Genesis 13:7
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.
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(7) The Perizzite.—We find mention in the Bible both of Perazites, translated villages, in 1Samuel 6:18, Esther 9:19; and of Perizzites, who are sometimes opposed to the Canaanites, as here and in Genesis 34:30, and sometimes described as one of the tribes settled in Palestine (Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17; Joshua 17:15; Judges 3:5). They are not mentioned among the races descended from Canaan, and probably were the earlier inhabitants of the country, who, being a pastoral people, possessed of no towns, were not able to make head against the Hamite settlers, but maintained themselves in the open country. Perazite and Perizzite are probably the same word, and both signify lowlander, though finally they were driven to the mountains (Joshua 11:3). As the Canaanites devoted their main strength to a maritime life and trade, they would not attempt to extirpate these natives, but would be content with driving them into the interior. As thus some districts would be occupied by the dominant Canaanites, and others by these aborigines, two such large clans as those of Abram and Lot would find it difficult to discover unoccupied land enough to provide pasture for their cattle. The land must have been very thinly peopled for it to have been possible for them to do this, even when they had arranged to dwell apart.

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.

13:5-9 Riches not only afford matter for strife, and are the things most commonly striven about; but they also stir up a spirit of contention, by making people proud and covetous. Mine and thine are the great make-bates of the world. Poverty and labour, wants and wanderings, could not separate Abram and Lot; but riches did so. Bad servants often make a great deal of mischief in families and among neighbours, by their pride and passion, lying, slandering, and talebearing. What made the quarrel worse was, that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land. The quarrels of professors are the reproach of religion, and give occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. It is best to keep the peace, that it be not broken; but the next best is, if differences do happen, with all speed to quench the fire that is broken out. The attempt to stay this strife was made by Abram, although he was the elder and the greater man. Abram shows himself to be a man of cool spirit, that had the command of his passion, and knew how to turn away wrath by a soft answer. Those that would keep the peace, must never render railing for railing. And of a condescending spirit; he was willing to beseech even his inferior to be at peace. Whatever others are for, the people of God must be for peace. Abram's plea for peace was very powerful. Let the people of the land contend about trifles; but let not us fall out, who know better things, and look for a better country. Professors of religion should be most careful to avoid contention. Many profess to be for peace who will do nothing towards it: not so Abram. When God condescends to beseech us to be reconciled, we may well beseech one another. Though God had promised Abram to give this land to his seed, yet he offered an equal or better share to Lot, who had not an equal right; and he will not, under the protection of God's promise, act hardly to his kinsman. It is noble to be willing to yield for peace' sake.The collision. Lot now also abounded in the wealth of the East. The two opulent sheiks (elders, heads of houses) cannot dwell together anymore. Their serfs come to strife. The carnal temper comes out among their dependents. Such disputes were unavoidable in the circumstances. Neither party had any title to the land. Landed property was not yet clearly defined or secured by law. The land therefore was in common - wherever anybody availed himself of the best spot for grazing that he could find unoccupied. We can easily understand what facilities and temptations this would offer for the strong to overbear the weak. We meet with many incidental notices of such oppression Genesis 21:25; Genesis 26:15-22; Exodus 2:16-19. The folly and impropriety of quarreling among kinsmen about pasture grounds on the present occasion is enhanced by the circumstance that Abram and Lot are mere strangers among the Kenaanites and the Perizzites, the settled occupants of the country.

Custom had no doubt already given the possessor a prior claim. Abram and Lot were there merely on sufferance, because the country was thinly populated, and many fertile spots were still unoccupied. The Perizzite is generally associated with, and invariably distinguished from, the Kenaanite Genesis 15:20; Genesis 34:30; Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17. This tribe is not found among the descendants of Kenaan in the table of nations. They stand side by side with them, and seem therefore not to be a subject, but an independent race. They may have been a Shemite clan, roaming over the land before the arrival of the Hamites. They seem to have been by name and custom rather wanderers or nomads than dwellers in the plain or in the villages. They dwelt in the mountains of Judah and Ephraim Judges 1:4; Joshua 17:15. They are noticed even so late as in the time of Ezra Ezr 9:1. The presence of two powerful tribes, independent of each other, was favorable to the quiet and peaceful residence of Abram and Lot, but not certainly to their living at feud with each other.

7. And there was a strife—Abraham's character appears here in a most amiable light. Having a strong sense of religion, he was afraid of doing anything that might tend to injure its character or bring discredit on its name, and he rightly judged that such unhappy effects would be produced if two persons whom nature and grace had so closely connected should come to a rupture [Ge 13:8]. Waiving his right to dictate, he gave the freedom of choice to Lot. The conduct of Abraham was not only disinterested and peaceable, but generous and condescending in an extraordinary degree, exemplifying the Scripture precepts (Mt 6:32; Ro 12:10, 11; Php 2:4). The Canaanite, i.e. the Canaanites, as Genesis 12:6, the singular number for the plural, as Psalm 78:45 105:33,40.

Dwelled then in the land, i.e. were the lords and owners of it; and therefore Abram and Lot could not take what pastures they pleased, but such as the others left them, which was not sufficient for their conveniency. It may also be added as a reason of Abram’s following motion, because that idolatrous people were present, and diligently observed all their contentions and other miscarriages; and would, doubtless, take occasion thence to disparage the true religion. And it must be remembered, that these are the words not of Abram, but of Moses; who, knowing that the Canaanites were then speedily to be turned out of the land, intimates that the case was otherwise in Abram’s days, when the Canaanites were possessed, and were likely to continue the possessors and lords of the land.

And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle,.... Not between the two masters, but between their servants, their upper servants, that had the care of their herds to feed them, and water them; and it is very probable their strife was about pasturage and watering places, the one endeavouring to get them from the other, or to get the best; which is much more likely than what Jarchi suggests, that the herdmen of Lot were wicked men, and fed their cattle in the fields of others, and the herdmen of Abram reproved them for their robbery; but they said, the land is given of Abram, and he hath no heir, but Lot is his heir, and what robbery is this? and to this sense are the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem:

and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in the land; which observation is made by Moses to point to a reason why they could not both of them have a sufficiency for their large flocks and herds, because the country was in the possession of others; and though there was to spare, yet not enough for them both. The Canaanite, though it was a general name for the people of the whole land, yet was given to a particular family in it, and was derived from their first founder Canaan, the son of Ham; the Perizzite was another family or tribe of the same nation, who had their name from "a village"; these being Pagans or villagers, living in huts, or houses, or tents scattered up and down in the fields, and were a rough, inhuman, and unsociable sort of people, and therefore it could not be expected that they would oblige them with much pasturage and water for their flocks: and besides, this may be remarked, partly to show the danger that Abram and Lot were in through the dissension of their herdmen, since those people that were so nigh might take the advantage of their quarrels among themselves, and fall upon them both, and destroy them, and therefore a reconciliation was necessary; and partly to observe the reproach that was like to come upon them, and upon the true religion, for their sakes, should they differ among themselves, which such sort of men would gladly catch at, and improve against them.

And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the {d} Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

(d) Who seeing their contention, might blaspheme God and destroy them.

7. And there was a strife] The account according to J of the reason for the separation. Disputes were constantly arising between the herdsmen of the two caravans. For other examples of such causes of friction among shepherds and herdsmen, see Genesis 21:24-32, Genesis 26:15-33.

and the Canaanite and the Perizzite] Cf. Genesis 12:6. The introduction of this clause is probably intended to emphasize the danger of dissensions between the Hebrew camps at a time when the native inhabitants, jealous of the wealth of the strangers, might be glad of a pretext for attacking them singly. “The Canaanite” is the indigenous inhabitant (Genesis 10:15; Genesis 10:19, Genesis 12:6) in J.

The Perizzite is mentioned with the Canaanite in Genesis 34:30, Jdg 1:4-5, and in the lists of the nations, e.g. Genesis 15:20-21. In Joshua 17:15 the Perizzites are named with the Rephaim; and in Joshua 24:11 with the Amorites. There is no means of determining where they dwelt. Some have supposed that the Perizzites meant the peasantry, or dwellers in villages and unwalled towns, as distinct from the Canaanites who dwelt in walled cities: and that the name is connected with the word perazi, used in Deuteronomy 3:5 and 1 Samuel 6:18.

Verse 7. - And there was a strife (originating doubtless in the scarcity of pasture, and having for its object the possession of the best wells and most fertile grounds) between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite - the lowlander (vide Genesis 9:22; 12:6) - and the Perizzite - the highlander, or dweller in the hills and woods of Palestine (Josephus, Bochart); in the open country and in villages, as opposed to the Canaanites, who occupied walled towns (Kalisch, Wordsworth; a tribe of wandering nomads (Murphy), the origin of whose name is lost in obscurity (Keil), who, though not mentioned in Genesis 10, are commonly introduced with the Canaanites (Genesis 15:20; Genesis 34:30; Exodus 3:8, 17), as dividing the land between them, and are probably to be regarded as the remnant of an early Shemite race displaced by the Hamite invaders of Palestine. Their introduction here is neither a sign of post-Mosaic authorship nor an interpolation, but an explanation of the difficulty of finding pasture - the land was occupied (vide Genesis 12:6) - dwelt then in the land. Genesis 13:7But as Abram was very rich (כּבד, lit., weighty) in possessions (מקנה, cattle and slaves), and Lot also had flocks, and herds, and tents אהלים for אהלים, Ges. 93, 6, 3) for his men, of whom there must have been many therefore, the land did not bear them when dwelling together (נשׁא, masculine at the commencement of the sentence, as is often the case when the verb precedes the subject, vid., Ges. 147), i.e., the land did not furnish space enough for the numerous herd to graze. Consequently disputes arose between the two parties of herdsmen. The difficulty was increased by the fact that the Canaanites and Perizzites were then dwelling in the land, so that the space was very contracted. The Perizzites, who are mentioned here and in Genesis 34:30; Judges 1:4, along with the Canaanites, and who are placed in the other lists of the inhabitants of Canaan among the different Canaanitish tribes (Genesis 15:20; Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17, etc.), are not mentioned among the descendants of Canaan (Genesis 10:15-17), and may therefore, like the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, and Rephaim (Genesis 15:19-21), not have been descendants of Ham at all. The common explanation of the name Perizzite as equivalent to פּרזות ארץ ישׁב "inhabitant of the level ground" (Ezekiel 38:11), is at variance not only with the form of the word, the inhabitant of the level ground being called הפּרזי (Deuteronomy 3:5), but with the fact of their combination sometimes with the Canaanites, sometimes with the other tribes of Canaan, whose names were derived from their founders. Moreover, to explain the term "Canaanite," as denoting "the civilised inhabitants of towns," or "the trading Phoenicians," is just as arbitrary as if we were to regard the Kenites, Kenizzites, and the other tribes mentioned Genesis 15:19. along with the Canaanites, as all alike traders or inhabitants of towns. The origin of the name Perizzite is involved in obscurity, like that of the Kenites and other tribes settled in Canaan that were not descended from Ham. But we may infer from the frequency with which they are mentioned in connection with the Hamitic inhabitants of Canaan, that they were widely dispersed among the latter. Vid., Genesis 15:19-21.
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