Chapter 13

Submitted by admin on Thu, 2019-12-12 16:25.

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After Abram, his wife, and his nephew Lot departed from Egypt with everything they owned, they came into the Negeb, the semi-arid area south of the mountainous region in the territory that later came to be part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah. At that time, Abram was very wealthy, owning many domestic animals and much silver and gold. After traveling through the Negeb and heading north, Abram and those with him arrived near Bethel (identified with Beitin situated about 11 miles [c. 17.5 kilometers] north of Jerusalem), at the site between Bethel and Ai where they earlier had tented when they arrived from Mesopotamia. It was also there that Abram had erected an altar and called on the name of YHWH. Apparently he presented a sacrifice on the altar and prayed. (13:1-4) The Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen, thought to date from late in the first century BCE or early in the first century CE) quotes Abram as saying after he had come back to the land of Canaan, “I gave thanks to God for all the riches and favors he had bestowed on me. For he had dealt kindly with me and brought me back in peace into this land.”

Like his uncle Abram, Lot, who according to The Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen) was by then married to an Egyptian woman, also had flocks, herds, and tents. In view of their abundant possessions and large flocks and herds, it became impossible for them to remain in close proximity with one another. Conflicts arose between the herders of Abram and those of Lot. These disputes likely involved areas for pasturing the animals and the essential sources for watering flocks and herds. Abram seems to have recognized that it was not good for the Canaanites and Perizzites who were residing in the land to witness strife. Therefore, he took the initiative in telling Lot that, because they were “brothers” or closely related, there should not be conflicts between them and between their respective herders. Ample land was available for tending flocks and herds, and Abram gave Lot the choice of the section of land where he preferred to pasture his animals. (13:5-9)

Lot chose the valley of the lower Jordan River, which appears to have included the area around the southern end of the Dead Sea. At the time, this was a well-watered region and was described as being like the “garden of YHWH [paradise of God (LXX)], like the land of Egypt.” The reference to Zoar appears to be to a city south of the Dead Sea, and the Hebrew phrase that literally reads “your coming [to] Zoar” has usually been translated to indicate that the well-watered region extended as far south as Zoar. According to the Septuagint rendering, the desirability of the region ended at that location (“until one came to Zogora [Zoar]”). (13:10, 11)

With his flocks and herds, Lot separated from Abram and headed eastward, where he lived among the cities of the lower Jordan and the Dead Sea area, moving his tent as far as the city of Sodom. Eventually his permanent residence came to be in Sodom itself. According to The Genesis Apocryphon (1QapGen), Lot bought a house in the city. Targum Jonathan (thought to date probably from the second century CE) describes the people of Sodom as having sinned “in their bodies,” sinned “with open nakedness,” shed innocent blood, and engaged in strange worship. The Genesis account refers to them as evil and great sinners against YHWH. (13:12, 13)

While Abram continued to tent in the area of Canaan west of the region where Lot resided, YHWH (likely the angel of YHWH) communicated with him, telling him to look northward, southward, eastward, and westward to see all the land that would be given to him and his “seed” or descendants. The place from which Abram viewed the land likely was the site near Bethel situated at an elevation of about 3,000 feet (900 meters) above sea level. From this elevated site, Abram would have been able to see an extensive area of land. (13:12, 14, 15)

According to the divine promise, the “seed” or descendants of Abram would become as numerous as the dust particles of the land and so beyond his ability to count. Apparently to indicate that he would be given the land through his descendants, Abram was to traverse the length and breadth of the land. (13:16, 17)

The location where Abram moved his tent as his place of residence was by the big trees of Mamre (the “oak of Mamre” [LXX]) at Hebron. This ancient city, situated about 19 miles (c. 30 kilometers) south of Jerusalem and at an elevation of about 3,000 feet (c. 900 meters) above sea level, was built seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan (Tanis) in the northeastern Delta region. At Hebron, Abram erected an altar to YHWH. (13:18; Numbers 13:22)


Targum Jonathan (thought to date probably from the second century CE) says that the wife of Lot was from Sodom (not from Egypt, as does The Genesis Apocryphon).