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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 14

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Several kings wage war against the king of Sodom, &c.; Lot is taken prisoner, Genesis 14:1-12.

Abram rescues him, Genesis 14:13-16.

The king of Sodom congratulates him his victory, Genesis 14:17.

Melchizedek king of Salem blesses him; to him Abram gives tithes, Genesis 14:18-20.

The king of Sodom offers to give Abram the goods taken in victory, Genesis 14:21; which Abram refuses to accept, Genesis 14:22-24.

Verse 1

i.e. Of a people which came to him out of several nations, (being allured possibly by his fame, or by promises and privileges granted to them), and put themselves under his government. Or Goiim is the name of a certain place or country, so called from the confluence of divers people or nations thither, as Tyrus is called the mart of nations, Isaiah 23:3, upon the same account.

Verse 2

Once for all, observe that the name of kings is here and elsewhere given by Moses to the chief governors of cities or little provinces. Compare Joshua 12:9, &c.

Verse 3

Which now is, though when this battle was fought it was not so.

Verse 4

He was their lord, either,

1. By inheritance, as the issue of Elam, Shem’s son, Genesis 10:22. Or,

2. By conquest, having subdued those people in a former war, which Josephus speaks of.

Verse 5

The kings that were with him, i.e. confederate with him for the recovery of his right, expecting the same assistance from him upon the like occasion.

The Rephaims, a fierce and warlike people of Canaan. See Genesis 15:20. Or the giants, as this word is taken Deuteronomy 2:11.

Ashteroth Karnaim, a place in Basan called Ashteroth, Deuteronomy 1:4; Joshua 9:10; Joshua 13:31. It is surnamed Carnaim, q.d.

Two-horned, like a half moon, either from the situation and form of the place, or from the goddess Diana, or the moon, which usually was painted with two horns, whom they worshipped.

The Emims, a people in Canaan of giant-like stature, Deuteronomy 2:10-11.

Shaveh Kiriathaim; Kiriathaim is a noted city in Gilead, and Shaveh may be either the ancient name of that city, or the present name of the country adjoining and belonging to it.

Verse 6

The Horites, the ancient inhabitants of Seir, of whom see Genesis 36:20; Deuteronomy 2:12. El signifies a plain, and Paran is the name of a known city and mountain. See Numbers 13:3; Deuteronomy 33:2; 1 Samuel 25:1, &c.

Verse 7

Which is Kadesh, i.e. which after that time was called Kadesh, of which see Numbers 20:1; Numbers 20:14, &c.

The country of the Amalekites, i.e. which afterwards was possessed by the Amalekites, Genesis 36:12. A known figure called prolepsis.

Verse 10

The vale of Siddim was chosen by those five kings for the place of battle, that their adversaries being ignorant of the place might unawares fall into those pits, which they by their knowledge of it thought to escape.

Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e. their armies; a figurative speech, frequent in Scripture and other authors; for their persons escaped: see Genesis 14:17. They either,

1. Fell into the pits which they designed for others; or rather,

2. Were slain, as this word is oft used, as Joshua 8:24-25; Judges 8:10; Judges 12:6; and here too; for those that fell are here opposed to those that remained.

Verse 12

Lot now suffered for his cohabitation with bad neighbours.

Verse 13

Abram the Hebrew; so called, either,

1. From his great and good predecessor Eber, Genesis 10:24; Genesis 11:14, in and by whom the primitive language and true religion were preserved; and therefore though Abram had five other progenitors between Eber and him, which were persons of less note, he is rightly denominated from Eber, the Hebrew, because he was the first that revived the memory and the work of Eber, that kept up the same language, and eminently propagated the same true religion. Or,

2. As others think, from his passing over the river Euphrates, from beyond which he came into Canaan.

These were confederate with Abram, i.e. had entered into a league for their mutual defence against common enemies. Whence we learn that it is not simply and universally unlawful to make a league with persons of a false religion.

Verse 14

He armed his trained servants, whom he had disciplined and instructed both in religion and in the military art too, both which were necessary to make them good soldiers, that they might both fight with skill and courage, and also rely upon God, and engage his assistance; which was now especially necessary, when so small a party were to engage against so numerous an army.

Dan is commonly thought to be a town then called Leshem, Joshua 19:47, or Laish, Judges 18:7, and afterwards Dan; see Judges 18:7,Judges 18:29; so it is an anticipation. But it may be doubted whether this was a city; or if it were, whether it were not another town called by the same name, which was frequent in those parts. And some think this is not a town, but the very fountain of Dan, whence Jordan had its name.

Verse 15

He divided himself, i.e. his forces into several parties, that coming upon them from several quarters he might strike them with greater terror, whilst they thought his army far more numerous than it was.

Verse 16

He brought back all the goods which the victorious kings had taken from the princes and people mentioned before in this chapter.

Verse 17

So called either upon this occasion of the meeting of divers kings here; or because king Melchizedek either had his habitation, or was much delighted with it, and conversant in it. See 2 Samuel 18:18.

Verse 18

Quest. Who was this?


1. Shem, as the Jews and many others think, who probably was alive at this time, and, no doubt, a great prince. But neither is it probable that Shem should be a king among the cursed race of Ham; nor will this agree with the apostle's description of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:3, without father and mother, & c. Whereas Shem's parents, and the beginning and end of his days, are as expressly mentioned by Moses as any other.

2. A Canaanitish king, by the Divine Providence made both a king over men, and priest unto the true God, brought in here in this unusual manner, without any mention of his parents, birth, or death, for this end, that he might be an illustrious type of Christ. Of this matter see more upon Hebrews 7:3.

King of Salem, i.e. of Jerusalem, called elsewhere Jebus, and Salem, Psalms 76:2.

Bread and wine; not for sacrifice to God; for then he had brought forth beasts to be slain, which were the usual and best sacrifices: but partly to show the respect which he bore to Abram, and principally to refresh his weary and hungry army, according to the manner of those times. See Deuteronomy 23:3-4; Deuteronomy 5:18; Judges 8:5-6,Judges 8:15; 1 Samuel 17:17.

He was the priest of the most high God: thus in succeeding ages the same persons were often both kings and priests, as the learned note out of Virgil and other authors. And this clause is here added, as the cause and reason, not for his bringing forth or offering bread and wine, as some would have it, (for that is ascribed to him as a king, as an act of royal munificence), but of the following benediction and decimation. In those times God had his remnant scattered here and there even in the worst places and nations.

Verse 19

And, or therefore, ( as the particle is oft taken, i.e. because he was a priest of God),

he (i.e. Melchizedek)

blessed him, ( Abram,) which was one act of the priestly office. See Poole on "Hebrews 7:6" and "Hebrews 7:7". So it is a prayer for him, that God would confirm and increase the blessing which he had given him. Or, blessed is; so it is an acknowledgment of God's blessing conferred upon Abram both formerly, and in this late and great victory. Or, blessed shall be; so it is a prediction concerning his future and further blessedness, whereof this was only an earnest.

Verse 20

Not Melchizedek gave to Abram, as some Jews foolishly understand it; for Abram swears that he would not keep nor take any of the recovered goods of the kings of Sodom, or his brethren, Genesis 14:23. But Abram gave to Melchizedek, as appears both from Hebrews 4:7, and from the nature of the thing, for the tithes confessedly belong to the priest, such as Melchizedek, and not Abram, is here described to be.

All, not of all the recovered goods, but of all the spoils taken from the enemies.

Verse 22

This was the ancient manner of swearing. See Exodus 6:8; Numbers 14:30; Deuteronomy 32:40; Ezekiel 20:5,Ezekiel 20:6.

Verse 23

That I will not take; Heb. If I shall take. Understand, God do so and so to me, which is expressed 1 Samuel 14:44. A defective manner of swearing used amongst the Hebrews, either to maintain the reverence of oaths, and the dread of perjury, seeing they were afraid so much as to mention the curse which they meant; or to show that they were willing to submit to any punishment which God should inflict upon them, without exception, if they violated their oaths.

Even to a shoe-latchet, i.e. any thing, though never so small or mean, lest thou shouldst claim a share with God in the honour due to him, to whose blessing alone I do and I will owe my riches. Or, lest thou shouldst say, Abram is enriched with my spoils; and however he pretended kindness and charity, yet indeed it was his covetousness that put him upon this work.

Verse 24

For as Abram had a right to spoils, so had they, whether they joined with him in the battle, as it is conceived they did, or only abode by the stuff, 1 Samuel 30:24; and therefore though he might and did give away his own right, he could not give away other men’s.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 14". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/genesis-14.html. 1685.
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