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Bible Studies/Where is south in Gen 13:1?


Genesis 13:1
"1And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South."

It's written that Abraham left Egypt and went "south".
Leaving Egypt required passing through what is now called the Arabian Peninsula.
South in the Arabian Peninsula is Mount Sinai.

The problem is that the muslims in the islam belief claim that Abraham built the kaaba in surah 2:125-127 in the quran.

Now in Genesis 13:3 it's written, "And he went on his journeys from the South even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;..."

Now this time it's stating a that Abraham left the South and went to Bethel where he first made the alter to G-D.

South is mentioned after Abraham left Egypt.
South could mean, South of the Arabian Peninsula as one goes to Mount Sinai.
South could mean , South of what's considered today Saudi Arabia.
But, when you go to Google Maps and look at where Bethel is(above Jerusalem near Ai)it seems unlikely that after Abraham had crossed the Arabian Peninsula he then went South down into Saudi Arabia.
Because that makes his journey even further away from his mentioned destination.

I personally don't believe Abraham went down South into Saudi Arabia after crossing the Arabian Peninsula.

I am confused by where "South" is after they exited Egypt?

Question here is, "where is South"?
Please specifically list a scripture verifying where "South" is in the OT.
Or, please list specifically any external ancient writings that can clarify where "South" is.

Hi Steve,

You asked where is the "south" mentioned in Gen. 13:1,3.

Sometimes the translation from Hebrew to English leaves us with awkward sounding statements which can be easily misunderstood.  That can be compounded by using newer versions, which can sometimes be helpful, but too often cause additional problems in understanding.

From the KJV, Gen. 13:1 "And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
V. 3, "And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where he tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;"

You asked the location of "the south", and in your question stated, "Abraham left Egypt and went south".  The direction "south" should not be confused with the location "the south".

If there was no context, to say that someone went "into the south" could easily be understood to mean traveling in a southerly direction.  However, if one is in the American West, and "goes into the South", he would have to travel east.  If he were in Cuba, he would have to travel north.

Abram was in Egypt (v. 1), and "went on his journeys" (v. 2), arriving "where his tent had been at the beginning (of his stay in Canaan), between Bethel and Hai" (v. 2).

God never told him to go into Egypt.  When he arrived in Canaan, the Lord told him he would be given "this land" (v. 5-6), and said nothing about continuing to move in any direction.

Because of the famine (v. 10), at least "in the south" [of Canaan] (v. 9), Abram kept on moving south, until he was in Egypt (v. 10).  It appears that he did not consult with God about how to live in Canaan with the famine.  

When he entered Egypt, he and his wife conspired to lie about their relationship, out of fear that the Egyptians would kill Abram to take Sarai.  Obviously they did not consult God in this, either.  

After God delivered them by plagues on Pharaoh and his household, they went "up from Egypt" and "into the south" of Canaan, (13:1), and from there "from the south" of Canaan (v.3), back to where he started, near Bethel.

Abram failed to obey God by not remaining in Canaan, or at the least, by not consulting God about whether to go into Egypt.  Disobedience often results in a curse.  In this case he would have lost his wife and his life if he had been caught lying to Pharaoh, without God's intervention to save both of them.  Caught in the lie, they set a bad example of representing the true God.

Being spared from death, they probably made a direct and quick trip back to where they started.  

We notice that when they returned, with both Abram and Lot having so many flocks and herds that they could not dwell together (v. 5-6), they were still able to stay in central Canaan (v.9-12, 14:13), indicating that the famine was not a severe problem there as it was "in the south" (of Canaan), where it was so bad, they went into Egypt.

Perhaps Abram left the area of Bethel because he did not want to live among the Canaanites, and went south where it was less populated.  But he did not ask the Lord before he took action.  There are a number of lessons for all of us in the story of Abram/Abraham.

Later, Abraham went back to "the south" of Canaan (Gen. 20:1) and lived there, near the Philistines (Gen. 21:32), at a well he named Beersheba.

Taking all the information about Abraham together, it appears that he maintained homes both in Mamre (central Canaan) and near Beersheba.  Later the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" would mean "all of Israel".  Because of his huge herds of livestock, he may have wintered them in the south and summered them near Mamre.

Since Abraham spent the rest of his life in Canaan, Gen. 12-25, it was not he that built the temple for idols in Mecca.

For information on the kaaba, see

Islam dates the kabba to 2130 BC.   Islam was founded in the 7th century, AD.

Old Testament genealogies indicate Abraham lived from (approx.) 1996-1821 BC.

Islam makes many claims that are contradicted by the Holy Bible.

For more information about Gen. 13, see

We hope this helps.  If you have further questions, feel free to write anytime.


Mel and Guyna

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Mel and Guyna Horne


Anyone can read the Bible but sometimes it helps to have someone assist with the understanding (Acts 8:26-40). Truth comes from God through his holy spirit of truth (Jn. 16:13, 1Cor. 2:12), which is available to anyone who believes, repents and seeks God fervently and wholeheartedly, with humility, faith and persistence (Mat. 7:7, Deu. 4:29, Isa. 66:2, Jas. 4:1-10, Phil. 2:12). Truth is not limited to, or by, manís religious organizations, church traditions, popular beliefs or personal opinions (Jn. 8:32, 14:6). We will try to help anyone who is trying to understand scripture or Christian living. [Please do not submit homework questions as they will be rejected.]


Over 50 years of personal study of the entire Bible (Deu. 8:3, Mat. 4:4, 2Tim. 3:16, Deu. 4:12, Rev. 22:18). B.A. in Theology with continuing studies in religious history and education (2Tim 2:15, 1Ths. 5:21). Years of informal counseling of young adults, teens, couples, and prisoners, based on scripture and on actual life experience in the world outside of classrooms and church buildings and including a long and happy marriage. After years of experience with organized religion, we are non-denominational. Publications:; on God's Holy Days, Lying, the Sacred Names Doctrine; articles on Terrorism and Islam, the Gospel of Christ, Preparing Yourself for Life in the Kingdom of Christ; What Happens After Death

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"If a man would teach others, he must first teach himself." - Source Unknown. B.A. in Theology, over 50 years of personal study, the last sixteen of which have been full time study and research resulting in publication of several books and many articles.

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