Relationships –  Abram and Lot

This is the account of Terah’s family line.
Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.
Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there.
Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

  • Genesis 11:27-32

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

  • Genesis 12:1-5

So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
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 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the Lord.
Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 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. And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.
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. 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.”
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.) So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.
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. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 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. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”
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.

  • Genesis 13:1-18

At the time when Amraphel was king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goyim, these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea Valley). For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboyim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goyim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
A man who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshkol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

  • Genesis 14:1-16

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”
He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”
He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”
Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”
He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

  • Genesis 18:30-33

The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”
“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”
But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.

  • Genesis 19:1-3

Lot and his two daughters left Zoar and settled in the mountains, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. One day the older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man around here to give us children—as is the custom all over the earth. Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”
That night they got their father to drink wine, and the older daughter went in and slept with him. He was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Last night I slept with my father. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” So they got their father to drink wine that night also, and the younger daughter went in and slept with him. Again he was not aware of it when she lay down or when she got up.
So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today.

  • Genesis 19:30-38

A Quote

[Genesis 18:32] He went no farther than to plead that Sodom might be spared if ten righteous persons could be found in it. I have heard some say that it was a pity Abraham did not go on pleading with God, but I would not dare to say so. He knew better when to begin and when to leave off than you and I do. There are certain restraints in prayer which a man of God cannot explain to others, but which he, nevertheless, feels. God moves his servants to pray in a certain case, and they pray with great liberty and manifest power. Another case may seem to be precisely like it, yet the mouth of the former supplicant is shut, and in his heart he does not feel that he can pray as he did before. Do I blame the men or God? Assuredly not! The Lord deals wisely with his servants, and he tells them, by gentle hints which they quickly understand, when and where to stop in their supplications.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon notes

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

Lot was the nephew of Abram.  Abram’s father, Terah, had three sons and at least one daughter, Sarai.  Of Terah’s three sons, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans.  Haran had one son and two daughters.  Other than a slight mention, Iscah (or Iskah) is a mystery, but her sister, Milkah, married her uncle Nahor.  Milkah bore eight sons for Nahor, the youngest, Bethuel, who became the father of Rebekah, eventually Isaac’s wife.  The son of Haran was Lot.  Without a father, Lot followed Abram.

We know that both Abram and Lot became wealthy, in livestock, silver, and gold, just no real estate.  But having too much livestock became the problem.  They needed to split up so that the livestock would have adequate food and water.  Lot was shrewd in that he chose the prime land along the Jordan River.  Abram, Lot’s surrogate father so-to-speak, could have chosen the land, leaving Lot the less bountiful area, but he humbly deferred to his nephew.

The land that Lot chose was not only rich in pastures and water, but the city of Sodom was also rich in sin and temptations for Lot.

Abram/Abraham goes to lengths to protect Lot, as the saying goes: bailing him out of trouble.  Since Lot is captured when the cities of the plains are conquered, Abram sends 318 trained men to free those imprisoned, including Lot, and recover as much of the spoils of war as possible.  But then Abraham argues with God that even ten people who are righteous in Sodom would be enough to save the city, but the city was destroyed.  Where was Lot?  In a home in Sodom instead of the tents in the area where Lot’s livestock was kept.  At this point, we find that Lot is married and has two daughters. 

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We can infer that when Abram started out from Harran, Lot may have had his father’s part of the flocks, but he was probably under his uncle’s protection.

In sending troops, essentially, to retrieve Lot from harm, Abram is still taking care of Lot although Lot unfairly took the best grazing land.  I say ‘unfairly’ in that they could have divided it in a way that both had part of the better grazing land.

Abraham must have known that a destruction of Sodom would be a destruction of Lot and his family.  Abraham’s arguing with God, in essence, is an argument for the salvation of Lot.  The destruction of the cities reduces the customers for what Abraham has to offer, but Lot, living there, would have the corner on that market anyway.  Other than Abraham’s compassion for people that he knew, the chief reason for the argument with God was probably Lot.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

Since we know nothing about Lot having a wife until the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she was probably from the area of Sodom.  She was probably torn between the sinful life that she knew and was comfortable with and following her husband and the God that she knew nothing about.  With what happens afterwards, it is unlikely that Lot taught his family anything about God.  We hear of Abram/Abraham building altars at key sites where he pitches his tents, but there is nothing in the Scriptures that shows Lot doing the same thing.

But God saves Lot, probably for the sake of Abraham, but to what end?  The Moabites and Ammonites are considered not to be touched by Moses and Joshua, but both of those tribes come from the daughter’s drunken incestuous liaison with their father.  The Moabites and Ammonites not only tempt the people of Israel into false god worship, but they attack the Israelites.  They are eventually destroyed.  In the meantime, Ruth, a Moabitess, marries Boaz and becomes King David’s great-grandmother.  Is it as much of Abraham protecting his nephew or God showing mercy to an unrepentant member of Abraham’s family?

Do we not get a particular prodigal son vibe in the life of Lot?  He takes his inheritance.  Whether he wastes it or not, he lives a sinful life, but instead of going back to Abraham and repenting, he continues to compound one wrong decision with the next.  He was a relatively “good” man, in that he invited the angels into his home, but he was willing to give up his daughters to the mob.  This tragedy is duplicated to a degree in Judges 19.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

The quote that is often misquoted about blood being thicker than water is well known.  There are those in families that seem to burn every bridge and there are those in families that are bridge builders, maybe to their own downfall.  At what point do you say that enough is enough and it becomes the loving thing to not bail out the one in the family who seems to be a magnet for heartache?

I am struggling with that on several fronts.  I have the least means of anyone in the family, but I am the most willing to help a family member.  I keep asking God if He wants me to take my only available means if financial ruin hits, to sleep on my younger son’s couch?  But I do not wish to have a few dollars in the bank and a roof over my head when there is a family member who has no roof over their head.

Rather than try to answer questions here, the relationship between Abraham and Lot is strong on the Abraham side and we know nothing about the Lot side.  Did Lot ever say thank you?  It seemed Abraham never expected thanks.  He did those things because Lot was family.

But this entire series is trying to put a definition on what our relationship with God should look like.  If we were to falter, Abraham, toward Lot, shows how God will be by our side even though we were the ones messing up our lives.

A Closing Prayer

Lord,
With this relationship study, I do not have everything figured out, maybe very little of it figured out.  Yet one thing that I know is that regardless of how many times we fail You, You remain there.  You do not forsake us.  Thank You for being faithful.  We praise You, Lord.  Help us and guide us so that we will fail You less, until failure is a thing of the past.  Lord, cure us of our greed and our tendency, when offered, to take the better half of whatever pie we are cutting.  And help us to realize when a relationship is one sided.  With You, we will always be unable to repay, but our earthly relationships should never be with us always taking and never giving.  Help us to see Your plan for our lives, so that we can give back to You as part of Your will.
In Thy Name we pray,
Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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