Genesis 14

 

 

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;”  And it came

to pass. After the separation of Abram and Lot, Lot now appears as a citizen of Sodom,

and not merely a settler in the Jordan circle; perhaps about the eighty-fourth year

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 Shinar. Babel (Onkelos); Bagdad (Arabic version of Erpenius);

Pontus (Jonathan); the successor of Nimrod (see ch. 10:10). Arioch. Sanscrit, Arjaka,

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. Pontus (Symmachus, Vulgate); the region

between Babylon and Elymais (Gesenius); identified with Larsa or Laranka, the

Λάρισσα - Larissa or λαράχων – larachon  of the Greeks, now Senkereh, a town

of Lower Babylonia, between Mugheir (Ur) and Wrarka (Erech), on the left bank

of the Euphrates (Rawlinson). Chedorlaomer. A "handful of sheaves," if the word

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 Babylon in the twentieth century B.C.; and "Kudurnanhundi

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 Elam. East of Babylonia, on the north of the Persian Gulf

(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 Sodom, and with Birsha 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).

King of Sodom. "Burning, conflagration," as being built on bituminous soil, and

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 Sodom mountain. And with Birsha = בֶּן־רֶשַׁע "son of wickedness"

(Gesenius); "long and thick" (Murphy); "strong, thick" (Furst). King of Gomorrah.

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

one.

 

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. Josephus, ' Bell. Jud.,' 4:08, 4);

but the text scarcely implies that the cities were submerged, only the valley

(compare Quarry, p. 207). The extreme depression of the Dead Sea, being 1300 feet

below the level of the Mediterranean ("the most depressed sheet of water in the world:"

Stanley's 'Sinai and Palestine,' Genesis 7.), conjoined with its excessive saltness

(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 Jordan valley dies away. Strewn

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

pillar of Lot s wife.

 

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

of Elam was a Shemite prince, this was m accordance with the Noachic prophecy

(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 Palestine prior to the invasion 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

ruins of Amman" (Keil). And the Emims. Fearful and terrible men, the primitive

inhabitants of Moab (Deuteronomy 2:10-11); called also Rephaims, as being of

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 mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.”

And the Horites. Literally, dwelling in caves; from char, a cave. In their mount Seir.

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 Gulf of Elam,

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 land of Edom and the fertile country of Egypt, and to the

southward of Palestine, identified as the plateau of the Tih, across which 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 Petra (Josephus, Stanley), have been suggested as

marking the locality. And smote all the country of the Amalekites. i.e. afterwards

possessed by them, to the west of Edom. Amalek was a grandson of Esau

(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 Dead Sea, and now called Ain-jidy

(compare Joshua 15:62; I Samuel 24:1-2; II Chronicles 20:2; Ezekiel 47:10).

 

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.”  And there went out (to resist the onslaught

of the victorious Asiatics) 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);

(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 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.”

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 Sodom and Gomorrah fled and fell there. Stumbled

into the pits and perished (Keil, Lange, Murphy), though if the king of Sodom escaped

(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

mountain, of Moab, with its numerous defiles.

 

11 “And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals,

and went their way.   They (the conquering kings), ascending up the valley of the

Jordan en route for Damascus.

 

12 “And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his

goods, and departed.”  And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in

Sodom. The last view of Lot saw him driving off his flocks and herds from Bethel.

It betokens a considerable declension in spiritual life to behold him a citizen of

Sodom. And his goods (all the property he had acquired through his selfish choice

of the Jordan circle), and departed.

 

 

The Capture of Lot, or Nemesis Pursuing Sin (v. 12)

 

  • AN EXAMPLE OF THE BITTER FRUITS OF WAR.

 

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),

permits the wrong to trample down the right. The history of Israel and the

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

certain that Lot would not have been made a prisoner by the victorious

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

were amongst the victims of his wrath against the rebels of the Jordan

circle.

 

  • AN INSTANCE OF DIVINE RETRIBUTION

 

Ø      Deserved. Although Lot was a righteous man, he had egregiously

sinned,

 

o        in choosing the Jordan circle as his portion,

o        in making his abode in Sodom,

o        in continuing amongst the inhabitants when he ascertained their

ungodly character.  In ch. 13 we learned that:

 

§          Lot looked towards the plain of Jordan

§          Lot chose all the plain of Jordan

§          Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom

§          Lot sat in the gate of Sodom  - ch. 19:1

§          Lot was unhappy - Sodom "vexed his righteous soul"

§          II Pet. 2:8

§          Lot lingered when warned to flee - had to be drug

§          out of Sodom - ch. 19:16

 

§          Apparently the sojourn in Egypt had a more depraving

effect on Lot than it did on Abram.

 

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)

 

Ø      UNEXPECTED as to its cause, Lot thinking he had committed

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.

 

Ø      Appropriate. Lot had chosen the Jordan circle as the most advantageous

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,

although, doubtless, Lot imagined that it was; only pillaged and carried off

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 of Lot, it is sometimes inefficacious. Instead of

taking warning at what might have proved his ruin, Lot was no sooner

rescued than HE RETURNED TO SODOM! So great providential

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

Euphrates, if applied to the patriarch by the inhabitants of Palestine (Septuagint,

Aquila, Origen, Vulgate, Keil, Lange, Kalisch); but more probably, if simply

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,

Keil, Kalisch); against which, however, is the statement of Josephus ('Ant.,' 1:10),

that this Dan was one of the sources of the Jordan. Murphy regards Dan as the

original designation of the town, which was changed under the Sidonians to

Laish (lion), and restored at the conquest. Clericus suggests that the Jordan

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

Damascus.”  And he divided himself (i.e. his forces) against them, he and his

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

Damascus in the time of Eusebius, and is "probably preserved in the village Hoba,

mentioned by Troilo, a quarter of a mile to the north of Damascus" (Keil); or in

that of Hobah, two miles outside the walls (Stanley, ' Syria and Palestine,' 414, k.),

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) Damascus. The metropolis of Syria,

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 Lot,

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 for רְכֻשׁ. And also brought again his brother Lot,

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

(vs. 13-16)

 

  • ABRAM’S ELEVATED PIETY.

 

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 injury at Lot’s hands at all.

 

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 Lot was his dead brother’s son, and was a child of God as

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.

 

  • ABRAM’S MILITARY GENIUS.

 

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 by Providence, have been engaged in

peaceful callings.

 

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 America, and again by Von Moltke of

Prussia — celerity of movement, suddenness of attack, skilful division 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.

 

  • ABRAM’S WONDER-WORKING FAITH. It afforded:

 

Ø      A sufficient ground on which to go to war. The question as to Abram’s

right to mingle in this contest in the Sodom valley is fairly answered by

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,

and

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 Lot.

 

  • ABRAM’S TYPICAL CHARACTER. The symbolic foreshadowing

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

brethren.

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 rescue of Lot.

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.

 

  • LEARN:

 

1. To imitate the piety of Abram.

2. To admire in him, if we cannot in ourselves, the possession of superior

abilities.

3. To covet earnestly the wonderworking faith which he displayed.

4. To trust in the great kinsman Deliverer of which he was the type.

 

 

 

Abram’s Expedition a Sermon for the New Testament Church

(vs. 13-16)

 

  • THE LITTLE ARMY; emblematic of the handful of Christ s disciples at

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)

 

  • THE TRUSTY CONFEDERATES; regarding the Amorite chieftains

as possessors of the true faith, suggestive of the united purpose and action

by which the Church of Christ in all its parts should be governed, and of

the weakness that springs from divided counsels.

 

  • THE RAPID MARCH; a picture of the holy celerity and earnest zeal

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.

 

  • THE SKILFUL TACTICS; proclaiming the same doctrine as Christ

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.

 

  • THE SPLENDID VICTORY; a foreshadowing of the final triumph

which awaits the Church, and of the blessing which, through its

instrumentality, will eventually descend upon the world.

 

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.”  And the king of Sodom - Bera, or

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),

at the valley of Shaveh. A valley about two stadia north of Jerusalem (Josephus,

'Ant.,' 8:10), supposed to be the valley of the Upper Kedron, where Absalom s pillar

was afterwards erected (II Samuel 18:18); which may be correct if the Salem

afterwards mentioned was Jerusalem; but if it was not, then the exact site of

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 (Poole); because Melchisedeck had his camp and palace

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 βασιλέωνto pedion ton basileon – the king’s valley. (Septuagint).

 

18 “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was

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 Salem was but a ray of the sun of Abram's faith"

(Kalisch), an opinion difficult to harmonize with Hebrews 7:4. King of Salem =

"king of peace (Hebrews 7:1). The capital of Melchisedeck was either Jerusalem,

of which the ancient name was Salem, as in Psalm 76:2 (Josephus, Onkelos,

Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Knobel, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, Bush); or a city

on the other side Jordan en route from Damascus to Sodom (Ewald); or, though

less likely, as being too remote from Sodom and the king's dale, Salem in the tribe

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

(Kalisch); hence mainly as a symbol, not of his transference of the soil of Canaan

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

of Israel; and the second, 'Elion (occurring frequently afterwards, as in Numbers 24:16;

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 Sodom, whom Abram recognizes as followers of the true God by

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 κτᾶσθαιktasthai – 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

and earth.

 

 

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 Sodom. Abram,

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.

 

  • THE OCCASION OF THE BLESSING. After conflict. Our Lord the

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

(I Timothy 6:12). The renewal under Christ of the battle lost in Eden

(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

(Psalm 119:71).

 

  • THE SOURCE OF THE BLESSING. “The most high God,

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         

o        sonship,

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;

119:67).

 

  • THE FRUIT OF THE BLESSING. Closer walk with God. The events

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 Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was

the priest of the most high God. And he blessed Abraham,” &c. When the

king of Sodom was beaten in a war with Chedorlaomer, Lot was involved

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 Lot

is in captivity; Abraham will deliver him or die in the attempt. How nobly

shines the character of Abraham in this determination. Lot had separated

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 Lot to liberty. As Abraham returns, flushed

with conquest, he is met at the gates of Salem by Melchizedek, bringing to

him bread, wine, and the Divine benediction.

 

  • THE DESIGNATION AND CHARACTER OF MELCHIZEDEK. He

is king and priest. His name means, king of righteousness. He dwells in

Salem, the place of peace. He did not go out to war, and had no part in the

quarrel between Chedorlaomer and the king of Sodom. He had lost no

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

heathenism of Canaan. He also came like a streak of light, neither the

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

THE WORLD!

 

  • THE SIGNIFICANCE IN THE RECORDED ACTS OF MELCHIZEDEK.

 

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 UNION WITH CHRIST— of a friendship on His part

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 Jerusalem, we sit and rest

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 Sodom to keep the goods, and simply hand over the persons 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

HEREAFTER!

 

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 Lot was

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

were ready.

 

 

 

 

                        The Church Militant (v. 20)

 

I. THE ENEMIES OF THE CHURCH. Like Abram’s:

 

1. Numerous.

2. Formidable.

3. Exulting.

 

II. THE TRIUMPH OF THE CHURCH. Like Abram’s:

 

1. Certain.

2. Complete.

3. Final.

 

III. THE THANKSGIVING OF THE CHURCH. Like Abram’s:

 

1. Due to God most high.

2. Offered through the priest of the most high God.

3. Expressed in self-consecration to the service of God.

 

21 “And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the

goods to thyself.”  And the king of Sodom (who, though first coming, appears to have

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 Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the

LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,  And Abram

said unto the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand - a common form of swearing

(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 Sodom  - 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:”

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 Lot.

 

 

Abram’s Independent Spirit (vs. 22-23)

 

“And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up my hand unto the

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 Lot chose the plains

of Sodom he knew not what trials awaited him there. The king of Sodom

was attacked and defeated. He escaped, but many of his subjects were

either slaughtered or made captive. Lot was carried away by the invading

host. Abram delivers him. On his return, flushed with victory, he is met

by two persons — Melchizedek and the king of Sodom. To the first he

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.

 

  • ABRAM WISHED TO AVOID PLACING HIMSELF UNDER

OBLIGATION TO A WORLDLY MAN.

 

  • ABRAM WISHED TO AVOID THE APPEARANCE OF TOO

GREAT INTIMACY WITH AN UNRIGHTEOUS MAN.

 

  • ABRAM WISHED TO SHOW THAT THE SERVANT OF THE

MOST HIGH GOD CAN DO GOOD WITHOUT HOPE OF REWARD.

 

  • ABRAM WISHED TO SHOW HOW UNDESIRABLE A

PRACTICE IT WAS, TO GAIN BY THE MISFORTUNES OF

OTHERS.

 

  • ABRAM WISHED TO SHOW THAT GOD, AND A SPIRIT 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, nara, man; nari, nari,

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.

 

 

 

 

                        The Kingdom of God in Its Relation

                                                to

                      The Contending Powers of this World

                                          (vs. 1-24)

 

I. GOD’S JUDGMENTS ARE ALREADY BEGINNING TO FALL. War

is made by confederate kings or princes against the people of the wicked

cities of the plain, who by their propinquity (closeness; nearness to iniquity)

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.

 

* These asphalt pits were so extensive that the Dead Sea was called the Asphalt Sea

by early writers. They probably represented accumulations of organic debris from

the Flood, collecting in the unique basins of the Great Rift Valley which traverse

the region.  (Google)

 

                   The Steps in Lot’s Backsliding

                             (Scofield Bible)

 

*  Lot looked towards the plain of Jordan  (ch. 13:10)

*  Lot chose all the plain of Jordan (ibid)

*  Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom  (ibid. v. 12)

*  Lot dwelt in Sodom (ch. 14:12)

*  Lot sat in the gate of Sodom  - (ch. 19:1)

*  Lot was unhappy - Sodom "vexed his righteous soul"

    (II Peter 2:8)

*  Lot lingered when warned to flee - had to be drug

    out of Sodom - (ch. 19:16)

 

Apparently the sojourn in Egypt had a more depraving

effect on Lot than it did on Abram.

 

 

II. THE UNFAITHFUL LOT IS INVOLVED IN THE JUDGMENT. He

and his goods are taken. For while before it is said he pitched his tent near

to Sodom, now we find that he is in Sodom.

 

III. THE MEDIATION OF ABRAM, representative of that of God’s

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.

 

IV. THE VICTORY OF THE CHILD OF GOD, with his small company,

over the great army of heathen is typical. It represents, like the victory of

David over Goliath., THE SUPERIOR MIGHT OF THE SPIRITUAL

WORLD) (compare I Corinthians 1:27-31).

 

V. THE HOMAGE PAID TO ABRAM as the conqueror both by the

heathen king of Sodom and the priest-king of Salem is typical of the

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.

 

VI. ABRAM’S STRICT SEPARATION from the worldly power, which

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 Lot. He at the same time does not attempt to enforce

his own high principle upon others. The Church of God has suffered much

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)

 

  • THE KING OF SALEM.

 

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 Salem (Jerusalem),

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.

 

Ø      His twofold designation. Melchisedeck, king of Salem, i.e. king of

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

land.

 

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

symbolized the great King-Priest of the New Testament Church;

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

and save.

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.

 

Ø      His public recognition. In presence of the king of Sodom and his

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.

 

  • THE KING OF SODOM.

 

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.

 

Ø      His rejected liberality. Generous as from the king of Sodom’s

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 Lot.

o        With shuddering apprehension, lest his fair name should be

contaminated by participation in the wealth of Sodom. So should

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.

 

  • LEARN:

 

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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