This fulfilled God's promise that others would be blessed through Abraham.
  • Between them, Abraham and Lot had so many possessions that the land couldn't support all of their cattle and sheep.
  • Quarrels broke out among their servants, probably over watering and grazing issues. The text suggests Lot was less than grateful for the blessings that had come to him because he was with Abraham.
  • One should not think that the land of promise was inadequate. The problem occurred because the people who were already living there had the best areas.
  • Abraham's solution was to allow Lot to go off on his own.
  • He said, "If you go to the left, I will go to the right."
  • Abraham should have had the first choice, but he was being generous with Lot.
  • Since Hebrew directions are always based on the person facing east, "left" would be the land to the north; "right" would be the land to the south.
  • Both these areas would have been in the land of promise.
  • Lot, however, "lifted his eyes." He wanted the land of the Jordan Valley that was "well watered like the garden of the Lord."
  • This land was further east and outside the land of promise.
  • In essence, Lot not only left Abraham, but also the land of promise.
  • He settled near Sodom, but "the people of Sodom were wicked and sinned greatly against God."
  • Abraham was probably heartbroken over Lot's decision. Lot was his one heir who just walked away from everything.
  • The very next line, however, records that God visited Abraham.
  • God told him to "open your eyes…Everything you see, the whole land will be given to you and your descendants…Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth….Walk the length and breath of the land. I am giving it all to you." Walking the length and breath of the land meant he was legally acquiring it.
  • The contrast between Abraham and Lot is stark.
  • Lot took what he wanted; God gave Abraham what God wanted him to have.
  • Lot's eyes trapped him; Abraham acted on faith.
  • As soon as Lot left, God promised Abraham innumerable descendants.
  • Abraham walked along, kicking up dust and imagining how many descendants he would have — they would be more numerous than the bits of dust under his feet.
  • Afterwards, Abraham built another altar and gave thanks to God.

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