Lot had apparently gone with Abram to Egypt during the drought and now returned with him to the Negev, a desert region in Southern Palestine (now a region of southern Israel). Upon reaching a place between Bethel (just north of Jerusalem) and Ai where Abraham had first built an altar, he did so again. Note, this Bethel does not appear to get named until later, when Abraham’s grandson wrestles with an angel there, and so the writer has the benefit of hindsight when giving us this account.
Abram and Lot had both prospered so much in Egypt that Abram suggested that they should split up, rather than stay together and witness their herdsmen continue to fight over limited grazing lands. Also there were dangerous peoples living close by to where they were, and so it would have been dangerous for Abram and Lot to be in conflict whilst the Canaanites (descendants of Ham) and Perizzites (possibly meaning, ‘country dwellers’) were about. Lot was given first choice and he went towards the lush valleys beside the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. What Lot probably did not know until he had moved there, was just how wicked the men of Sodom and Gomorrah were. When we give preference to others over ourselves the Lord often honours our selflessness with rewards that our natural senses are unable to foresee.
As soon as Lot was out of sight the Lord spoke to Abram and told him to take a good look in every direction since all this land would be for him and his descendants. The Lord said that Abram’s descendants, presently just Isaac and an estranged Ishmael, would be like the dust of the earth, way too many to number. (This passage has parallels to Isaiah chapter 6 where Isaiah was in close company with the king Uzziah, and it was not until Uzziah died that the Lord chose to grant Isaiah a deeper revelation of Himself and His call on Isaiah.)
Abram moved south to ancient Hebron (just south of Jerusalem) where he again first built an altar to the Lord.
Lord grant us wisdom to make our worship of You and the pursuit of Your blessing our highest priorities.