Chapter 14

  1. Abram Rescues Lot

    • For twelve years King Chedolaomer had control of the plain of Jordan and all the kings of those cities served him.

    • In the 13th year, the five kings of the cities in the region of the plain of Jordan- Bera of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Zoar (this king is so minor his name isn’t even mentioned)- rebelled against Chedolaomer.

    • In the 14th year, Chedolaomer rallied his allies- Amraphel of Shinar, Arioch of Ellasar, and Tidal of Goiim- to put down the revolt.

    • On their route south to the plain, Chedolaomer and his allies defeated the Rephaim (in Ashteroth-karnaim), the Zuzim (in Ham), the Emim (in Shaveh-kiriathaim), and the Horites (in the mountains of Seir), and chased them all the way to El-paran. They then fell back to the cities they had passed in pursuit of their defeated foes. They invaded En-mishpat (Kadesh) and defeated the territories of the Amalekites and the Amorites.

      • See map below for route.

    • Chedolaomer and his forces then met the rebel kings and their forces in the Valley of Siddim (modern day Dead Sea). The battle was four kings against five.

    • The valley where the battle took place was full of “pits of asphalt” which were tar pits or pits full of sticky mineral pitch (also referred to in some sources as “slime” pits). As the rebel forces were defeated and fled, some fell into these pits while others escaped into the mountains.

    • The four kings then looted Sodom and Gomorrah taking all of their goods and food.

    • Lot was living in Sodom at the time and ended up being seized along with all of his possessions. (Remember Lot was very rich.)

    • One of the survivors of the raid came to Abram at the oaks in Mamre and told him that Lot had been taken prisoner.

    • Abram assembled his 318 servants who were trained in defense, and followed Chedolaomer and his men all the way to Dan.

– “We see the great wealth of Abram; any man who could assemble 318 servants capable of fighting must be very rich… Abram was a man who walked in faith, yet he was also a prudent man. Abram kept his own personal army, and he apparently kept them trained and ready to defend his interests.” (Guzik)

– Abram divided his forces into two factions and attacked Chedolaomer at night, following them all the way to Hobah, which was north of Damascus.

– Abram defeated Chedolaomer and his forces and rescued Lot along with all his possessions, as well as all the goods Chedoloamer had plundered from the cities he had defeated.

      • Renowned archaeologist, and pioneer of biblical archaeology Nelson Glueck discovered 1,500 biblical sites during his career. In his book, Rivers in the Desert (available on Amazon) he describes the picture his archaeological finds paint of this biblical battle, “The rebellion of the small kings in the cities on the east side of the Dead Sea against what must have been the extortionate rule of absentee suzerains(feudal overlords) was brutally crushed. This comparatively minor insurrection was thereupon utilized as a pretext to settle old scores and to raid and ravage with unleashed ferocity for as much booty as could possibly be won. An old order was crumbling. From southern Syria to central Sinai, their fury raged. A punitive expedition developed into an orgy of annihilation. I found that every village in their path had been plundered and left in ruins, and the countryside laid waste. The population had been wiped out or lead away into captivity. For hundreds of years thereafter, the entire area was like an abandoned cemetery, hideously unkempt, with all its monuments shattered and strewn in pieces on the ground.”

Glueck’s Time Magazine cover- December 13, 1963

Pictured above: Glueck’s Time Magazine cover- December 13, 1963

2. Melchizedek’s Blessing

– After Abram returned from his defeat of the kings, the king of Sodom met him in the Valley of Shaveh.

– Then the king of Salem (which is the original Jerusalem), Melchizedek, brought bread and wine.

– Melchizedek was a priest to the God Most High, and he blessed Abram saying, “Abram is blessed by God, the Creator of heaven and earth. Give praise to God who handed your enemies over to you.”

– Abram then gave Melchizedek 1/10th of everything.

– Some sources say this act represented a tithe and was an acknowledgment by Abram that Melchizedek was a priest who ranked higher than he did.

    • The king of Sodom told Abram to give him all the people that he had rescued, but to keep all the possessions or spoils from his battle.

    • However, Adam refused, saying that he had given an oath to the Lord not to take so much as a sandal strap from the king of Sodom so that he could never say that he had made Abram rich.

    • Abram said he would take nothing except for what his servants had eaten. Abram did, however, allow the men who had accompanied him- Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre- to take their share of the spoils.

    • Ok, time out!! Though you may have never even noticed- you just read one of the great biblical mysteries. Who in the world is Melchizedek? How did he come to be a priest of the true God? Why does it even matter who this seemingly obscure character is?

      • The Bible tells us nothing about where Melchizedek came from or how he came to be a king and a priest.

      • Here is what we do know:

      • Melchizedek was a worshiper and priest of the true God.

      • He was king of the original Jerusalem.

      • The name Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness”.

      • David Guzik points out in his commentary, “One thing making Melchizedek unique was he was both a king and a priest. History shows how dangerous it is to combine religious and civic authority. God forbade the kings of Israel to be priests and the priests to be kings. In 2 Chronicles 26:16-26, King Uzziah tried to do the work of priest, and God struck him with leprosy. Melchizedek was an exception.”

      • Why does it matter who Melchizidek is anyway?

      • Well, Psalm 110:4 says that the priesthood of the Messiah is a priesthood according to the order of Mechizedek.

        • All other Israelite priests were from the tribe of Levi, from the order of Aaron. Yet interestingly, Jesus is a priest not descended from the Israelite tribe of priests- the Levites- and of the order of Aaron, but a priest of the order of this mysterious figure Melchizedek.

        • Some sources say that the writer of Hebrews cites Melchizedek’s unique priesthood as a type superior to the old levitical order and the priesthood of Aaron.

      • Hebrews 7:3 adds even more mystery. Here Melchizedek is described as being “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.”

    • So what are the theories?

1.Based directly off of the Hebrews 7:3 description, some people believe that Melchizedek was actually a pre-incarnate (pre-Bethlehem) appearance of Jesus.

        • This is called a “Christophany”. Those who ascribe to this theory would also point out that Abraham also received a visit from the Lord in the form of a man in Genesis 17.

        • Another corroboration of this theory comes in Hebrews 6:20 which states that “[Jesus] has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” The article Who Was Melchizedek from gotquestions.org offers this logic, “This term order would ordinarily indicate a succession of priests holding the office. None are ever mentioned, however, in the long interval from Melchizedek to Christ, an anomaly that can be solved by assuming that Melchizedek and Christ are really the same person. Thus the ‘order’ is eternally vested in Him and Him alone.”

        • Ascribers to this view also point to a literal interpretation of the Hebrews 7:3. The same article listed above describes it this way, “If Genesis 14 describes a theophany, then God the Son came to give Abraham His blessing (Genesis 14:17–19), appearing as the King of Righteousness (Revelation 19:11,16), the King of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and the Mediator between God and Man (1 Timothy 2:5).”

        • However, this is problematic since Hebrews 7:3 doesn’t actually say that Melchizedek was Christ, but rather that he was “like unto” (or like) Christ.

2. Another theory offered up with archaeological corroboration is that Melchizedek was a king and priest who rather than inheriting his priesthood, had been appointed priest by God.

        • In his article for Apologetics Press, Wayne Jackson cites A.H. Sayce, “Several of the Tell el-Amarna tablets are letters written to the Pharaoh by Ebed-tob…the kin of Uru-Salim [Jerusalem], who begs for help against his enemies. He tells the Pharaoh that he was not like the other Egyptian governors in Palestine, nor had he received a crown by inheritance from his father or mother; it had been conferred on him by ‘the Mighty King…’” From this Jackson continues, “…observing the similarity of language, we conclude that Melchizedek’s kingship/priesthood had not been derived genealogically; He had received his commission directly from God Himself…Accordingly, by way of analogy, we are forced to affirm that the current reign/priesthood of our Lord is a direct and divinely authored administration.”

3. Still others hypothesize that Melchizedek was actually Seth (Adam’s son), or Noah’s son Shem, or even Job.

        • These theories are based on really no Biblical corroboration. They rely on ancient, yet extra-biblical sources.

        • Particularly in the case of the theory of Shem as Melchizedek. This claim comes primarily from the Book of Jasher, which states that Shem was Melchizedek. The problem is, even though the Bible even mentions the Book of Jasher in Joshua 10: 12-13 and II Samuel 1:18-27, the Book of Jasher that exists today- although ancient- is not the Book of Jasher that was mentioned in the Old Testament. It’s is actually an eighteenth-century forgery written by Alcuin (an eighteenth century scholar) that claims to be a translation of the lost Book of Jasher. A second book claiming to be the Book of Jasher is often called the “Pseudo-Jasher”. This is a book of Jewish legends that scholars confirm did not even exist prior to AD 1625.

        • Even though The Book of Jasher has been proven to not be the Book of Jasher referred to in the Old Testament and is often in other parts of the text in direct opposition to the Bible, you will still find thousands of youtube evangelists preaching “the identity of Melchizedek as Shem” using the Book of Jasher as their primary source.

4. Of course, I would be remiss if I left out the theory that Melchizidek is actually an outer space visitor (or “unfallen Adam) from another planet, who came to observe the progress of God’s work of redemption for our fallen race.

          • Hmmm….

      • So, while I cannot tell you assuredly who Melchizedek is. I can tell you who he isn’t! He isn’t Seth, Shem, Job, an angel, or an alien. There you have it…I just love Bible mysteries!!

      • For more information on this topic, you can check out my blog post, The Incredible Mystery of Melchizedek.