Abram’s Solution to the Strife

1 So Abram went up from Egypt into the Negev.1 He took his wife and all his possessions with him, as well as Lot.2 2 (Now Abram was very wealthy3 in livestock, silver, and gold.)4

3 And he journeyed from place to place5 from the Negev as far as Bethel.6 He returned7 to the place where he had pitched his tent8 at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai. 4 This was the place where he had first built the altar,9 and there Abram worshiped the Lord.10

5 Now Lot, who was traveling11 with Abram, also had12 flocks, herds, and tents. 6 But the land could13 not support them while they were living side by side.14 Because their possessions were so great, they were not able to live15 alongside one another. 7 So there were quarrels16 between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen.17 (Now the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land at that time.)18

8 Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no quarreling between me and you, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are close relatives.19 9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself now from me. If you go20 to the left, then I’ll go to the right, but if you go to the right, then I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot looked up and saw21 the whole region22 of the Jordan. He noticed23 that all of it was well-watered (before the Lord obliterated24 Sodom and Gomorrah)25 like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt,26 all the way to Zoar. 11 Lot chose for himself the whole region of the Jordan and traveled27 toward the east.

So the relatives separated from each other.28 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan plain29 and pitched his tents next to Sodom. 13 (Now30 the people31 of Sodom were extremely wicked rebels against the Lord.)32

14 After Lot had departed, the Lord said to Abram,33Look34 from the place where you stand to the north, south, east, and west. 15 I will give all the land that you see to you and your descendants35 forever. 16 And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone is able to count the dust of the earth, then your descendants also can be counted.36 17 Get up and37 walk throughout38 the land,39 for I will give it to you.”

18 So Abram moved his tents and went to live40 by the oaks41 of Mamre in Hebron, and he built an altar to the Lord there.

113:1tn Or “the South [country]” (also in v. 3).sn Negev is the name for the southern desert region in the land of Canaan. 213:1tn Heb “And Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all which was his, and Lot with him, to the Negev.” 313:2tn Heb “heavy.” 413:2tn This parenthetical clause, introduced by the vav (ו) disjunctive (translated “now”), provides information necessary to the point of the story. 513:3tn Heb “on his journeys”; the verb and noun combination means to pick up the tents and move from camp to camp. 613:3map For location see Map4-G4; Map5-C1; Map6-E3; Map7-D1; Map8-G3. 713:3tn The words “he returned” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. 813:3tn Heb “where his tent had been.” 913:4tn Heb “to the place of the altar which he had made there in the beginning” (cf. Gen 12:7-8). 1013:4tn Heb “he called in the name of the Lord.” The expression refers to worshiping the Lord through prayer and sacrifice (see Gen 4:26; 12:8; 21:33; 26:25). See G. J. Wenham, Genesis (WBC), 1:116, 281. 1113:5tn Heb “was going.” 1213:5tn The Hebrew idiom is “to Lot…there was,” the preposition here expressing possession. 1313:6tn The potential nuance for the perfect tense is necessary here, and supported by the parallel clause that actually uses “to be able.” 1413:6tn The infinitive construct לָשֶׁבֶת (lashevet, from יָשַׁב, yashav) explains what it was that the land could not support: “the land could not support them to live side by side.” See further J. C. de Moor, “Lexical Remarks Concerning Yahad and Yahdaw,” VT 7 (1957): 350-55. 1513:6tn The same infinitive occurs here, serving as the object of the verb. 1613:7tn The Hebrew term רִיב (riv) means “strife, conflict, quarreling.” In later texts it has the meaning of “legal controversy, dispute.” See B. Gemser, “The rîb – or Controversy – Pattern in Hebrew Mentality,” Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East [VTSup], 120-37. 1713:7sn Since the quarreling was between the herdsmen, the dispute was no doubt over water and vegetation for the animals. 1813:7tn This parenthetical clause, introduced with the vav (ו) disjunctive (translated “now”), again provides critical information. It tells in part why the land cannot sustain these two bedouins, and it also hints of the danger of weakening the family by inner strife. 1913:8tn Heb “men, brothers [are] we.” Here “brothers” describes the closeness of the relationship, but could be misunderstood if taken literally, since Abram was Lot’s uncle. 2013:9tn The words “you go” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons both times in this verse. 2113:10tn Heb “lifted up his eyes and saw.” The expression draws attention to the act of looking, indicating that Lot took a good look. It also calls attention to the importance of what was seen. 2213:10tn Or “plain”; Heb “circle.” 2313:10tn The words “he noticed” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. 2413:10sn Obliterated. The use of the term “destroy” (שַׁחֵת, shakhet) is reminiscent of the Noahic flood (Gen 6:13). Both at the flood and in Sodom the place was obliterated by catastrophe and only one family survived (see C. Westermann, Genesis, 2:178). 2513:10tn This short temporal clause (preposition + Piel infinitive construct + subjective genitive + direct object) is strategically placed in the middle of the lavish descriptions to sound an ominous note. The entire clause is parenthetical in nature. Most English translations place the clause at the end of v. 10 for stylistic reasons. 2613:10sn The narrative places emphasis on what Lot saw so that the reader can appreciate how it aroused his desire for the best land. It makes allusion to the garden of the Lord and to the land of Egypt for comparison. Just as the tree in the garden of Eden had awakened Eve’s desire, so the fertile valley attracted Lot. And just as certain memories of Egypt would cause the Israelites to want to turn back and abandon the trek to the promised land, so Lot headed for the good life. 2713:11tn Heb “Lot traveled.” The proper name has not been repeated in the translation at this point for stylistic reasons. 2813:11tn Heb “a man from upon his brother.”sn Separated from each other. For a discussion of the significance of this event, see L. R. Helyer, “The Separation of Abram and Lot: Its Significance in the Patriarchal Narratives,” JSOT 26 (1983): 77-88. 2913:12tn Or “the cities of the plain”; Heb “[the cities of] the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley. 3013:13tn Here is another significant parenthetical clause in the story, signaled by the vav (וו) disjunctive (translated “now”) on the noun at the beginning of the clause. 3113:13tn Heb “men.” However, this is generic in sense; it is unlikely that only the male residents of Sodom were sinners. 3213:13tn Heb “wicked and sinners against the Lord exceedingly.” The description of the sinfulness of the Sodomites is very emphatic. First, two nouns are used to form a hendiadys: “wicked and sinners” means “wicked sinners,” the first word becoming adjectival. The text is saying these were no ordinary sinners; they were wicked sinners, the type that cause pain for others. Then to this phrase is added “against the Lord,” stressing their violation of the laws of heaven and their culpability. Finally, to this is added מְאֹד (mÿod, “exceedingly,” translated here as “extremely”). 3313:14tn Heb “and the Lord said to Abram after Lot separated himself from with him.” The disjunctive clause at the beginning of the verse signals a new scene. 3413:14tn Heb “lift up your eyes and see.”sn Look. Earlier Lot “looked up” (v. 10), but here Abram is told by God to do so. The repetition of the expression (Heb “lift up the eyes”) here underscores how the Lord will have the last word and actually do for Abram what Abram did for Lot – give him the land. It seems to be one of the ways that God rewards faith. 3513:15tn Heb “for all the land which you see to you I will give it and to your descendants.” 3613:16tn The translation “can be counted” (potential imperfect) is suggested by the use of יוּכַל (yukhal, “is able”) in the preceding clause. 3713:17tn The connective “and” is not present in the Hebrew text; it has been supplied for purposes of English style. 3813:17tn The Hitpael form הִתְהַלֵּךְ (hithallekh) means “to walk about”; it also can carry the ideas of moving about, traversing, going back and forth, or living in an area. It here has the connotation of traversing the land to survey it, to look it over. 3913:17tn Heb “the land to its length and to its breadth.” This phrase has not been included in the translation because it is somewhat redundant (see the note on the word “throughout” in this verse). 4013:18tn Heb “he came and lived.” 4113:18tn Or “terebinths.”