In chapter 13 we read that Lot and his family moved near Sodom, a very wicked city. Eventually, Lot and his family moved into Sodom itself and were living among the unbelievers.
The king of Sodom had made an alliance with four other kings in the area. For 12 years all five of those city-kings had been under the rule of a powerful king from the north named Kedorlaomer. The political tension of this situation resulted in warfare that would involve both Lot and Abram.
The historical event described in this chapter would become an example of the ways that God was keeping his promises to Abram. It will also introduce us to a new king who would become a pattern of Jesus himself.
READ GENESIS 14:1–12 阅读创14:1-12
The four Canaanite kings mentioned here were on a rampage across the territory that is now within the nation of Jordan, on the east side of the Jordan River valley. They swept south and defeated …
• the Rephaites 利乏音人 • the Zuzites 苏西人 • the Emites 以米人 • the Horites 何利人 • the Amalekites 亚玛力人 • the Amorites 亚摩利人 • the five kings in the valley of Siddim 西订谷的五王
The sweeping military victories of these 4 kings indicate that their combined armies were a formidable force, able to overpower one tribe of people after another.
In order to escape capture or death at the hands of Kedorlaomer’s army, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and some of the other leaders of those cities fled to the tar pits and the hills bordering the valley (v.10). The Hebrew word translated as “fell” into the tar pits may also indicate that they “jumped” into the tar pits in order to escape the invading army. The picture is one of desperation. Thus, even though their cities were captured and the inhabitants led away as prisoners of war, the kings themselves survived by running and hiding.
READ GENESIS 14:13–16 阅读创14:13-16
This is the first time that the term “Hebrew” is used in the Bible (verse 13). Why was Abram called “the Hebrew”?
How did Abram come to be an ally of three Amorites (Mamre, Eshcol, Aner)?
Verse 14 says that Abram had 318 trained men born in his household. This would indicate that these men had all been trained in warfare and knew how to fight. This also indicates how large Abram’s group was. He had his own private army, so to speak. These men were a significant force, able to defend Abram’s group against any who would attack them. It must have taken a large amount of food and drink to sustain a group so large. This is an indication of Abram’s great wealth.
Abram’s group was able to do what the five kings of the Valley of Siddim could not do, and they defeated the army of four kings and recovered all of the people and possessions that had been taken. This was a testimony to the power of Abram’s group. But even more than that, it was a testimony to the Lord’s blessing upon Abram. Abram had already become a great nation blessed by God, just as the Lord had promised.
What were the factors that led to Abram’s victory over the four Canaanite kings?
What is the lesson of this event?
READ GENESIS 14:17–24 阅读创14:17-24
As Abram’s group returned from defeating the four kings and rescuing all of the captives including Lot and his family, we read that the king of Sodom had crawled back out of the tar pit in which he had taken refuge (v.10) and came north to meet Abram’s victorious group. They met in the Valley of Shaveh (v.17 which was also known as “the King’s Valley.” The exact location of this valley is unknown, but many believe that it was somewhere near Salem (another name for the city of Jerusalem (see Psalm 76:2).
In addition to the king of Sodom, we read that the king of Salem also came to meet Abram in that valley. The king of Salem was Melchizedek, a beautiful name that in Hebrew means “king of righteousness.”
How is Melchizedek described in verse 18? What two roles did he have?
How is Melchizedek described in Hebrews 7:1-3?
There are several important things that the Bible teaches us about this man. First of all, we read in verse 18 that he was a “priest of God Most High.” This is the same thing that Abram called the Lord in verse 22: “the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” Thus, both he and Abram believed in the one true God, in contrast to all of the other Canaanites. The fact that Melchizedek was a priest of the Lord and that he offered sacrifices to the Lord as an act of worship, meant that he practiced his faith in the city of Salem where he was king. How did Melchizedek come to know and worship the one true God? We do not know. But it is noteworthy that here in the middle of all of the Canaanite idolatry was a man who knew the Lord and openly worshiped Him.
What two things did Melchizedek do to honor Abram? (verses 18-19)
What did Melchizedek’s blessing (verses 19-20) teach Abram (and everyone else who heard the blessing)?
Why did Abram give Melchizedek a tenth of everything (v. 20)? See Hebrews 7:6–7 for the answer.
In his promises to Abram in Genesis 12:2-3, God had said, “I will bless those who bless you.” God richly blessed Melchizedek by designating this man as a picture or type of Jesus Christ. In Psalm 110:4 we read that the Messiah would be “a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” And in Hebrews 5:10 we read that Jesus “was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.”
Melchizedek was not like the other priests of Israel, who were all descended from Aaron and inherited a priesthood by virtue of their lineage. Melchizedek was also different from all the other Old Testament priests in that he was also a king. Kings were descended from the tribe of Judah. Priests were descended from the tribe of Levi. But Melchizedek was both a king and priest, and in that sense he was like Jesus.
The writer to the Hebrews explains this. He writes: “For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 7:14–17)
We are not told why the king of Sodom made the extremely generous offer to let Abram keep all of Sodom’s property that he had recovered. Most likely, the offer was not because the king of Sodom was a generous man but because he wanted to sort of bribe Abram into making an alliance with him. He obviously recognized Abram’s power and capabilities.
In his response to the king of Sodom Abram used the same terms for the Lord (“God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth”) that Melchizedek had used. Abram was now acknowledging the truth that Melchizedek had spoken about in his blessing: The Lord had blessed Abram with this victory and the recovery of all the people and goods. Thus Abram was giving testimony to the king of Sodom regarding his faith in the one true God.
What parts of God’s promise to Abram in Genesis 12:2-3 were kept in this chapter?
This chapter illustrates that God is faithfully keeping his promises. Abram would experience this and learn that he could trust in all that God had told him. We can believe that the event described in this chapter must have strengthened Abram’s confidence in the Lord’s promises to him. And as we study this chapter, we pray that the events described here will strengthen our trust in the Lord, God Most High, who keeps his promises to us.