The history of Abram’s journey reached its crossroad when there was famine in the Promised Land. But the LORD continued to guide and strengthen Abram through the emphasized promises. In this passage, we will learn from Abram’s examples the struggle of one’s faith when realities faced were in disagreement with the hope promised.
Did You Know...?
- Zoar (13:10) was a small town east or south-east of the Dead Sea. Its ruins are seen at the opening of the narrow valley of Kerak, the Kir-Moab referred to in
2 Kings 3, the modern Tell esh-Shaghur. [ref]
- Sodom (13:12) was a city in the valley of Siddim (Gen 14:3). Opposite the site of Zoar, on the south-west coast of the Dead Sea, is a range of low hills, forming a mass of mineral salt called Jebel Usdum, “the hill of Sodom.” Some scholars concluded that the cities of the plain stood at the southern end of the Dead Sea, while others contended that they stood at the northern end of the sea. [ref]
- Hebron (13:18) is a city in the south end of the valley of Eshcol, about midway between Jerusalem and Beersheba. It still exists under the same name, and is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Its earlier name was Kirjath-arba (Gen 23:2; Josh 14:15, 15:13). [ref]
- Plain of Jordan (13:10): On one hand, the plain was crowded by several rivers, such as Jordan River, Jabbok River, West Faria River, Arnon River and Zered River, which met together at the Dead Sea. On the other hand, the west bank of the plain, the one that Abram stayed, was scarcely watered. [ref]
- Separated from each other (13:11): In Hebrew, the sentence may be translated as, “a man separated from his brother.”
- Moved to Hebron (13:18): The distance from Negev to Hebron was around 27 miles. [ref]
Why did Abram go down to Egypt?Hide Answer
Abram went down to Egypt because there was a famine in the land, and the famine was severe (Gen 12:10).
Find the irony between the LORD’s promise to Abram in Gen 12:7 with the current condition that Abram had to face in Gen 12:10.Hide Answer
In Genesis 12:7, the LORD promised Abram that He would give the land of Canaan to his descendants. Yet, in the Promised Land, Abram had to experience a severe famine (Gen 12:10).
Share your experience when the current situation that you are facing seems to contradict God’s promise.
Find the contrast between Abram’s deeds to the LORD in Gen 12:8 with Abram’s decision in Gen 12:10 and Abram’s plea to Sarai in Gen 12:12-13.Hide Answer
In Genesis 12:8, Abram built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Yet, when faced with severe famine in the land, Abram decided to go down to Egypt to dwell there (Gen 12:10). And when he was close to entering Egypt, Abram pleaded with his wife to declare herself as his sister for he feared that his life would not be spared by the Egyptians (Gen 12:12-13).
In what way does our faith and worship contradict to the way we behave and make decision in our daily life?
Why did Abram plead with his wife to admit that she was his sister?Hide Answer
Abram pleaded with Sarai to admit in front of the Egyptians that she was his sister so that he would not be killed by the Egyptians due to his wife’s beautiful countenance (Gen 12:11, 12).
What did the admitance of Sarai mean to Abram and to the Egyptians?Hide Answer
When Sarai admitted that she was Abram’s sister, it meant that Sarai had no spousal relationship with Abram. For the Egyptians, it meant that they had the freedom to take Sarai as a wife to their own kin—in this case, they commended Sarai to Pharaoh (Gen 12:14, 15).
How would you react to Abram if you were Sarai?
How did Sarai react to Abram’s request? And why?Hide Answer
Genesis 12:15 says that Sarai was commended by the princes of Pharaoh and she was taken to Pharaoh’s house (Gen 12:15). This means that she had obeyed Abram’s request to confess herself as his sister and not as his wife. She was willing to do this for the sake of her husband’s life (Gen 12:13). The book of First Peter even tells us that Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Pet 3:6). In other words, Sarai was willing to give in to Abram’s unreasonable request mainly because of her obedience and deep respect for her husband.
Was the result of Abram’s scheme according to his expectation? How? And at what cost?Hide Answer
Abram’s scheme gave result according to his expectation. The Pharaoh treated him well for Sarai’s sake. Abram was given sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys and camels (Gen 12:16). But the cost of all these given wealth was a separation from his beloved, beautiful and obedient wife, Sarai.
How did the LORD save Sarai from Pharaoh and guide Abram back according to His promise?Hide Answer
The LORD took Sarai from the hand of Pharaoh by plagueing Pharaoh and his house with great plagues (Gen 12:17). Because of this, Pharaoh realized that Sarai was Abram’s wife. Pharaoh returned her to Abram and sent him away with his wife and all that he had without inflicting him any harm (Gen 12:18-20).
Share your experience in how the Lord “intervenes” in your plan and guides you back according to His way.
Where did Abram go from Egypt?Hide Answer
From Egypt, Abram and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot, went back to the South (Gen 13:1).
What did Abram do in there?Hide Answer
He went “to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there, Abram called on the name of the LORD” (Gen 13:3-4).
Describe Abram’s and Lot’s riches after they went up from Egypt.Hide Answer
The book of Genesis says that Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold (Gen 13:2). Lot also had flocks, herds and tents (Gen 13:5). Both Abram and Lot had herdsmen for their livestock and their possessions “were so great” that the land was not able to support them (Gen 13:6-7).
How did the riches affect Lot: in terms of his relationship with his uncle;Hide Answer
Because of the great riches of Abram and Lot, at the beginning, there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock (Gen 13:7). Later, Abram said to Lot, advising him that there should be no strife between themselves because they were brethren (Gen 13:8).
in terms of his character and life-style;Hide Answer
Because of the great wealth that Lot had, he lifted his eyes toward the well watered plain of Jordan and chose for himself all of the plain. He dwelt in the cities of the plain and even pitched his tent even as far as Sodom, though the men there were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD (Gen 13:10-13).
Today, how might riches affect our: Livelihood and life-style;
Relationship with family members and people around us;
Relationship with God and His church;
How did the Scriptures describe the men of Sodom?Hide Answer
Genesis 13:13 describes that the men of Sodom “were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.”
How does Lot’s action in pitching his tent “even as far as Sodom” serve as a warning for us today?Hide Answer
Though the plain of Jordan was well-watered everywhere, the Scriptures describe the men of Sodom as exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD (Gen 13:13). To sustain the need of his great wealth of livestock, Lot decided to stay in that plain, even pitching his tent as far as Sodom. Genesis 14:12 states that Lot eventually dwelt in Sodom. Physically, the well-watered plain of Jordan was more than enough to support all of Lot’s livestock. But mentally and spiritually, Lot had to deal with the sinful life-style of the men of Sodom. The book of Second Peter explains that Lot’s soul was tormented day to day by seeing and hearing the lawless deeds and filthy conduct of the wicked men of Sodom (2 Pet 2:7, 8).
Today, Lot’s choice of action serves as a warning for us in choosing the way we live our lives. Certain jobs or places may give us the benefit to better our lives or even improve our well-being. But if the surrounding environment is one that is filled with filthy conduct and lawless deeds, in due course, it will negatively affect our conduct and torment our faith.
What did the LORD say to Abram after Lot had parted from him?Hide Answer
After Lot had separated from Abram, the LORD said to Abram, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you” (Gen 13:14-17).
How did Lot’s lifting of eyes in verse 10 different from Abram’s lifting of eyes in verse 14?Hide Answer
Lot’s lifting of eyes was based on the fertility of the plain of Jordan and an urban-lifestyle of the cities of the plain (Gen 13:10, 12). On the other hand, Abram’s lifting of eyes was based on the LORD’s command and guidance (Gen 13:14, 17). Though the area might not have been as fertile or as civilized, as long as the LORD was with Abram, God’s blessings would follow.
How did the LORD’s promise strengthen Abram’s decision to continue on his journey?Hide Answer
The LORD’s promise strengthened Abram’s decision to continue on his journey in several ways. First, when Lot chose the fertile land of Jordan, it looked as if Abram had suffered a great loss. But God’s plan for Abram covered a greater area than the plain of Jordan. In addition, from where God was speaking to Abram, the LORD promised Abram that He would give him “all the land which [he saw]” (Gen 13:15). Though letting Lot take all the fertile plain of Jordan in the eastward seemed to be a great loss to Abram, the LORD gave him even greater promises. The LORD gave him even the northward, southward, eastward and westward—all the length and width of the land which he saw would be given to him and his countless descendants (Gen 13:14-17). All this was unfamiliar territory, but Abram’s faith in God gave him the strength to continue on his journey.
What can we learn from the LORD’s promise to Abram after Lot had separated from him?Hide Answer
Though the act of giving-in to others seems a loss to us, the Lord is the One who holds the authority to give blessings. Lot might have taken all the good part of the land for himself, without sharing any of it with Abram. But God blessed Abram with far more greater blessings. Today, we may have been “pushed-over” by people in our work-place or “left-out” by people who take the good part for themselves. But we should remember that it is the Lord who gives and takes away (Job 1:21).
How were the LORD’s promises in Genesis 13:14-17 similar to the ones in Genesis 12:1-3? Which parts were being re-emphasized?Hide Answer
The LORD’s promises in Genesis 13 to Abram were similar to the ones in Genesis 12. The LORD promised Abram that He would give him the land and make him a great nation (Gen 12;1, 2). In Genesis 13, the promises were re-emphasized in detail. The land, which Abram saw “northward, southward, eastward and westward” and which Abram would walk “through its length and its width,” would be given to him and his descendants forever (Gen 13:14, 15, 17). Furthermore, Abram’s blessing as a great nation would be realized by his innumerable descendants like the dust of the earth (Gen 13:16).