1 “And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king
to pass. After the separation of Abram and Lot, Lot now appears
as a citizen of
and not merely a settler in the
of Abram's life (Hughes). The present chapter, "the oldest extant record respecting
Abraham" (Ewald), but introduced into the Mosaic narrative by the Jehovistic editor
(Knobel, Tuch, Bleek, Davidson), possesses traces of authenticity, of which not the
least is the chronological definition with which it commences (Havernick). In the
days of Amraphel. Sanscrit, Amrapala, keeper of the gods (Gesenius); Arphaxad
(Furst); powerful people (Young, 'Analytical Concordance'); root unknown (Murphy,
Kalisch). King of
venerated (Bohlen, Gesenius, Furst); probably from the root אֲרִי, a lion, hence
leonine (Gesenius, Murphy). The name, which reappears in Daniel 2:14, has been
compared, though doubtfully, with the Urukh of the inscriptions (see 'Records of
the Past,' vol. 3. p. 9). King of Ellasar.
Λάρισσα - Larissa or λαράχων – larachon of the Greeks, now Senkereh, a town
of Lower Babylonia, between Mugheir (
be Phoenicio-Shemitie, though probably its true etymology should be sought in
ancient Persian (Gesenius, Furst). The name has been detected by archaeologists
in Kudur-mapula, the Ravager of the West, whom monumental evidence declares
to have reigned over
the Elamite, the worship of the great gods who did not fear," and the conqueror of
Chaldaea, B.C. 2280; but in both instances the identifications are problematical.
The name Chedorlaomer in Babylonian would be Kudur-lagamer; but as yet this
name has not been found on the inscriptions (see 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3
pp. 7, 19). King of
(compare ch. 10:22). And Tidal. "Fear, veneration" (Gesenius); terror (Murphy);
"splendor, renown" (Furst); though the name may not be Shemitic. King of nations.
The Scythians (Symmachus); the Galilean heathen (Clericus, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch),
which are inappropriate in this connection nomadic races (Rawlinson); probably some
smaller tribes so gradually subjugated by Tidal as to render it "impossible to describe
him briefly with any degree of accuracy" (Kalisch).
2 “That these made war with Bera king of
Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the
king of Bela, which is Zoar.” That these made war. The Septuagint connect the
present with the preceding verse by reading "that Arioch," &c. Ewald interpolates
"of Abram," before "that Amraphel." With Bera. "Gift - בֶּש־רַע (Gesenius).
therefore subject to volcanic eruptions; from סָדַם, conjectured to mean to burn
(Gesenius). "Lime place," or "enclosed place;' from סָדָה, to surround (Furst).
A mountain with fossil salt at the present day is called Hagv Usdum; and Galen
also knew of a
(Gesenius); "long and thick" (Murphy);
"strong, thick" (Furst). King of
Γομορρας – Gomorras - Gomorrah (Septuagint); perhaps "culture, habitation"
(Gesenius); "rent, fissure" (Furst). Shinab. "Father's tooth" (Gesenius); "splendor
of Ab" (Furst); "coolness" (Murphy). King of Admah. Fruit region, farm city (Furst).
And Shemeber. "Soaring aloft" (Gesenius). King of Zeboiim. Place of hyenas
(Gesenius); gazelles (Murphy); a wild place (Furst). And the king of Bela. "Devoured,"
or "devouring" (Gesenius). Which is Zoar. "The small," a name afterwards given to
the city (ch. 19:22), and here introduced as being better known than the more ancient
3 “All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.”
All these - the last-named princes - were joined together - i.e. as confederates
(and came with their forces) - in (literally, to) the vale of Siddim. The salt valley
(Septuagint); a wooded vale (Vulgate); a plain filled with rocky hollows (Gesenius),
with which v. 10 agrees; the valley of plains or fields (Onkelos, Raschi, Keil, Murphy).
Which is the salt sea. i.e. where the salt sea afterwards arose, on the destruction of the
cities of the plain – ch. 19:24-25 (Keil, Havernick; cf.
but the text scarcely implies that the cities were submerged, only the valley
(compare Quarry, p. 207). The extreme depression of the
below the level of the
(containing 26.25 per cent of saline particles), renders it one of the most remarkable
of inland lakes. Its shores are clothed with gloom and desolation. Within a mile
from northern embouchure the verdure of the rich
along its desolate margin lie broken canes and willow branches, with trunks of palms,
poplars, and other trees, half embedded in slimy mud, and all covered with
incrustations of salt. At its south-western corner stands the mountain of rock salt,
with its columnar fragments, which Josephus says, in his day was regarded as the
4 “Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they
rebelled.” Twelve years - dating from the commencement of his reign (Murphy) –
they served - and paid tribute (compare II Kings 18:7) - Chedorlaomer. If the king
(ch. 9:26); but according to the monuments the Elamits dynasty was Turanian.
And in the thirteenth year - during the whole of the thirteenth year (see Ewald's
'Hebrews Synt.,' § 300, a; compare v. 5) - they rebelled, or had 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,” And in (or during) the fourteenth
year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote (because
of actual or probable rebellion) the Rephaims. Γίγαντας – Gigantas (Septuagint),
a tribe of gigantic stature (from an Arabic root, to be high), the iron bed of whose
last king, Og, measured nine yards in length and four in breadth (Deuteronomy 3:11);
forming a portion of the aboriginal inhabitants of
the Canaanites, though existing as a remnant as late as the conquest (ibid.ch. 2:20;
3:11, 13). In Ashteroth Karnaim. Literally, Ashteroth of the Two Horns; so called
either from its situation between two horn-shaped hills (Jewish interpreters),
or because of the horned cattle with which it abounded (Hillery), or in honor of
the goddess Ashtaroth, Astarte, or Venus, whose image was such as to suggest
the idea of a horned figure (A Lapide, Gesenius, Kalisch); identified by some
with the capital of Og (Keil), but by others distinguished from it (Wetstein);
of uncertain site, though claimed to survive in the ruins of Tell Ashtereh, near
the ancient Edrei (Ritter); in those of Afineh, eight miles from Buzrah (Porter);
in the modern village Mesarib (Burckhardt); or in El Kurnem or Ophein in
Ledsha (Robinson). And the Zuzims. Probably the Zamzummims between the Arnon
and the Jabbok (Deuteronomy 2:20). In Ham. "Possibly the ancient name of Rabba
of the Ammonites (Deuteronomy 3:11), the remains being still preserved in the
colossal stature. In Shaveh Kiriathaim. Literally, the plain of Kiriatkaim, or the
plain of the two cities, situated in the district afterwards assigned to Reuben
(Numbers 32:37); identified with Coraiatha, the modern Koerriath or Kereyat,
ten miles west of Medebah (Eusebias, Jerome, Kalisch), which, however, rather
corresponds with Kerioth, in Jeremiah 48:24 (Keil).
6 “And the Horites in their
And the Horites.
Literally, dwelling in caves; from char, a cave. In their
Literally, wooded (Gesenius); hairy (Furst); rugged (Lange); probably with reference
to the thick brushwood and forests that grew upon its sides. The cave men of Seir were
the earlier inhabitants of the region lying between the Dead
Sea and the
afterwards taken possession of by the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:12; Jeremiah 49:16;
Obadiah 1:3-4). Unto El-paran I.e. the oak or terebinth of Paran. Which is by the
wilderness. Between the
Israelitish march lay from Sinai (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p. 92).
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.”
And they returned - from the oak of Paran, the southernmost point reached by the
invaders - and came to En-mishpat - the Well of Judgment, regarded as a prolepsis
by those who derive the name from the judgment pronounced on Moses and Aaron
(A Lapide); but more probably the ancient designation of the town, which was so
styled because the townsmen and villagers settled their disputes at the well in its
neighborhood (Kalisch) - which is Kadesh, of which (Numbers 20:14) the exact
site cannot now be ascertained, though the spring Ain Kades, on the heights of
Jebel Hals, twelve miles east-south-east of Moyle, the halting-place of caravans
(Rowland, Keil, Kalisch), and
marking the locality. And smote all the country of the Amalekites. i.e. afterwards
possessed by them, to the west of
(see ch. 36:12). And also the Amorites. The mountaineers, as distinguished from
the Canaanites or lowlanders (compare ch. 10:16). That dwelt in Haezon-tamar.
"The pruning of the palm;" afterwards Engedi, "the fountain of the wild goat,"
situated midway up the western shore of the
(compare Joshua 15:62; I Samuel 24:1-2; II Chronicles 20:2; Ezekiel 47:10).
8 “And there went out the king of
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
king of Ellasar; four kings with five.” And there went out (to resist the onslaught
of the victorious Asiatics) the king of
king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar);
(i.e. the five revolted monarchs of the Pentapolis) and they joined battle with them
in the vale of Siddim (see v. 3); with Chedorlaomer the king of
Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of
four kings with five.
10 “And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits;
and the kings of
And the vale of Siddim was full of slime-pits. Literally, was pits, pits (compare
II Kings 3:16; Ezekiel 42:12 for examples of repeated nouns) of slime, bitumen or
asphalte, and therefore unfavorable for flight. "Some of the wells near the Dead
Sea are 116 feet deep, with a stratum of bitumen fifteen feet in depth, and as black
as jet" (Inglis). And the kings of
into the pits and perished (Keil, Lange, Murphy), though if
the king of
(v. 17), the language may only mean that they were overthrown there (Knobel,
Rosenmüller, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'). And they that remained fled to the
11 “And they took all the goods of
and went their way. They (the conquering kings), ascending up the valley of the
12 “And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who
departed.” And they took
It betokens a considerable declension in spiritual life to behold him a citizen of
The Capture of
Ø War is sometimes justifiable in its origin and objects. When undertaken
to achieve or preserve national independence, to vindicate the liberties and
secure the rights of men, or to repel the aggressions of ambitious despots,
even war with all its bloody horrors may become an imperious and fierce
necessity. It is difficult to determine whether on either side the campaign in
the vale of Siddim was entitled to be so characterized. The kings of the
Pentapolis were fighting for emancipation from a foreign yoke, and so far
perhaps were entitled to be regarded as having right upon their side; yet
they had themselves been invaders of a land which had originally been
assigned to the tribes of Shem. But however the question of right may be
settled as between these ancient warriors, it is certain their successors on
the battle-fields of earth have much more frequently had the wrong upon
their sides than the right.
Ø Victory does not always favor those who seem to have the best cause.
The maxim of the great Napoleon, that God is always on the side of the
strongest battalions, is as wide astray from the exact truth on this important
subject as is the prevailing sentiment that God always defends the right.
The doctrine of Scripture is that the Lord of Hosts is independent of both
regiments and rifles, can save by many or by few, and giveth the victory to
whomsoever He will; and that not always does He choose to render these
arms triumphant which are striking for the holiest cause, but sometimes,
for reasons of His own (it may be to chastise a nation for its sins, or to
move them to faith and prayer, or to teach them some important lesson),
the wrong to trample down the right. The history of
records of modern warfare supply numerous examples.
Ø Disastrous and terrible are the usual concomitants of war. Not that
God does not frequently overrule the hostilities of contending nations, and
evolve from the murderous designs of monarchs results the most beneficial,
making war the pioneer of civilization, and even of religion; but the
immediate effects of international strife are ever ruinous and appalling:
o fruitful fields devastated,
o fair cities sacked,
o valuable property destroyed,
o lives of men wasted,
o a nation’s blood and treasure poured out like water,
o lamentation, mourning, and woe commissioned to many homes, and
o a burden of care and sorrow LAID ON ALL!
All this was exemplified in the present instance.
Ø When war arises the innocent largely suffer with the guilty. Had the
campaign against the kings of the Pentapolis not been prepared, it is
probable that the Rephaims, Zuzims, Emims, Horites, Amalekites, and
Amerites would not have suffered at the hands of Chedorlaomer, and it is
monarch. Now, so far as the primal reason of this invasion was concerned,
all these were innocent of any offence against the Asiatic king, and yet they
amongst the victims of his wrath against the rebels of the
Ø Deserved. Although
making his abode in
o in continuing amongst the inhabitants when he ascertained their
ungodly character. In ch. 13 we learned that:
§ Lot chose all the plain of Jordan
Lot pitched his tent towards
Lot sat in the gate of
Lot was unhappy -
§ II Pet. 2:8
Apparently the sojourn in
Consequently God avenged himself upon his erring servant by allowing him
to lose his property, and to come near the losing of his life as well in the
sacking of the city. So “the face of the Lord is set against them that do
evil.” (Psalm 34:16)
UNEXPECTED as to its cause,
nothing worthy of chastisement, for sin has a strange power of obscuring
the moral vision and deadening the voice of conscience; almost certainly as
to its time, God’s judgments for the most part taking men unawares (compare
Psalm 73:18-19), and evil-doers being commonly snared in an evil
time, like the fishes of the sea (Ecclesiastes 9:12), walking like blind
men because they have sinned against the Lord (Zephaniah 1:17); and
more than likely as to its form, those who anticipate the outpouring of
Divine indignation being seldom able to discern beforehand the special
character it will assume.
had chosen the
locality for thriving in his flocks and herds, and Chedorlaomer’s armies
swept his folds and stalls entirely clean. He had elected to live among the
filthy Sodomites, and so he is compelled to fare as they. God’s
recompenses to evil-doers (whether saints or sinners) are never unsuitable,
though man’s often are.
Ø Merciful. He might have lost his life in the general massacre of the city’s
inhabitants, but he only lost his property, or rather it was not yet lost,
along with himself, his wife, and daughters. So God ever mingles mercy
with judgment when dealing with His people.
Ø Premonitory. Though all retribution is not designed to admonish and
reprove, this was. The vengeance taken on the wicked at THE DAY
OF JUDGMENT will be purely punitive; that which falls upon
transgressors while on earth is aimed at their amendment. Unhappily,
however, as in the case
taking warning at what
might have proved his ruin,
HE RETURNED TO
judgments and great providential mercies are often equally despised!?
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.” And there came one that had escaped.
Literally, the fugitive party, the article denoting the genus, as in "the Canaanite,"
ch. 12:6 (vide Ewald's ' Hebrew Syntax,' § 277, a.). And told Abram the Hebrew.
"The immigrant" - trans fluvialis, ὁ περάτης – ho perataes - from beyond the
applied to the patriarch by the inhabitants of
inserted by the historian to distinguish Abram from Mamre the Amorite,
"the descendant of Eber" (Lyra, Drusius, Calvin, Bush, Candlish, Murphy,
'Speaker's Commentary;' see on ch. 10:21 – It is from “Eber” that the term
“Hebrew” has been derived). For he dwelt - literally, and (at that
time) he was dwelling - in the plain - rather "oak groves" (see ch. 13:18) –
of Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner, concerning
whom nothing is certainly known beyond the fact that they were Canaanitish
chieftains (probably possessing some remnant of the true faith, like Melchisedeck)
with whom the patriarch entered into an offensive and defensive alliance. And these
were confederate - literally, lords of covenant, i.e. masters or possessors of a treaty
(compare "lord or possessor of dreams," ch. 37:19; "lords or masters of arrows,"
II Kings 1:3); rendered συνωμόται – sunomotai - (Septuagint) - lords of the oath,
as in Nehemiah 6:18, ἔνορκοι - enrkoi – sworn (Septuagint) - 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.” And when Abram heard that his brother - so called as
his brother's son, or simply as his relative (ch. 42:8) - was taken captive, he –
literally, and he - armed - literally, caused to pour forth, i.e. drew out in a body,
from a root signifying "to pour out" (Gesenius, Furst); from a root meaning to
unsheath or draw out anything as from a scabbard, and hence equivalent to expedivit,
he got ready (Onkelos, Saadias, Rosenmüller, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'). Kalisch
connects both senses with the root. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and others translate
"numbered," reading later יָּדֵּק for יָּרֵק his trained - literally, initiated, instructed,
but not necessarily practiced in arms (Keil); perhaps only familiar with' domestic
duties (Kalisch), since it is the intention of the writer to show that Abram conquered
not by arms, but by faith - servants, born in his own house - i.e. the children of his
own patriarchal family, and neither purchased nor taken in war - three hundred
and eighteen - which implied a household of probably more than a thousand souls –
and - along with these and his allies (see v. 24) - pursued them - the victorious
Asiatics - unto Dan - which is here substituted for its older name Laish, for which
see Joshua 19:47 (Ewald), though regarded by some as not the Laish Dan conquered
by the Danites, but probably Dan-jaan, mentioned in II Samuel 24:6 (Havernick,
against which, however, is the statement of Josephus ('
that this Dan was one of the sources of the
original designation of the town, which was changed under the Sidonians to
Laish (lion), and
restored at the conquest. Clericus suggests that the
fountain may have been styled Dan, "Judge," and the neighboring town Laish,
and that the Danites, observing the coincidence of the former with the name of
their own tribe, gave it to the city they had conquered. Alford is doubtful whether
Dan-juan was really different from Laish.
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
servants (along with the troops of his allies), by night, and (falling on them
unexpectedly from different quarters) smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah.
A place Choba is mentioned in Judith 15:5 as that to which the Assyrians were
pursued by the victorious Israelites. A village of the same name existed near
mentioned by Troilo, a quarter of a mile to the north
that of Hobah, two miles outside the walls (
or in Burzeh, where there is a Moslem wady, or saint's tomb, called the sanctuary
of Abraham (Porter's 'Handbook,' p. 492). Which is to the left of (i.e. to the north of,
the spectator being supposed to look eastward)
on the river Chrysorrhoas, in a large and fertile plain at the foot of Antilibanus,
the oldest existing city in the world, being possessed at the present day of 150,000
inhabitants (that being two centuries ago – today – 1,750,000 – 2011 estimate -\
CY – 2019)
16 “And he brought back all the goods, and also
brought again his brother
and his goods, and the women also, and the people.” And he brought back all
the goods. Col-harecush. The Septuagint translate τὴν ἵππον – taen hippon –
the goods, as if they read רֶכֶשׁ
רְכֻשׁ. And also brought again his brother
and his goods. Καὶ πάντα τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτοῦ - Kai panta ta huparchonta autou –
and all his goods (Septuagint). And the women also, and the people.
The Kinsman Deliverer, or Abram’s Military Expedition
Ø Self-forgetful magnanimity. Had the patriarch possessed a less noble
soul, the tidings of his nephew’s capture would almost certainly have
kindled in his breast a secret feeling of complacency. But not only in his
behavior on the occasion was there the complete absence of any such
revengeful disposition as gloats with satisfaction over the punishment of a
wrong-doer, there was something like a manifest unconsciousness of
having ever suffered
Ø Brotherly compassion. If he did sometimes admit to himself that his
nephew had scarcely acted handsomely towards him, any feeling of
resentment with which that reflection may have been associated was
completely swallowed up by the sorrow which he felt for that nephew’s
fate. After all
well, and he could not choose but be affected by the melancholy news.
Besides being self-forgetful, the piety of Abram was sympathetic.
Ø Active benevolence. Meekly patient of injuries when inflicted on himself,
the patriarch was ever ready to redress the wrongs of others, even of the
undeserving. Nor was his philanthropy of that weakly benevolent sort
which is always going to do some act of kindness to others, but never does
it, or is so unaccountably slow in doing it that it comes to be practically of
little use, or that would willingly extend a helping hand to the unfortunate
if it could only be done without much trouble; on the contrary, it was
prompt, decisive, energetic, and carried through with much labor, and at
considerable risk to his own personal safety.
Ø Unexpectedly evoked. The last thing which ordinary minds would
anticipate as an element in the character of one so good, pious, benevolent,
and magnanimous as Abram the Hebrew, there is yet no essential
incongruity between the talents of a soldier and the graces of a Christian;
while as for the patriarch suddenly discovering all the qualities of a great
commander, it is perhaps sufficient to reply that hitherto the crisis had not
arrived to call them forth. The annals of warfare, both ancient and modern,
attest that true military genius has not always been confined to professors
of the soldier’s art, but has oftentimes been discovered, of the rarest kind,
in persons who, till summoned forth
Ø Brilliantly displayed. In the gallant exploit of the patriarch are exhibited
the tactics that from time immemorial have been adopted by all great
generals — by Miltiades and Themistocles of Greece, by Julius Caesar, by
Belisarius, the general of Justinian, by Oliver Cromwell, by Napoleon, by
Stonewall Jackson and Sherman of
forces, out-flanking and out-marching of the enemy (see Lange, p. 405).
Ø Completely successful. The foe was defeated, the prisoners and spoil
were recaptured, and it does not appear that Abram or his allies lost a man.
That generalship is the best which accomplishes its object at the least
expense of soldiers’ blood and subjects’ treasure.
Ø A sufficient ground on which to go to war. The question as to Abram’s
right to mingle in
this contest in the
replying that Abram had the right:
o of natural affection to attempt the rescue of his relative,
o of a sacred humanity to liberate the captive and punish the oppressor,
o of faith. Already God had given him the land, and we are fully
warranted in regarding him as acting in this heroic expedition in the
capacity of (under God) lord-paramount of the soil.
Ø The necessary power with which to prosecute the war. Possessed of
military genius though the patriarch was, it is not supposable that he
entered upon this campaign against the trained armies of the conquering
kings, pursuing them along a difficult and dangerous track, without first
casting himself on the Almighty and as His strength. And if that Almighty
arm, in order to succor him, took the way of developing the capabilities for
warfare which had hitherto been lying dormant in his soul, it was none the
less true that the help which he received was Divine.
Ø The splendid victory which resulted from the war. Whether the writer to
the Hebrews (ch.11:34) thought of Abram when he spoke of
faith’s heroes subduing kingdoms and waxing valiant in the fight, it is
apparent that Isaiah 41:2-3 ascribes the triumph of the son
of Terah to the grace of God, which thus rewarded the faith which, in
obedience to a Divine
impulse, sprang to the relief of
of the great kinsman Deliverer is too obvious to be overlooked.
Ø In His person the Lord Jesus Christ, like Abram, was the kinsman of
those whom he delivered.
Ø The work He undertook, like that of Abram, was the emancipation of His
Ø As in the case of Abram, that work consisted in despoiling the
principalities and powers of evil.
Ø The motive by which He was impelled on this arduous warfare was, like
that which inspired the patriarch, love for His kinsmen.
Ø The promptitude of Christ in coming to the aid of men was typified by
Abram’s celerity in hastening to the
Ø As the campaign of Abram, so the warfare of Christ was carried through
at great expense of toil and suffering to Himself.
Ø In the faith of Abram was shadowed forth the calm reliance of the Savior
that all He did was in obedience to His Father’s will.
Ø The success with which the patriarch was rewarded was emblematic of
the higher victory of Christ.
1. To imitate the piety of Abram.
2. To admire in him, if we cannot in ourselves, the possession of superior
3. To covet earnestly the wonderworking faith which he displayed.
4. To trust in the great kinsman Deliverer of which he was the type.
a Sermon for the
the first, and of the comparative feebleness of the Church still; yet “God’s
strength is ever made perfect in weakness,” and so “the weakness of God
becomes stronger than men.” (II Corinthians 12:9; I Corinthians 1:25)
as possessors of the true faith, suggestive of the united purpose and action
the weakness that springs from divided counsels.
with which the Church should set about her enterprise of conquering the
world for Christ; a reminder of how much may be lost by delay.
— that His people should be wise as serpents; revealing the necessity for
the Church making use of the most brilliant abilities she can command on
all her different fields of action.
which awaits the Church, and of the blessing which, through its
instrumentality, will eventually descend upon the world.
17 “And the king of
slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the
his successor (see v. 10) - went out to meet him (i.e. Abram) after his return from
the slaughter (perhaps too forcible an expression for mere defeat) of Chedorlaomer,
and the kings that were with him (the entire clause from "after" is parenthetical),
supposed to be the valley of the
was afterwards erected (II Samuel 18:18); which
may be correct if the
afterwards mentioned was
Shaveh must be left undetermined. Which is the king's dale. Or valley (emek);
so styled because suitable for kingly sports or military exercises (Onkelos);
because of its beauty (
there (Malvenda); or most likely because of the interview between him and
Abram which there occurred (Keil, Lange), with which agrees the rendering
τὸ πεδίον τῶν βασιλέων – to pedion ton basileon – the king’s valley. (Septuagint).
18 “And Melchizedek king of
the priest of the most high God.” And Melchisedeck. "King of righteousness"
(Hebrews 7:2); an indication that the Canaanitish language was Shemitie, having
been probably 'adopted from the original Shemite inhabitants of the country.
Not a titular designation, like Augustus, Pharaoh, or Malek-ol-adel (rexjustus) of
the Mohammedan kings (Cajetan), but the name of a person; neither an angel
(Origen), nor the Holy Ghost (Hieracas), nor some great Divine power (the
Melchisedecians), all of which interpretations are baseless conjectures; nor Christ
(Ambrose), which is contrary to Hebrews 6:20; Norghem (Targums, Lyre, Willet,
Luther, Ainsworth), which Hebrews 7:3 sufficiently negatives; but most probably
a Canaanitish prince by whom the true faith was retained amid the gloom of
surrounding heathenism (Josephus, Irenaeus, Eusebius, Calvin, A Lapide,
Delitzsch, Keil, Rosenmüller, Candlish, Bush), though it has been suggested that
"the enlightenment of the king of
opinion difficult to harmonize with Hebrews 7:4. King of
"king of peace (Hebrews 7:1). The capital of Melchisedeck was
of which the ancient name was
Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, Bush); or a city
on the other side Jordan en route from
less likely, as being too remote from
of Ephraim, a city near Scythopolis, where the ruins of Melchisedeck's palace
were said to exist (Jerome), and near to which John baptized (Bochart).
Brought forth bread and wine. As a refreshment to the patriarch and his soldiers
(Josephus, Calvin, Clarke, Rosenmüller), which, however, was the less necessary
since the spoils of the conquered foe were in possession of Abram and his men
mainly as a symbol, not of his transference of the soil of
to the patriarch, bread and wine being the chief productions of the ground (Lightfoot),
or of his gratitude to Abram, who had recovered for the land peace, freedom, and
prosperity (Delitzsch), or of the institution of the Supper by the Lord Jesus Christ
(Bush); but of the priestly benediction which followed and of the spiritual
refreshment which it conferred upon the soul of Abram (Kalisch, Murphy).
The Romish idea, that the act of Melchisedeck was sacrificial, is precluded by
the statement that he brought forth the bread and wine before the people, and not
before God. And he was the priest. Cohen; one who undertakes another's cause,
hence one who acts as mediator between God and man, though the primary
signification of the root is doubtful and disputed. The necessity for this office
has its ground in the sinfulness of man, which disqualifies him for direct
intercourse with a holy Being (cf. Kurtz, 'Sacrificial Worship,' ch. 1. b.). The
occurrence of this term, here mentioned for the first time, implies the existence
of a regularly-constituted form of worship by means of priests and sacrifice. Hence
the Mosaic cultus afterwards instituted may only have been a resuscitation and
further development of what had existed from the beginning. Of the most high God.
Literally, El-Ellen, a proper name for the Supreme Deity (occurring only here, in the
narrative of Abram's interview with the kings); of which the first term, El, from the
same root as Elohim (ch. 1:1, q.v.), signifies the Strong One, and is seldom applied
to God without some qualifying attribute or cognomen, as El-Shaddai, or El, the God
Deuteronomy 32:8; Psalm 7:18; [7:17]; 9:2), describes God as the High, the Highest,
the Exalted, the Supreme, and is sometimes used in conjunction with Jehovah
(Psalm. 7:18 [7:17]), and with Elohim (Psalm 57:3 [57:2]), while sometimes it
stands alone (Psalm 21:8 [21:7]). Most probably the designation here describes
the name under which the Supreme Deity was worshipped by Melchisedeck and
the king of
identifying, as in v. 22, El-Elion with Jehovah (cf. Quarry, p. 426).
19 “And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God,
possessor of heaven and earth:” And he blessed him (in which act appears his
distinctively sacerdotal character), and said (the form of the benediction is poetical,
consisting of two parallel stanzas), Blessed be Abram - so Isaac blessed Jacob
(ch. 27:27), and Jacob Joseph (ch. 48:15), conveying in each case a Divine
benediction – of the most high God - לְ after a passive verb indicating the efficient
cause (see Gesenius, § 143, 2, and compare ch. 31:15; Proverbs 14:20) - possessor –
so Onkelos and Calvin; but koneh, from kanah, to erect, set up, hence found or
create, means Founder and Creator (Gesenius), combines the meanings of κτίζειν –
ktizein - create and κτᾶσθαι – ktasthai – possess (Keil), contains no indistinct
allusion to the doctrine of Genesis 1:1 (Murphy), and is rendered ὃς ἔκτισε –
hos ektise – the possessor (Septuagint) and qui creavit (Vulgate) - of heaven
Melchizedek Blessing Abraham (v. 19)
“And he blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of the most high God,
possessor of heaven and earth.” Wherever in Scripture Melchizedek is
spoken of, it is as a type of Christ (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews chapters 5, 6, and 7).
We may so regard him here, and consider his act in its typical light.
Outwardly the transaction was of little mark. A band of men under
Chedorlaomer carried off Lot,
along with other spoil, from
on learning this, armed his household, pursued the invaders, routed them,
and set the captives free. On his return Melchizedek, the head of a tribe
near the line of march, came out to offer refreshment to his men; and as
priest of his tribe he blessed Abram. Whether the type was understood by
Abram or Melchizedek matters not. These things are written for our
learning. We see in them Christ bestowing His blessing.
antitype of Melchizedek, as King of peace (Isaiah 9:6; compare Luke 2:14;
John 14:27). Yet the Christian life is emphatically one of warfare
(Ephesians 6:11-13; II Timothy 2:3; compare here ch. 32:24; I Peter 5:8;
also Revelation chapters 2 and 3. — “to him that overcometh,” &c.). The
nature of that fight is against temptations to unbelief. The fight of faith
Timothy 6:12). The renewal under Christ of the battle lost in
(II Timothy 4:7; I John 5:4). Circumstances may vary. The trial may
be apparent or not. There may be no outward suffering, no visible
hindrance. But what a struggle is implied in II Corinthians 10:5. It is the
struggle against unbelief; to resist the power of things seen; to overcome
“How can these things be?” to realize habitually the “city which hath
foundations” (compare Philippians 3:20); to rest on God’s promises in
simplicity (ibid. v. 7). As often as this struggle is honestly waged
a blessing is bestowed (James 1:2; compare Matthew 7:13; 16:24;
Acts 14:22). We naturally love spiritual ease, but trial is better
possessor of heaven and earth!”
Ø All blessing is from God. We acknowledge this; but Isaiah 10:13 is a
natural feeling. We instinctively look to forgiveness, second causes; yet without this
“looking upward” we cannot truly pray, “Thy will be done;” we cannot
really live a Godward life. Compare Melchizedek’s words with our Lord’s
(John 14:13-16; 16:23), and their fulfillment in His receiving for men
(Psalm 68:18) all needful gifts:
o right to pray,
o means of grace,
o opportunities of work.
Ø All creation is used by Him as means of bestowing His blessing (compare
Romans 8:28). Sorrows (ibid. ch. 5:3; Hebrews 12:11) and joys
(Romans 2:4) are alike instruments of good (compare Psalm 116:12;
of this chapter were followed by more vivid spiritual manifestations to
Abram. And thus our spiritual life advances. The blessing is God’s free gift;
but through conflict with evil the soul is prepared to receive it (compare
Psalm 97:10). As in natural life powers are increased by exercise, or
rather by God’s gift on this condition, so in the spiritual the conflict of self-
denial, our Savior’s blessing, and the “spirit of adoption” are inseparably
linked together. “Grace for grace” should be the Christian’s motto; ever
pressing onwards. And as we can assign no limits to God’s blessing, so
neither is there any limit to our nearness to Him.
20 “And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into
thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” And blessed be the most high God
(compare ch. 9:26), who hath delivered - miggen, a word peculiar to poetry - nathan
(compare Proverbs 4:9; Hosea 11:8) - thine enemies - tsarecha, also a poetical
expression - oyeb (compare Deuteronomy 32:27; Job 16:9; Psalm 81:15) - into thy
hand. And he - not Melchisedeck (Jewish interpreters), but Abram (Josephus,
Septuagint, Jonathan, Hebrews 7:6) - gave him (not Abram, but Melchisedeck)
tithes "tenths." These, being the customary offering to the Deity, were an
acknowledgment of the Divine priesthood of Melchisedeck. The practice of
paying tithes, primarily a voluntary tax for the servants of the sanctuary, appears
to have obtained among different nations from the remotest antiquity (see
Dr. Ginsburg in 'Kitto's Cyclopedia,' art. Tithes). The tithal law was afterwards
incorporated among the Mosaic statutes (Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:31-32) –
of all - the spoils which he had taken (Hebrews 7:4.)
A King-Priest (vs. 18-20)
“And Melchizedek king of
the priest of the most high God. And he blessed Abraham,” &c. When the
in the overthrow. Chedorlaomer was a warrior of great power, and his very
name was terrible. Five confederate kings had in vain resisted him with his
three auxiliaries. He whom kings could not oppose the simple patriarch
Abraham, with armed herdsmen, will
attack and conquer. His kinsman
is in captivity; Abraham will deliver him or die in the attempt. How nobly
shines the character of Abraham in this
from him through a misunderstanding, and had chosen the most fertile
district, and left Abraham the least promising, yet Abraham forgets all,
when his relative is in danger. At great risk he undertakes his deliverance.
He armed his “trained servants,” pursues the enemy, comes upon them “by
night,” divides his small band into three companies, and makes an assault at
once on the right, the center, and flank of the enemy. He routs and pursues
them, smiting many and taking much spoil. He accomplishes above all his
one desire, the restoration of
with conquest, he is met at the gates
him bread, wine, and the Divine benediction.
is king and priest. His name means, king of righteousness. He dwells in
between Chedorlaomer and the king of
relatives, and had no reason for fighting. Had cunning foes attacked his city
of peace, he would doubtless have driven them off if possible. A king of
righteousness, he would not think it his duty to submit to unrighteousness.
He was, however, left unattacked by the fierce Chedorlaomer, and took
care to provoke no quarrel. Perhaps he was not assailed because
universally respected as a man of peace and a priest of God. This reason
may have availed in that early age, and in respect to the first war of which
we have any account, but it is not certain that it would be accounted a
sufficient reason now. Various have been the speculations as to who
Melchizedek was. Some believed that he was Enoch come back to earth, or
Job, the tried one; others, that he was Shem, the best son of Noah. This is
possible, as, according to calculations made, Shem survived Abraham forty
years; but it is improbable, because Moses would have spoken of Shem by
his proper name, and because that would not apply which is said of
Melchizedek, in Hebrews 7:3 — that he was “without father, without
mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life.”
We know the ancestry of Shem, but not that of Melchizedek. The difficult
passage, the third of the seventh chapter of Hebrews, means, probably,
merely this — that his descent was not known, and that his priesthood was
not inherited or derived from others, but one resting in his individual
character. Thus Noah, Job, Hobab or Jethro, and Balaam acted as
independent priests, and their offerings were recognized by God.
Melchizedek, in his maintenance of the worship of God, came to be
accepted as a priest, and his life was like a star shining amid the general
coming nor the going of which could easily be discerned. We are told of
him that he was “without beginning of days or end of life.” Some have
therefore thought that Melchizedek was an angel or a pre-incarnation of
Christ; if so, Christ would have been the type and the antitype. But that
which is thought to be spoken of the man refers to his office; it was
without definite beginning or ending. The Levitical priesthood had a
definite beginning and ending; that of Melchizedek is never ended. The one
stood in carnal ceremonies, the other in the power of a holy character. The
Levitical was introduced because of the unfitness of all to become “kings
and priests unto God;” but that of Melchizedek, being according to
character, has no “end of days.” It foreshadowed the priesthood of Christ,
whose work never passeth away, but who abideth a priest continually.
Melchizedek was a type of Christ, the one great High Priest, the holiest of
all on earth, and who enters for us into the holiest place. The omissions
concerning parentage or the beginning of his priesthood were probably
designed by God, that in Melchizedek — the most prominent of patriarchal
priests — there might be a more significant type of Him who is a Priest for
ever after the order of Melchizedek. This would explain the force of the
prophecy in Psalm 110., and the words in Hebrews 7. Indeed the Levitical
priesthood could not supply a perfect type, for it had no one who was at
once a priest and king. Moses claimed not to be priest or king. David
ventured not to intrude into the priestly office. Solomon, at the dedication
of the temple, when he blessed the people, gave sacrifices for the priests to
offer, but he slew them not. Uzziah attempted to intrude into the priestly
office, but was stricken with leprosy. Under the Jewish dispensation there
was no one who in his person could represent the twofold character of
Christ as the only High Priest and universal King. Under the patriarchal
dispensation, and in Melchizedek, there is this very plain type of Christ in
his priestly and regal character. Melchizedek may never have imagined how
great was the dignity put upon him as a type of Christ. Living a quiet, pure,
and devoted life, he becomes accepted by his fellows as a priest of the
Most High, and becomes the type of HIM WHO WAS THE SAVIOUR OF
Ø Refreshing the weary. “Brought forth bread and wine,” that Abraham
might eat and be strengthened. Possibly part of the wine was poured out as
an oblation. When those who met wished to seal a friendship, they brake
bread or partook of a meal together. Thus the Lord’s Supper is the
indication of OUR
for us sinners, cemented by His suffering. He gave Himself to be the Bread
of Life for us. We are in a spiritual sense to eat of His flesh and drink of
His blood, or we have no life in us. Christ oft thus comes forth to meet the
weary pilgrims and soldiers of the cross. We must remember that it is the
previous weary march, the confusion and the conflict, that fits us for the
enjoyment of the sacred ordinance of the Lord’s Supper. We have had to battle
with temptations of various kinds, and come stained with the dust and blood of
battle to the table of our Lord, and here He meets us and refreshes us. We
begin here to see the meaning of all the conflict and burden of life. His
word acquires more meaning, and His Spirit rests upon us with greater
power, as, just
outside the gates of the heavenly
awhile ere pursuing our way and battling again with sin. What
thoughtfulness there was in this act of Melchizedek. Single acts like these
tell what is the character of a man. How it hints at THE THOUGHFULNESS
OF CHRIST for us in all our spiritual struggles!
Ø Melchizedek also “blessed” Abram. He pronounced upon him the
blessing which belongs to an unselfish performance of duty. God’s blessing
is Abram’s great reward, and a man was its mouthpiece. Because God’s
approval was his reward he would not retain the spoil, although urged by
the king of
his captive subjects. The approval of God expressed through conscience or
the words of the good should be the Christian’s one desired reward. The
blessing will always come in the way of duty.
Ø Melchizedek claimed the honor of the victory for God. “Blessed be the
most high God, who hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand.” Before
the king of Sodom Abram is reminded of his dependence on God; thus
before the world the Christian shows forth his dependence on the Spirit’s
help and “on the Lord’s death till He come.” (I Corinthians 11:26) We may
never be ashamed to confess Christ. Abram readily recognized the claim of
God. He gave as a thank offering a tenth part of all he had taken. That which
he gave, was His by custom and right. He gives it to God. God would not
accept that which is wrung, by force, from another. He would say, “Who
hath required this at your hand?” (Isaiah 1:12} “I hate robbery for
burnt offering.” (ibid. ch. 61:8) God only accepts that which is righteously
and willingly offered. If taxes are imposed men pay them, but often when
it is left to their conscience they neglect their duty. Better, however, that
no tenth or tithings, no ratings and taxings, should be paid than that God’s
cause should be sustained unwillingly. As GOD GIVES US ALL WE
POSSESS IN LOVE as He sustains and pardons us in love, the least we
can do is to love Him and readily serve in return. We should devote all we
are and have TO CHRIST! Talents and possessions are His, and should
be held in stewardship as from Him. Let us not, however, make the mistake
of thinking that it is by our gifts or good works we are saved. Many err here!
It is only through Christ that our doings or persons can be accepted, even
as Abram’s gifts were through Melchizedek. Christ is our Priest and
Sacrifice. Do not attempt to slight Him. Trust in His merits, work, and
intercession. Let Him have the pre-eminence. Christ must rule in our
hearts and lives. The will must be given into His hands. Life must be
held as a gift from Him, and eternal life will be his certain bestowal
Ø Melchizedek gave to Abram cheering words and stimulus. This was
more almost than the refreshment. Here, as we meet in communion with
one another and with Christ, we have great joy! CHRIST cheers us!
We feel we can go forth boldly, and that when sin meets us we can, in
Christ’s strength, say, “Stand aside;” when hopes are cut off, as
from his home, we can recover them through the cross. Thus our arms are
nerved and hearts made strong for the future conflict. All the joy, however,
is only a foretaste of that which will be ours when Christ shall meet us at
the gate of the New Jerusalem, and shall lead us in to sit down with Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob, Melchizedek, and all those who have been faithful to him.
What will be our joy when we shall enter to abide in the “city of peace”
with the “King of righteousness’’ FOR EVER! May none of us know what
will be the bitter pain of those who shall vainly call from without, because
THE DOOR IS SHUT, and the Master has entered in with those who
21 “And the king of
goods to thyself.” And the king of
retired in favor of the greater personage, Melchisedeck, and to have witnessed the
interview between him and Abram, but who now, on its termination, advances –
said unto Abram, - perhaps anticipating that like donations from the spoils might
be made to him as to Melchisedeck, in which case he evinced a remarkable degree
of generosity - Give me the persons - literally, the souls, i.e. those of my people
whom you have recovered (compare ch. 12:5, in which the term is employed to
describe domestic slaves) - and take the goods to thyself (which, Michaelis
observes, he was justly entitled to do by right of conquest).
22 “And Abram said to the king of
LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,” And Abram
said unto the king of
(Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:5-6; Daniel 12:7; Revelation 10:5-6; compare
Virg., 'AEn.,' 12:195) - unto the Lord (Jehovah; which, occurring in the present
document, proves the antiquity of its use as a designation of the Deity), the most
high God, - El-Elion; thus identifying Jehovah with the God of Melchisedeck,
and perhaps of the king of
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:”
That I will not take - literally, if (I shall take); an abbreviation for "May God do so
to me, if...!" (compare I Samuel 3:17; II Samuel 3:35). The particle אִם has the force
of a negative in adjuration - from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not
take any thing (literally, and if I shall take anything) that is thine, - literally, of all
that (belongs) to thee - lest thou shouldest say (literally, and thou shalt not say),
I have made Abram rich. Though not averse to accept presents from heathen
monarchs (ch. 12:16), the patriarch could not consent to share in the wealth of
the impious Sodomites;
in this a
striking contrast to
Abram’s Independent Spirit (vs. 22-23)
“And Abram said to
the king of
Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not
take from a thread
even to a shoe latchet,” &c. When
was attacked and defeated. He escaped, but many of his subjects were
either slaughtered or made captive.
host. Abram delivers him. On his return, flushed with victory, he is met
by two persons — Melchizedek and
the king of
gives tithes, as a thank offering; from the second he will not receive
anything for all the risk he had run in the conflict. If Abraham had taken all
the spoil, it would only have been in accordance with the general practice
of that age; but a principle, and not a custom, is his guide.
OBLIGATION TO A WORLDLY MAN.
GREAT INTIMACY WITH AN UNRIGHTEOUS MAN.
MOST HIGH GOD CAN DO GOOD WITHOUT HOPE OF REWARD.
PRACTICE IT WAS, TO GAIN BY THE MISFORTUNES OF
CONTENTEDNESS, WERE A GOOD MAN’S TRUE RICHES. How
much better to act thus than to permit the ungodly to point the finger of
scorn and say, with respect to professedly religious men, that they are just
as greedy and worldly as the most irreligious.
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.”
Save - בִּלְעָדַי, compounded of בַּל, not, and עַד, unto - not unto; a particle of
deprecation, meaning, "nothing shall come unto me" (ch. 41:16) - only that which
the young men - נַעַר, a primitive word (compare Sanscrit,
woman; Zend., naere; Greek, ἀνήρ – anaer - man), applied to a new-born child
(Exodus 2:25; 1 Samuel 4:21), a youth of about twenty (ch. 34:19; 41:12), a servant,
like παῖς – pais – child; young man (ch. 37:2; II Kings 5:20), a common soldier
(I Kings 20:15, 17, 19; II Kings 19:6) - have eaten, and the portion of the men
who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.
is made by confederate kings or princes against the people of the wicked
cities of the plain, who by their proximity would naturally be leagued
together, but by their common rebellion against Chedorlaomer were
involved in a common danger. Notice the indication of the future judgment
given in the course of the narrative — “the vale of Siddim was full of
slime-pits.” God’s vengeance underlies the wicked, ready to burst forth on
them in due time.
and his goods are taken. For while before it is said he pitched his tent near
people in the world, procures the deliverance of the backsliding. He has
already succeeded in drawing strength to himself; and doubtless Abram the
Hebrew represented a nucleus of higher life even in that land of the
idolatrous and degenerate which was recognized as in some sense a refuge
to which men could appeal.
over the great army of heathen is typical. It represents, like the victory of
David over Goliath, &c., the superior might of the spiritual world (compare
I Corinthians 1:27-31).
superior position of the covenant people. Abram gave tithes to
Melchizedek (compare Hebrews 7:1-7) as an acknowledgment of the
superiority of the position of Melchizedek, but Melchizedek blessed Abram
as the possessor of the promise. The idea is that Melchizedek was the
priest of a departing dispensation, Abram the recipient of the old and the
beginning of the new.
he rested on an oath of faithfulness to God, shows that he is decidedly
advancing in spiritual character. The contrast is very striking between his
conduct and that of
high principle upon others. The
from its attempts to apply its own high rules to the world instead of leaving
the world to find out for itself their superiority and adopt them.
Visited by Kings (vs. 17-24)
Ø His exalted person. Neither a supramundane being, an angel, the Holy
Ghost, or Christ; nor one of the early patriarchs, such as Enoch or Shem;
but a Canaanitish (Shemite?) prince,
whose capital was
and who united in his person the double function of priest and monarch of
his people; probably the last official representative of the primitive religion,
who here advances to meet and welcome the new faith in the person of
Abram, as at a later period John Baptist recognized and saluted Christ.
twofold designation. Melchisedeck,
righteousness and king of peace (Hebrews 7:2); descriptive of:
o Personal excellence. Pious in spirit and peace-loving in disposition, he
was not only fitted to be a type of the Meek and Holy One, but
admirably qualified to be a governor of men and a minister of religion.
Happy the land whose throne is filled by purity and love, and the
Church whose teachers illustrate by their lives the religion they profess!
o Regal sway. Righteous in principle, as a consequence his kingly rule
was peaceful in administration; thus again constituting him an eminent
foreshadowing of the righteous King and Prince of peace, as well as an
instructive pattern and guide to earth’s rulers. When righteousness
and peace occupy the throne they seldom fail to reign throughout the
o Priestly work. The specific function of his sacerdotal office being to
make peace between God and sinful men, probably by means of
sacrifice, and thus to cover with righteousness as with a garment
those who were exposed to condemnation, he a third time
the great King-Priest of the
while at the same time he seemed to proclaim this important truth,
that they who labor in the priest’s office should diligently strive
for the salvation of souls.
Ø His mysterious appearance. Of unknown parentage, of unrecorded
genealogy, of unchronicled existence, the unique personality of this grand
old king-priest flashes meteor-like across the path of the conquering
patriarch, emerging from the gloom of historical obscurity, and almost
instantaneously vanishing into inscrutable seclusion. Spirit-taught writers of
later times discerned in this ancient figure, so enigmatical and mysterious, a
Divinely-appointed type of the ever-living High Priest, “the Son who is
consecrated for evermore.” (Hebrews 7:28)
Ø His regal hospitality. Whatever additional significance attached to the
banquet on the plain of Shaveh, it was clearly designed as a refreshment for
the victorious patriarch and his wearied soldiers. So should earthly
monarchs gratefully and sumptuously reward those who at the risk of their
lives maintain the cause and vindicate the rights of the oppressed within
their borders. So does heaven’s King provide for His toiling followers.
Ø His priestly benediction.
o The blessing conferred on Abram was not simply the expression of a
wish, but the actual conveyance by Divine authority of the good which
it proclaimed; and so is Christ invested with supreme power to bless
o The ascription of praise to God was a sincere declaration of the
patriarch’s gratitude for the heavenly succor vouchsafed in connection
with his military expedition; and so should God’s redeemed ones,
whom He has delivered out of the hands of the enemy, cherish a
lively recollection of Divine mercies, and offer heartfelt thanksgivings
through the one Mediator.
public recognition. In presence of
the king of
people, his confederates and their forces, as well as of his own domestics,
the patriarch delivered into the hands of Melchisedeck a tenth part of the
spoils. Designed as a solemn act of worship to Jehovah, it was both an
acknowledgment of the claim which God’s minister had upon his
countenance and support, and a symbol of the service, — the voluntary
devotement of a liberal portion of their substance, — which should by all
saints be yielded to Him who has been constituted a Priest for ever after the
order of Melchisedeck.
Ø His courteous behavior. Displayed in retiring before Melchisedeck’s
advance, and deferring the prosecution of his suit till the termination of the
king-priest’s interview with the patriarch, it may be regarded as suggesting
o the politeness which in all ranks of society, but especially in intelligent
and educated circles, should regulate the intercourse of man with man;
o the deference which should be paid, by even kings and those in
authority, to the ministers of religion;
o the homage which, though unwillingly, the world sometimes is obliged
to render to the Church; and
o the preference which should ever be assigned to heaven’s business
over that of earth.
Ø His generous proposal. Made to Abram, this evinced —
o Lively gratitude towards the patriarch for his distinguished services.
Persons of known profligacy of character and life at times discover
sparks of true nobility which proclaim them not entirely lost; and not
infrequently individuals not professing to be pious outshine the
followers of Christ in acts of self-renunciation, and in thankful
acknowledgment of benefits (Luke 17:17).
o Peaceful disposition in himself, which, while it might have claimed the
entire spoil, and perhaps vindicated the justness of such claim by an
appeal to arms, was forward to avoid strife by asking only the persons.
Even the world may occasionally instruct the Church how to follow
peace with all men.
o Remarkable discernment as to the respective values of men and things,
being prepared to forego the goods and chattels if only the persons
were restored to his dominion.
rejected liberality. Generous as from the king of
standpoint the proposal was, it was repudiated by the patriarch —
o In absolute entirety, without the reservation of so much as a thread or
shoe-latchet; another proof of the wholly unworldly character of the
patriarch, another instance of self-sacrificing magnanimity, of a piece
with his surrender
of the land to
o With shuddering apprehension, lest his fair name should be
contaminated by participation in the wealth of
God’s people not let their good be evil spoken of, and in particular
look well to the channels through which the treasures that enrich
them come. There is ever an important difference between the wealth
which proceeds from the devil and that which is bestowed by the
hand of Christ.
o With unmistakable sincerity, as revealed by his solemn adjuration.
God’s name, while to be taken in vain by none, may on appropriate
occasions be appealed to by his servants to vindicate their truthfulness.
o After equitable reservation of the just claims of others, of the rations
of his soldiers, which were not to be repaid, and the portions of his
allies, which were not to be appropriated unless with their consent.
The sacrifices made by God’s people should be composed of their
own, and not of their neighbor’s property.
1. That God’s faithful servants are sure to win the approbation of good
men and the benediction of Heaven.
2. That the friendship of wicked men and the congratulations of the world
should never be desired by the saints.
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