Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #1 of Genesis, chapter 13 and we are going to begin by reading Genesis 13:1-4:
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of JEHOVAH.
Chapter 13 continues the account we read in the last several verses of chapter 12, where Abram went down into Egypt. Sarai his wife was taken into Pharaoh’s house and JEHOVAH plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai until Pharaoh determined to let her go. Then Abram took his wife Sarai and he also took all his servants and all his possessions and departed out of Egypt.
It is interesting that prior to Abram’s entry into Egypt, we do not read that he was rich, but in chapter 13 God does tell us in verse 2 that Abram was very rich in cattle, silver and gold. We will discuss that soon, but it has to do with a great “spoil,” as God is viewing it spiritually when Abram delivered his wife and his whole company because they really could not go anywhere until Sarai was rescued out of Pharaoh’s house. God pictures this as Abram going up out of Egypt, along with his wife and all that he had. Remember, it had said in Genesis 12:16:
And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
So, the implication is that because Pharaoh had entreated Abram well for Sarai’s sake, whom he thought was Abram’s sister; Abram multiplied his cattle and possessions and he gained menservants and maidservants while in Egypt. That prepared him for coming out of Egypt wherein he would be in a good situation as far as wealth is concerned. Again, we see a similarity with the Israelites spoiling the Egyptians and leaving with all their cattle when God delivered them from Egypt under the hand of Moses. One other thing we want to notice in verse 1 about all that Abram had is that it would include menservants and maidservants.
But, let us go to Genesis 14. Again, we do not have precise events about these events. We know that Abram went into the land of Canaan at the age of 75. We know that he will have a son Ishmael through a handmaid, perhaps one of these maidservants. Remember, Hagar was an Egyptian, so it is very likely that Hagar became a bondservant to Abram while he was in Egypt. Later, Sarai and Abram will decide to try to have the “promised son” through the bondservant Hagar the Egyptian and Ishmael was born. We know because the Bible tells us that Ishmael was born when Abram was 86 years old, so from the entry into the land of Canaan at age 75 until Ishmael was born there was a passage of eleven years. We are not close to that time yet, so we can understand that this is a time when Abram and Sarai had only been in the land a few years and, perhaps, Abram was 81 or 82 years old. It was during that time that Abram was gathering his riches. In Genesis, chapter 14, there is also something mentioned that is before Ishmael was born, so it is not far from the time frame of Genesis, chapter 13. There is a battle and Lot had been taken. It says in Genesis 14:14:
And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
This would also indicate that he had servants dating back to Haran, because if they are armed and “trained” to fight, they would have to be older than the time span from when he was 75 to 86, so many of them would have dated back to his time in Haran and they would have followed him into Egypt. They number 318 and that was just the men servants and there would have been children and the bondwomen. And many of the bondservants would have married and had children, so we are not looking at a small company of people. This was a large group of people that came out of Egypt, as it said in Genesis 13:1:
And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
We did not read about Lot in chapter 12. We knew that Lot was journeying with Abram, but when there was the trip into Egypt the Lord did not mention Lot until this time. Since Lot came up out of Egypt, it means he also went down into Egypt. Lot was called “righteous Lot” in the Bible, so he clearly typified a saved individual and this is true of the entire company – Abram, his wife Sarai and his bondservants. Today we are far removed from slavery, for the most part. The civilized world has moved beyond slavery and that is a good thing, but we have to understand that slavery in the Bible is very instructive. The Bible tells us that there are slaves to sin and Satan and there are slaves to Jesus Christ and righteousness. All men are born sinners and, therefore, they are captives or slaves to sin and Satan. When we are saved, we are freed from that captivity, but we become bondservants or slaves of Christ. A slave or a servant is one that does his master’s will. There is no getting around the truth that all human beings are servants. We are slaves. We are a creature. We are not the Creator. We are not the Master, but we are the created vessel that is in the hand of the Potter. The Potter can make us as He sees fit, whether a vessel unto honor or a vessel unto dishonor. As a creature, we were created to serve and we were created to submit to the Creator, but rebellion entered in and mankind in his sin refused to obey God. Instead they obeyed the serpent. When Adam and Eve obeyed the serpent, and ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree, they were still acting as servants, but not as servants to God. They obeyed the devil. They submitted to the will of Satan and they were serving sin. Ever since that point, mankind has been a servant to sin and Satan while he is still in his sins.
If you doubt that, think of the time when you smoked cigarettes or you drank alcohol or you had some other sin weakness and think about how difficult it was to stop doing that thing. Why? It is because it “called to you” and it said, “It is time to light one up. It is time to go get a drink.” You may fight it and say, “I am coughing like crazy. I feel unhealthy. It is costing me too much money.” But two hours later, you are doing that sin again, because the sinner is servant to the sin. Maybe the servant can refuse the master for a couple of days by force of will, but, ultimately, he will come back to the subservient position of committing that sin and the one that has dominion over him.
That is why bondservants that are spoken of in the Bible are so helpful to us; they picture the true condition of mankind. We are all slaves and it is just a matter of who we serve. We are going to serve. We are going to bow down. We are going to submit ourselves as a servant or slave to one thing or the other; there is no one that is a “free agent,” someone that does not owe obedience to either God or to sin and Satan. Some would think, “Oh, I am my own person.” No – that person does not exist anywhere out there. Each and every day, everyone is either serving God and righteousness or serving Satan and sin.
We can serve God and righteousness when we are doing the will of God from the heart and God is the one granting us the grace to be more and more obedient to the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. This can only be accomplished through salvation and the Spirit He has given us which moves in us to will and to do of His good pleasure. Therefore, we are performing righteous works every time we obey the will of God.
On the other hand, when someone is going contrary to the will of God there is still service being performed. The slaves of Abram are picturing God’s elect that are slaves to God. Again, this whole company that belonged to Abram are portraying the people of God. This is the deliverance and the time of the coming up out of Egypt, as God said to Jacob, in Genesis 46:2-4:
And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I. And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation: I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
Here, God is telling Jacob of things to come. Israel will go into Egypt. They will multiply and God will make them a great nation. They will come up out of the land of Egypt again. That is exactly what happened to Abram. He went down into Egypt and he was entreated well for Sarai’s sake and he multiplied possessions. Then God plagued Pharaoh’s house and delivered Sarai out of his hands and now Abram and his company are all coming up out of the land of Egypt.
It says in Exodus 12:37-38:
And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
It said in Genesis 13:2:
And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
The Hebrew word translated as “rich” is a rather unusual word. It is only translated as “rich” in this verse. It is Strong’s #3513 and it can be translated as “heavy” or “grievous” or “sore.” It is a word that can be translated as “harden,” as when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It can also be translated in a positive way, as being “honored” or “glorified.” There is another synonym for this word translated as “rich,” and it is, perhaps, a better word choice. It is found in Exodus 14:4:
And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am JEHOVAH. And they did so.
The word translated here as “honoured” is the same Hebrew word translated as “rich” in our verse.
Also, it says in Exodus 14:17-18:
And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am JEHOVAH, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
When we see the word “honour” or “honoured” in these verses, it is the same Hebrew word. It is also the word the Lord used in 1Samuel 2:30:
…for them that honour me I will honour…
In both instances, the word “honour” is the better translation. We can understand this once we see the spiritual picture and the spiritual picture always has more authority and more power than the physical or literal interpretation, because the purpose of the Bible is to deliver spiritual truth. That is why so many churches and theologians have miserably failed with their teaching that you must look for the plain, literal meaning and seek no other. That would leave anyone listening to them in spiritual poverty. Of course, we must look for the deeper, spiritual meaning. The entire Bible is a parable and a parable is “that which serves to hide truth.” God has hidden spiritual truth throughout the Bible, from the beginning in Genesis to the conclusion in Revelation.
So, here, we see that, yes, there is a plain, historical account about some general sojourning details. Abram left the land of Canaan, went down into Egypt and Sarai was taken, but he got her back and they returned to the land of Canaan. But what do we learn from that? Yes, you can learn that you must wait on the Lord to deliver you. You may learn a basic principal or some moral teaching, but it is overall “flimsy.” It is a little bit of “milk” of the Word. You read the word and you have gathered a few bits of information regarding Biblical history, but where is the “meat”? Where is the hidden truth? Where is the mystery that God locked away in these words? We see that Sarai is a type of the believers and Abram is a type of God and the bondmen and bondwomen are types of the people of God. They are going down into Egypt because Egypt is the “house of bondage,” which represents man’s spiritual condition of being in bondage to sin and to Satan. The deliverance of Sarai prefigures the deliverance of all Israel and it also points to the spiritual deliverance of God’s elect from that “house of bondage” or the kingdom of Satan. Then we can really learn something of value and of true significance and that is why God wrote these things.
So, Abram was very “rich” or very “honored.” God received honor upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, as we read in Exodus. He received honor upon their destruction. This is an historical parable that is giving us a basic outline of things to come and, yet, when God plagued Pharaoh’s house with great plagues it pointed to the destruction of Pharaoh and the land. Through the destruction, God gets the honor: “I will get me honour upon Pharaoh.” Abram is a picture of God the Father. Abram was very honored in cattle, in silver and in gold. Because we have talked about it a good deal, we know that gold and silver are representative of the true believers. Remember, it said in Zechariah 13:9:
And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, JEHOVAH is my God.
The gold and silver are God’s people. It says in Malachi 3:2-3:
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto JEHOVAH an offering in righteousness.
In both places, gold and silver identify with God’s people. So, Abram was very “honored” in cattle, in gold and in silver. We know the gold and silver ties in with those God has saved and, therefore, so, too, would the cattle. The cattle are also a picture of individuals God has saved. In the Book of Job, we read of cattle. It is translated as another word, but it says in Job 1:3:
His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
The word “substance” is the word translated as “cattle” in our verse. When we see the word “cattle,” we should not just think of cows. I always used to think that, but “cattle” here are the sheep, camels, oxen and she asses; they are all considered to be Job’s cattle. They are various types of beasts.
Again, it had said back in Genesis 12:16:
And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
There are the same types of animals mentioned in the Book of Job, so all these various animals are counted as “cattle” and we know that sheep do relate to the people of God, as well as the oxen. We are not to be unequally yoked. What animals are yoked? Oxen are yoked. God does typify the believers as “he asses” or donkeys in the Bible. The only ones that are difficult are the camels and I believe they can represent the believers in some instances, but, in general, cattle identify with the people of God.