Genesis 13:1-18 . RETURN FROM EGYPT.
1. went up . . . south--Palestine being a highland country, the entrance from Egypt by its southern boundary is a continual ascent.
2. very rich--compared with the pastoral tribes to which Abraham belonged. An Arab sheik is considered rich who has a hundred or two hundred tents, from sixty to a hundred camels, a thousand sheep and goats respectively. And Abram being very rich, must have far exceeded that amount of pastoral property. "Gold and silver" being rare among these peoples, his probably arose from the sale of his produce in Egypt.
3. went on his journeys--His progress would be by slow marches and frequent encampments as Abram had to regulate his movements by the prospect of water and pasturage.
unto the place . . . between Beth-el and Hai--"a conspicuous hill--its topmost summit resting on the rocky slopes below, and distinguished by its olive groves--offering a natural base for the altar and a fitting shade for the tent of the patriarch" [STANLEY].
4. there Abram called on the name of the Lord--He felt a strong desire to reanimate his faith and piety on the scene of his former worship: it might be to express humility and penitence for his misconduct in Egypt or thankfulness for deliverance from perils--to embrace the first opportunity on returning to Canaan of leading his family to renew allegiance to God and offer the typical sacrifices which pointed to the blessings of the promise.
7. And there was a strife--Abraham's character appears here in a most amiable light. Having a strong sense of religion, he was afraid of doing anything that might tend to injure its character or bring discredit on its name, and he rightly judged that such unhappy effects would be produced if two persons whom nature and grace had so closely connected should come to a rupture [ Genesis 13:8 ]. Waiving his right to dictate, he gave the freedom of choice to Lot. The conduct of Abraham was not only disinterested and peaceable, but generous and condescending in an extraordinary degree, exemplifying the Scripture precepts ( Matthew 6:32 , Romans 12:10 Romans 12:11 , Philippians 2:4 ).
10. Lot lifted up his eyes--Travellers say that from the top of this hill, a little "to the east of Beth-el" [ Genesis 12:8 ], they can see the Jordan, the broad meadows on either bank, and the waving line of verdure which marks the course of the stream.
11. Then Lot chose him all the plain--a choice excellent from a worldly point of view, but most inexpedient for his best interests. He seems, though a good man, to have been too much under the influence of a selfish and covetous spirit: and how many, alas! imperil the good of their souls for the prospect of worldly advantage.
14, 15. Lift up now thine eyes . . . all the land which thou seest--So extensive a survey of the country, in all directions, can be obtained from no other point in the neighborhood; and those plains and hills, then lying desolate before the eyes of the solitary patriarch, were to be peopled with a mighty nation "like the dust of the earth in number," as they were in Solomon's time ( 1 Kings 4:20 ).
18. the plain of Mamre . . . built . . . an altar--the renewal of the promise was acknowledged by Abram by a fresh tribute of devout gratitude.