1 In the days of Amraphel, king of Shinar, Arioch, king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim, 2 they 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 (also called Zoar). 3 All these joined together in the valley of Siddim (also called the Salt Sea). 4 They served Chedorlaomer for twelve years, and in the thirteenth year, they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came, and the kings who were with him, and struck the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, to El Paran, which is by the wilderness.7 They returned, and came to En Mishpat (also called Kadesh), and struck all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that lived in Hazazon Tamar. 8 The king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (also called Zoar) went out; and they set the battle in array against them in the valley of Siddim; 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five. 10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and some fell there, and those who remained fled to the hills. 11 They took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their food, and went their way. 12 They took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 One who had escaped came and told Abram, the Hebrew. At that time, he lived by the oaks of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and they were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative was taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. 15 He divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and struck them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative, Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the other people.
17 The king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18 Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him, and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Abram gave him a tenth of all.
22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted up my hand to Yahweh, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread nor a sandal strap nor anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will accept nothing from you except that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their portion.”
Thoughts for the day
Here we get the first recorded war, introduced to a high priest whose identity is debated even today, and the first concept of Tithe or a tax according to some. If you ask me, that is a lot for one little chapter. In Chapter 13, Abram and Lot were choosing their places to live, Abram is blessed by God and told his seed will populate the earth. Today in chapter 14, Abram’s brother’s community is being attacked and the chapter made sure we knew who the good guys, and the bad guys were. This chapter named all players by name and everyone knew who was fighting who. It seems today like it is nearly impossible to determine who is supposed to be fighting who, the good and evil entities are obscured in the shadows by their deeds, and the redefinition of good and evil in every society.
Fortunately for Abram and especially for Lot, when Abram ordered his men out to take back the goods belonging to Sodom. Abram’s family did not protest exclaiming that it was not their war; after all Lot just broke up with them and this was all his doing. In Abram’s day, they still understood loyalty to their clan and country. Abram took 318 of his men, and in my opinion miraculously recovered what Sodom and Gomorrah could not hang on to. Abram’s army got Lot back, his women, and some people as well as all the treasure. Based on this list of combatants Abram’s army took on, every one of his men had to be super heroes. Which means we can safely conclude, there was a divine power behind this military strike.
Verses 17, and 18 we find the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah are grateful that Chedorlaomer and his men were slain. The king Melchizedek (who is a high priest of God) from Salem brought them Wine, Bread, and blessed Abram. In verse 21 The King of Sodom requests his people back, but gives all the goods to Abram as payment for his efforts. In verse 20, Abram gives 10% of the goods to Melchizedek. Some say this was a tithe to God and which is an example for us today. Then Abram turned the rest over to Sodom to prove he was not helping for financial reasons.
Why do we wonder who Melchizedek is? Melchizedek, just appears out of nowhere as a king declared to be a priest of the highest God. Yes, we meet people who claim such titles today, but this guy is different. He appears to under very interesting circumstances noted in this chapter to lend a lot of credence to his affinity with divinity. Some say he was Jesus, but since the new testament seems to indicate that level of social interaction is not allowed between God and man. John 20:17. Maybe he was a parallel prophet to Abram who get little press, maybe an Angel ruling the known world. At this point, I am going to set this one out. I have no idea who this guy is, and most honest teachers of scripture would admit that we do not know who this is without a doubt.
Have a wonderful day, and remember to apply Biblical knowledge to your personal life, your relationship with God; your civil duties decision making in government or business. When you follow the teaching of this passage and others like, you might lose a battle in the short run, but God see you win the war.