13 Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.
2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
3 And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,
4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.
6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.
9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.
12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the Lord.
Abram, probably aware of how far from God’s will he had been in Egypt, returned not just to the land God had given him, but to Bethel, where he had first lived and where he had built an altar to God. Once again Abram called on the name of the Lord.
Morris repeats many of the applications often given with this passage, although the Bible itself doesn’t state any of them.
Lot and his servants … no longer felt the reverent admiration they once had felt for Abram, and began to be self-seeking. … This situation was also aggravated by the great wealth they had observed in Egypt, including the considerable portion of it with which they themselves had returned. … Material possessions of God’s people, especially if they have been acquired by worldly methods, often lead to such problems.
Abram had learned that God could take care of his needs no matter where he was, so that he offered Lot the choice of fields. As the older man and the leader of the clan, Abram by all rights should have had priority; but he graciously offered it to Lot. Instead of deferring to Abram, as he should have done, Lot seized the opportunity to his own advantage (as he thought). — Morris, pages 302-303
The region of these cities [on the plain of the Jordan River] now is almost unbearably hot and desolate, but in those early days there was still abundant rainfall in the region. The temperature, also, was much more pleasant than now, probably because of the lingering effects of the great Ice Age far to the north. According to verse 10, the Jordanian plain was “as the garden of the Lord.”
That was what Lot saw, as he lifted up his eyes. Abram, on the other hand, “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). — Morris, page 303
At that time, the land of Canaan was sparsely inhabited, with most of the settlements concentrated along the seacoast, along the northern plain of Esdraelon, and here along the Jordanian plain. Abram had the more rugged hill and desert country almost to himself, in what is now termed the Negev (usually translated simply as “the south, in the KJV).
Lot first “pitched his tent toward Sodom,” but soon he “dwelt in Sodom” (Genesis 14:12), and finally “sat in the gate of Sodom” (Genesis 19:1) as one of its business leaders. — Morris, page 304.
At the end of the previous section, despite Abram’s lack of faith and multiple sins, God already began to fulfill the material aspect of the blessing he promised Abram by moving Pharaoh to allow Abram to keep the vast wealth he had received in exchange for Sarai in Genesis 12:16 (another clear indication that the covenant does not depend on obedience!) That material wealth provides the basis for focusing on the provision of the land—specifically, establishing Abram’s “hold” on and reputation in Canaan, the Land of Promise. — Wechsler, page 180.
The competition for this fruitful land was fierce [“Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.”]—all the more so due to the increased wealth in livestock and servants that Abram had acquired in Egypt from Pharaoh, and that in addition to the large entourage that Abram had already brought with him from Mesopotamia (conservatively numbering at least 500 people and their necessary provision). — Wechsler, page 180.