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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.

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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