Genesis 14:1-24

June 5, 2013 In our last study we saw the conflict that caused Abraham and Lot to separate. Lot went down to Sodom and that sets us up for chapter 14: And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; We’ll call them the four kings of the north.

That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 4Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. We’ll call these the Sodomites or the kings of the south. They came together as allies because they had been reduced to slavery for 12 years and they wanted out. I suppose a person from the north would probably have called them insurgents, but they very likely saw themselves as patriots defending their liberty.

And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emins in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. 7And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. If you’ll notice, none of the kings of the south have yet been attacked. These are all nations the northern kings meet along the way to the fight, so I guess we’d call this a “preventive war.” The northern kings don’t want to wade into their enemies and get surrounded, so instead they just destroy everyone as they go. It’s not really all that surprising since the Greeks translated the Hebrew word for Rephaim as γίγαντας (gigantas) or “giants,” and the Hebrew word for Emims is “terrors.” 1 So they begin just northeast of the Sea of Galilee and work their way south of the Dead Sea.



And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; 9With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. 10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. So the southern kings lost and liberty will have to wait another day. Some of the soldiers died in battle, others fell into tar pits. These might have been covered with sand and leaves and hard to see for someone running full-speed from battle. Some are better off and make it to the mountain. The kings of the north are satisfied and begin to plunder:

And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. As a benefit for themselves and punishment for their enemies, the conquerors take anything and everything. They took horses, livestock, people, and even food supplies back to their own lands.

And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. Abraham and his three allies join forces, make a surprise attack at night from different directions, and overwhelm the enemy. They bring back everything that was stolen and the southern kings welcome them home:

And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. This is all expected, but then we get something that’s not:


And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. If you’ll remember from our study in Hebrews this man is a type of Christ. He is a king and a priest. His name means “king of righteousness” and he rules the place named “peace.” He is a priest of God before there was a priesthood through Aaron! This is all used later in Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:17 to show that Christ is the true High Priest of God who was promised and revealed long before Moses and Aaron were born. But why is this important? The context is that Abraham has been called out of his homeland to a strange place where he’ll live as a foreigner. Will God keep His promise to give Abraham the land? Will God keep him and cause His face to shine upon him? Will God fight his battles and bring him safely through? God does all this and then sends Melchizedek to offer bread and wine. Am I reading too much into this to see the nourishment Christ provides as our High Priest and Intercessor?

And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. Abraham is blessed of the most high God who owns all things in creation. This whole victory and all the spoils belong to God who proves to win the battles for His people! And he gave him tithes of all. That is, Abraham gave a tenth of all the plunder to Melchizedek. Why would he do this? It needs to be clear that the “tithe” hadn’t yet been introduced. This was a voluntary offering, and it was made to the priest after victory and blessing!

And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

Abraham returned with all the goods of Sodom plus what he’d taken from the northern kings. As I understand it, he shared in the spoils taken from the northern kings and gave a tenth to Melchizedek, but he refused to keep anything that belonged to the Sodomites. The victory and spoils were all by God’s work, and couldn’t be added to by anyone. No one would be able to say that they had helped Abram in his successes. The primary purpose of this story shows us the victory and blessing from God that comes by faith. Every chapter in the Bible is about Christ and this one is no different. He is the owner of all the earth, the victor of all our battles, the sustainer of our souls by His bread and wine, the Mediator between us and God, and the one who blesses us. It’s through Him that we offer the sacrifice of thanks and praise to God. Another, perhaps lesser, point of this story shows us that God is always in control of our lives even when they seem to be falling apart. All of this was for Abraham’s and Lot’s good. You might not know it from Genesis, but Peter reminds us that Lot’s soul was righteous. What we’re seeing through all his hardships is the grooming and vine-dressing guaranteed to every son of God. My prayer is that we’ll be confident in Him at all times and that we’ll give Him the credit He deserves in all things: He is God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth. He has delivered our enemies into our hands.

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