The battle of the kings, Lot is taken prisoner. (Verse 1-12.)
Abram rescues Lot. (Verse 13-16.)
Melchizedek blesses Abram. (Verse 17-20.)
Abram restores the spoil. (Verse 21-24.)
War would soon come to Lot’s house because he chose the pleasures of sin for a season while Abram chose God’s path.
While this study is about Abram, I wanted to emphasize that our disobedience may cause others to stumble and to go through hardships as well.
We may be called upon to rescue someone who we helped put into their situation in the first place, as was the case here.
1 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;
The names of these kings are found in the Assyrian tablets, and is another evidence of the authenticity of the Bible. Shinar is Sumeria, Elam is the kingdom east of Sumeria.
2 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.
Four kings fight against five kings – note that the names “Bela” and “Zoar” are talking about the same place (note vs. 8).
3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.
[Num 34:12, Deut 3:17, Josh 3:16]
the “salt sea” is another name for the Dead Sea, still in existence in Israel today. It is the lowest place on earth with its surface several hundred metres below sea level. This area was the original site of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah before God destroyed them. Originally it was a very beautiful vale (13:10); after being destroyed by God it became a wilderness bordered by an uninhabitable salt sea.
4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
first instance of the number “13” in the Bible; thirteen almost always has a negative connotation in the Bible, hence all of the present day superstitions about “unlucky thirteen.”
5 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 Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
[Gen 36:20, Deut 2:12]
7 And 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.
8 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;
9 With 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.
11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
[Gen 11:27, Gen 12:4, Gen 13:5, Gen 19:1, 2nd Pet 2:7]
Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom and it cost him dearly, for twelve years the residents of Sodom served Chedorlaomer before rebelling, but after the rebellion Lot ended up in a worse situation than at the begining.
Notice the King of Shinar came against the area where Lot chose to dwell. Shinar is the area around Babylon.
It is very interesting to note that the first war in the Bible is fought with Babylon leading it and it is in connection with the land promised to Abram as well as the last war in the Bible. Just a coincidence? I don’t think so. Coincidence isn’t a Kosher word.
13 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.
[“Hebrew” = descendant of Eber.]
Aner, Eschol and Mamre formed a confederacy with Abram to assist him in this “war” – note verse 24.
14 And 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.
“brother” – actually nephew; this is not a mistake in the Bible, but merely the way the Bible records family relationship terms. Throughout the study of God’s word one will notice that the general term “brother” will be used for brothers, brothers-in-law, nephews, uncles, cousins etc., just as the term “son” will be used for sons, sons-in-law, grandsons, great-grandsons, etc.; “father” will include fathers, fathers-in-law, grandfathers, etc. God is quite able to define his terms in the manner he chooses.
15 And 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.
17 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.
[2nd Sam 18:18]
Abram is called the Hebrew here for the first time. Hebrew means simply a descendant of Eber found in Genesis 10:21-11 and 1 Chronicles 1.
Abram comes to the rescue and chases Lot’s captors deep into Syria and slaughters them there at Hobah and is then greeted by the formerly defeated king of Sodom.
But there is another king that shows up as well, the king of Salem which is a person of great importance, even today.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Melchizedek was the king of Salem, which is the Hebrew word Shalom, which means peace. Notice that Melchizedek along with Salem is not mentioned as being involved in the battle.
He is however mentioned in a very unique role as both a king, and the priest of the most high God just like the Messiah of Israel would be one day.
This most high God is the very same God that Abram worshipped and it must have been very refreshing for Abram to have someone else in this Idol worshipping land that believed in the one true God.
In order for any Jew to understand the priesthood they must understand the first priest found in the bible and build their understanding from there. Notice what Melchisedek brought to Abram, bread and wine, just like the Lord’s Super. I wonder why, you should too.
For there to be a King, there of a necessity needs to be a Kingdom. Bread and wine have to do with a King and his Kingdom.
Jesus told his disciples in the Upper Room when he instituted the Lord’s Supper, that he would not partake of it again until he drank it new with them (believing Israel) in their Kingdom.
The Lord’s Supper had to do with the institution of the New Testament which was promised to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah in their kingdom when the would have God’s word written on the hearts and they would know to choose good and not evil. That has not happened yet, but it will in the Kingdom.
The New Testament could not take affect until after the death of the Testator according to Hebrews 9.
Melchizedek is somewhat of a mysterious figure in the Bible, hence we find the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses claiming to belong to or be associated with the “Melchizedek priesthood.” Verse 18 tells us that this man was both a king and a priest – something unusual in the Bible. He was the king of Salem – a city that when later taken over by the Jebusites had its name changed to “Jerusalem”. His name in Hebrew (melech-tsedek) means “king of righteousness.” Please read Hebrews 7:1-4, 11 & 21. Hebrews 7:3 has lead some to believe that Melchizedek was an OT appearance of Jesus Christ, but when all the verses are taken into account, this does not seem to be the case. Melchizedek appears to be just a man who was appointed by God to be a priest before the establishment of the OT law. He has no recorded lineage and nothing more is told to us about him than what we find in these few verses. Because he was not bound by the OT law and has no record of parents or descendants, he is compared to the Son of God and the priesthood that Christ now operates for the believer. Hebrews 7:24-28 talks about Christ’s priesthood
What does Hebrews 7:25 say that Christ now lives to do for us?
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Where does Melchizedek rule from and perform his Priestly functions in his Kingdom of PEACE called interestingly enough Salem, which is the Hebrew word Shalom, which means PEACE.
What will the world experience for a thousand years when Christ sits as Priest and King in Jeru-salem? Peace or Shalom.
Abram is also referred to as belonging to the most high God as well, so as to make it perfectly clear to the reader that it is the same God being referred to.
This was prior to the Law of Moses and it is the only time Abram tithed that we know of. Tithing was required under the Law, it is not required under Grace today, nor was it required prior to the Law.
Today God wants and loves a cheerful giver. Don’t be a Scrooge with what God has given to you. The writer of Hebrews had this to say concerning Melchizedek.
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Psalm 110:4 says it even stronger: The LORD hath sworn and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.
For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the peoples: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. Hebrews 7:1-28
If anyone did the things that the Old Testament said the Messiah would do, then we should take the time to at least examine these things for ourselves and not just blindly take our leaders word for it.
Matthew 15:14 And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
“tithes” – the word tithe means tenth – Abram gave Melchizedek (and therefore God) one tenth of the spoils. Though tithing (giving one tenth of our income) is not commanded in the NT, it is the bare minimum that you should be giving to God through your local church. Living under grace instead of the law is much more of a blessing and if you claim to be a Christian, you should be giving at least one tenth of what God blesses you with back to him – you can’t afford not to! Read II Corinthians 9:6-7.
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 And 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,
23 That 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:
24 Save 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.
The king of Sodom had no right to ask anything back from Abram, but because God would not share his glory with anyone, Abram was impressed upon by God no doubt, to give him back everything.
It is not over with Lot however, because in spite of all this Lot continues to stay in Sodom and things gradually get worse.
Also notice what is said about the God of Melchisedek, that he is the possessor of heaven and earth. that has a lot to do with some differences that Paul will point out in his epistles but is a mystery to the descendants of Abram until Paul reveals it to the world thousands of years later.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-12 – The wars of nations make great figure in history, but we should not have had the record of this war if Abram and Lot had not been concerned. Out of covetousness, Lot had settled in fruitful, but wicked Sodom. Its inhabitants were the most ripe for vengeance of all the descendants of Canaan. The invaders were from Chaldea and Persia, then only small kingdoms. They took Lot among the rest, and his goods. Though he was righteous, and Abram’s brother’s son, yet he was with the rest in this trouble. Neither our own piety, nor our relation to the favourites of Heaven, will be our security when God’s judgments are abroad. Many an honest man fares the worse for his wicked neighbours: it is our wisdom to separate, or at least to distinguish ourselves from them, 2nd Corinthians 6:17. So near a relation of Abram should have been a companion and a disciple of Abram. If he chose to dwell in Sodom, he must thank himself if he share in Sodom’s losses. When we go out of the way of our duty, we put ourselves from under God’s protection, and cannot expect that the choice made by our lusts, should end to our comfort. They took Lot’s goods; it is just with God to deprive us of enjoyments, by which we suffer ourselves to be deprived of the enjoyment of him.
Verse 13-16 – Abram takes this opportunity to give a real proof of his being truly friendly to Lot. We ought to be ready to succour those in distress, especially relations and friends. And though others may have been wanting in their duty to us, yet we must not neglect our duty to them. Abram rescued the captives. As we have opportunity, we must do good to all.
Verse 17-20 – Melchizedek is spoken of as a king of Salem, supposed to be the place afterwards called Jerusalem, and it is generally thought that he was only a man. The words of the apostle, Hebrews 7:3,. state only, that the sacred history has said nothing of his ancestors. The silence of the Scriptures on this, is to raise our thoughts to Him, whose generation cannot be declared. Bread and wine were suitable refreshment for the weary followers of Abram; and it is remarkable that Christ appointed the same as the memorials of his body and blood, which are meat and drink indeed to the soul. Melchizedek blessed Abram from God. He blessed God from Abram. We ought to give thanks for other’s mercies as for our own. Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, is the Mediator both of our prayers and praises, and not only offers up ours, but his own for us. Abram gave him the tenth of the spoils, Hebrews 7:4. When we have received some great mercy from God, it is very fit we should express our thankfulness by some special act of pious charity. Jesus Christ, our great Melchisedek, is to have homage done him, and to be humbly acknowledged as our King and Priest; not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be given up to him.
Verse 21-24 – Observe the king of Sodom’s grateful offer to Abram, Give me the souls, and take thou the substance. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power, those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense for our service and benefit. Abram generously refused this offer. He accompanies his refusal with a good reason, Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: which would reflect upon the promise promise and covenant of God, as if He would not have enriched Abraham without the spoils of Sodom. The people of God must, for their credit’s sake, take heed of doing any thing that looks mean or mercenary, or that savors of covetousness and self-seeking. Abraham can trust the Possessor of Heaven and earth to provide for him.