Genesis 14:1-4 Apparently there were quite a few city/tribes in the area of the Jordan plain near the Dead Sea. Commentaries agree the intruders are from the east, the land of Shinar and the area south. Interesting that the groups in the area around the land of Canaan were paying tribute to kings around the Babylonian area. History will repeat itself.
9 “…four kings against five”
Commentary suggests the king of Shinar was probably a descendant of Nimrod, yet this descendant didn’t have the power that Nimrod had possessed. Although Chedorlaomer appears to have been the dominant power, he was being paid tribute, he must not have been extremely powerful either. He had to have help.
10 “…asphalt pits…”
The pits are mentioned, but no further information. Commentary suggests the local kings had chosen this area to do battle hoping the pits would give them an advantage, but apparently it didn’t work out that way. One commentary also mentioned the pits still exist on the western side of the Dead Sea today.
12 “They also took Lot…who dwelt in Sodom…”
Lot has now made it all the way to Sodom. He’s paying the price of getting too close to the pagan peoples. Of course, we’re not told of the exact spiritual condition of Lot. You’d think he would have picked up some of the knowledge of God from Abram, but it doesn’t appear it was making too much of an impression on him.
13 “…they were allies with Abram”
Abram has been in the area long enough to have a good relationship with the local tribes. Doesn’t mention it here, but they go on the raid with him. No telling how large the entire fighting force was.
14 “Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”
Told several things here. Although he and Lot had split, Abram still considered him family and was going to do something about the situation. If he had three hundred and eighteen servants to arm as a fighting force and still have enough left to look after things, Abram’s possessions must have been vast indeed. We’re not given exact numbers of everything, but considering he must have had far more livestock than servants, his group would have been enormous. No wonder he took up so much room. Would have been like a moving city. As we mentioned before, he had home-born servants. Families within families with Abram as the head.
15-16 “…divided his forces…attacked them…pursued them…brought back all the goods…”
Apparently Abram knew something of battle tactics. The kings of the east weren’t as strong as they appeared. They were able to conquer the local cities, but couldn’t withstand an attack from Abram and his allies. He was able to reclaim everything they had taken from the cities as well as Lot and his possessions.
18 “…Melchizedek king of Salem…priest of God Most High”
Much could be said about Melchizedek. Scripture refers to him as an antitype of Christ Himself. Some have even suggested that he was a pre-incarnate form of Jesus since Abram felt the compunction to give him a tithe of everything. I don’t think it went that far.
Verse 18 says he was a king/priest of God Most High. This alone would have made him an antitype of Christ. He was obviously worshipping the one true God as Abram was. Abram sees this and therefore gives him a tithe in worship of God, the same way the Israelites would do later. Interesting that within all of the pagan peoples, God had a group who continued to follow Him. We aren’t told the history of Melchizedek, but it is conceivable that his ancestral line were some who continued to follow God after the flood just as Abram’s. Makes one wonder why God chose Abram and not someone of Melchizedek’s group.
17, 21-24 “…king of Sodom went out to meet him…Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself…I have raised my hand to the LORD…Possessor of heaven and earth…I will not take anything that is yours…what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me”
Text begins to finish the story of the rescue then throws in the episode with Melchizedek. Now we’re back to the end of the story. I assume the king of Sodom thought to bargain with Abram. He probably had no reason to believe Abram would just give his part of the possessions back. Abram has more character. He’s not a conqueror and wasn’t out to gain spoil. He recognizes that God is the owner of everything. He only charges for expenses and portions for his allies. Here we’re told that the three Amorites mentioned earlier did go with him on the raid.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.