Today: Gen. 14: Four Hundred Men in Covenant with God Defeat Four Armies! In chapter 14 Abram comes to Lot’s rescue when the cities of the plain (including Sodom) are overthrown. In the aftermath of a great victory a man named Melchizedek meets Abram returning with the spoil of 10 cities. What happens next will reverberate down the centuries right into your personal life.
[Gen 14:1-24 KJV] 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; 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. 3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God. 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. 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.
In each of the chapters containing the narrative of Abram’s life we see the verses unfold like a screenplay going from one scene to the next. Now we leave Abram and Lot having separated, with Lot choosing to pitch his tent toward Sodom, a fateful decision. If Lot had not chosen to live on the plain we might never have known the history recorded in verses 1-12.
In verse 4 we see the numbers 12 and 13 appearing in the bible for the first time. You may remember references made previously to a principle of bible study known as the Law of First Mention. The law of first mention is:
“The law of first mention may be said to be the principle that requires one to go to that portion of the Scriptures where a doctrine is mentioned for the first time and to study the first occurrence of the same in order to get the fundamental inherent meaning of that doctrine.”
In other words the first mention of a subject speaks in a governing way toward interpreting that subject throughout the scriptures. For instance:
Verse 4: … for twelve years they served … (12 is the number of GOVERNMENT and RULE).
… in the thirteenth year they rebelled (13 is the number of REBELLION).
The synopsis of the passage is that a group of kings arising from ancient Chaldeans and Babylon came together to enslave the inhabitants Sodom and several other cities in the valley where Lot chose to establish himself. The king of Sodom rebels, is overthrown and in the process Lot is taken captive as well.
This is also the FIRST war mentioned in scripture. What is God’s opinion of warfare? In this case God’s purpose was to save Lot from a problem he created himself and to put an end to the war. He didn’t do so because of his approval of Sodom but because of his interests in Lot due to Lot’s connection with Abram. Lot should have learned from this experience but he didn’t. This was his last warning – and what happens next irrevocably alters his destiny and that of his wife and daughters and all his generations to come.
In v. 13-14 we read of the only military campaign that Abram was recorded to have been involved in. What were his thoughts? His first thoughts obviously were for his kinsmen Lot. What else might he have thought? The previous chapter gives us a clue:
[Gen 13:14-15 KJV] 14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
Is it not reasonable after God gave Abram such a sweeping promise – that Abram’s expectation was that this military incursion was the fulfillment of what God had promised him as recorded in chapter 13? This is important to consider because it sheds new light on what happens after the battle.
In v. 15-16, Abram in an amazing feat of battle conquers four armies and wins the spoil of entire cities known as “ the cities of the plain” including the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In one fell stroke Abram now is in control and by any standard at the time – the master and commander of the entire region. Abram could not have but concluded that everything God told him and promised him had just come to pass.
The next thing that happens (v. 17) is that the king of Sodom moves to meet with Abram to negotiate the return of his kingdom to his control. The historicity of Sodom and Gomorrah is still in dispute by archaeologists, as little archaeological evidence has ever been found in the regions where they were supposedly situated. There are some other stories and historical names which bear a resemblance to the Biblical stories of Sodom and Gomorrah, and some possible natural explanations for the events described have been proposed, but no widely accepted verification of their existence. Interestingly enough all sites near the Dead Sea show evidence of burning and of sulphur dating from the time of Abram.
What is Sodom from the standpoint of biblical metaphor? The book of Revelation speaks of Jerusalem when the two witnesses are martyred:
[Rev 11:8 KJV] 8 And their dead bodies [shall lie] in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
Before the king of Sodom has a chance to tempt Abram the king of Salem, an enigmatic figure known as Melchizedek intercepts Abram on the plain of Mamre (v. 18-24). The Jewish mystics and scholars identify Melchizedek as Noah’s son Shem who lived until 33 years after this meeting with Abram. Noah was a direct descendent of Seth and therefore Shem was the patriarchal or “federal” head of the human race going directly to Adam. He is spoken of as the priest of the most high God. What was the order of his priesthood? The only order we can identify as originating with Adam and being passed down to Noah and on to Shem would be the ORDER of the FAMILY.
The bread and wine Melchizedek gave Abram was a covenantal meal that was part of the universally accepted rite of blood covenant. Melchizedek was ratifying the blood line of Abram as the promised line of Christ.
The term priest means “to lay the hand” which is what fathers did to pass on the patriarchal blessing from father to first born throughout bible times. So Melchizedek comes to Abram to ratify the bloodline that God intended to use to bring forth Jesus in the line of David. Because of Abram’s faith and willingness to participate in God’s plan he became the beneficiary known of as Abraham’s promise.
Speaking of Abram’s bloodline let us remember that he had three sets of children. In Gen. 13:16 he is promised seed as the “dust of the earth.” In Gen. 32:12 we read of the seed of Abram as the “sand of the sea shore.” In Gen. 15:4 we see reference to the seed of Abram as the “stars of the heavens.” Abram did in fact have three separate blood lines – the line of Ishmael (the sand seed); the line of Keturah (the dust seed) and the line of Isaac (the star seed). This speaks metaphorically of the barbarians and pagans (dust seed); the line of Ishmael (the religious crowd), the sand seed and the children of God from the heart (the star seed). Dust represents flesh; Sand represents what you build on that brings destruction as Jesus said and the star seed which are the people of God whose lives are arranged in constellations to portray God’s purposes in the earth through time.
Melchizedek receives tithes of Abram. This is the only mention of tithes outside the context of the law of Moses (other than Jesus charging the Pharisees with hypocrisy in Matt. 23:23 and Luke 11:42). However if we were to tithe as Abram tithed we would give God ten percent and give the ninety percent back to our employers as a reminder that they are not our source of enrichment. The tithe mandate is a major beam in the eye of modern Christians as it is held as the sacrosanct means by which the infrastructure of modern Christianity is maintained.
Are Christians obligated to the tithe? If we are then according to James 2:10 we are therefore obligated to the entire law of Moses. That might be a tenable argument except when this question was addressed in Acts 15:29 the Jewish church only imposed prohibitions on eating strangled meat and to abstain from fornication. How come they didn’t say “and to pay their tithes…” We need to be very careful about putting ourselves under a religious obligation that God does not clearly require in scripture. What is the alternative? Jesus addressed this in Luke:
[Luk 21:1-4 KJV] 1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. 2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. 3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: 4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
John the Baptist touched on this as well in Luke:
[Luk 3:11 KJV] 11 He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.
So the giving that Jesus and John actually taught on was giving into the kingdom out of your poverty and giving all of your surplus to the poor.
In the aftermath of Abram’s encounter with Melchizedek the king of Sodom seemingly makes a reasonable appeal to Abram for the lives of his citizens. By the traditions of the day however he was trying to hire Abram as a mercenary to work in Sodom’s employ which in no way Abram could do.
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