Melchizedek (Gen 14:17-14:24)

“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. King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine.  He was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth.  And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’”

After this great victory, the king of Sodom went out to meet Abram in the Valley of Shaveh, north of Jerusalem.  King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine because he was the priest of the God Most High (El Elyon).    He then blessed Abram.  This episode has another name for God other than Yahweh. Many have seen Salem as Jerusalem.  This combination of a king priest of Jerusalem, Melchizedek, with his bread and wine, became a figure or allegory for Christ with his bread and wine within the priestly order of Melchizedek.

“Abram gave him one-tenth of everything.  Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.’  But Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to Yahweh God Most High, maker of heaven and earth,  that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, `I have made Abram rich.’  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.’”

            Abram gave 10% of everything to King Melchizedeck.  Perhaps this is a foreshadowing of things to come or was already in place concurrently at the time of the author. The king of Sodom said he wanted the people, but the not the goods that had been conquered. Abram refused to take any goods because he did not want to be known as someone who got rich out of this battle, since he already was rich.  Abram took nothing except what his men had eaten and the Amorite men’s share.

The battle of the four great kings (Gen 14:1-14:16)

“In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar.  And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim, that is, the Dead Sea area.  Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.  In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,  and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness.  Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat, that is, Kadesh, and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar.  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 with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five.  Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits.  As the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.  They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”

Who are these guys?  It is four kings against five. Apparently Chedorlaomer of Elam, perhaps a place in Persia, was the chief ruler for twelve years, when a rebellion occurred. He got his three friendly kings, Amraphel of Shinar, which may have been in Babylonia, Arioch of Ellasar, and Tidal of Goiim, and defeated the Rephaim, who were the tall warrior people, at Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim, some kind of stout warriors, at Ham, the Emim, tall warriors, at Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites, the cave dwellers of Seir. Then they turned back and subdued the Amalekites, the tent dwellers, and the Amorites, the hill people. This was an invasion from the east on the plains around the Jordan River.  Most of those defeated were considered to be large tall warriors.

The four kings then had a war with five other kings, King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is Zoar, that took place in Siddim by the Dead Sea.  This is the only mention of these five kings, who were the local leaders around this Dead Sea area.  The four kings won the battle as the defeated ones fell into the bitumen tar pits or fled.  The victors took the possessions of Lot and the land around Sodom and Gomorrah.

 “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and  Aner.  These were allies of Abram.  When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.  He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus.  Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.”

Somehow, Abram gets involved in some fighting, which seems to be out of character for him.   Here is first time that Abram is called a Hebrew.  One of the Amorites, who was an ally of Abram, went to Abram to tell him what had happened. Both Eschol and Aner had places named after them.  So Abram got 318 trained men who were born in his house, probably slaves, and went after them as far as Dan, but Dan did not exist until after the conquest of Canaan.  He then pursued them and routed them at Hobah, north of Damascus.  That was a long way to go.  He brought back his nephew Lot, all his people and all his goods.  Abram had a large household and was quite a fighter to defeat the four kings. Anyway, this is the strange story of Abram the warrior.