Genesis 13:1
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XIII.

ABRAM’S RETURN FROM EGYPT AND HIS SEPARATION FROM LOT.

(1-4) He went on his journeys.—Or, according to his stations, which the Vulgate very reasonably translates, “by the same route by which he had come.” This route was first into the south, the Negeb, which is virtually a proper name, and thence to the spot between Beth-el and Ai mentioned in Genesis 12:8.

At the first does not mean that this was the first altar erected by Abram, but that he built it on his first arrival there. His first altar was at Shechem. As regards his wealth, while his cattle had been greatly increased in Egypt, he had probably brought the silver and gold with him from Mesopotamia. Gold, however, was plentiful at that time in Egypt, but silver rare.

Genesis

THE IMPORTANCE OF A CHOICE

Genesis 13:1 - Genesis 13:13
.

The main lesson of this section is the wisdom of seeking spiritual rather than temporal good. That is illustrated on both sides. Prosperity attends Abram and Lot while they think more of obeying God than of flocks and herds. Lot makes a mistake, as far as this world is concerned, when he chooses his place of abode for the sake of its material advantages. But the introductory verses {Genesis 13:1 - Genesis 13:4} suggest a question, and seem to teach an important lesson. Was Abram right in so soon leaving the land to which God had led him, and going down to Egypt? Was that not taking the bit between his teeth? He had been commanded to go to Canaan; should he not have stopped there-famine or no famine-till the same authority commanded him to leave the land? If God had put him there, should he not have trusted God to keep him alive in famine? The narrative seems to imply that his going to Egypt was a failure of faith. It gives no hint of a divine voice leading him thither. We do not hear that he builded any altar beside his tent there, as he had done in the happier days of life by trust. His stay resulted in peril and in something very like lying, for which he had to bear the disgrace of being rebuked by an idolater, and having no word of excuse to offer. The great lesson of the whole section, and indeed of Abram’s whole life, receives fresh illustration from the story thus understood, which preaches loudly that trust is safety and wellbeing, and that it is always sin and always folly to leave Canaan, where God has put us, even if there be a famine, and to go down into Egypt, even if its harvests be abundant.

But another lesson is also taught. After the interruption of the Egyptian journey, Abram had to begin all his Canaan life over again. Very emphatically the narrative puts it, that he went to ‘the place where his tent had been at the beginning,’ to the altar which he had made at the first. Yes! that is the only place for a man who has faltered and gone aside from the course of obedience. He must begin over again. The backsliding Christian has to resort anew to the place of the penitent, and to come to Christ, as he did at first for pardon. It is a solemn thought that years of obedience and heroisms of self-surrender, may be so annihilated by some act of self-seeking distrust that the whole career has, as it were, to be begun anew from the very starting-point. It is a blessed thought that, however far and long we may have wandered, we can always return to the place where we were at the beginning, and there call on the name of the Lord.

Note how we are taught here the great truth for the Old Testament, that outward prosperity follows most surely those who do not seek for it. Abram’s wealth has increased, and his companion, Lot, has shared in the prosperity. It is because he ‘went with Abram’ that he ‘had flocks, and herds, and tents.’ Of course, the connection between despising the world and possessing it is not thus close in New Testament times. But even now, one often sees that the men who will be rich fall into a pit of poverty, and that a heart set on higher things, which counts earthly advantages second and not first, wins a sufficiency of these most surely. Foxlike cunning, and wolf-like rapacity, and Devil-like selfishness, which make up a large portion of what the world calls ‘great business capacity,’ do not always secure the prize. But the real possession of earth and all its wealth depends to-day, as much as ever it did in Abram’s times, on seeking ‘first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.’ Only when we are Christ’s are all things ours. They are ours, not by the vulgar way of what the world calls ownership, but in proportion as we use them to the highest ends of helping us to grow in wisdom and Christ-likeness, in the measure in which we subordinate them to heavenly good, in the degree in which we employ them as means of serving Christ. We can see the Pleiades best by not looking directly at, but somewhat away from, them; and just as pleasure, if made the direct object of life, ceases to be pleasure, so the world’s goods, if taken for our chief aim, cease to yield even the imperfect good which they can bestow.

But now we have to look at the two dim figures which the remainder of this story presents to us, and which shine there, in that far-off past, types and instances of the two great classes into which men are divided,-Abram, the man of faith; Lot, the man of sense.

Mark the conduct of the man of faith. Why should he, who has God’s promise that all the land is his, squabble with his kinsman about pasture and wells? The herdsmen naturally would come to high words and blows, especially as the available land was diminished by the claims of the ‘Canaanite and Perizzite.’ But the direct effect of Abram’s faith was to make him feel that the matter in dispute was too small to warrant a quarrel. A soul truly living in the contemplation of the future, and filled with God’s promises, will never be eager to insist on its rights, or to stand on its dignity, and will take too accurate a measure of the worth of things temporal to get into a heat about them. The clash of conflicting interests, and the bad blood bred by them, seem infinitely small, when we are up on the height of communion with God. An acre or two more or less of grass land does not look all-important, when our vision of the city which hath foundations is clear. So an elevated calm and ‘sweet reasonableness’ will mark the man who truly lives by faith, and he will seek after the things that make for peace. Abram could fight, as Old Testament morality permitted, when occasion arose, as Lot found out to his advantage before long. But he would not strive about such trifles.

May we not venture to apply his words to churches and sects? They too, if they have faith strong and dominant, will not easily fall out with one another about intrusions on each other’s territory, especially in the presence, as at this day, of the common foe. When the Canaanite and the Perizzite are in the land, and Unbelief in militant forms is arrayed against us, it is more than folly, it is sin, for brethren to be turning their weapons against each other. The common foe should make them stand shoulder to shoulder. Abram’s faith led, too, to the noble generosity of his proposal. The elder and superior gives the younger and inferior the right of option, and is quite willing to take Lot’s leavings. Right or left-it mattered not to him; God would be with him, whichever way he went; and the glorious Beyond, for which he lived, blazed too bright before his inward sight to let him be very solicitous where he was. ‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ It does not matter much what accommodation we have on ship-board, when the voyage is so short. If our thoughts are stretching across the sea to the landing at home, and the welcome there, we shall not fight with our fellow-passengers about our cabins or places at the table. And notice what rest comes when faith thus dwindles the worth of the momentary arrangements here. The less of our energies are consumed in asserting ourselves, and scrambling for our rights, and cutting in before other people, so as to get the best places for ourselves, the more we shall have to spare for better things; and the more we live in the future, and leave God to order our ways, the more shall our souls be wrapped in perfect peace. Mark the conduct of the man of sense. We can fancy the two standing on the barren hills by Bethel, from one of which, as travellers tell us, there is precisely the view which Lot saw. He lifted up his greedy eyes, and there, at his feet, lay that strange Jordan valley with its almost tropical richness, its dark lines of foliage telling of abundant water, the palm-trees of Jericho perhaps, and the glittering cities. Up there among the hills there was little to tempt,-rocks and scanty herbage; down below, it was like the lost Eden, or the Egypt from which they had but lately come.

What need for hesitation? True, the men of the plain were ‘wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly,’ as the chapter says with grim emphasis. But Lot evidently never thought about that. He knew it, though, and ought to have thought about it. It was his sin that he was guided in his choice only by considerations of temporal advantage. Put his action into words, and it says, ‘Grass for my sheep is more to me than fellowship with God, and a good conscience.’ No doubt he would have had salves enough. ‘I do not need to become like them, though I live among them.’ ‘A man must look after his own interests.’ ‘I can serve God down there as well as up here.’ Perhaps he even thought that he might be a missionary among these sinners. But at bottom he did not seek first the kingdom of God, but the other things.

We have seldom the choice put before us so dramatically and sharply; but it is as really presented to each. There is the shameless cynicism of the men who avowedly only ask the question, ‘Will it pay?’ But there are subtler forms which affect us all. It is the standing temptation of Englishmen to apply a money standard to everything, to adopt courses of action of which the only recommendation is that they promote getting on in the world. Men who call themselves Christians select schools for their children, or professions for their boys, or marriages for their daughters, down in Sodom, because it will give them a lift in life which they would not get up in the starved pastures at Bethel, with nobody but Abram and his like to associate with. If the earnestness with which men pursue an end is to be taken as any measure of its importance in their eyes, it certainly does not look much as if modern average Christians did believe that it was of more moment to be united to God, and to be growing like Him, than to secure a good large share of earthly possessions. Tried by the test of conduct, their faith in getting on is a great deal deeper than their faith in getting up. But if our religion does not make us put the world beneath our feet, and count all things but loss that we may win Christ, we had better ask ourselves whether our religion is any better than Lot’s, which was second-hand, and was much more imitation of Abram than obedience to God.

Lot teaches us that material good may tempt and conquer, even after it has once been overcome. His early life had been heroic; in his young enthusiasm, he had thrown in his portion with Abram in his great venture. He had not been thinking of his flocks when he left Haran. Probably, as I have just said, he was a good deal galvanised into imitation; but still, he had chosen the better part. But now he has tired of a pilgrim’s life. There are men who cut down the thorns, and in whom the seed is sown; but thorns are tenacious of life, and quick growing, and so they spread over the field and choke the seed. It is easier to take some one bold step than to keep true through life to its spirit. Youth contemns, but too often middle-age worships, worldly success. The world tightens its grasp as we grow older, and Lot and Demas teach us that it is hard to keep for a lifetime on the heights. Faith, strong and ever renewed by communion, can do it; nothing else can.

Lot’s history teaches what comes of setting the world first, and God’s kingdom second. For one thing, the association with it is sure to get closer. Lot began with choosing the plain; then he crept a little nearer, and pitched his tent ‘towards’ Sodom; next time we hear of him, he is living in the city, and mixed up inextricably with its people. The first false step leads on to connections unforeseen, from which the man would have shrunk in horror, if he had been told that he would make them. Once on the incline, time and gravity will settle how far down we go. We shall see, in subsequent sections, how far Lot’s own moral character suffered from his choice. But we may so far anticipate the future narrative as to point out that it affords a plain instance of the great truth that the sure way to lose the world as well as our own souls, is to make it our first object. He would have been safe if he had stopped up among the hills. The shadowy Eastern kings who swooped down on the plain would never have ventured up there. But when we choose the world for our portion, we lay ourselves open to the full weight of all the blows which change and fortune can inflict, and come voluntarily down from an impregnable fastness to the undefended open.

Nor is this all; but at the last, when the fiery rain bursts on the doomed city, Lot has to leave all the wealth for which he has sacrificed conscience and peace, and escapes with bare life; he suffers loss even if he himself is ‘saved as dragged through the fire.’ The world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. The riches which wax not old, and need not to be left when we leave all things besides, are surely the treasures which the calmest reason dictates should be our chief aim. God is the true portion of the soul; if we have Him, we have all. So, let us seek Him first, and, with Him, all else is ours.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.13:1-4 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, Hab 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, Pr 10:22. Though it is hard for a rich man to get to heaven, yet in some cases it may be, Mr 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. - Abram and Lot Separate

7. פרזי perı̂zı̂y, Perizzi, "descendant of Paraz." פרז pārāz, "leader," or inhabitant of the plain or open country.

10. ככר kı̂kar, "circle, border, vale, cake, talent;" related: "bow, bend, go round, dance." ירדן yardēn, Jardan, "descending." Usually with the article in prose. צער tso‛ar, Tso'ar, "smallness."

18. ממרא mamrē', Mamre, "fat, strong, ruler." חברון chebrôn, Chebron, "conjunction, confederacy."

Lot has been hitherto kept in association with Abram by the ties of kinmanship. But it becomes gradually manifest that he has an independent interest, and is no longer disposed to follow the fortunes of the chosen of God. In the natural course of things, this under-feeling comes to the surface. Their serfs come into collision; and as Abram makes no claim of authority over Lot, he offers him the choice of a dwelling-place in the land. This issues in a peaceable separation, in which Abram appears to great advantage. The chosen of the Lord is now in the course of providence isolated from all associations of kindred. He stands alone, in a strange land. He again obeys the summons to survey the land promised to him and his seed in perpetuity.

Genesis 13:1-4

Went up out of Mizraim. - Egypt is a low-lying valley, out of which the traveler ascends into Arabia Petraea and the hill-country of Kenaan. Abram returns, a wiser and a better man. When called to leave his native land, he had immediately obeyed. Such obedience evinced the existence of the new power of godliness in his breast. But he gets beyond the land of promise into a land of carnality, and out of the way of truth into a way of deceit. Such a course betrays the struggle between moral good and evil which has begun within him. This discovery humbles and vexes him. Self-condemnation and repentance are at work within him. We do not know that all these feelings rise into consciousness, but we have no doubt that their result, in a subdued, sobered, chastened spirit, is here, and will soon manifest itself.

And Lot with him. - Lot accompanied him into Egypt, because he comes with him out of it. The south is so called in respect, not to Egypt, but to the land of promise. It acquired this title before the times of the patriarch, among the Hebrew-speaking tribes inhabiting it. The great riches of Abram consist in cattle and the precious metals. The former is the chief form of wealth in the East. Abram's flocks are mentioned in preparation for the following occurrence. He advances north to the place between Bethel and Ai, and perhaps still further, according to Genesis 13:4, to the place of Shekem, where he built the first altar in the land. He now calls on the name of the Lord. The process of contrition in a new heart, has come to its right issue in confession and supplication. The sense of acceptance with God, which he had before experienced in these places of meeting with God, he has now recovered. The spirit of adoption, therefore, speaks within him.

CHAPTER 13

Ge 13:1-18. Return from Egypt.

1. went up … south—Palestine being a highland country, the entrance from Egypt by its southern boundary is a continual ascent.Abram returns from Egypt to Canaan with Lot, Genesis 13:1. He comes to Beth-el; calls on the Lord, Genesis 13:3,4. Abram and Lot being both very rich are obliged to part. Lot goes to Sodom, Genesis 13:5-12. The men of Sodom exceeding wicked, Genesis 13:13. God renews his promise to Abram concerning Canaan and a numerous issue, Genesis 13:14-17. Abram removes to Mamre, and there builds an altar, Genesis 13:18.

1918 i.e. Into the southern part of Canaan, from whence he came, Genesis 12:9, and which in Scripture is called simply the south, Joshua 10:40 11:16. Otherwise he went rather into the north: but the Scripture being written for the Jews, doth frequently accommodate the names of the quarters of the world to them.

And Abram went up out of Egypt,.... That country lying low, and so more easy to be watered by the river Nile, as it was, and Canaan being higher; whither he went, but not till the famine in Canaan ceased: he went out of Egypt, as the Jewish (p) chronologers say, after he had been there three months; but Artapanus (q) an Heathen writer, says, he stayed there twenty years:

he and his wife, and all that he had; servants and cattle:

and Lot with him: from whence it is clear that he went down with him into Egypt, and it is highly probable had great respect and favour shown him on account of his relation to Abram and Sarai; for it appears by what follows, that he was become very rich: and they all went up

into the south; into the southern part of the land of Canaan, for otherwise they came to the north; for as Egypt lay south with respect to Canaan, Canaan was north from Egypt; but they journeyed to that part of that land which was commonly called the south, either Negeb, as here, or Daroma; See Gill on Zechariah 7:7.

(p) Seder Olam Rabba, p. 2.((q) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 18. p. 420.

And {a} Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

(a) His great riches gotten in Egypt, did not hinder him in following his vocation.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. went up out of Egypt] Cf. Genesis 12:10, “went down into Egypt.” Egypt is always regarded as the low-lying country; and Palestine as the high ground.

Lot with him] Lot was not mentioned in the previous chapter, but it is here implied that Lot had been with Abram in Egypt.

into the South] i.e. into the Negeb: see note on Genesis 12:9. This is a good illustration of the meaning of Negeb. Abram’s journey from Egypt into the Negeb was by a route leading N.E. The English reader, not understanding the technical meaning of “the South,” might suppose that Abram’s journey from Egypt into “the South” would have led in the direction of the Soudan.Verse 1. - And Abram went up out of Egypt, he and his wife. A special mercy that either of them returned, considering the sin they had committed and the peril in which they had been placed. And all that he had. Referring principally to the souls, "domestiei" (Peele), acquired in Haran (Genesis 12:5, 16), his material wealth being mentioned afterwards. And Lot (who does not appear in the preceding paragraph, no part of which relates to him, but is now reintroduced into the narrative, the present portion of the story being connected with his fortunes) with him into the south (sc. of Canaan, vide Genesis 12:9). The princes of Pharaoh finding her very beautiful, extolled her beauty to the king, and she was taken to Pharaoh's house. As Sarah was then 65 years old (cf. Genesis 17:17 and Genesis 12:4), her beauty at such an age has been made a difficulty by some. But as she lived to the age of 127 (Genesis 23:1), she was then middle-aged; and as her vigour and bloom had not been tried by bearing children, she might easily appear very beautiful in the eyes of the Egyptians, whose wives, according to both ancient and modern testimony, were generally ugly, and faded early. Pharaoh (the Egyptian ouro, king, with the article Pi) is the Hebrew name for all the Egyptian kings in the Old Testament; their proper names being only occasionally mentioned, as, for example, Necho in 2 Kings 23:29, or Hophra in Jeremiah 44:30. For Sarai's sake Pharaoh treated Abram well, presenting him with cattle and slaves, possessions which constitute the wealth of nomads. These presents Abram could not refuse, though by accepting them he increased his sin. God then interfered (Genesis 12:17), and smote Pharaoh and his house with great plagues. What the nature of these plagues was, cannot be determined; they were certainly of such a kind, however, that whilst Sarah was preserved by them from dishonour, Pharaoh saw at once that they were sent as punishment by the Deity on account of his relation to Sarai; he may also have learned, on inquiry from Sarai herself, that she was Abram's wife. He gave her back to him, therefore, with a reproof for his untruthfulness, and told him to depart, appointing men to conduct him out of the land together with his wife and all his possessions. שׁלּה, to dismiss, to give an escort (Genesis 18:16; Genesis 31:27), does not necessarily denote an involuntary dismissal here. For as Pharaoh had discovered in the plague the wrath of the God of Abraham, he did not venture to treat him harshly, but rather sought to mitigate the anger of his God, by the safe-conduct which he granted him on his departure. But Abram was not justified by this result, as was very apparent from the fact, that he was mute under Pharaoh's reproofs, and did not venture to utter a single word in vindication of his conduct, as he did in the similar circumstances described in Genesis 10:11-12. The saving mercy of God had so humbled him, that he silently acknowledged his guilt in concealing his relation to Sarah from the Egyptian king.
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