Genesis 12:10-13:18 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. When Abram is confronted with the crisis of a famine in the land of Canaan, what does he do? See Genesis 12:10 (printed below)

Now there was a famine in the land, so Abram went down into Egypt to stay there for awhile, because the famine was severe in the land. (Genesis 12:10)

When there comes a famine to the land of Canaan, Abram takes it upon himself to journey down into Egypt. The pressure on him was great: the famine was severe in Canaan, but the land of Egypt was well-watered and fertile (cp. Genesis 13:10). Confronted by this trying situation, Abram apparently forgot to trust in the Lord: he neither consults the Lord to ascertain His divine will, nor appeals to the Lord to meet his need. Rather than trust in the Lord’s covenant faithfulness; when confronted by a trying situation, Abram takes matters into his own hands.

2. Upon arriving in Egypt, Abram becomes aware of what potential problem? What does he do about it? See Genesis 12:11-13 (printed below)

When he came near to the border of Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, Listen, I know that you are a beautiful woman. (12) When the Egyptians see you they will say, This is his wife. They will kill me, but keep you alive. (13) I ask you, Please say that you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you. (Genesis 12:11-13)

When Abram and Sarai arrive at the border of Egypt, Abram becomes aware of another problem: his wife, Sarai, is a beautiful woman. His apprehension is that the Egyptians will covet Sarai, and in order to obtain her they will kill him. Once again, Abram devises his own solution: Sarai is to identify herself as Abram’s sister; this way, not only will Abram’s life be spared, but the Egyptians will treat him well for Sarai’s sake. This time his own solution involves Abram in a double breach of faith: he is violating his commitment to Sarai, rather than reverence their sacred marriage bond, he is willing to prostitute her for his own safety and personal gain; and he is violating his commitment to the Lord, again, for the sake of his own personal safety and profit, he is going to resort to telling a lie.

3. What dilemma do Abram and Lot encounter when they return to the land of Canaan? See Genesis 13:2, 5-7 (printed below)

Now Abram was very rich in cattle and in silver and gold…(5) Now Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. (6) And the land was not able to sustain them, that they might live together; because their possessions were so great, they could not live together. (7) There occurred a conflict between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdsmen of Lot’s cattle; (and the Canaanite and the Perizzite were then living in the land.) (Genesis 13:2,5-7)

Both Abram and Lot have large herds and flocks (13:2,5). Their cattle and possessions were so great that they could no longer dwell together in the same locality (13:6). Added to their abundance is also the fact that the Canaanites are occupying the land, so land in their immediate vicinity is at a premium and there is little room for expansion. As a result of this overcrowding and competition for pasture and water, conflicts and disputes were erupting between their respective herdsman (13:7).

4. What solution does Abram propose (see Genesis 13:8-9, printed below?) How does Lot respond (see Genesis 13:10-13, printed below?)

Then Abram said to Lot, I beg you, let there be no conflict between me and you, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers. (9) Is not the whole land before you? I ask you, please separate yourself from me. If you will go to the left, then I will go to the right. Or if you will go to the right, I will go to the left. (Genesis 13:8-9)

Lot looked up and observed that all the Plain of the Jordan was well watered every where, it was like the garden of Jehovah, or like the land of Egypt as you go towards Zoar. (This was before Jehovah destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) (11) So Lot chose for himself all the Plain of the Jordan. Then Lot journeyed east. So they separated themselves from one another. (12) Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled in the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. (13) Now the men of Sodom were wicked and exceedingly great sinners against Jehovah. (Genesis 13:10-13)

Out of concern to maintain their peace and unity as Christian brothers, Abram proposes a viable solution (13:8-9). Abram offers Lot first choice of the land (verse 9); Lot may choose to settle wherever he desires, Abram will depart and seek new pastures. Note: Abram is limiting the choice to the whole land of Canaan; they are to remain within the bounds of the Promised Land. But Lot takes Abram’s suggestion a step further, beyond what was spiritually legitimate to what was spiritually dangerous and beyond the divinely acceptable limits (13:10-11). Lot sees that the Plain of the Jordan (the land east of the Jordan River) is very attractive (verse 10). So he chose that land as his portion: “Lot journeyed east” (13:11)—a subtle way of indicating that Lot was journeying away from the Lord his God (cp. Genesis 4:16). So it was that “Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled in the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. (13) Now the men of Sodom were wicked” (Genesis 13:12-13a).

5. Following Lot’s departure, what does the Lord do for Abram? See Genesis 13:14-18 (printed below)

After Lot had separated himself from him, Jehovah said to Abram, Now lift up your eyes from the place where you are and look northward and southward and eastward and westward; (15) because I will give to you and to your offspring forever all the land that you see. (16) And I will make your descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth, so that if a man could count the dust of the earth, then may your offspring also be counted. (17) Arise, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I will give it to you. (18) Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, that are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to Jehovah. (Genesis 13:14-18)

After Lot separated himself and left the land of Canaan, the Lord spoke to Abram (13:14). The Lord’s nearness and intimacy is reserved for those who trust in Him and seek to abide in covenant faithfulness to Him. The Lord personally grants to Abram divine assurance that he and his descendants shall inherit the Promised Land (13:14-16). Abram had exhibited a great act of faith: he had rejected the fertile plains and confined himself to the land of Canaan (even though it was presently famine-stricken), because it was the Promised Land. Now Abram received the sustaining presence and re-assurance of the Lord. The Lord commands Abram to walk through the length and breadth of the land and again declares that He will give it to Abram (13:17). Walking around the circumference of the land was the act of validating the acquisition of a piece of property (Kingdom Prologue, Meredith Kline, p.229). The Lord’s repeated statement, “I will give to you and to your offspring forever all the land that you see,” is the reminder that in the last analysis everything belongs to the Lord and is His to dispense as He sees fit—and He sees fit to share it with those who are faithful to Him (note Psalm 24:1-2 and Ecclesiastes 2:26).