Abraham's Battle with the Kings of the East- Genesis 14:1-24 records the first military battle in the Scriptures. In Revelation 18 the last battle to be fought will also be with Babylon.
Revelation 18:2, "And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird."
Editorial Notes within the Bibilical Text- Genesis 14:1-24 contains an unusually large amount of references to dual names of cities and places ( Genesis 14:2-3; Genesis 14:7-8; Genesis 14:17). Although Moses was the author of the Pentateuch, these explanations of names appears to be one of several editorial notes believed to have been inserted during the time of the final compilation of the Old Testament Scriptures, which many scholars believe took place during the time of Ezra the scribe after the Babylonian captivity. Obviously, the Canaanites were living in the land during the lifetime of Moses, since Israel had not gone in to possess the Promised Land.
Genesis 14:2, "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."
Genesis 14:3, "All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea."
Genesis 14:7, "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."
Genesis 14:8, "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;"
Genesis 14:17, "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."
It is likely that these name changes did not take place until the children of Israel had conquered the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua. Otherwise, how could the Israelites impose new names on cities and places that were under someone else"s control?
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;
Genesis 14:1 — "And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar" - Comments- The "plain in the land of Shinar" is believed to located in the southern part of Mesopotamia, which later became known as Babylon. 173] Nimrod began the kingdom of Babel in the land of Shinar.
173] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Shinar."
Genesis 10:8-10, "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."
The Hebrew word for "Shinar" ( שִׁנְעָר) (H 8152) is used eight times in the Scriptures. It is translated as "Shinar" in all but one verse, which translates this word as "Babylonish" ( Joshua 7:21). Thus, we know that the land of Shinar also refers to the land of the early Babylonian culture.
Joshua 7:21, "When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it."
Amraphel has been identified as Hammurabi (1945-1902 B.C.), who was a contemporary of Abraham and wrote The Code of Hammurabi, which reveals to us today that a civilization existed in Abraham"s time that was highly organized, with civil laws, schools, an alphabet, a system of weights and measures, architecture, and irrigation. This Sumerian civilization ruled by King Hammurabi appears to reach its zenith during this period in history. His laws were used throughout the entire Middle Eastern region. However, most scholars now believe this association is unlikely. The identification of Amraphel remains unresolved.
"Arioch king of Ellasar" - Comments - Gordon Wendam says the name "Arioch" is of Hurrian origin, and equivalent to the ancient name "Ariwuku" listed in the Mari archives (18th century B.C.) and with the name "Ariukki" listed in the Nuzi texts (15th century B.C.). 174] Victor Hamilton says modern scholarship now associates the location of Ellasar with "Alsi/Alsiya in northern Mesopotamia at the source of the Tigris, and Ilansura between Carchemish and Haran." 175]
174] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 1, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comment on Genesis 14:1
175] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1990), 400.
"Chedorlaomer king of Elam" - Comments- Elam was just east of the Tigris River. 176] Genesis 14:4 suggests that Elam was the leading empire by stating that the kings of the plains served Chedorlaomer for twelve years. Scholars have verified that this name is genuinely Elamite in its etymology. Gordon Wendam says the Elamite word "kudur" (son) and the Akkadian divine name "L-gaml" (the unsparing) are used to form the name "Chedorlaomer." 177] However, this individual's identity remains unknown from ancient records of Elamite kings.
176] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Elam."
177] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 1, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comment on Genesis 14:1.
"and Tidal king of nations" - Comments - Victor Hamilton says scholars associate the name "Tidal" with four known ancient Hittite kings with the name "Tudhalia who ruled between 1750 to 1200 B.C. 178] However, it has been difficult for scholars to associate the term "nations" ( גּוֹיִם) with the Hittite kingdom. Perhaps it includes a federation of Indo-European groups that included the Hittites. 179]
178] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1990), 400.
179] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 1, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comment on Genesis 14:1.
Genesis 14:2 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.
Genesis 14:2 — "and the king of Bela, which is Zoar" - Word Study on "Zoar" - Strong says the name Zoar ( צֹעַר) (H 6820) means, "little." PTW says it means, "small."
Comments- This city, called Bela, was later named Zoar ( Genesis 19:22). The Scriptures locate Zoar in the Jordan valley ( Deuteronomy 32:3) just south of the Dead Sea near the land of Moab ( Isaiah 15:5, Jeremiah 48:34). Genesis 19:20-22 says its name comes from the fact that Lot and his two daughters fled here during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and because it was a small, insignificant city, the angel allowed it to be spared for Lot"s sake. Thus, the origin of its new name, which means "little."
Genesis 19:20-22, "Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar."
Genesis 14:2 — Comments - Gordon Wendam notes that the association of four kings with their cities located closely together in the same region reflects the political structure of city states common to the land of Canaan during the time of Abraham. 180] The four cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim will be destroyed by God in Genesis 19. However, Zoar will be spared because Lot fled there for refuge.
180] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 1, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comment on Genesis 14:2.
Deuteronomy 29:23, "And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:"
Hosea 11:8, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together."
Genesis 14:3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.
Genesis 14:3 — Word Study on "Siddim" - Gesenius says the Hebrew name "Siddim" ( שִׂדִּים) (H 7708) means, "a plain, a field." Strong says it means, "flats." John Gill suggests, "fields, or ploughed lands" and notes, "a fruitful vale abounding with corn; or of gardens or paradises, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, being full of gardens and orchards, and was as the garden of the Lord, even as Eden." 181] This description of the land is supported in Genesis 13:10.
181] John Gill, Genesis, in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Genesis 14:3.
Genesis 13:10, "And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar."
Genesis 14:3 — "in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea" - Comments- We see another name for this general area in Joshua 3:16.
Joshua 3:16, "That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho."
ASV, "the sea of the Arabah, even the Salt Sea".
DRC, "the sea of the wilderness (which now is called the Dead Sea)".
Rotherham, "the sea of the waste plain, the salt sea,"
It appears that the name of this area in Joshua 3:16 reflects a land of waste, rather than the idea of a fertile valley that is described in the name use here in this verse, "the vale of Siddim." Note a reference to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:
Psalm 107:33, "He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein."
Therefore, the vale of Siddim reflects the land before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Salt Sea reflects the land after this destruction.
Genesis 14:2-3 — Comments - The Five Cities of the Plains- G. Frederick Owen tells us that the names of the five cities of the plains have been discovered in ancient Syrian clay tablets, "In the 1960s, tens of thousands of tablets with writing on them were discovered in northwestern Syria, in the rubble-mounds of the ancient city of Ebla, and one tablet (No 1860) from about 1900 B.C, refers to all five of the ‘Cities of the Plain.' David Noel Freedman points out that the factuality of the time of these five cities precedes the rescue of Lot as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah." 182]
182] Jimmy Jack McBee Roberts, The Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eisenbrauns, 2002), 11-12; R. Totten, Archaeology Confirms the History Recorded in the Bible, c 1999 [on-line]; accessed 21May 2009; available from http://www.geocities.com/athens/aegean/8830/history.html: Internet.
Genesis 14:4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
Genesis 14:5 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,
Genesis 14:6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
Genesis 14:7 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.
Genesis 14:8 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;
Genesis 14:9 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.
Genesis 14:9 — Comments- Matthew Henry suggests that the descendants of Shem, reflected in the fives kings listed in Genesis 14:9, fulfill the prophecy of Noah in Genesis 9:25-26, by bringing these descendants of Canaan into subjection. 183]
183] Matthew Henry, Genesis, in Matthew Henry"s Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Genesis 14:1-12.
Genesis 9:25-26, "And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant."
Genesis 14:10 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.
Genesis 14:10 — "And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits" - Word Study on "pits" - Strong says the Hebrew word "pits" ( בְּאֵר) (H 875), meaning "a pit or well."
Word Study on "slime" - Strong says the Hebrew word "slime" ( חֵמָר) (H 2564) means, "bitumen (as rising to the surface), slime (-pit)," and is derived from the Hebrew root verb ( חָמַר) (H 2560), which means, "to boil up." This word is only used four times in the entire Old Testament. Two uses are in this verse. The other two uses are:
Genesis 11:3, "And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter."
Exodus 2:3, "And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink."
Word Study on "full of slimepits" - The Hebrew text ( חֵמָ֔ר בֶּאֱרֹת֙ בֶּֽאֱרֹ֤ת) literally reads, "in pits, in pits of bitumen." This is a Hebrew construction using repetition of the same word, meaning "abundance, plentitude, etc," (H. C. Leupold) or "multitudes of pits," (Adam Clarke); thus the English translation, "full of slimepits." 184]
184] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, c 1942, 1970), in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005), comment on Genesis 14:10; Adam Clarke, Genesis, in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), notes on Genesis 14:10.
Genesis 14:10 — "and fell there" - Comments- Scholars are divided on how to translate the Hebrew word "fell" ( נָפַל) (H 5307). Strong tells us that this primitive root means, "to fall, in a great variety of applications." Some suggest that they hid in these pits, being familiar enough with them not to have fallen in and died. Others suggest that they accidently fell into these asphalt pits. Some others suggest that they deliberately jumped into these pits out of intense fear as an act of suicide rather than face their enemies (John Calvin 185]).
185] John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol 1, trans. John King (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1847), 382.
Genesis 14:11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
Genesis 14:12 And they took Lot, Abram"s brother"s Song of Solomon, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
Genesis 14:13 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.
Genesis 14:13 — "And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew" - Word Study on "Hebrew" - Gesenius says that the Hebrew word "`Ibriy" ( עִבְרִי ה) (H 5680) is a derivation from "Eber" ( עֵבֶר) (H 5676), meaning "a country on the other side," with the derivative suffix ( ִי). Strong tells us that this word means, "an Eberite (i.e. Hebrew) or descendant of Eber". The term "Hebrew" denotes the Israelites whose forefathers inhabited the "eber," which some scholars refer to the district on the other side of the Jordan, while others suggest it was "the land beyond the Euphrates" (Gesenius).
Comment - Genesis 14:13 is the only verse in the Scriptures that calls Abraham a Hebrew. Most Jewish and Christian scholars believe that this title links Abraham with his forefather, whose name was Eber in Genesis 10:24, "And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber." A Hebrew refers to a descendant of Eber, a descendant of Shem, the son of Noah ( Genesis 10:21). In fact, the names "Eber" ( עֵבֵר) (H 5677) and "the Hebrew" ( עִבְרִי ה) (H 5680) are of the same word origin.
There are a number of reasons scholars give to suggest why Abraham is called a Hebrew in Genesis 14:13.
(1) To Describe Abraham as a Descendant of Eber - It is popularly believed that Abraham was given the title of a Hebrew in Genesis 14:13 in order to note that he was a descendant of Eber (John Calvin 186]).
186] John Calvin, Commentaries on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol 1, trans. John King (Edinburgh: The Calvin Translation Society, 1847), 384.
(2) To Describe Abraham as a Distinct Nation from those He Dwelt Among in Canaan - Some scholars believe Abraham was called a Hebrew to distinguish him from the list of Amorites names in this same verse. The two names, Eber and Hebrew, are derived from the Hebrew verb ( עָבַר) (H 5674), meaning, "to cross over" (Strong), and means "one who has crossed over to the other side." The phrase "on the other side" is used about Abraham in Joshua 24:2-3. Thus, some scholars conclude that Abraham is called a "Hebrew," not to describe Abraham as a descendant of Eber, but to describe him as one who has crossed over the Euphrates River to dwell in the Promised Land (John Gill 187]), one who was at war against the people of which he formerly lived, and in alliance with the Canaanites.
187] John Gill, Genesis, in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Genesis 14:13.
Joshua 24:2-3, "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac."
H. C. Leupold notes that the word "Hebrew" is used in other Scripture passages to denote nationality ( Genesis 43:32, Exodus 1:15; Exodus 2:11; Exodus 21:2, 1 Samuel 14:11). 188] Within the context of Genesis 14:13, Leupold believes Abraham is called a Hebrew to distinguish him from the nationality of the Amorites, who are called by name in this same verse, and with whom he was dwelling. Since the book of Genesis was written and compiled when Israel was a nation, which was called the Hebrews, it is natural for the author to refer to Abraham as being of this same nationality.
188] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, c 1942, 1970), in OnLine Bible, v 20 [CD-ROM] (Nederland: Online Bible Foundation, 1992-2005), comment on Genesis 14:13.
Genesis 43:32, "And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians."
Exodus 1:15, "And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:"
Exodus 2:11, "And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren."
Exodus 21:2, "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing."
1 Samuel 14:11, "And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves."
(3) To Describe Abraham as a Hebrew who Fought Against His Distant Relatives- According to the genealogy of Genesis 11:10-26, Shem, Noah's Song of Solomon, lived to be 600 years old before he died. By counting the dates of birth in this genealogy, an approximate age can be given to Shem at the time of the battle of the five kings, since Shem would be approximately 470 years old at the time when Abraham fought with the kings of the east. The Scriptures teach us that Elam and Abraham were both descendants of Shem. Elam was Shem"s son. Abraham was a descendant of Arphaxad, another son of Shem ( Genesis 10:22). Therefore, Shem was alive to hear about this battle between two of his descendants, Abraham and Chedorlaomer. Now, God had spoken to Noah and his three sons, telling them to replenish the earth ( Genesis 9:1), which meant to fill the earth with godly offspring. If Shem was alive to see this battle described in Genesis 14:1-17, he would have been very disappointed with the fact that his own offspring were killing one another. Therefore, it is possible that Abraham carried this title referring to his ancestry, particularly because he fought a battle against his distant relative named Elam.
Genesis 10:22, "The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram."
Genesis 9:1, "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."
Summary- Gesenius tells us that in the Old Testament the "Hebrews are only spoken of either when the name is used by themselves in contrast with foreigners ( Genesis 40:15, Exodus 2:6 f; Genesis 3:18, Jonah 1:9) or when it is put in the mouth of those who are not Israelites ( Genesis 39:14-17; Genesis 41:21) or, finally, when it is used in opposition to other nations ( Genesis 14:13; Genesis 43:12, Exodus 2:11-13; Exodus 21:2)." He says, in contrast, the term "Israelites" is employed by the people themselves as a national name of honour, and with a religious significance. 189]
189] H. W. F. Gesenius, Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch, trans. A. E. Cowley (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1983), 8.
"for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner" - Comments - Abraham moved to this location after separating from Lot ( Genesis 13:18).
Genesis 13:18, "Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD."
"and these were confederate with Abram" - Word Study on "confederate" - The English word "confederate" is made from two Hebrew words, the phrase ( בַּעֲלֵי בְרִית) which literally means, "master of a covenant." Strong says the Hebrew word ( בַּעַל) (H 1167) means, "a master," and the Hebrew word ( בְּרִית) (1285) means, "a covenant, a league." Thus, the idea of partners in covenant is meant by the English word "confederate."
Genesis 14:14 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.
Genesis 14:14 — "And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants" - Comments - Abraham lived in a land where there was no great king. Instead, the area was divided into city-states, where each major city ruled its immediate area, and where covenants between cities maintained civil peace between clans. In the midst of this mindset Abraham trusted in the Lord for his own protection. However, he was well armed and his men trained for battle. Lot had the opportunity to train his household for battle, but he failed to do so. He was unprepared for battle and was taken captive, along with his entire household.
"born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen" - Comments - The large amount of men born in Abraham's house, most likely slaves he acquired, is rather unexpected. However, the previous story of Abraham and Lot separating because the land could not support them renders justification for this large amount of servants. 190]
190] Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD- Romans, vol 1, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc, 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), comment on Genesis 14:14.
Those born in his own house had a loyalty that far exceed hired servants. These men would give their lives for Abraham's cause. They believed in his cause, and they trusted in the God of Abraham because they had seen God at work in his life.
The symbolic meaning of the number "318" has been long sought by both Jews and Christians. The ancient Jewish rabbis proposed that the letters of the Hebrew name "Eliezer," who is introduced in the next story, equals the numerical value of "318." 191] Victor Hamilton breaks this numerical sum into its alphabetical parts: "(aleph: 1; lamed: 30; yod: 10; ʿayin: 70; zayin: 7; resh: 200 = 318." 192] Additional efforts have been made by the early Church fathers to assign this same numerical value to the name and office of Jesus Christ (Epistle of Barnabas 98, Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 611). 193]
191] Louis Ginzberg lists rabbinic and Jewish refers to the symbolic meanings of three hundred eighteen in Genesis 14:14. See Louis Ginzberg, The Lengend of the Jews, vol 5 From the Creation to the Exodus (New York, NY: Coismo, Inc, 2005), 224, no 93.
192] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, in The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1990), 406-407.
193] The Epistle of Barnabas reads, "Learn then, my children, concerning all things richly, that Abraham, the first who enjoined circumcision, looking forward in spirit to Jesus, practised that rite, having received the mysteries of the three letters. For [the Scripture] saith, ‘And Abraham circumcised ten, and eight, and three hundred men of his household.' What, then, was the knowledge given to him in this? Learn the eighteen first, and then the three hundred. The ten and the eight are thus denoted—Ten by I, and Eight by H. You have [the initials of the name of] Jesus. And because the cross was to express the grace [of our redemption] by the letter T, he says also, ‘Three Hundred.' He signifies, therefore, Jesus by two letters, and the cross by one. He knows this, who has put within us the engrafted gift of His doctrine. No one has been admitted by me to a more excellent piece of knowledge than this, but I know that ye are worthy." (Epistle of Barnabas 98) (ANF 1)
"and pursued them unto Dan" - Comments- The city of Dan is mentioned here and in Deuteronomy 34:1. We know that the city of Laish was not called Dan until Judges 18:29, which was years after the Conquest of Joshua. This might suggest that the book of Genesis was not written, or fully compiled, until the time of Judges, or later. However, some scholars believe that this is not the same Israelite city that is mentioned in Judges 18:29. They conclude that there was a second ancient city named Dan in the region of Gilead. Their reason is that the location of Dan in the region of Gilead is the logical path that the foreign armies from Mesopotamia would have taken in retreating from Abraham. However, note that the names of "Hebron," "Bethlehem," and "Ephrath" are all used in the book of Genesis. The Hebrew names of these three cities all come after the Conquest of Canaan. Therefore, it is possible that the name of the city Daniel, mentioned here in Genesis 14:14, is also of post-conquest origin.
Deuteronomy 34:1, "And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,"
Judges 18:29, "And they called the name of the city Daniel, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first."
Genesis 14:15 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.
Genesis 14:15 — Comments- We can imagine how frightened the large camp of armies from the East must have been when they were attacked in the middle of the night from all sides. They had defeated all opposition up until now. They were trusting in their size and strength to prevent any possible attacks from smaller armies. With this nighttime attack, fear gripped their hearts, and they left their goods and many fled into the darkness. When daylight came Abraham's men continued to chase them for miles. Abraham returned to camp only to gather the spoils.
Genesis 14:16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
Genesis 14:16 — Comments- The reason Abraham made the decision to go into battle against this large army is because of one Prayer of Manasseh, his nephew Lot. Because of this one man the Lord brought a great deliverance for the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. When we compare this deliverance to Abraham's pray of intercession for these same wicked cities, we find that Abraham asked God for their preservation if ten righteous men could be found. We have to wonder if Abraham could have asked for one righteous man for their deliverance from judgment.
Genesis 14:14-16 — Comments- Abraham's Mighty Men of Valor- Where did Abraham develop the faith to fight such a battle? Note that he had been living as a stranger in a hostile land of city-states, where cities fought one another, and marauding bands of men kept the unprotected inhabitants in terror. Abraham knew that his God could overcome any enemy, because Abraham had seen God protect and defend him for years in many smaller situations. Abraham knew that if God would protect him from the Pharaoh of Egypt and King Abimelech, He could certainly protect him from these five kings.
We find this same anointing in the life of Samson. Thus, it is most likely that Abraham and his men were anointed with power during battle to defeat these great armies. We can compare Abraham's 318 men to David's 600 men of valor. Both were anointed in battle.
Melchizedek, King of Salem - Genesis 14:17-20 describes Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Note the insight on Melchizedek in the book of Hebrews.
Hebrews 7:1-4, "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which Isaiah, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils."
Genesis 14:17 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.
Genesis 14:17 — "the valley of Shaveh, which is the king"s dale" - Comments- It is very likely that the children of Israel changed the name of this place from "the valley of Shaveh" to "the king"s dale," or "the King"s Valley," because of this historic battle that took place here.
Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Genesis 14:18 — Comments- "Salem" is Jerusalem ( Psalm 76:2, Hebrews 7:1).
Psalm 76:2, "In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion."
Hebrews 7:1-2, "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which Isaiah, King of peace."
Genesis 14:19 — Comments- The bread and the wine will be identified in the New Testament with holy communion. Perhaps we can say that Melchizedek and Abraham partook of the first communion. Certainly, there was an important meaning in this meal that they took together.
Genesis 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
Genesis 14:19 — "he blessed him" - Comments- Melchizedek blessed Abraham, thus showing that Melchizedek was the greater. Abraham was already blessed (see Genesis 13:2). Why would God want to further bless him? In Genesis 22:17 Abraham receives a further blessing. God"s blessings have no limits. He wants to abundantly bless his children, to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could imagine or ask ( Ephesians 3:20).
Hebrews 7:7, "And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better."
Genesis 13:2, "And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold."
Genesis 22:17, "That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;"
Ephesians 3:20, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,"
Genesis 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Genesis 14:20 — Comments - Hebrews 7:1-9 makes it clear that Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, and not vice versa. The Scriptures record only one occasion in which Abraham gave tithes. However, it is very likely that Abraham continued to tithe unto the Lord. One supporting evidence for this view is that Jacob vowed to tithe when he had a divine vision at Bethel ( Genesis 28:10-22). Most likely, Jacob had seen the power of the tithe to bless his grandfather Abraham, and this inspired him to make a vow unto God to do the same. A second supporting evidence to the view that Abraham tithed on a regular basis is the fact that the tithe was incorporated into the Law of Moses. Every Jew was required to tithe on a regular basis, and Abraham was the father of the Jewish faith. He was the role-model that every child of God is to imitate.
In the early period of Abraham's presence in the land of Canaan, the Scriptures mention four occasions in which he build an altar in which to worship God and call upon His name ( Genesis 12:7-8; Genesis 13:4; Genesis 13:18). It is worth noting that after giving the tithe to Melchizedek, no record is mentioned of Abraham building another altar except to sacrifice his son on Mount Moriah ( Genesis 22:1-19). Perhaps Abraham began to worship the Lord through the tithe rather than the sacrifice upon an altar.
Genesis 14:21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
Abraham's Trust in Divine Provision and Prosperity- Why did Abraham use such a lengthy name for the Lord as "the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth"; because He is known by His names. His names reveal His character. This name fit the occasion. Other divine attributes of God were not yet revealed to mankind ( Exodus 6:3).
Exodus 6:3, "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them."
In Abraham's Wisdom of Solomon, he made a commitment to not gain wealth by taking from others, although he had already become wealthy. He had learned about the blessing of the Lord ( Proverbs 10:22; Proverbs 28:20).
Proverbs 10:22, "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."
Proverbs 28:20, "A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent."
Genesis 14:22 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,
Genesis 14:23 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:
Genesis 14:22-23 — Comments - Abraham's Integrity- In a culture where cleverness, deceit and power determined a person's wealth, Abraham had made a predetermined decision to walk with integrity as a witness to God's power to bless him. He was restoring the goods that originally belonged to Sodomites and their neighbours. His possession of their goods would have potentially harmed this testimony. Through his faith in God the Canaanites and Syrians and Egyptians acknowledged that God was with Abraham ( Genesis 21:22), Isaac ( Genesis 26:28), Jacob ( Genesis 30:27) and Joseph ( Genesis 39:2-3).
Genesis 21:22, "And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:"
Genesis 26:28, "And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;"
Genesis 30:27, "And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry: for I have learned by experience that the LORD hath blessed me for thy sake."
Genesis 39:2-3, "And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. His master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand."
Genesis 14:24 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.
Genesis 14:24 — Comments- Since these three brothers, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, were in covenant with Abraham ( Genesis 14:13), he was obligated to fight their battles.
Genesis 14:13, "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."
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Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 14". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany