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Abram and Lot Separate


So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb.

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. 3He journeyed on by stages from the Negeb as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, 4to the place where he had made an altar at the first; and there Abram called on the name of the L ord. 5Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, 6so that the land could not support both of them living together; for their possessions were so great that they could not live together, 7and there was strife between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites lived in the land.

8 Then Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred. 9Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” 10Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the L ord, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the L ord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. 11So Lot chose for himself all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward; thus they separated from each other. 12Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain and moved his tent as far as Sodom. 13Now the people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the L ord.

14 The L ord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Raise your eyes now, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. 16I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. 17Rise up, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” 18So Abram moved his tent, and came and settled by the oaks of Mamre, which are at Hebron; and there he built an altar to the L ord.

1. And Abram went up out of Egypt. In the commencement of the chapter, Moses commemorates the goodness of God in protecting Abram; whence it came to pass, that he not only returned in safety, but took with him great wealth. This circumstance is also to be noticed, that when he was leaving Egypt, abounding in cattle and treasures, he was allowed to pursue his journey in peace; for it is surprising that the Egyptians would suffer what Abram had acquired among them, to be transferred elsewhere. Moses next shows that riches proved no sufficient obstacle to prevent Abram from having respect continually to his proposed end, and from moving towards it with unremitting pace. We know how greatly even a moderate share of wealth, hinders many from raising their heads towards heaven; while they who really possess abundance, not only lie torpid in indolence, but are entirely buried in the earth. Wherefore, Moses places the virtue of Abram in contrast with the common vice of others; when he relates that he was not to be prevented by any impediments, from seeking again the land of Canaan. For he might (like many others) have been able to flatter himself with some fair pretext: such as, that since God, from whom he had received extraordinary blessings, had been favorable and kind to him in Egypt, it was right for him to remain there. But he does not forget what had been divinely commanded him; and, therefore, as one unfettered, he hastens to the place whither he is called. Wherefore, the rich are deprived of all excuse, if they are so rooted in the earth, that they do not attend the call of God. Two extremes, however, are here to be guarded against. Many place angelical perfection in poverty; as if it were impossible to cultivate piety and to serve God, unless riches are cast away. Few indeed imitate Crates the Theban, who cast his treasures into the sea; because he did not think that he could be saved unless they were lost. Yet many fanatics repel rich men from the hope of salvation; as if poverty were the only gate of heaven; which yet, sometimes, involves men in more hindrances than riches. But Augustine wisely teaches us, that the rich and poor are collected together in the same inheritance of life; because poor Lazarus was received into the bosom of rich Abraham. On the other hand, we must beware of the opposite evil; lest riches should cast a stumblingblock in our way, or should so burden us, that we should the less readily advance towards the kingdom of heaven.

3. And he went on his journeys. In these words Moses teaches us, that Abram did not rest till he had returned to Bethel. For although he pitched his tent in many places, yet he nowhere so fixed his foot, as to make it his permanent abode. He does not speak of the south in reference to Egypt; he merely means that he had come into the southern part of Judea; and that, therefore, he had, by a long and troublesome journey, arrived at the place where he had determined to remain. Moses next subjoins, that an altar had before been there erected by him and that he then also began anew to call upon the name of the Lord: whereby we may learn, that the holy man was always like himself in worshipping God, and giving evidence of his piety. The explanation given by some, that the inhabitants of the place had been brought to the pure worship of God, is neither probable, nor to be deduced from the words of Moses. And we have stated elsewhere what is the force of the expression, ‘To invoke in the name,’ or, ‘To call upon the name of the Lord;’ namely, to profess the true and pure worship of God. For Abram invoked God, not twelve times only, during the whole course of his life; but whenever he publicly celebrated him, and by a solemn rite, made it manifest that he had nothing in common with the superstitions of the heathen, then he is also said to have called upon God. Therefore, although he always worshipped God, and exercised himself in daily prayers; yet, because he did not daily testify his piety by outward profession before men, this virtue is here especially commended by Moses. It was therefore proper that invocation should be conjoined with the altar; because by the sacrifices offered, he plainly testified what God he worshipped in order that the Canaanites might know that he was not addicted to their common idolatries.

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