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Genesis 14:1. Amraphel king of Shinar, the plain on which Babylon was built. The Hebrew melech, everywhere translated king, is equivalent, according to the Gothic etymon of the same word, to a fighting chief; hence, mell, maul, mallet, to meddle. Every city had its king, who walled his town for safety and defence. Our Saxon fathers formed bournes, and built towns when they became more settled; hence Cranbourne, Blackburn, &c. These kings were only viceroys, and probably acting under Semiramis, whose husband Ninus might have vanquished all the country fourteen years before.
Genesis 14:5. The Rephaims, and the Emims, Deuteronomy 2:10, are the giants or titanes, Genesis 6:4, Job 25:4; where the dead or rephaim are said to be under the water. This is the first war expressly mentioned in sacred history; but Sodom had previously been invaded by this prince, so that the horrors of war was no novel occurrence. God now gave those wicked cities a second stroke; but not repenting, they were by the third utterly consumed. The king of Elam would plead the equity of his cause, because the kings of the plain had violated faith; and Abraham could justly plead the duty of rescuing his nephew.
Genesis 14:7. En-mishpat, the fountain of judgment in Kadesh, where the Israelites received their sentence to die in the wilderness; and where Moses and Aaron afterwards received their sentence. Numbers 14:21. Amalekites, the descendants of Amalek, grandson of Esau by a concubine; an ill-educated, wicked and bloody race. Genesis 36:12. Exodus 17:8. Numbers 24:20. Deuteronomy 25:17. 1 Samuel 15:2.
Genesis 14:14. He armed. If in Abraham’s camp three hundred and eighteen of the younger men could bear arms, there could not be less than two thousand souls; so greatly had the Lord prospered him in his pilgrimage.
Genesis 14:15. Smote them. These wicked kings had just reached home, covered with guilt and loaded with spoil. About to thank their gods for aiding their cause, vengeance came upon them in the dead of night. The victorious plead the aids of heaven; and when the vanquished become victorious, they also make the same plea. The fact is, God was against both the Assyrians and the Sodomites, and made the one a dreadful scourge to the other.
Genesis 14:18 . Melchizedek. The Jews seem uniform in their assertions, that this princely patriarch is Shem, and that Salem is Jerusalem. He was surnamed Sydic by the Greeks, because of his piety. Bread and wine. A rich repast, commemorative of a victory which faintly shadowed forth the future conquests of Abraham’s spiritual seed.
Genesis 14:19. Blessed him. It was usual to confer new benedictions after illustrious deeds. Noah blessed Shem and Japhet for their filial reverence. Phinehas obtained the conditional promise of a perpetual priesthood, for slaying the impudent prince who had brought a Midian woman to his tent. This action of Abraham was among the most illustrious deeds of the ancients. Having only a handful of men he fell upon the allied kings by night; and the terrors of God falling on the guilty conscience of the invading bands, completed the panic. Thus Abraham, covered with the divine shield, not only recovered what was lost, but liberated all the country. Blessings conferred in this patriarchal manner were always regarded as seals of the covenant; while curses, on the contrary, were inflicted to cut off, for a time at least, egregious offenders, from those hallowed claims.
Genesis 14:20. Tithes of all. Not of Abraham’s cattle and riches, but of the spoil taken in war. Cyrus was a prince remarkable for devoting the tenth of his spoils to the service of religion.
Have you, sinner, received from God, like Sodom, a double stroke of affliction, and a double warning to repentance? Remember that God may come the third time in good earnest. It is the extreme of folly and infatuation to trifle with his judgments. If Abraham once saved Sodom for Lot’s sake, remember, he was not able to save it in the day of God’s anger.
In the venerable Melchizedek we have a striking figure of Jesus Christ. His name, the King of Righteousness, is highly expressive of the equity of our Saviour’s reign. His being King of Salem, or of peace, adumbrates the peaceful kingdom of Christ in the soul, and in all the earth. His parentage and death not being named, as is usual with other kings, indicates the eternal Godhead of Christ, having existed from everlasting, without beginning of days or end of life. No successor being named, Melchizedek’s priesthood prefigured the unchangeable priesthood of Christ at the right hand of God. Let us then approach him with all our sins and infirmities, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us.
Did Abraham refuse for himself to take so much as a shoe-latchet of the plundered spoil; and did he account the increase of his cattle and the fertility of the earth, sufficient resources of wealth? Then let men be content with their hereditary endowments, and with the lawful gains of their calling; for all extortion and fraud, all bribes and gifts of corruption will corrode the conscience, and testify against them in the day of the Lord.
Though the Lord called Abraham from among idolators, he left not himself without other witnesses in the earth. The king of Salem, and Job, and Jethro, were all servants of the most high God, according to the covenant and worship of Noah. The high calling and privileges of one man did not exclude others from acceptance with their Maker.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 14". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
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