Genesis 14:1-24 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Melchizedek Blesses Abraham
Comments for Study 10

Genesis 14:1-24
Memory Verse 19-20


I. The Battle of the Kings (1-12)

>1. Who was Kedorlaomer and what was his position in the political structure of the region? Where was his kingdom? Who were his allies? Why did he go to war? How extensive was Kedorlaomer's campaign as described in verse 5-7? (Look at a map, if possible).

Genesis 14:1-3 "At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea)."

* "At this time" -The time is expected to be 1913 B.C. Apparently the events that follow take place when Abram moved to "the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the Lord." (Gen 13:18)

* "Amraphel king of Shinar" -"Sinar" is Babylonia, not the great Babylonia which was later built up. (Gen. 10:10, 11:2; Isa. 11:11; Dan. 1:2; Zec. 5:11)

* "Arioch king of Ellasar" -not sure at this time where this is at and who this was.

* "Kedorlaomer" -He was the leading power in Canaan at this time. He gained power by several campaigns of invasion.

* "Elam" -This kingdom made itself the super power in the region under Kedorlaomer. Elam was the original kingdom of Persia. At Abram's time is was a country made up of the Zagros Mountain range (in modern western Iran) and other extremely desirable territory east of Babylonia (Mesopotamia). Shushan was its capital. Cyrus the Great merged Media, Elam, and Annshan ("Persian Land") into one empire which came to be known as Persia. Elam figures prominently in Assyrian and Babylonian texts because it was adjacent to them, and the country itself has yielded many archaeological discoveries which have confirmed certain aspects of Biblical history.

* "Tidal king of Goiim" -Goiim in Hebrew means "Gentile nations" and may be a common noun here, not necessarily a place.

* "went to war" -This is the first war that the Bible mentions war. There were other wars that took place before this, but the Bible does not mention them. Human historians always mentions all the wars, upheavals, and political changes. This is because those who won wanted to brag. Pride, covetousness, self righteousness, and ambitions are the lusts from which wars and fights come.

Unlike human history, Genesis (which is a book of history from God's point of view) focuses mainly on men and women of faith and mission (such as Abraham and Sarah.) Throughout the Bible, God's history is different than human history.

To this date the battle in this chapter has not been proven or disproved by any archaeological evidence. Probably because kingdoms do not report their losses. This would apply here because of the great lose here, both sides are conquered with only one man's family (Abram's) being the winner.

However, archaeology has revealed that such invasions and destructions were common all through the Middle East, as each tribe wanted to obtain for itself the most desirable lands, slaves, mineral resources, and freedom from oppression.

* "Bera" -"Bera" means; "in evil." This fact will become important later in the chapter.

* "Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea)" -Before God judged Sodom and the surrounding towns and villages, this area was not a Sea of Salt as it is today. Rather this valley was fertile with tar pits (More will be described later.) Archaeology has found Sodom and Gomorrah on the bottom of the Salt Sea.

Genesis 14:4 "For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled."

* "For twelve years" -Kedorlaomer first went to war against Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela to gain control over them. He won and placed these local kings and kingdoms under his power for tribute which lasted for twelve years.

* "but in the thirteenth year they rebelled" -Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) rebelled against Kedorlaomer for they did not want to be subject to him anymore. Together the king of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela thought that they could defeat Kedorlaomer.

Genesis 14:5-7 "In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar."

* "Kedorlaomer...went out and defeated the...." -Kedorlaomer, after the rebellion, not only directed his bitterness against the Jordanian cities, but against all others in the region as well. The purpose of pre-attacking the others was to get rid of any possibility of attack from the back or side of him while he would attack his main target.

* "the Rephaites" -Rephaim means "strong ones." They are often described as giants. (2 Samuel 5:18, 23:13; and 1 Chronicles 11:15, 14:9; Isaiah 17:5.)

* "in Ashteroth Karnaim" -mentioned in previous chapters?

* "the Zuzites" -means "powerful ones". A people great, many and tall.(Deuteronomy 2:20)

* "in Ham" -mentioned in previous chapters.

* "the Emites" -means the "terrible ones." (Deu. 2:10)

* "in Shaveh Kiriathaim" -mentioned in previous chapters?

* "the Horites" -Formerly thought to be cave dwellers (the Hebrew word "hor" means "cave"). They are now known to have been the Hurrians, a non-Semitic people widely dispersed throughout the ancient Near East. They possessed Mount Seir.

* "in the hill country of Seir" -mentioned in previous chapters?

* "as far as El Paran near the desert" -"El Paran" means "the southern wilderness."

* "Then they turned back" -After this initial campaign he headed for his original target.

* "went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh)" -"En Mishpat" means "spring of judgment/justice." Located in the south-west Negev; western side of the Salt Sea. Later called Kadesh Barnea.

* "and they conquered the whole territory of" -The word whole describes the greatness of Kedorlaomer's campaign and victories. It was described in this way to help the Israelites and me to understand how great God's victory given to Abram over Kedorlaomer was to be.

* "the Amalikites" -"Amalek" was a descendant of Esau who were later to be tribal people living in the Negev and in the Sinai peninsula. (Gen. 36:12; Exo 17:8; Due 25:17; and 1 Sam. 15:3, 28:18; and 2 Sam. 1:1; and 1 Chr. 4:43) Notice that it does not say he conquered the Amalikites, for they were not a people yet (Esau was not born.) Rather, it says, "the whole territory of" thus indicating an area that the Israelites, who first heard this word, would know.

* "as well as the Amorites" -They are descendants of Canaan. This area is west of Babylonia. They, like the Amalikites were in the hill county of Canaan at the time of the Israelite conquest. (Gen. 10:16, 14:7, 15:16, 48:22; Exo. 23:23; Jos. 24:12; Amo. 2:9.)

* "who were living in Hazazon Tamar"

>2. Who were the kings allied with Bera King of Sodom? Where did the big battle between the 4 kings and the 5 kings take place? Who won? What was the result to the defeated cities?

Genesis 14:8 "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) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim"

* "Sodom and Gomorrah" -Most authorities regard the ruins of these cities are submerged under the circled, shallow waters of the Dead Sea, south of the Lisan Peninsula. All local traditions told by natives of the country favor this area. Josephus says that the Dead Sea extended from Jericho as far as Zoar, and the Christian historian, Eusebius, of the fourth century, confirms that statement.

* "Admah" -Admah means "red soil." City connected with Sodom and Gomorrah as border of Canaanite territory (Gen. 10:19). Its king was defeated along with kings of Sodom and Gomorrah by coalition of four eastern kings (Gen. 14). God destroyed Admah, one of "the cities of the plains" (Gen. 19:29), along with Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut. 29:23). God could not stand to treat Israel, the people He loved, like He had treated Admah, even though Israel's behavior resembled Admah's (Hos. 11:8). Admah may have been located under what is now the southern part of the Dead Sea. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* "Zeboiim" -Zeboiim possibly means, "hyenas." One of the cities in the valley of Siddim (Gen. 14:2-3) at the southern end of the Dead Sea. The site probably is under water now. Zeboiim was ruled by King Shemeber but under the control of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. When Shemeber rebelled, Chedorlaomer came to suppress the rebellion. Although the text is not clear, it appears the city was delivered when Abram defeated Chedorlaomer (14:16-17). Zeboiim was destroyed when God sent fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut. 29:23; compare Hos. 11:8). Recent attempts to identify Zeboiim in the Ebla tablets have been hotly debated. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* "Bela (that is, Zoar)" -"Zoar" was a small city in the plain of Jordan at the time of the Israelites who first heard this for the first time. (Gen. 13:10; 19:22; Duet 34:3; Isa. 15:5; Jer 48:34) A mosaic map found in a Greek church of Medeba, dated from the fifth or sixth century, places Zoar at the south-east corner of the Dead Sea.

Genesis 14:9-10 "against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar--four kings against five. Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills."

* "four kings against five"

* Kedorlaomer won over those who he was originally after. His campaign was now done. Sodom and Gomorrah was defeated.

Genesis 11-12 "The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom."

* "They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions" -This is why the war was added to Genesis; not because Abram was in the land, but that Lot was carried away, thus involving Abram.

Note that Lot, even though he is called a righteous man, suffered the same calamity as his neighbors. (Ecc. 9:2)

Lot's choice to live in Sodom was obviously a bad one for not only was it wicked, but with all its wealth it proved to be a easy target for invading countries. I can learn that when I go out of the way of my duty I put myself and my family away from God's protection, and cannot expect that the choices which are made by my lust should insure to my comfort. In chapter 13 Abram also suffered in the same way and for the same reason that Lot did. It is therefore wise to separate myself or at least to distinguish myself for people in the world. (2 Cor. 6:17)

* "Lot... living in Sodom" -Lot did not live in Sodom at first. This says something about his regression as time went on from his and Abram's splitting of ways.

II. Abram's War (13-16)

>3. How did Abram get involved in this war? Why do you think he went to rescue Lot? What does this teach about him? What can we learn from him?

Genesis 14:13-14 "One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan."

* "One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram" -At first Abram, when all the fighting was going on, did not get involved with the disputes of the area even though he lived in the land of the Canaanites.

* "Abram the Hebrew" -"Hebrew" means "son of Heber" or "son of Eber"; whose family kept up in that degenerate age, the profession of the true religion. Eber is found in Shem's and Abram's genealogy in Genesis 11:16-17. He is eight generations before Abram.

This is the first time this word appears in the Bible. Abram is called this here perhaps because Heber is known as the Father of the Hebrews. Hebrew is usually an ethnic term in the Bible, it was normally used by non-Israelites in a disparaging sense.

Later Joseph said, "For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews..." Said here to show that Abram was part of but separate from the other people in the land.

Later, outside the Bible, people known as the Habiru/Apiru (a word probably related to Hebrew) are referred to as a propertyless, dependent, immigrant (foreign) social class rather than as a specific ethnic group. Negative descriptions of them are given in the Amarna letters (clay tablets found in Egypt.) (Gen. 40:15) (Also see Gen. 43:32, Ex. 2:6; and 2 Co. 11:22; Php. 3:5)

* "the great trees of" -Area's of great trees were usually places of worship in Canaan.

* "Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner" -Mamre was later known as a town which was named after Abram's allies.

* "all whom were allied with Abram" -Abram had made friends with his neighbors even though they didn't believe in God. Abram tried to maintain a good relationship with people in the world, and yet stayed separated from them.

>4. Look at a map to find the extent of this war. Who were Abram's allies? Describe Abram's military campaign. What does this reveal about Abram?

Genesis 14:14 "When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan."

* "318 trained men" -He prepared practically for difficult times. It is thought that Gideon took 300 men to defeat 135,000 Midianites. (Jud. 6:7, 8:10)

* "When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive" -Abram rescued Lot because he loved Lot and didn't want harm to come to him.

Abram was growing in the image of Christ for he had a shepherd's heart for Lot even though Lot had left him earlier. Abram was willing to risk everything; himself, his household, his servants, and the peace with his neighbors to rescue Lot.

Lot didn't do anything for Abram, but Abram was willing to do anything for Lot.

From Abram I can learn to care for others, not hold grudges, and not to look down on others mistakes. Abram didn't say, "I told you so." In general I can learn how God worked on Abram's heart.

* "and went in pursuit as far as Dan." -Dan was given this name in the times of Judges. Obviously this is an editorial added or changed after Moses' time. Or most probably, like in earlier cases the area was described in this way so the Israelites would understand the location. (Jos. 19:47; and 1 Kings 12:29, 15:20; and 2 Chr. 30:5.)

At the time of Abram it was called Laish (Jdg. 18:27)

Genesis 14:15 "During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus."

* "attack them and he routed them" -Abram was blessed by God in this battle. He wasn't weak or passive all the time. He knew his times; That is he knew of world events.

From this I learn that it is o.k. to fight to protect family and friends within reason.

* "Damascus" -a city of Syria. Is said to be the oldest city in the world with a continuous history-reaching from the time of Uz (Noah's grandson) to today. (2 Samuel 8:6; and 1 Kings 11a:24; and 2 Kings 5:12; Act 9:2, 22:6, 26:20; Gal. 1:17)

>5. What was the outcome of the war? How might Abram's involvement in this conflict have changed his relationships with the Canaanites? What temptations might his great victory present to him?

Genesis 14:16 "He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people."

* God kept his promise to protect Abram.

III. Abram Meets 2 Kings (17-24)

>6. Who were the 2 kings that came to meet Abram after he returned from defeating Kedorlaomer? How were they different? In what respect do they represent the two alternative life directions before Abram?

Genesis 14:17 "After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley)."

* "the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley)" -This is near Jerusalem, probably to the east. (2 Sam. 18:18)

* After this battle Abram's involvement in this conflict must have changed his relationship with the Canaanites. Probably they feared and respected him. They could have even asked him to be a king in the area. This would be a remarkable change because in the past he was seen as an invader.

I can see that even though Abram was a man of God, he had to earn their respect. But he didn't earn respect just to earn respect. He earned respect in obeying God and love for others. Then God gave him respect in the land as God said he would have.

* Abram could have had great temptations after the victory. He cold have thought he won the battle. He could have loved the wealth that he just required. He could have thought, "God made my name great." But Abram understood what "great" meant in God's promise. He didn't see greatness in the eyes of men, but the eyes of God.

>7. How is Melchizedek described? What did he bring? What is the significance of this? How did he bless Abram? What did he teach Abram about God? About his recent great victory? Why was this important for Abram at this time? How did Abram respond to Melchizedek's blessing? What does this mean?

Genesis 14:18 "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,"

* "Then Melchizedek king of" -Melchizedek means "my king is righteousness, or king of righteousness." Many have speculated on who this person was. The most common understanding is that it is a title more than a proper name. In this understanding the title means the one who received the blessing of God, usually the oldest, but always the one the father picked (so not always the oldest) to receive the inherited blessing. They say it stems back to Adam. They say that the person who held this title in Abraham's day was Seth, who was still alive at this time. (See my "Genesis Genealogy" in the first Genesis study.)

* "Salem" -means peace. Later was the sight of Jerusalem. Jerusalem just means new Salem.

* The two kings who came out to meet Abram were quit different.

Sodom was an evil town in God's eyes. So the king had to be. He represented the world.

Melchizedek was good in the eyes of God. He was called, priest of God Most High.

This was the spiritual battle for Abram at this time.

* These men represent the two alternative life directions before Abram.

He could be like either at this time. He could follow each advice. He could fall to the temptation or be lead by the Spirit into blessing. It was up to him to decide. Once he decided God would give him help.

* "He was priest of God Most High." -There are other verses that talk of Melchizedek and his priesthood.

"The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." -Psalm 110:4

"And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." -Hebrews 5:6

"and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek." -Hebrews 5:10

"where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him," -Hebrews 6:20-7:1

"because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come--one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?" -Hebrews 7:10-11

"And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears," -Hebrews 7:15

"For it is declared: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." -Hebrews 7:17

* "brought out bread and wine." -This for-acted Jesus actions, but not related to communion. It was an ordinary meal in those days. It was a sign of fellowship in those days. It was a sign of a covenant as well.

Genesis 14:19-20a "and he blessed Abram, saying, 'Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.'"

* "Blessed be Abram by God" -Abram is blessed by God.

* "God Most High" -In Hebrew this is "El Elyown". "El" is the Hebrew root main for God that is often used in conjunction with other words. In Genesis 1:1 it is "Elohim"; which is considered by Jewish scholars to be the root of all the "El" names of God in the Bible.

"Elyown" or "Elyon" means; "the Most High God" emphasizing God's strength, sovereignty, and supremacy. Although this is the first appearance of the word, if Isaiah 14:14 records Satan's attempt to usurp the supremacy of God, this would be a prior use. After these early occurrences, its use recedes until about 1000 B.C. where it appears again in poetic and exilic literature (Ps. 9:2; Dan. 7:18, 22, 25, 27).

* "who delivered your enemies into your hand." -God had delivered his enemies into his hand. Abram had to realize that God was the one who did it, not himself.

Genesis 14:20b "Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything."

* He had a thankful heart and practically acknowledged it.

He acknowledged God.

He had all the wealth of the area.

Abram set the example to give a tenth.

>8. What did the king of Sodom suggest about the disposition of the spoils of war? Why? What were the only material goods of Sodom which Abram used?

Genesis 14:21 "The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.'"

* They were his people. Rich land was good but if there is no people to use and protect it isn't any good. With people he could build up his riches again.

>9. What reasons did Abram give for refusing to keep any of the material goods of Sodom? What does this reveal about his faith?

Genesis 14:22-24 "But Abram said to the king of Sodom, 'I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.' I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me--to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.'"

* "I have raised my hand" -a standard oath-taking practiced in ancient times (Deut. 32:40, Rev. 10:5-6)

* "I will accept nothing belonging to you" -Abram refused to let himself become obligated to anyone but the Lord. Had he done so, this Canaanites king might later have claimed the right of kingship over Abram.

He didn't trust the king.

He was concerned with God more than with materials or people's opinions.

He wanted to live by God's blessing.

He was a man of strong character.