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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 14

Hampton's Commentary on Selected BooksHampton's Commentary

Verses 1-18

The Bible is full of promises so great they stagger the imagination. Anyone would like to receive the blessings they contain, if he could only believe God is able to keep his word. Our purpose in this lesson is to learn of God's greatness so we can better understand how we can believe God's word.

Three Hundred Eighteen Trained Servants

Gen_13:1-18 tells us there was strife between herdsmen of Abram and Lot. The land could no longer support their combined herds. Abram suggested they go their separate ways to resolve the conflict. Lot chose the fertile plain of Jordan around Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abram went to the plains of Mamre.

After some time, four kings made war with the five kings of the plain and forced them to be subservient to them. In the 13th year of this arrangement, the five kings rebelled. The four kings, led by Chedorlaomer of Elam, attacked the people of the plain with their armies. They slaughtered the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and took the spoils of those cities, including Lot and all of his goods ( Gen_14:1-12 ).

A man who escaped the battle told Abram of Lot's plight. Abram immediately took his 318 trained servants and pursued the armies as they were returning home. That small force attacked the armies of the four kings by night and defeated them. As they were returning, the new King of Sodom and Melchizedek, King of Salem, met them in the valley of Shaveh (14:13-18).

Verses 19-24

The Strong One Most High

Melchizedek was "priest of the most high God," from the Hebrew 'El 'Elyon. This is a name for God used for the first time here. Hugo McCord, in his book Getting Acquainted With God, says 'El probably meant "Strong One", or "Powerful One". He then says, "'Elyon means that which is very high, lofty, exalted, most high, supreme." Of course, this could simply refer to God's high and lofty dwelling place ( Isa_57:15 ; Isa_66:1 ). However, McCord believes it portrays God as Commander-in-chief, with complete sovereignty. When 318 trained servants can defeat the armies of four kings, it becomes clear the Strong One is in control.

When Melchizedek blessed Abram, he described him as a follower of the Exalted One. He also underscored God's role as the Sovereign of all by saying all in heaven and earth were his. He went on to note that it was the Lofty One who had brought about the defeat of Abram's enemies. Abram then gave tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God. He did not want to diminish, even in the eyes of others, God's role in blessing him. So, Abram refused to accept any of the spoils as payment for his part in defeating the kings and returning the captives safely home (14:19-24).

Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Genesis 14". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghc/genesis-14.html. 2014.
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