Abram and Lot are beginning to be competitive, so Abram gives Lot the choice of which direction he will go and Abram will go the other. Is this a “nasty divorce” or an “amicable split”? Actually, it’s neither as the next chapter will tell us. However, it does show some interesting traits about Abram’s growth.
The “Father’s House” stood as the basic unit of society in Abram’s day. The oldest son took over from the father. He received a double portion of the inheritance. It was important that the oldest received that extra share. As the leader of the house, you were responsible for the well-being of everyone in the household. I mean everyone! Imagine how that would grow with each generation that remained within the protection of the “Father’s House.” It included every servant that hired along the way and their family too! In Abram’s house, we know that it likely numbered several hundred (Genesis 14:14 says that there 318 fighting men alone in Abram’s house). When Abram left Terah’s household and followed God’s call to go, Abram essentially established a new “Father’s House.” Lot joins Abram, is protected by Abram’s House, does this mean Lot is the heir?
Separation for Goodwill
In Genesis 13:8-9, we learn that because of their great wealth in people and herds, the land cannot support Abram and Lot together. This is not a divorce, the household is not breaking up. We will see the extent to which Lot is still a part of Abram’s household in Genesis 14, but what is happening here is an expansion of the household geographically. Abram did not send Lot away, nor did Lot run off on his own. Abram knew that all the land before them had been given to him by God. They did not need to stay huddled together.
As the “provider” for the household, Abram also had responsibility for Lot still. So he gave Lot the choice of land. Whatever land would be easiest and best for Lot, would be a benefit for Abram. If Lot ran into any trouble, who would have to come rescue and support him? That’s right, Abram. Lot taking the easy path is beneficial to Abram in the long run too. It helps Lot become sustainable. It spreads Abram’s influence over a large area. It also relieves the pressure they were experiencing so closely bound together.
So how does this show Abram’s growth? First, he is stepping into the role of the head of the household fully by caring for Lot. He is also trusting in God’s provision, that no matter where Abram settles in the Promised Land, it will be good. God honors the decision to spread out by coming to Abram again with a renewal and extension of the promise: You and your offspring will receive the land, and your offspring will outnumber the dust of the earth. Lot is no longer the heir, there is a promised heir coming, actual offspring for Abram. This is exciting news for Abram. God has plans!
PS: This is not the last we’ll hear from Lot, there is more to this part of the story.
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