And there was a strife between the herdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanites and the Perizzites dwelled then in the land.
Read Chapter 13
Ambrose of Milan
Let us now consider who are the shepherds, and what living creatures they shepherd and what was the nature of the dispute between the shepherds of Abraham and those of Lot. Shepherds are those who govern the flocks. They are diligent and wise when they do not allow their animals to trample the farmlands with their feet or to damage the crops with their teeth. [They are] negligent and lazy when they do not invite their cattle to pasture on grassy fields rather than in planted areas but allow them to wander freely through the various garden crops. These shepherds then should be watchfully attentive so that what has happened through the carelessness of the negligent be not attributed to the diligent. But since we are here not speaking of visible things, let us first of all consider what kind of animal they have to shepherd. We can supply a definition of these shepherds: “they are shepherds of cattle,” says the text. Now cattle, as we have said, signify the irrational senses of the body. W...
Notice how the abundance of their possessions proved to be a major cause for their separation, creating a division, sundering their harmony and undoing the bond of kinship. “Trouble developed between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. Now the Canaanites and the Pherezites inhabited the land at that time.” Notice how the relatives are responsible for the first signs of separation. Invariably this is the source from which springs all sorts of problems—discord among the brethren. The text says, remember, “Trouble developed between the herdsmen.” They are the ones who provide the occasion for separation, who sunder the harmony, who give evidence of bad feeling.