135 And Lot, who journeyed with Abram, also had flocks, herds, and tents. 6 The land could not support them both, for their possessions were so many they couldn’t live together. 7 There were quarrels between those who herded Abram’s livestock and those who herded Lot’s livestock. At the same time, Canaanites and Perizzites were also settled in the land.
8 Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not dispute between ourselves, between our herders, for we are relatives. 9 Isn’t the whole of the land before you? Kindly part from me. If you go to the left, I shall go right; if you go right, I’ll go left.”
10 Lot looked around and saw the whole of the Jordan Plain—well-watered all the way to Zoar (before YHWH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah), like the Garden of YHWH, like the land of Egypt. 11 Lot chose for himself the whole of the Jordan Plain and left toward the east. Abram and Lot parted.
12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan. Lot settled in the cities of the Plain, pitching his tents near Sodom.
G*D spoke to Abram in Haran. Abram’s voice is not heard until approaching Egypt. He expresses his fear for his own survival to Sarai, sacrificing her. There is no response recorded of Abram responding to Pharaoh’s question. Now that the household is back at Bethel, Abram speaks again about separating from a family member. He speaks to his nephew Lot, who, until now we didn’t know had his own herds and tents. We still don’t know if he brought them from Haran and they were caught in the famine or if he also benefited from Abram’s lie.
Both times Abram spoke about his own perceived survival. The first time he was up-front about it; this time it is a subtext. With Abram’s increase from his adventure in Egypt, he and Lot are bumping up against the limitation on resources for grazing space. There is not only their own fruitful and multiplied flocks but indigenous peoples for whom it was their ancestral land. The choices seemed to be coming down to war with the Canaanites and Perizzites or re-enacting Cain and Abel (without knowing who would play which role).
Abram speaks to Lot regarding the lack of space for both of them and provides his assessment, but politely, but imperatively, literally, “Kindly part from me.” Abram puts a choice before Lot that seems to benefit Lot—“You choose where to resettle, and I’ll go in the opposite direction.”
This choice is both humble and informed, through experience, of Lot’s likely decision. Immediately, Lot’s eyes gleam with possibilities of out-doing his uncle. Lot looks toward the Jordan Plain—water and fertile soil; what’s not to like!
All the way down the Jordan River to the end of the Dead Sea, the land was green—both naturally watered and irrigated. Lot made an easy connection with Eden and abundance—an easy way to prosper. This choice took Lot to the cities of the Jordan Plain.
As for Abram, we remember his father, Terah, had begun to move toward Canaan but stopped in Haran. (11:31) Abram traveled on to Canaan (12:5) and beyond before returning to Canaan. He now continued to set his herds and tents in Canaan Land.
Abram and his herds are in Canaan. Lot and his tents are near Sodom. In a bit, Abram will continue herding, and Lot will move into the city (which in previous scenes has always proved to be problematic).