Genesis 14: Abram Rescues Lot

1 In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh) and defeated all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who were dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

-Here is a link to a picture that summarizes this information: http://www.calvaryfullerton.org/Bstudy/01%20Gen/2006/01Gen%2014_files/image001.jpg . Historians who have researched this period of history have been able to verify that the time period of this taking place when Abram lived would have been accurate: http://oldtestamentstudies.datascenesdev.com/patriarchs/genesis14.asp?item=3&variant=0 . Essentially what happened is kings from the mighty Babylonian area that was established by Nimrod the first mighty king of the Lord and where the Tower of Babel had been being built headed west into Canaan then went south down Jordan to conquer. It’s safe to assume the union of these four kings was the most powerful force on the face of the earth.

8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country.

-Valley of Siddim: http://bibleatlas.org/valley_of_siddim.htm . Another term for a “bitumen pit” is a tar pit. This valley located at the north end of the dead sea was full of deadly tar pits and large armies shoulder to shoulder do not have much room to avoid them especially while running for their lives. The important information to keep in mind is this force of four kings is incredibly strong and unbeatable to be totally wiping out the five kings in this region to the point they risk falling in tar pits just to get away with their lives.

11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.

-Lot was extremely wealthy and while we don’t know whether he or some of his men would have joined up to defend Sodom, it wasn’t as if he was just some man in some house in the middle of a city. He had many possessions, animals, servants, and probably wasn’t a pushover himself. But even he fell to this unstoppable army and was taken captive. Take note as we read about about what Abram did in a moment.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.

-This is the first time Abram or anyone is called a “Hebrew”. As mentioned before, it is possible the word “Hebrew” has come from the name Eber because it is similar word and Eber is an ancestor. It would be like calling him an “Eberite”. It seems reasonable that people would be delineated by their language after the Tower of Babel incident and either Eber or his sons Pelag and Joktan would have been the generation when this happened.

14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 Then he brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his possessions, and the women and the people.

-Abram probably had more wealth than Lot but if Abram was able to round up 318 trained men ready to die for him it seems reasonable that Lot had a couple hundred himself yet he was defeated. I am not stating this to praise Abram and how great he and his men must of fought to win this battle, but rather to show how considering how all five kings and Lot and all the men they had all fell before this might which was now freshly restocked with supplies and probably better equipped than when they came should not have lost. Abram should not have been able to cause a dent. What gave him the idea he could succeed in the first place? Abram one this battle because he had the help of God. This was a miraculous event and there is now way to explain how 318 men in pursuit can catch and overtake the most powerful force in the world at the time and rescue Lot and all the kings of the five countries. Everyone was saved. There are many who claim Abram won because of the wise tactics of dividing his forces to surround the enemy but I highly doubt tactics had anything to do with it. Recall the story of the 300 Spartans and how they fought back the Persians. The reason the 300 men did so well was because they fought in a place that was narrow and man-to-man the Spartans were better warriors. A small force surrounding a very large force wouldn’t do much good even if Abram’s men were somehow superior warriors to the men of the great union of nations on earth.

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

-This is one of the most bizarre, hard-to-explain inclusions in the whole bible. Who is Melchizedek? Where is Salem? There is no mention or any historical findings about any place called Salem. Salem was not one of the cities who had kings in this battle and all the information was given very thoroughly at the beginning of this chapter. Did they forget one or was this some minor king not worth mentioning until this point? But then how can someone be a priest of God? Priests haven’t been invented yet. And if he is a Canaanite, how is it that he is a righteous man before God? What’s amazing is what he does…he takes bread and wine and blesses Abram and Abram gives him a tenth of everything. Why did Abram give this random king a tenth of everything especially if he was only a minor king? Abram didn’t even give Lot, his own kin, a tenth of everything. Christian scholars have realized some incredible parallels to Jesus over time. Jesus is the ultimate priest to God who intercedes on our behalf just as a priest in Israel would do. Jesus broke bread and served wine during the last supper commanding us to do this any time we gather in remembrance of Him and how He was broken and His blood shed for us. In Israel, it later becomes established that everyone must tithe (give one tenth) of everything to God. It has been proposed that this character called Melchizedek in the bible is none other that Jesus Himself who for some reason paid a visit to Abram and Abram somehow recognized or felt something about who He was. Jesus is God and has always existed so He certainly could appear at any time of history He wishes. The word “Melchizedek” is an Anglicized version of the Hebrew “Malkiy-Tsedeq”. Melek means “king” in Hebrew and tsedeq means “righteous”. The word salem means “peace”. So it is possible the correct translation in English for verse 18 would be: “And The King of Righteousness, the King of Peace brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) Jesus is certainly the king of all righteousness and the king of peace.

21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

-Here Abram repeats the same thing Melchizedek said, “God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth”. Through Melchizedek, Abram learned or at least received confirmation that his victory was not by his own hand but because God had granted it to him. Melchizedek obviously had some kind of influence on him, God in the flesh certainly would have, don’t you think? In verse 23, he makes a wise political statement by acknowledging that the King of Sodom could claim he made Abram rich because he would have let Abram have all the possessions which would give him a claim of authority over Abram. Abram then could be considered a fellow Sodomite, subservient to this king. Abram obviously only has one king he intends to be subservient to.

Spanish Words:

lleno = full
pozo = well, shaft
riqueza = wealth
aliar = to ally, combine
criar = to raise, breed, bring up
derrota = defeat
sacar = to take out, remove
alzar = to lift, raise

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