Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.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 was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;He went on his journey, or rather, according to his journeys, which he took as he came, going in the same road, and resting in the same place, of which he had experience.
Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.Unto the place of the altar, i.e. where the altar was; for the altar itself was either fallen down, as being probably built of earth, as afterwards, Exodus 20:24, or overthrown by the wicked Canaanites. He worshipped God by prayer, and preaching to his family, Genesis 18:19, and offering sacrifices. See Genesis 4:26 12:8.
And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.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 Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.Abram said unto Lot. The elder, and wiser, and worthier person relinquisheth his own right to his inferior for peace sake, leaving us a noble example for our imitation.
Between me and thee, and between; or, or between, & c., and for or, as Exodus 21:17 Psalm 8:4, compared with Matthew 15:14 Hebrews 2:6, for there was no strife between Abram and Lot, though he feared it might pass from the feet to the head.
For we be brethren, i.e. both by nature near kinsmen, as the word brother is oft used, and in the faith and religion too, amongst whom contentions are very indecent and scandalous.
Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.Is not the whole land before thee? i.e. open to thy view, and free to choose which part thou pleasest, as thou canst agree with the owners: I give thee full power to choose before me. See a like phrase, Genesis 20:15 34:10,21 47:6.
Thou wilt take: this and the following supplement are easily gathered both from the words of this and Genesis 13:11, and from the nature of the thing. And the Hebrew language being a concise or short language, such supplements are frequently necessary, and very usual. Compare 2 Chronicles 10:11, with 1 Kings 12:11 2 Samuel 23:8, with 1 Chronicles 11:11.
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.The plain of Jordan, a great plain so called, because there the pleasant river Jordan divided itself into divers little streams or rivulets, which having no visible outlet into the sea, by degrees, and in several places, insinuated themselves into the earth, which made it very fruitful and excellent for Lot’s purpose. But this lovely plain was afterwards transformed by Divine vengeance into a filthy lake or dead sea, Genesis 19:24.
Even as the garden of the Lord; i.e. either,
1. Like that famous garden of Eden which God himself planted, Genesis 2:8. The like comparison we meet with Isaiah 51:3 Ezekiel 28:13 Ezekiel 31:8. Or,
2. Like some excellent garden; for excellent things are thus expressed, as, the host of God, 1 Chronicles 12:22, i.e. a great host; cedars of God, Psalm 80:10.
Like the land of Egypt, a land of eminent fertility by the influence of that great river Nilus, anciently celebrated as the granary of other countries. See Ezekiel 31:1-18.
Unto Zoar, i.e. to Bela, Genesis 14:2, afterwards called Zoar, Genesis 19:22, and here so called by a prolepsis. But these words are not to be joined with the words immediately going before, as if Egypt was commended for its fertility in that part of it from which men go to Zoar, but with the more remote words, and the sense is, as the words of the text are transplaced and rendered by some, that the plain of Jordan was (before the Lord destroyed it and its cities Sodom and Gomorrah) watered every where, even to Zoar; or, even until thou comest, i.e. till a man come, to Zoar, i.e. all the way which leads from the place where Abram then was to Zoar. And such transpositions are not unusual, as we shall see hereafter.
Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.Lot journeyed east; Heb. from the east, or eastward, as the Hebrew particle min is sometimes used: see Genesis 2:8 2 Samuel 2:2, compared with 1 Chronicles 13:6.
Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.No text from Poole on this verse.
But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.Eminent, noted, and impudent sinners; see Genesis 18:20 Ezekiel 16:49; which is here added as a secret reproof to Lot, who was either careless in his inquiry into the dispositions and manners of those among whom he intended to fix his abode, which for many reasons he should have searched out; or he was willing to expose himself to all the hazards which he might incur by their neighbourhood and familiarity, for the sweetness and fertility of the soil; an error which is frequently committed by men in the choice of their habitations, and which oft costs them dear, as it did Lot in the following story.
And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:The Lord said this
unto Abram, to comfort him now when he was alone, and in a worse soil than Lot had chosen.
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.Object. Abram could see but a little part of the land.
1. He might now possibly be upon a mountain, from whence he might have a large prospect every way.
2. He gave him all that he saw, but not only that, but also the rest of the land, and therefore he bids him walk through and view the whole land, Genesis 13:17.
Quest. How was the land given to Abram, when it is expressly said: He, i.e. God, gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on, Acts 7:5.
1. God gave Abram the right to it, though not the actual possession of it, until the time that God appointed; as God gave the right of the kingdom to David, but not the possession till Saul’s death.
2. God explains himself, To thee and to thy seed, i.e. to thee, that is, to thy seed, and that for thy sake; the particle and being put oft for that is, as 1 Chronicles 21:12, compared with 2 Samuel 24:13 Ephesians 1:3, and in many other plaecs, as we shall see.
Quest. How was this for ever, when after some hundreds of years they were turned out of it?
1. This promise was made to them upon condition of their obedience, which is oft expressed in other places, as Leviticus 18:26 Deu 4:25,26 Isa 48:18,19.
2. The word olam, rendered for ever, doth not always signify eternity, but a long continuance, as is evident from Genesis 17:13 48:4 Exodus 21:6 Psalm 132:14, and many other places of Scripture; and in particular, when it is applied to the Jewish rites and privileges, it commonly signifies no more than during the standing of that commonwealth, or until the coming of the Messias; and so it may here be understood.
And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.No text from Poole on this verse.
Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.Mamre was an Amorite of great note, from whom the city Hebron was called Mamre, Genesis 23:19, a friend and confederate of Abram, Genesis 14:13, by whom it is thought he was brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God.
In Hebron; or, near Hebron; for so the Hebrew Beth is sometimes taken.