5 ¶ And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. 6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.
10 ¶ And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
Abram and Lot were too wealthy to share the land. There was constant conflict. So, Lot made the fateful decision to pitch his tent toward Sodom as many modern-day Christians have done in leaving their home and family to go reside in a city where there were “more opportunities.” I am sure many a sermon has been started with the question, “have you pitched your tent toward Sodom?”
Genesis 13:13 has 13 words in it. Interesting, isn’t it? Thirteen is the number of rebellion, some commentators of the Bible say.
Sodom represented all that was standing in opposition to God in the ancient world and was a symbol of wickedness.
Ezekiel 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
Cattle does not necessarily mean beef cows, as in our modern speech. The Bible defines cattle as livestock of all kinds.
Exodus 9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.
Cattle is often used to refer to sheep.
Genesis 30:40 And Jacob did separate the lambs, and set the faces of the flocks toward the ringstraked, and all the brown in the flock of Laban; and he put his own flocks by themselves, and put them not unto Laban’s cattle.
When we picture Israel, Jordan, and Syria today we picture an arid, desert landscape with little greenery and lots of rocks. But Josephus, Jewish turncoat general in a revolt against the Romans and an interesting historian albeit with questionable integrity, describes the region as well watered by rainfall with plenty of grass for cattle. When we imagine the slow drying out process after the Flood we can easily understand that Canaan was not the dry place then that it has become.