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Genesis 13:4-13

Context
13:4 This was the place where he had first built the altar, 1  and there Abram worshiped the Lord. 2 

13:5 Now Lot, who was traveling 3  with Abram, also had 4  flocks, herds, and tents. 13:6 But the land could 5  not support them while they were living side by side. 6  Because their possessions were so great, they were not able to live 7  alongside one another. 13:7 So there were quarrels 8  between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. 9  (Now the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land at that time.) 10 

13:8 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. 11  13:9 Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself now from me. If you go 12  to the left, then I’ll go to the right, but if you go to the right, then I’ll go to the left.”

13:10 Lot looked up and saw 13  the whole region 14  of the Jordan. He noticed 15  that all of it was well-watered (before the Lord obliterated 16  Sodom and Gomorrah) 17  like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, 18  all the way to Zoar. 13:11 Lot chose for himself the whole region of the Jordan and traveled 19  toward the east.

So the relatives separated from each other. 20  13:12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, but Lot settled among the cities of the Jordan plain 21  and pitched his tents next to Sodom. 13:13 (Now 22  the people 23  of Sodom were extremely wicked rebels against the Lord.) 24 

1 tn Heb “to the place of the altar which he had made there in the beginning” (cf. Gen 12:7-8).

2 tn 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.

3 tn Heb “was going.”

4 tn The Hebrew idiom is “to Lot…there was,” the preposition here expressing possession.

5 tn The potential nuance for the perfect tense is necessary here, and supported by the parallel clause that actually uses “to be able.”

6 tn 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.

7 tn The same infinitive occurs here, serving as the object of the verb.

8 tn 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.

9 sn Since the quarreling was between the herdsmen, the dispute was no doubt over water and vegetation for the animals.

10 tn 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.

11 tn 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.

12 tn The words “you go” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons both times in this verse.

13 tn 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.

14 tn Or “plain”; Heb “circle.”

15 tn The words “he noticed” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

16 sn 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).

17 tn 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.

18 sn 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.

19 tn Heb “Lot traveled.” The proper name has not been repeated in the translation at this point for stylistic reasons.

20 tn 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.

21 tn Or “the cities of the plain”; Heb “[the cities of] the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley.

22 tn 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.

23 tn Heb “men.” However, this is generic in sense; it is unlikely that only the male residents of Sodom were sinners.

24 tn 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”).



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