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Genesis 13:1-18: Abram and Lot
Bible Essentials: Set 3, Lesson 10
Individuals: Take time to think back about your past week. Where have you seen God work in your life or answer prayer? Write down any prayer requests you have.
Group: Open the study by sharing life updates, reviewing highs and lows of your past week, or sharing prayer requests and praises.
Icebreaker: Share about an instance in your life when you were a peacemaker.
All: Begin the study with a word of prayer, asking God to open your heart for today’s study. You can also pray for any prayer requests now, or save that for the end.
Read today’s passage: Genesis 13:1-18.
1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”
10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
14 The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord.
What is the context for this passage?
We left Abram and his family in the land of Canaan, headed toward the Negev Desert. Abram eventually ended up in Egypt due to a famine (Genesis 12). There, he tried to pass Sarai, his wife, off as his sister. Pharaoh took her in and treated Abram well because of her, and Abram amassed a great number of livestock, servants, and other possessions. Once Pharaoh realized that Sarai was Abram’s wife, he gave Sarai back and sent Abram on his way. So Abram and his family are now headed back to Canaan.
Read the passage again.
Explore a different version if you have one available. If you are online, here is Genesis 13:1-18 in NIV through Bible Gateway. You can change the version by using the dropdown menu at the top right of the page.
Try to summarize the passage in your own words.
Answer these three questions about the passage:
1. What does the passage say about God?
God fulfilled his promise to bless Abram. After some time in Egypt, Abram became very wealthy. He now owns a large amount of livestock and servants, and he has a lot of silver and gold. God kept his promise to bless Abram, as is evidenced by his financial prosperity.
God reiterates his promise to Abram to give him the land of Canaan. After Abram gets back to the land of Canaan, God once again promises Abram that all the land in that area will eventually belong to Abram’s descendants. God hasn’t forgotten his promise, even during the time when Abram left the area.
God reiterates his promise to Abram to make him into a great nation. Even though Abram does not yet have any children, God reminds Abram of his promise to make him into a great nation. God hasn’t forgotten this promise either, even though it may seem unlikely to Abram.
2. What does the passage say about people?
Abram is still trying to find a land to call his own. Even though God promised that the land of Canaan would eventually belong to Abram and his descendants, Abram still hasn’t really found a place to settle permanently. He’s still moving from place to place trying to find land for his family and possessions.
Abram is still worshipping God. Abram has a pattern that whenever he gets to a new place, he builds an altar so he can worship God. In this story, he is able to re-use an altar he built previously when he arrived close to Bethel. Then when he settled in Hebron, he built another altar. Worshipping God is an important priority in Abram’s life.
People tend to quarrel over possessions when resources are limited. When Abram, Lot, and their families arrived in the land of Canaan, the land that was available seemed to be too small to support both Abram and Lot. So their herders started to quarrel over the use of resources. Everyone wanted to prioritize their own needs and not share with others.
Abram was a peacemaker. When it came to Abram’s attention that the herders were quarrelling, his first action was to make peace with Lot. He came up with a solution that would benefit both of them. They needed to separate so that they would not run out of land or resources. In humility, Abram was willing to let Lot have the first choice of land.
Lot looked out for himself. In contrast to Abram, Lot tended to focus on himself. When a parent splits a cookie in two and offers half of the cookie to a child, the child will have the tendency to take the biggest piece for themselves. Lot was like that. When he looked at the land that was available, he took the land that looked the best.
The people in Sodom were wicked. Although Lot chose the land that looked the best, it came with something not so good—the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people in these cities were evil and were sinning against God. Keep this in mind. We’ll return to these cities in a few weeks.
3. What does the passage say about God’s plan?
God’s plan was to fulfill his promise to Abram. When Abram returns to the land of Canaan, God reminds Abram that the promise God made to bless Abram, to make him into a great nation, and to give him the land of Canaan was still going to be fulfilled. Even though it hadn’t happened yet, God still had a plan for Abram and his family. Abram just needed to wait patiently for God to work out his plan.
How does the passage fit into the overarching story of the Bible?
Sometimes it’s easier to understand a passage if you have a little outside knowledge from other passages in the Bible. This section will help provide that outside perspective.
One of the greatest lessons we can learn from the life of Abram is patience. God gave Abram his initial promise when Abram was 75 (Genesis 12:4). We assume it has been at least a few years since then by the time we reach this story in Genesis 13, because Abram has had time to travel to Egypt, survive through a famine, amass great riches, and return to Canaan. In all this time, God still hasn’t given Abram a son through which he will become a great nation. When other families are having children starting in their 30s (according to the genealogy in Genesis 11), Abram is now past 75 years of age and still doesn’t have a child. Yet he continues to trust that God will fulfill his promise, and he still worships God faithfully.
Throughout the Bible, people like Abram are the ones that God uses. They may not be perfect, but they are faithful to follow God. People like Moses, Joshua, Samson, David, and others become great men and great leaders because of their faith in God. You too, can be someone that God uses. It’s not about being perfect or rich or famous. It’s about being faithful to God.
Individual: Answer the following questions thoughtfully for yourself.
Group: Pose these questions for discussion.
All: If you are willing to share, I’d love to hear your thoughts to these questions. Feel free to use the comment section to start a discussion about this passage.
What else strikes you about this passage?
How does the passage affect how you view God? How you view yourself?
How does this passage affect how you will live your life?
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For Bible Essential studies, you can use my thoughts as your devotional, or you can download and use the journaling sheet to work through the passage on your own. If desired, you can then compare your thoughts to mine. Journal sheets can be downloaded and used now or later. They can be printed and filled in by hand or saved and filled out electronically. Journal sheets are available for individual or group use.
If you plan to lead a group study, a PowerPoint presentation is also available.
You can access these resources by clicking here: Genesis 13 Resources
Or you can download the journal sheets here*:
*Substack doesn’t support PowerPoint file downloads yet, so if you want to access the PowerPoint file for group study, you will need to download it from the resource page linked above.