Abram, his wife, Sarai, and his nephew Lot set off for land that God will show him. This is so that God could make Abram a great nation. They end up in the land of Shechem, which God says that he will give to Abram’s offspring, despite the fact that people are living in this land right now. So, Abram did what you do when land is promised to your offspring, he built and altar. Then he moved on and built another altar where he slept for the night.
Abram and Sarai go into Egypt because of a famine in the land. Because she is very beautiful, Pharaoh will want her for himself, so he will have Abram killed. They tell a little, white lie that Sarai is his sister so that Abram will live. Pharaoh, it seems, buys Sarai off of Abram for slaves and livestock.
God takes exception to this despite the fact that Abram came up with the scheme to save his own skin. Pharaoh has plagues visited upon him for taking Sarai as his wife. So he gives her back and lets them leave with everything Abram was given for Sarai.
Wait. Where was Lot this whole time?
Oh, here’s Lot. Where have you been? We get no explanation, but it seems he’s got some property now. Abram also has a lot of sheep and shekels, so the land wasn’t big enough for the two of them. So they decide to part ways and Lot goes to the cities of the Plain and settles in Sodom. There’s a spoiler right before this, “…this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.” It goes on to states, “The people of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” Obviously we will be returning there in a few chapters.
Meanwhile, Abram settles in the land of Canaan and God tells him to look around him and then reiterates his promise that he will give all of the land he sees to Abram and his offspring. Abram is commanded by God to walk all around his newly gained land and then, once again, he builds an altar to God (he builds a lot of altars).
10 Lot looked about him, and saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar; this was before the LORD had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Gen 13: 10, p. 48). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Spoilers! Yes, this story was written down after the event of a few chapters from now when Lot and his wife flee the cities stated at the end of the verse above. Lot moved as far as Sodom…and we know/will know how that turns out.
This is the story of Lot’s capture and rescue, except that a majority of this short chapter is spent talking about the kings of the Dead Sea valley, including those of Sodom and Gomorrah, than it is about the capture and rescue of Lot. When we finally do get to the capture of Lot, it’s almost stated as an afterthought.
11 So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; 12 they also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.Bibles, Harper . NRSV Bible with the Apocrypha (Gen 14:11-12, p. 49). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Somebody escapes and tells Abram what happened. Finally, the author simply refers to Lot as Abram’s nephew instead of, “the son of Abram’s brother.” OK, I’m nitpicking, but I feel like this book could be a third shorter if the authors had written in simpler language, but I digress.
So after finding out about Lot’s kidnapping, he gathered together an army of three hundred eighteen and attacked at night and drove the rivals north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the stuff that was taken…oh, and his nephew, Lot. It seems like Lot is chopped liver here.
Abram received the blessing of Melchizedek and Abram gave him ten percent of everything. The King of Sodom offered Abram all the goods, but not the people. But Abram took only the men he brought with him because he did not want people to think that the king made him rich.
This story is the origin of tithing in the Jewish tradition as Abram gave ten percent of the spoils of war to the king. Also, twice in this chapter there is mention of Bela which is followed parenthetically by it’s other name. All I could think is, “There is no Bela, only Zoar.” (That’s a Ghostbusters reference. It’s okay if you didn’t find it funny.)