Genesis 14

August 10, 2011 at 10:12 am | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, they 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 (that is, Zoar). All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar. And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim, against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar–four kings against five. Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people. Then 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). Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ “I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.”

This week, we continue our look at the book of Genesis with a study of Genesis 14. It’s a long study this week because we’re looking at the whole chapter. Because it’s been awhile since our last study, we’re going to recap (although we’d do this anyway! lol).

Abram has been called out of his homeland and has been led to a new land by God. He has traveled to Egypt due to a famine. Here, he told his wife Sarai to tell everyone that she was his sister (which technically was true). Because of this, Pharaoh decided to take her for his wife and give Abram many gifts. Before anything could happen to Sarai, Pharaoh found out (we’re not sure how) that Sarai was really Abram’s wife and forced him, Sarai, and Lot (plus all of their newly acquired gifts) out of all of Egypt. Abram moves back to Bethel and settles there. Because of the abundance of both Abram and Lot, their herdsmen begin to fight each other. Abram gives Lot a choice as to where he will live and Lot chooses the well-watered valley near Sodom and Gomorrah. After they separate, God expands the promise that He made to Abram when he left his homeland. Now, not only will Abram will be a great nation, but the land that he walks in every direction will be his. He then moves his tent to Mamre and builds an altar to the Lord.

In chapter 14, Moses begins by laying out some of the background of what is about to take place. We see that four kings (Amraphel, Tidal, Arioch, Cherdolaomer) decided to go to war with five kings (Bela, Birsha, Semeber, Bera, Shinab). The five kings had been serving Cherdolaomer, king of Elam, for twelve years and decided to rebel against him in the thirteenth year. In the next year, Cherdolaomer went out and defeated a number of tribes/groups/nations in the area. In response to this, the five kings came out to fight him and his allies. The area where they fought was full of tar pits and as the five kings fled the losing battle, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell into them. After their defeat, the kings were taken captive (most of the people fled into the hill country). Cherdolaomer also took all of the goods and food from Sodom and Gomorrah. As part of this, they took Lot and his family captive. Lot had moved from the valley to the gates of the city and now, he had moved into the city of Sodom itself.

One of the survivors finds their way to Abram and tells him about what has taken place. Abram hears about what had happened to his nephew, chooses three hundred and eighteen of his own relatives to go fight and rescue Lot. Eshcol, Aner, and Mamre also choose to go with Abram. The entire group pursues the kings as far as Dan (in Northern Israel) and sets out to defeat the kings. At night, Abram separates his men into groups and attacks them. While we don’t have the specifics of how the battle took place, we do know that Abram won. What five kings and all of their men couldn’t do, Abram and his men (which we would assume to be lesser in number) did.

After the defeat, Abram returns home with the food, the items, the people, and the possessions as well as his nephew Lot. As they get back home, the king of Sodom comes out to meet Abram in the valley of Shaveh. Here, Abram also meets Melchizedek the king of Salem. This passage is one of the few that gives us any information on Melchizedek. We find out that Melchizedek is a priest of God Most High (El Elyon). Melchizedek is mentioned one other time in the Old Testament (Psalm 110:4). The rest of the times that Melchizedek is spoken of are found in the book of Hebrews. The main passage that we’re going to look at is Hebrews 7:1-3:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

Here, we see that Melchizedek blessed Abram(Abraham) and Abram gave him a tenth of the spoils. Melchizedek is called “first of all”, the “king of righteousness”, and the king of Salem (peace). He is also said to have no father or mother, no genealogy, no beginning or end but was made “like the Son of God”. Many believe that Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate manifestation of Christ. Others say that the similarities between Christ and Melchizedek are that neither of them have any given pedigree where they can trace a lineage of priesthood. Nothing of this matter is said about Melchizedek and nothing in the genealogy of Christ lends itself to this either. They were both different than the line of priests that came from Aaron.

Melchizedek blesses Abram and the God Most High, whom they both serve. He then recognizes that it was God who delivered Abram’s enemies into his hands. For all intents and purposes, Abram and his “army” should have been defeated by the four kings and their armies. And yet, they weren’t. Out of respect for Melchizedek, Abram gives him a tenth of all the spoils. After their interaction, Abram turns from the king of Salem to the king of Sodom. I don’t think that there are many more different people than the two before Abram. The king of Sodom asks Abram for the people and tells him to keep the remaining spoils. I find it odd that the king asks for the people. Some of them were likely his subjects, but others were not. Knowing the background of Sodom and what was going to happen in the near future, I can’t help but think that the request was for immoral reasons, but there is nothing in scripture to support this. Regardless of the reason for the request, Abram denies him. Instead of taking the spoils, Abram says that the only thing that will be missing from the spoils is what those that came with him had eaten as well as the shares of Eshcol, Aner, and Mamre. The reason behind this is twofold. First, Abram has sworn to God that he wouldn’t take a sandal or coin. Second, he knew the character of the king of Sodom and didn’t want to give the king the opportunity to say that it was because of him that Abram was rich.

What have you sworn to God? Have you kept that? Many hold to the view that if we have sworn something to God, that we should do everything we can to keep that oath/vow (Exodus 20:7/Leviticus 19:12/Numbers 30:2-16/Deuteronomy 23:23/Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). I would agree with that, but with one caveat. In Matthew 5, Jesus takes this law a step further:

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)

We shouldn’t be making vows. Instead, we should be able to say “yes” or “no” and that should be enough. It should be a concrete and sound thing. It would mean that we would have to be careful even what we say. Instead of saying that we will do this or that, we should say “if the Lord wills” as it says in James:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-15)

Please be careful what you vow, and how you look at others. Let your yes be yes and your no be no! Thank you for reading along with us this week. Please share our blog with others that we may get the truth of the gospel to others. Also, join us next week for the next part of our Genesis study.

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