So Abram said to Lot, “. . . . If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” – Genesis 13:8-9
I am breaking Genesis 13 into two posts. This post will look at Abram and Lot’s separation. Next week, I’ll explore Genesis 13:14-18 where God gives Abram a third revelation concerning his offspring and the land of Canaan.
You may read Genesis 13:1-13 here: Bible Gateway.
How long did Abram spend in Egypt due to famine? Scripture doesn’t say. Scripture also doesn’t mention Abram seeking God, or building an altar in Egypt. And instead of being a witness for God, Abram receives a rebuke from Pharaoh for not telling him Sarai is his wife. Even though Abram left Egypt very wealthy, he probably also carried shame and embarrassment with him.
Lot may have felt jilted as he had no choice in this Egyptian detour, which probably also served to escalate the tension between his herdsmen and Abram’s as they journeyed back through the Negev. No doubt, the damaged goodwill and trust set a poor example to the unbelieving Canaanites and Perizzites as they once again entered Canaan.
In this passage we see different attitudes in the heat of conflict from Uncle Abram and Lot.
Abram went back to the altar he built between Bethel and Ai and called on God (13:1-4). He most likely asked for forgiveness and once again enjoyed fellowship with God. When Abram and Lot’s combined possessions became so large that the land couldn’t support them together and their herdsmen began quarreling, Abram took initiative. He graciously offered Lot the first choice of land—at the risk of being cheated and denial of personal desires—in effort to resolve family peace.
Lot, on the other hand, should have insisted that Abram—his elder Uncle—choose first. But after surveying the fertile oasis of the Jordan—and not thinking through the influence wicked Sodom might have on his family—he made his decision. By outward appearance, Lot single-handedly won the trophy land. However, his choice revealed his character and priorities: greed, the desire for immediate gratification over long-term benefit, and vocation over family.
Questions to Consider
- How do you handle family conflict?
- How did Abram and Lot’s attitudes differ?
- What can we learn from Abram’s approach to conflict and/or disunity?