A.(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.
B.(11) Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.
C.(12) Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
C’.(13) But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
B’.(14) And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him,
A’. Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:
A.(15) For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it,
B. and to thy seed for ever.
C.(16) And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth:
C’. so that if a man can number the dust of the earth,
B’. then shall thy seed also be numbered.
A’.(17) Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. (18) Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.
3 thoughts on “Genesis 13:10-17”
This is the third proposal for Genesis 13. Would readers consider the question of whether they think there are indeed overlapping chiasms or are we searching for the “one correct pattern”. If there are overlapping patterns what does this say about understanding the text?
I find this proposal particularly interesting as it seems to contrast Abram and Lot, but none of the three ideas that have been posted seems more convincing than the others, so I think they are probably overlapping chiasms.
Here are some thoughts:
1. Where a chiasm has a central statement, the key aspect of understanding the chiasm is to identify the significance of the central statement. Where more than one chiasm occurs in a passage, even if they overlap, the implication for understanding the text remains the same – each chiasm needs to be assessed on its own merits including the significance of the central statement.
2. Some passages have no chiasms and others have lots of overlapping chiasms.
3. A chiasm is not necessarily a `unit’ of reasoning, like a paragraph.
4. Given 2 and 3, I think it is wrong to assume that a book of scripture consists of a continuous chain of chiasms with each beginning where the previous one has ended. To `edit’ chiasms, and completely ignore others, to fit in with a preconceived idea of what we think the structure should be is, I think, a mistake.
5. We need to be more rigorous about identifying chiasms. For example, in January 2015, I posted a chiasm from Galatians 2:14-19. Words I highlighted included “law” and justified”. But if you look at it closely you will see that these words occur in other parts of the suggested chiasm, but not necessarily in places which fit the chiasm. I have simply ignored them to make them fit. As it happens, there is still a chiasm there, even if “law” and “justified” are not included, but the point is, as it stands, it is incorrect. This kind of mistake, which I now am aware of and try to avoid, crops up a lot in the chiasms posted on the site. Basically, if we are prepared to ignore words which do not fit the pattern then we can make up a chiasm out of most texts – but it’s made up, it’s not actually there.
5.1 The problem identified in 5 actually occurs in the `classic’ example, Psalm 51. We all agree that there is a chiasm with verse 4 at the centre, with “sin” (vv. 3,5) either side of it and succeeding words stretching out to “blot” (vv. 1,9) and indeed “God” (vv. 1,10). However, we `conveniently’ ignore that “sin” also occurs in verses 2 and 9. (The situation is made a little more complicated by the word for “sin” in verses 2 and 3 being slightly different to that in verses 5 and 9 although they are closely related).
5.1.1 Taking account of this we can identify two chiasms. The first has verse 4 at its centre and is bounded by “sin” followed by “acknowledge” / “make me to know”. The second has verses 4 and 5 as its centre, bounded by “acknowledge” / “make me to know” and followed by “cleanse”, wash”, blot out”, God”.
5.2 In summary, sometimes a chiasm can be within a larger chiasm. To use scriptural language, “as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel” (Ezek. 1:16). I think we need to be careful not to merge together chiasms which are in fact separate.
6. Sometimes a central statement can be at the centre of different chiasms. For example, “For my mouth shall speak truth” (Prov. 8:7) is bounded by “lips” (vv. 6,7) and “understand” (vv. 5,9). But there is another chiasm, “lips” (vv. 6,7) and “entry” (v. 3) / “mouth” (v. 8). Faced with these two chiasms it is not the case that one is right and one is wrong; they are both there in the text. They both `witness’ to the importance of the central statement – “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Cor. 13:1).
7. I think we need to be more rigorous about identifying chiasms and when we have identified them we need to give more attention to their central statements and the spiritual significance. Only then can we stand back and see how they fit into the overall structure of each book.