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Genesis Chapter Thirteen


I. Content of the Chapter


Abram Returned Back to the Land of Canaan

A.  He took all that he had and left Egypt (v.1-2);

B.  He passed by the South and came back to Bethel (v.3);

C.  He called the name of the LORD again (v.4);


Abram Separated from Lot

A.  The land was not able to support their possessions (v.5-6);

B.  There was strife between the herdsmen of both of them (v.7);

C.  Abram suggested the separation (v.8-9);

D.  Lot chose the plain of Jordan (v.10-11);

E.  Lot pitches his tent even as far as Sodom (v.12-13);


Abram Obtained the Promise of God

A.  The promise of God (v.14-16);

B.  The commandment of God (v.17);

C.  Move to Hebron (v.18);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Gen. 13:1 “Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.”

YLT: “And Abram goeth up from Egypt (he and his wife, and all that he hath, and Lot with him) towards the south;”

Literal Meaning: went up from Egypt…to the South”, the land of Canaan was comparatively higher than that of Egypt, so it was going “up”.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Believers do not fear of stumbling over, but fear of being unwilling to stand up after being stumbled over.

  2) If believers do not “go up”, let them “go forth” (Gen. 12:5) instead of “going down” (Gen. 12:10).


Gen. 13:2 “Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.”

YLT: “and Abram exceedingly wealthy in cattle, in silver, and in gold.”

Meaning of Words: “rich”: heavy, abounding;

Literal Meaning: the word “severe” (Gen. 12:10) and “rich” in this verse are the same word in the original Hebrew, revealing that famine and possessions are both trying our faith. Therefore, there is a potential crisis in this verse deeper and more severe than famine (impoverishment). 

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Even though man is able to overcome hunger, he may not be able to overcome wealth.

  2) Wealth may become a kind of “heavy” spiritual burden ---- which makes men trust on the uncertainty of riches instead of God who affords us all things richly for enjoyment (1Tim. 6:17).

  3) The problem of common believers is ignoring spiritual enjoyment once they have got physical enjoyment.


Gen. 13:3 “And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,”

YLT: “And he goeth on his journeyings from the south, even unto Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the commencement, between Bethel and Hai --”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The restoration of spiritual life and faith are “step in step” (“from… as far as…”). In the church, let us be patient with those who are weak and who have failed rather than press on them excessively (Gen. 33:13).

  2) Once one has been away from the house of God (Bethel) and had been suffered spiritual hunger in the wandering days (see Gen. chap. 12), he must know the preciousness of the house of God (the church) and will come back to the church life.


Gen. 13:4 “to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.”

YLT: “unto the place of the altar which he made there at the first, and there doth Abram preach in the name of Jehovah.”

Literal Meaning: this verse suggests that Abram restored his fellowship with God as well as the life of trusting in God by faith.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Prayer is the breath of spiritual life. If Christians do not pray, it is just like refusing breath and no wonder there is no dynamic in spiritual life.

  2) The most severe loss of those who go down to Egypt is the loss of the altar.


Gen. 13:5 “Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.”

YLT: “And also to Lot, who is going with Abram, there hath been sheep and oxen and tents;”

Spiritual Meaning: Lot” here typifies the partner who runs the heavenly way together.


Gen. 13:6 “Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.”

YLT: “and the land hath not suffered them to dwell together, for their substance hath been much, and they have not been able to dwell together;”

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) “For their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together”, it suggests that the troubles in the church life are often caused by “possessions”.

  2) Possessions often tend to be the trouble of interpersonal relationship. It is so in the world and even among believers without exception.

  3) If believers have not been delivered from the power of mammon, there will be divisions among them when they get along with one another. 

  4) If you are unable to be free from the power of wealth, you’d better not invest or do business in partnership with anyone (including believers), lest there should be unnecessary troubles sooner or later.

  5) If the bowel of a man becomes narrowed, he cannot accept the wide land.


Gen. 13:7 “And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.”

YLT: “and there is a strife between those feeding Abram's cattle and those feeding Lot's cattle; and the Canaanite and the Perizzite then dwelling in the land.”

Meaning of Words: Canaan”: low land, base, business; “Perizzites”: country, Land;

Literal Meaning: Lot was led by Abram (see v.1), he was supposed to know his own duty. However, he even allowed his herdsmen to conflict with those of Abram. This was his fault.

Spiritual Meaning: Canaanites and the Perizzites” typify the unbelievers among the Gentiles.

  “The herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock” typify the divisions and strife among believers in the church

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) There are strangers dwelling in the land, but the strife even happened among their own people. Many times, believers keep peace with unbelievers, but cannot even accept other believers.

  2) It is the very thing that humiliates the name of the Lord that believers even conflict with one another before unbelievers.

  3) The main reason for the divisions or strife of believers in the church is upholding the leaders above what is written so that believers honor this and dishonor that and hold that they are of this one or that one (1Cor. 1:10-12; 3:3-4; 4:6).


Gen. 13:8 “So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.”

YLT: “And Abram saith unto Lot, `Let there not, I pray thee, be strife between me and thee, and between my shepherds and thy shepherds, for we men -- brethren.”

Literal Meaning: probably Lot might have been involved in the strife of the herdsmen, or Lot was complaining the matter of strife to Abram.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Believers shall not have “strife” with one another, for we are brothers.

  2) The church does not fear the attack of Satan most, but the strife among the children of God.

3) If believers have really realized the word “we are brothers” by heart, there will be no worth of strife.

4) Strife of the herdsmen is just the strife of their owners. If there is strife or divisions in the church, the leaders should restrain and govern those who draw near to them instead of keeping themselves out of the whole matter.

5) If we are able to transcend “yours” and “mine” and make it “ours” , there will be no reason for strife.


Gen. 13:9 “Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left."”

YLT: “Is not all the land before thee? be parted, I pray thee, from me; if to the left, then I to the right; and if to the right, then I to the left.'”

Literal Meaning: Abram got much spiritual growth after the failure in chapter twelve and he no longer chose for his own living. In fact, Abram had the privilege of choosing first because of his higher position in the family. 

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) He who has love does not decide things on the basis of his own profit.

  2) It is the most peaceful way of giving up “the right of selection”.

  3) He who has faith always lets others choose first, for he knows that God’s selection for him is better than his own selection.

  4) He who really knows God would rather lose all than lose the trust in God. 


Gen. 13:10 “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.”

YLT: “And Lot lifteth up his eyes, and seeth the whole circuit of the Jordan that it all a watered country (before Jehovah's destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, as Jehovah's garden, as the land of Egypt,) in thy coming toward Zoar,”

Meaning of Words: Jordan”: the who falls, water land; “Zoar”: tiny, low down; “Sodom”: burning, wear fetters; “Gomorrah”: covering, a waste of ruins; “Egypt”: double difficulties;

Literal Meaning: Sodom and Gomorrah”, it has been conformed by the archaeologists that the two cities were located in the east and southeast of the dry land of the Dead Sea. There was ample fresh water originally there, and therefore many people were inhabited there. However, both the cities were destroyed by God because of greatly sins (Gen. 19:24-25).

  “Like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar”, here it describes the luxuriant situation of all living things because of the ample provision of fresh water (see Ezek. 47:6-12).

Spiritual Meaning: “all the plain…well watered”, it symbolized the comfortable living environment.

  “Before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah”, it suggests that there is the danger of God’s judgment.

“Like the garden of the LORD, it symbolizes the pleasant living environment.

“Like the land of Egypt”, it indicates that there is the danger of falling into the world.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) What is beautiful in human sight may not be truly beautiful and profitable.

  2) Satan often stirs up man’s “lust of eyes” first (Gen. 3:6; 1John 2:16) before enticing man to sins and corruption.

  3) If believers’ eyes are drawn by comfortableness and pleasantness, they may fall into the world and finally be chastened by God.

  4) He who is short-sighted chooses in terms of appearance merely. He who is far-sighted sees the inner situation and the ultimate end.

  5) He who sows to his own flesh shall reap corruption (Gal. 6:7-8).


Gen. 13:11 “Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.”

YLT: “and Lot chooseth for himself the whole circuit of the Jordan; and Lot journeyeth from the east, and they are parted -- a man from his companion;”

Literal Meaning: Lot made four mistakes of his choosing first without giving precedence to Abram: 1) Abram was elder than him (1Pet. 5:5); 2) Lot followed Abram (Gen. 12:4); 3) Lot’s gained his possessions mostly because of Abram; 4) The land was the Promised Land to Abram (Gen. 12:7).

  This verse is just like another verse in the New Testament: “Demas had forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica” (2Tim. 4:10).


Gen. 13:12 “Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.”

YLT: “Abram hath dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot hath dwelt in the cities of the circuit, and tenteth unto Sodom;”

Literal Meaning: Lot chose the fertile plain first and then gave up nomadic life but chose city life, which indicated that his life style of faith had been changed. Although Lot clearly knew Sodom was the place of severe sins, he still pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. Finally, he suffered a great loss (Gen. 14:12; 19:15-38).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) The differences of them lie in that: one seeks spiritual profit and the other seeks the worldly profit.

  2) Man may not fall all of a sudden, but be close to the abyss of sins unconsciously and become on the edge of destruction gradually.

  3) Unfortunately, many children of God have been captivated by the king and sins of the world and have fallen into weakness and sins unconsciously.


Gen. 13:13 “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.”

YLT: “and the men of Sodom evil, and sinners before Jehovah exceedingly.”

Literal Meaning: it is biblically recorded that the Sodomites committed homosexual conducts (Gen. 19:4-5), which disobeyed the law of God (Rom. 1:26-27; Lev. 18:22). Because of this background he who commits homosexual conduct is called “sodomite”. 

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) If a believer goes the wrong way in the beginning, he may fall into deep faults unconsciously in the end.

  2) Believers are living in the circumstance full of heinous sins. If we are careless, we will be not only unable to manifest the effect of “salt and light” but also threatened by the danger of association with the evil tide.


Gen. 13:14 “And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: "Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are--northward, southward, eastward, and westward;”

YLT: “And Jehovah said unto Abram, after Lot's being parted from him, `Lift up, I pray thee, thine eyes, and look from the place where thou , northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward;”

Literal Meaning: Lot had separated from him”, it indicated that it was not Abram had separated from Lot, but Lot had separated from Abram. To put it more clearly, it was Abram that was forsaken by Lot.

  Abram “lifted his eyes” and looked, which corresponded to Lot’s “lifting his eyes and seeing” (see v.10). However, both of them were different ---- Abram saw in the light of God’s revelation, and yet Lot saw by his own lusts and desires; Abram saw God Himself when he looked northward and southward and eastward and westward, and Lot saw Sodom (sins) from all the plain.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) All the loss we have suffered for the sake of God will be compensated by God personally.

  2) Let believers see the worldly things on the basis of the word of God and by spiritual sight.


Gen. 13:15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”

YLT: “for the whole of the land which thou are seeing, to thee I give it, and to thy seed -- to the age.”

Literal Meaning: this verse means that the Promised Land God would give him was boundless. And all the land he saw by faith would be granted to him.


Gen. 13:16 “And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.”

YLT: “And I have set thy seed as dust of the earth, so that, if one is able to number the dust of the earth, even thy seed is numbered;”

Spiritual Meaning: Abram had two sorts of descendants: one sort was the earthly one, namely, his physical children ---- the Jews, “the dust of the earth”; the other sort was the heavenly one, namely, the children of faith, “the stars of the heaven” (Gen. 15:5).


Gen. 13:17 “Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you."”

YLT: “rise, go up and down through the land, to its length, and to its breadth, for to thee I give it.'”

Literal Meaning: God’s will was that Abram would obtain the land of Canaan by faith (Jos. 1:3).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Christians shall not only “see” by eyes but also “walk” by feet.

  2) The capacity of our faith decides the capacity of our appropriation of God’s promises.

  3) “East and west” and “north and south” (see v.14) constitute a cross. “Its length and its width” are also a cross. All that is dealt with by the cross in the land will become spiritual possessions.


Gen. 13:18 “Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the LORD.”

YLT: “And Abram tenteth, and cometh, and dwelleth among the oaks of Mamre, which in Hebron, and buildeth there an altar to Jehovah.”

Meaning of Words: Hebron”: league, union, fellowship, friendship; “Mamre”: power, strong, fertile;

Literal Meaning: Hebron”: it was the place where David first set his throne (2Sam. 2:4).

  “Mamre”, it was a name of a man, the brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner (Gen. 14:13).

  “Tent” and “altar” were the two important marks of the separated life of Abram (Gen. 12:7-8).

Spiritual Meaning: Hebron” symbolized fellowship and victory. Abram built the altar there, which showed that he did not go backward but achieved further after the trial of faith.

  “Mamre”: the strong and rich life; “dwelt by the terebinth trees”, it symbolized true rest.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Abram went to Bethel first and then came to Hebron. He who enters into the house of God will find the fellowship of life. And he knows the body of Christ will have the fellowship with members.

  2) He who has truly been revealed by God and has seen what the body of Christ is will surely know that he is too weak to act alone and will thus seek the fellowship with God’s children.

  3) Sweet fellowship with God and God’s children (“Hebron”) will lead to strong and rich life (“Mamre”). And strong and rich life will lead to deeper rest (“dwelt by the terebinth trees”). 


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Steps of Lot’s Failure

A.  Who allowed the strife of his herdsmen with those of Abram (v.7);

B.  Who lifted his eyes and saw by the worldly sight (v.10);

C.  Who chose for himself selfishly (v.11);

D.  Who left the appointed land of God (v.11);

E.  Who became as far as the origin of sins (v.12);

F.   Who dwelt in the land of sins finally (v.12-13);


Lot’s Faults

A.  Wrong sight ---- lift up his eyes (v.10);

B.  Wrong heart ---- choose (v.11);

C.  Wrong way ---- journey east (v.11);


Characteristics of the Land of Canaan (Indications of the Three Places where Abram Built the Altars)

A.  Shechem (12:6): the power of life;

B.  Bethel (v.3): the house of God, namely, the body of Christ;

C.  Hebron (v.18): the fellowship of the body;


Ways of Enjoying the Spiritual Possessions

A.  Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are (v.14) ---- know what is the hope of his calling and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance (Eph. 1:18);

B.  Walk in the land through its length and its width (v.17) ---- put his vision in the spiritual into practice (see James 2:22) and experience it thoroughly and deeply;

C.  Lead the life of tent and altar in Hebron (v.18) ---- enter into the sweet fellowship and lead the life “on the earth as that in the heavens”;


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

Translated by Mary Zhou