This chapter’s relatively short. It’s been established that Abram was already pretty rich to begin with, got richer in Egypt for pimping his wife (sorry, not going to drop this, he was a serious jerk to her in that episode), and is now on his way back to Canaan. Only now he’s too wealthy. He and his nephew Lot together are using up too many resources in the little area they’re staying in, so they decide to split up.
Abram earns back a little respect for not asking for first choice. Lot picks the plains of Zoar past the Jordan that looked like “the garden of the Lord” (v 10), a nice shout-back to Eden. Abram, meanwhile, gets the less fertile regions in the west. God then promises that everything he can see in all four directions will be his descendent’s someday. And this is the first time God explicit mentions offspring (“seed” in the Hebrew, the NRSV tells me) when making promises to Abram. But it doesn’t seem to be until later that Abram starts to question what God could mean by that, given that he and Sarai can’t have children.
What’s interesting in reading this story is how it’s assumed that the reader already knows Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed, because the narrative totally spoils it, noting that “this was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.” (v 10) Lot, in picking the richer part of the country, made the worse decision in the long run. The NRSV describes the people of Sodom as “wicked, great sinners against the LORD” (v 13), while the NCT renders this as “wicked, committing many sins against the Lord.” I know the meaning’s very close, but part of this blog is me pointing out that translation is interpretation. You can call citizens “great sinners,” and they can still be only bad in one particular way (you know what I’m talking about here), but saying they’ve “committed many sins” speaks to a more generalized corruption.
Also, the word the Japanese uses for “wicked” is jaaku, which I think I first heard watching Inuyasha way back in the day.
Japanese for this chapter: teichi ittai “lowland region” (v 10) and juuou “length and breadth” (v 17). I realized in this chapter that I’d forgotten nagameru, but remembered a lot of other words. At least some of this is sticking.