Abram at Hebron, Part One

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Summary of Context by Phillips-
There are ten kings in chapter 14, and only one of them is a king of righteousness. He does not appear until the very end. The chapter is a cameo of all of history with its kings and its conflicts and at last, at the end of it all, the coming of God’s true and righteous King.
It records the first battle in the Bible, indeed in all of recorded history. It is an important chapter because it mentions for the first time the priest, the king, war, the bread and wine, and tithes. The first mention of the priest, for instance, brings into sharp focus God’s thinking about priesthood. God’s ideal priest is not a ritual priest after the order of Aaron, but a royal priest after the order of Melchizedek. Similarly the first mention of a king shows that God’s ideal king is not a warrior king like Chedorlaomar, nor a wicked king like Bera, king of Sodom, nor yet a wise king like Amraphel of Shinar. God’s ideal king is a worshiping king like Melchizedek.
[John Phillips, Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ge 14:1–24.]

I. The Kings’ Confederation (Gen. 14:1-11).

Genesis 14:1–11 KJV 1900
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; 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. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 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, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar. 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; 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. 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. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
Note - This is a group of kings from the east controlling Sodom with high taxes; rebellion occurs, and then war breaks out (Compare the modern revolt of Iran, Pakistan, etc.; point out the part that the city of Peace (Jerusalem) has played in both).
Note - Dr. Gill has an interesting thought connecting Elam:
King of Elam, who was of the race of Shem, and so the prophecy of Noah began to be fulfilled, that Canaan should be servant to Shem, ch. 9:26 for the kings of Sodom, &c. and their subjects, were of the race of Ham in the line of Canaan, who had by violence seized on that part of the earth which was allotted to the sons of Shem, and therefore Chedorlaomer being a descendant of his claimed his right, and made them tributary to him, which they were for the space of twelve years
[John Gill, An Exposition of the Old Testament, vol. 1, The Baptist Commentary Series (London: Mathews and Leigh, 1810), 103.]
Note - Five kings - The Dead Sea Conflict (including Sodom & Gomorrah) - battle with four kings

A. Confederate Defeat

Note - The Dead Sea Confederation is defeated, Sodom & Gomorrah are plundered

B. Captives Abducted

Note - The reason the details are included - “and they took Lot...”
In the Bible, historical facts are often windows for spiritual truth.
[Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 32.]

II. Lot’s Confiscation (Gen. 14:12-16).

Genesis 14:12–16 KJV 1900
And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 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. 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. 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. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

A. Providential Informant

Note - An Escapee from the defeat informs Abram concerning Lot’s capture
Note - Consider these timely applications to believer’s today:
Abram could easily have shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, it serves Lot right! He should have kept clear of Sodom. He should never have moved out of the fellowship of the Lord’s people. Besides, what is all this to do with me? There’s nothing I can do about it. I am a Hebrew; I’m not supposed to become entangled in the affairs of this world. I am to be separated from the world. Even with the best of intentions, what can I do for Lot now? If the five kings of the plain with all their armaments and troop concentrations could not conquer the kings of the east, it’s for sure I can’t. Besides, I’m a farmer, not a fighter. God has not called me to be a soldier but a saint. I don’t know anything about war.” The weakness of the flesh could have suggested a thousand reasons why Abram should not become involved.... The reasons Abram might have invented we can concoct as well. Faced with a dying world, with teeming millions who have never so much as heard John 3:16, what are we willing to do? Faced with the need of weaker brothers and sisters in Christ being carried away by many hurtful and hateful lusts, what should we do? We have our own families and our business to attend to. We have responsibilities at home.
[Phillips, Ge 14:13.]
Abram might fairly have left Lot to reap as he had sown, but his soul yearned over his weak and entrapped relative, and he set himself to deliver him. Men of faith and prayer are still able to rescue those who are taken captive by the devil at his will. Faith subdues kingdoms.
[F. B. Meyer, Through the Bible Day by Day: A Devotional Commentary, vol. 1 (Philadelphia: American Sunday-School Union, 1914–1918), 23.]

B. Preparation & Pursuit

Note - Abram, demonstrating his graciousness, gathers a private militia of 318 men and takes a long journey to Dan (along with his allies)
Note - Here, defer to Wiersbe’s expositional insight:
When you consider the characteristics of Abraham’s army, you see what it takes in the spiritual realm to have victory over the world.
(1) They were born in his house (v. 14). Spiritually speaking, this reminds us that “whatever is born of God [overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4, KJV).] Our first birth made us children of Adam, and he was a loser; but our second birth makes us children of God, and Jesus Christ is the Victor. He has overcome every enemy (Eph. 1:19–23), and He shares His victory with all who will trust Him. “And this is the victory that [overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4, KJV).]
(2) They were armed (v. 14). It takes more than zeal and courage to win a war: You must also have effective equipment. The Christian soldier must wear the whole armor of God and use the spiritual weapons God has provided (Eph. 6:10–18). Our weapons are spiritual, not fleshly (2 Cor. 10:3–5); and we use them in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Word of God and prayer are our two most effective weapons (Acts 6:4), and we must use them by faith. As the well-known song expresses it: “Put on the Gospel armor/Each piece put on with prayer.”
(3) They were trained (v. 14). No matter how good their equipment is, if the soldiers are not trained, they will be easily defeated. One of the purposes of the local church is to train God’s people how to use the Bible effectively, how to pray, how to recognize the enemy, and how to follow orders as soldiers in the army of Christ. The better you know your Bible, the better you are equipped to fight the battle (2 Tim. 3:16–17). The Captain of your salvation wants to train you and “make you perfect [complete]” (Heb. 13:20–21), and the Greek word means “to equip an army.” If we fail in the battle, it is not the fault of the equipment or the strategy of our Captain. Something is wrong with the soldiers.
(4) They believed in their leader. Abraham and his allies rode 120 miles to make a surprise attack on the four kings, and they won a complete victory. Apparently Abraham got his directions from the Lord, so the whole enterprise was a victory of faith. The spiritual application is clear: If God’s people expect to defeat their enemies, they must trust the Lord and obey His orders. This is how Joshua conquered the Promised Land and David defeated the enemies of Israel, and this is the way the church must fight today.
(5) They were united. There were not three armies with three leaders; there was one army, and Abraham was in charge. If God’s people today were united in love, what victories we would win! We sing, “Like a mighty army/Moves the church of God”; but the church is very unlike an army, especially when it comes to the discipline of marching together. “The trouble with the church,” said a pastor friend, “is that there are too many generals and not enough privates!”
(6) They were single-minded. Their goal was not personal revenge or private gain (Gen. 14:22–23), but victory over the enemy so that the captives might be freed. A double-minded soldier is destined for defeat. [“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4, KJV).] When you remember Achan (Josh. 7), Samson (Jud. 13–16), and Saul (1 Sam. 15), you see how true that statement is.
[Wiersbe, 34–36.]

C. Rescuing P.O.W.’s

Note - He successfully rescues Lot and the others
And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people [Gen. 14:16].
You see that they were taking the women and the other people as slaves. Abram has done a tremendous thing, and he has done it because of his nephew Lot. That is the reason all of this is mentioned here. This is very definitely not an extraneous chapter. It is a part of the life of Abram, and it is very important.
[J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 64.]
Note - Wiersbe makes a timely illustration with excellent integration of NT principles:
While in Egypt with Abraham, Lot had gotten a taste of the world and enjoyed it. Scripture doesn’t record that Lot ever built an altar and sought the Lord, as did his uncle Abraham. Abraham was the friend of God (James 2:23), but Lot was the friend of the world (4:4). In time, Lot conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2); and when Sodom lost the war, Lot was condemned with the world (1 Cor. 11:32). If you identify with the world, then expect to suffer what the world suffers.
Lot’s capture was God’s way of disciplining him and reminding him that he had no business living in Sodom. No doubt Abraham was praying faithfully for his nephew that he might separate himself from the world and start living like a true “stranger and pilgrim.” God disciplines His children because He loves them and wants the best for them (Prov. 3:11–12; Heb. 12:1–11). If we don’t listen to His rebukes, then He has to get our attention some other way; and that way is usually very painful.
[Wiersbe, 33.]

III. Abram’s Consecration (Gen. 14:17-24).

Note - upon Abram’s return, two kings go out to meet him. The king of Sodom wants to reward Abram by giving him the spoil, but Abram refuses, not wanting to be obligated to this wicked king.
Note - From the BKC:
This incident was a test of Abram’s faith after a great victory. Bera, Sodom’s king, offered a most appealing deal. But Abram, knowing what he did about the king of Sodom, felt that keeping Sodom’s loot which he captured would make him subject to Bera. He wanted something far more enduring than possessions and wealth; he wanted the fulfillment of God’s miraculous and enduring promise. Faith looks beyond the riches of this world to the grander prospects God has in store.
Abram knew that he would become more prosperous, and he knew who was blessing him. He intended to receive everything from God and not even a thread from Sodom. Obedient believers frame their lives so that for all success, joy, comfort, and prosperity they depend on God—but their faith is like Abram’s, deeply rooted and growing stronger rather than brief and weak. The king of Sodom was obviously a wicked man over a wicked empire; Abram discerned that dealing with him might be dangerous. Abram could have reasoned that God was seeking to bless him by means of this offer. But he could not bring himself to equate the blessing of God with the best that Sodom had to offer.
[Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 54.]
Note - Remember: the gifts of the ungodly are often attached to deadly strings!
Legally, Abraham had every claim to the spoils; but morally, they were out of bounds. Many things in this world are legal as far as courts are concerned but morally wrong as far as God’s people are concerned.
[Wiersbe, 38.]

A. Acceptance of Communion with the King of Peace and Righteousness (Gen. 14:19-20).

Genesis 14:19–20 KJV 1900
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Note - Melchizedek - The Priest-King of Salem, brings bread and wine
1. There were people who worshipped the true God in Jerusalem (Salem)
2. Both a king and priest (Melech = king; Zedek = righteousness; Salem = peace)
The union of king and priest at Jerusalem was to move David (the first Israelite to sit on Melchizedek’s throne) to signal of a greater Melchizedek to come (Ps. 110:4).
[Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 1, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), 132.]
3. An OT Type of Christ
Psalm 110:4 KJV 1900
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:6–7 KJV 1900
As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
4. Could be Shem - representing a priest of God which is not a Levite
5. Melchizedek blessed both Abram and El Elyon (the Most High God)
6. Abram gave the tithe (1/10th) of his profits (the spoils) to Melchizedek as an expression of his gratitude to God for the victory
Hebrews 7:1–10 KJV 1900
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 is, 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. And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

B. Rejection of Carnality with the King of Sodom (Gen. 14:21-24).

Genesis 14:21–24 KJV 1900
And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 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, 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: 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.
Note - Henry’s Expositional thoughts:
Observe the king of Sodom’s grateful offer to Abram, Give me the souls, and take thou the substance. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power, those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense for our service and benefit. Abram generously refused this offer. He accompanies his refusal with a good reason, Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: which would reflect upon the promise promise and covenant of God, as if He would not have enriched Abraham without the spoils of Sodom. The people of God must, for their credit’s sake, take heed of doing any thing that looks mean or mercenary, or that savors of covetousness and self-seeking. Abraham can trust the Possessor of Heaven and earth to provide for him.
[Matthew Henry and Thomas Scott, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997), Ge 14:21.]
In this we readily conclude with Smith, Lee that Abram truly is the Man of Faith:
I. A Man of Sympathy. ...
II. A Man of Courage ...(Php 4:13).
III. A Man of Power. ...The fruitful branch must abide in the vine.
IV. A Man of Independence. ...not the independence of pride and self-sufficiency, but that of a holy jealousy for the Name and character of God. It is the independence of entire dependence upon God alone....
V. A Man Approved of God. "Melchizedek met him and blessed him" ...Jesus Christ, the Priest of the Most High God, will so bless and refresh all who, like Abram, go forth in His Name to walk, to work, and to war. ...Jesus, the succouring King of Peace, will meet him with His help and blessing, and at last with His "Well done," ....
[Dr. James Smith and Robert Lee, Handfuls on Purpose: For Christian Workers and Bible Students, n.d., Ge 14:18–24.]


Note - Notice how Wiersbe follows how Abram used his hands:
Before the battle, Abraham lifted his hand by faith in a solemn vow to God that he would take nothing from the spoils. [See verse 22] He had a single heart and mind as he led the army (Matt. 6:24).
During the battle, Abraham wielded his sword by faith and trusted God for victory.
After the battle, by faith Abraham closed his hands to the King of Sodom but opened his hands to the King of Salem, receiving bread and wine and giving tithes.
[Wiersbe, 41.]
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