In parshas lech lecha, when lot's shepherds aren't getting along with Avraham's and is given the ultimatium of deciding where he wants to go, his decision is illustrated by the pasuk (יג:י).

וַיִּשָּׂא־ל֣וֹט אֶת־עֵינָ֗יו וַיַּרְא֙ אֶת־כָּל־כִּכַּ֣ר הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן כִּ֥י כֻלָּ֖הּ מַשְׁקֶ֑ה לִפְנֵ֣י | שַׁחֵ֣ת יְהֹוָ֗ה אֶת־סְדֹם֙ וְאֶת־עֲמֹרָ֔ה כְּגַן־יְהֹוָה֙ כְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם בֹּֽאֲכָ֖ה צֹֽעַר:

The lashon of וַיִּשָּׂא־... אֶת־עֵינָ֗יו is likewise used in the akedah in two places. first in כב:ד

בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁלִישִׁ֗י וַיִּשָּׂ֨א אַבְרָהָ֧ם אֶת־עֵינָ֛יו וַיַּ֥רְא אֶת־הַמָּק֖וֹם מֵֽרָחֹֽק

and then in כב:יג.

וַיִּשָּׂ֨א אַבְרָהָ֜ם אֶת־עֵינָ֗יו וַיַּרְא֙ וְהִנֵּה־אַ֔יִל אַחַ֕ר נֶֽאֱחַ֥ז בַּסְּבַ֖ךְ בְּקַרְנָ֑יו וַיֵּ֤לֶךְ אַבְרָהָם֙ וַיִּקַּ֣ח אֶת־הָאַ֔יִל וַיַּֽעֲלֵ֥הוּ לְעֹלָ֖ה תַּ֥חַת בְּנֽוֹ:

What does this phrase וַיִּשָּׂ֨א ...אֶת־עֵינָ֗יו mean? why did the parsha not say וַיַּרְא֙ on its own in both of these cases?

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    Literally it means to look up. Do you have some reason to think it means something else? – mevaqesh Nov 9 '17 at 20:26

Literally it means that Lot 'raised his eyes' and saw the entire Jordan district (meaning all the towns in the Jordan district).

In the story of Avraham, the commentaries (see Tzror HaMor to Bereshit 22:4 and 22:13) explain that this 'raising of his eyes' was like a prophetic vision or 'looking with the mind's eye' (see also Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer 31:20-21 ד״ה וכיון שהגיעו לצופים).

Like it explains in Sefer HaYashar (פרשת וירא ד״ה ויהי ביום השלישי) Avraham saw in a prophetic vision Mount Moriah ringed with a cloud to set it apart as the place he was to go for the akeidah. Avraham asked the three people he brought with him, Yishmael, Eliezer and Yitzchok, what they saw. He was hoping for a sign or indication as to which of the three he was to take with him. Yishmael and Eliezer only saw mountains. But Yitzchok saw the same prophetic vision that Avraham had seen, meaning the ring of clouds around Mount Moriah. That was how Avraham knew he was to take only Yitzchok with him from that point forward.

In a similar vein, Avraham was shown in a prophetic vision the ram that was created on the sixth day of creation at sundown (Avot 5:6, Sefer HaYashar, שם ד״ה ויעקד אברהם את יצחק בנו). The horn of that ram is destined to become the shofar which Eliyahu HaNavi will blow at the time of the final redemption (Pirkei d’Rabbi Eliezer, chap. 31:76 toward the end, Midrash HaGadol to Vayera 22:13, Midrash Lekach Tov to Vayera 22:13).

So in Lot's case, it would seem to be a connotation that he made an intellectual calculation, considering with his mind's eye, as to what would be the best deal for him.

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  • Sources would greatly improve this answer. – ezra Nov 10 '17 at 0:50

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