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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 14

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2091. B.C. 1913.

We have in this chapter,

(1,) A war with the king of Sodom and his allies, Genesis 14:1-12 .

(2,) Abram’s rescue of Lot from captivity, Genesis 14:13-16 .

(3,) Abram’s return from that expedition, Genesis 14:17 , with an account of what passed, 1, Between him and the king of Salem, Genesis 14:18-20 . Genesis 14:2 , Between him and the king of Sodom, Genesis 14:21-24 .

Verses 1-2

Genesis 14:1-2 . We have here an account of the first war that we read of in Scripture, in which we may observe: 1st, The parties engaged in it. The invaders were four kings; two of them no less than kings of Shinar and Elam; that is, Chaldea and Persia; yet, probably, not the sovereign princes of those great kingdoms, but rather the heads of some colonies which came out thence, and settled themselves near Sodom, but retained the names of the countries from which they had their original. The invaded were the kings of five cities that lay near together in the plain of Jordan, Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. 2d, The occasion of this war was, the revolt of the five kings from under the government of Chedorlaomer.

Verse 4

Genesis 14:4. Twelve years they served him The Sodomites were the posterity of Canaan, whom Noah had pronounced a servant to Shem, from whom Elam descended. Thus soon did that prophecy begin to be fulfilled. In the thirteenth year (beginning to be weary of their subjection) they rebelled Denied their tribute, and attempted to shake off the yoke.

Verse 5

Genesis 14:5. In the fourteenth year After some pause and preparation, Chedorlaomer, in conjunction with his allies, set himself to reduce the revolters. The four kings laid the neighbouring countries waste, and enriched themselves with the spoil of them, Genesis 14:5-7. Upon the alarm of which, the king of Sodom and his allies went out and were routed.

Verse 13

Genesis 14:13. We have here an account of the only military action we ever find Abram engaged in, and to this he was not prompted by avarice or ambition, but purely by a principle of charity. Considering the impropriety of Lot’s conduct, he might have found a very plausible pretence for declining to expose himself and his servants to the danger which it was reasonable to suppose would attend the enterprise; but his love to his relation, who, notwithstanding his late error, was, upon the whole, a righteous man, and his compassion for him and his family in their distress, induced him to undertake this difficult and hazardous service, and his faith in the providence and promises of God supported him in it, and brought him through it much to his honour, and for the comfort of his nephew and many others.

Abram is here called the Hebrew, and because the word signifies passage, some have thought that he is so called from his passing the Euphrates; but it is much more probable that he is called so from his great and good ancestor Eber, mentioned 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, who were persons of less note, he is rightly denominated from Eber, because he revived the memory and work of Eber, kept up the same language, and eminently propagated the same true religion.

Verse 14

Genesis 14:14. He armed his trained servants To the number of three hundred and eighteen: a great family, but a small army; about as many as Gideon’s that routed the Midianites, Judges 7:7. He drew-out his trained servants, or his catechised servants; not only instructed in “the art of war,” but instructed in the principles of religion; for Abram commanded his household to “keep the way of the Lord.”

Verse 18

Genesis 14:18. It has been a great question among expositors, who Melchizedek was. The Jewish rabbins say that he was Shem, the son of Noah, who was king and priest to those that were descended from him, according to the patriarchal model. And it must be allowed to be probable that Shem was alive at this time, and that he was a great prince. But as Shem’s genealogy and birth are recorded in Scripture, and were well known, it could, with no propriety, be said of him, as the apostle says of Melchizedek, that he was “without father (namely, mentioned in the sacred history) and without mother, without beginning of days or end of life:” nor is it at all probable that Moses should introduce Shem under the name of Melchizedek, without any apparent reason, or any the least intimation of his meaning. Many Christian writers have thought that this was an appearance of the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus, known to Abram at this time by the name of Melchizedek. But this is not consistent with what the same apostle affirms in the same place, Hebrews 7:3, who says, not that he was the Son of God, but that he was “made like him,” αφωμοιωμενος , that is, was made a type of him; nor is it consistent with his affirming that Christ was constituted “a priest after the order of Melchizedek.” Besides, it is said that Melchizedek was “king of Salem:” but we are sure Christ never reigned over any particular city as a temporal prince. It seems sufficiently evident that he was a mere man; but from whom he was descended, or who were his immediate parents or successors, God has not seen fit to inform us: nay, it is probable that God designedly concealed these things from us, that he might be the more perfect type of his eternal Son. He brought forth bread and wine For the refreshment of Abram and his soldiers, and in congratulation of their victory. This he did as king. “As priest of the most high God he blessed Abram,” which, no doubt, was a greater refreshment to Abram’s soul than the bread and wine were to his body.

Verse 19

Genesis 14:19. Blessed be Abram of the most high God Observe the titles he here gives to God, which are very glorious. 1st, The most high God, which speaks his absolute perfection in himself, and his sovereign dominion over all the creatures. 2d, Possessor of heaven and earth That is, rightful owner and sovereign Lord of all the creatures; because he made them.

Verse 20

Genesis 14:20. And blessed be the most high God Observe, 1st, In all our prayers we must praise God, and join hallelujahs with all our hosannas. These are the spiritual sacrifices we must offer up daily, and upon particular occasions. 2d, God, as the most high God, must have the glory of all our victories. In them he shows himself higher than our enemies, and higher than we, for without him we could do nothing. And he gave him tithes of all That is, of the spoils, Hebrews 7:4. This may be looked upon, 1st, As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his respects. 2d, As an offering dedicated to the most high God, and therefore put into the hands of Melchizedek his priest. Jesus Christ, our great Melchizedek, is to be humbly acknowledged by every one of us as our King and Priest, and not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be given up to him.

Verse 21

Genesis 14:21. Give me the souls, and take thou the substance So the Hebrew reads it. Here he fairly begs the persons, but as freely bestows the goods on Abram. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power those that have undergone fatigues, or been at expense for our service.

Verses 22-23

Genesis 14:22-23 . Here observe, 1st, Abram gives to God the same titles that Melchizedek had just now used. It is good to learn of others how to order our speech concerning God, and to imitate those who speak well in divine things. 2d, The ceremony used in this oath; I have lift up my hand In religious swearing, we appeal to God’s knowledge of our truth and sincerity, and imprecate his wrath if we swear falsely; and the “lifting up of the hands” is expressive of both. Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich Probably, Abram knew the king of Sodom to be a proud and scornful man, and one that would be apt to turn such a thing as this to his reproach afterward; and when we have to do with such men, we have need to act with particular caution. From a thread to a shoe-latchet Not the least thing that had ever belonged to the king of Sodom.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 14". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/genesis-14.html. 1857.
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