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13. Abram and Lot Separate

And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. 2And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. 3And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; 4Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

5And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. 6And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. 10And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.

14And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. 17Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. 18Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.

7. And there was a strife. What I hinted respecting riches, is also true respecting a large retinue of attendants. We see with what ambition many desire a great crowd of servants, almost amounting to a whole people. But since the family of Abram cost him so dear; let us be well content to have few servants, or even to be entirely without them, if it seem right to the Lord that it should be so. It was scarcely possible to avoid great confusion, in a house where there was a considerable number of men. And experience confirms the truth of the proverbs that a crowd is commonly turbulent. Now, if repose and tranquility be an inestimable good; let us know, that we best consult for our real welfare, when we have a small house, and privately pass our time, without tumult, in our families. We are also warned, by the example before us, to beware lest Satan, by indirect methods, should lead us into contention. For when he cannot light up mutual enmities between us, he would involve us in other men’s quarrels. Lot and Abram were at concord with each other; but a contention raised between their shepherds, carried them reluctantly away; so that they were compelled to separate from each other. There is no doubt that Abram faithfully instructed his own people to cultivate peace; yet he did not so far succeed in his desire and effort, as to prevent his witnessing the most destructive fire of discord kindled in his house. Wherefore, it is nothing wonderful, if we see tumults often arising in churches, where there is a still greater number of men. Abram had about three hundred servants; it is probable that the family of Lot was nearly equal to it:353353     Familiam Lot minime fuisse parem verisimile est.” The words are capable of two opposite renderings, according to the different sense in which minime is taken. It may either mean “by no means,” or “at least.” The Old English translation renders it in the former method. “It is very likely that the household of Lot was much less.” The French version adopts the latter meaning. “Il est bien vraye — semblable que la familie de Lot n’a pas este moindre.” Neither of the versions give a very probable meaning. The context seems almost to demand the translation which the Editor has ventured to prefer. — Ed what then may be expected to take place between five or six thousand men, — especially free men, — when they contend with each other? As, however, we ought not to be disturbed by such scandals; so we must, in every way, take care that contentions do not become violent. For unless they be speedily met, they will soon break out into pernicious dissension.

The Canaanite and the Perizzite. Moses adds this for the sake of aggravating the evil. For he declares the heat of the contention to have been so great, that it could neither be extinguished nor assuaged, even by the fear of impending destruction. They were surrounded by as many enemies as they had neighbors. Nothing, therefore, was wanting in order to their destruction, but a suitable occasion; and this they themselves were affording by their quarrels. To such a degree does blind fury infatuate men, when once the vehemence of contention has prevailed, that they carelessly despise death, when placed before their eyes. Now, although we are not continually surrounded by Canaanites, we are yet in the midst of enemies, as long as we sojourn in the world. Wherefore, if we are influenced by any desire for the salvation of ourselves, and of our brethren, let us beware of contentions which will deliver us over to Satan to be destroyed.


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