Genesis Chapter Fourteen

Abram Rescues Lot

VERSE 1 And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim (~yIAG %l,m, l['d>tiw> ~l'y[e %l,m, rm,[ol'r>d'K. rs'L'a, %l,m, %Ayr>a; r['n>vi-%l,m, lp,r'm.a; ymeyBi yhiy>w: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. hayah "it came about" + prep beth w/noun m.p.constr. yom day + proper noun Amraphel + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Shinar + proper noun Arioch + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Ellasar + proper noun Chedorlaomer + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Elam + waw w/proper noun Tidal + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Goiim (nations),


  1. Abram was born in 1950 BC in Ur.
  2. Abram was called to a new land at age 70 while living in his hometown of Ur.
  3. He left Ur to go to Canaan at age 70 (1880 BC), but stopped in Haran where he lived for five years until his father died.
  4. At age 75 in the year 1875 BC he and his wife and his nephew arrived in Canaan where he was told by God that this was the land of promise (12:4-7).
  5. Isaac was born when Abram was 100 years of age, that is, 25 years after his departure from Haran (1850 BC).
  6. Ten years elapsed between the time Abram first entered Canaan and Sarai’s scheme to produce and heir (Gen. 16:3).
  7. So, all the events recorded in Genesis chapters 12 through 15 took place over a single decade.
  8. These events included the sojourn in Egypt (chp. 12), separation from Lot (chap. 13), and the rout of the kings from the east (chp. 14).
  9. So sometime between 1875 and 1865 Lot and his family was rescued by Abram.
  10. In verse 4 we have listed the four kings that invaded the promised land.
  11. In 1982 AD Dr. Peter Huber of Harvard University and his colleagues restudied the Ammisaduqa Venus Tablets of Babylon and compared the astronomical data with 33,000 lunar dates and various solar eclipses recorded in Babylonian history.
  12. Huber concluded that King Hammurabi of Babylon should be redated fifty-six years earlier than the previous astronomical dates of the 1972 edition of Cambridge Ancient History.
  13. Adding the fifty-six years to Hammurabi’s previous accession year of 1792 BC, he revised Hammurabi’s accession year to 1848 BC.
  14. Huber’s new astronomical dates for Hammurabi’s reign are 1848 to 1806 BC.
  15. This makes Hammurabi a contemporary of Abraham during his life in Canaan (1875 to 1775 BC; see Gen. 12:5; 25:7).
  16. Of the four kings mentioned in this verse the leader of the coalition is Kedorlaomer king of Elam number three in the listing.
  17. Verse 4 informs us that is indeed the case.
  18. Both Kudur-Marduk, Regent of the Provinces of Elam and the Biblical Kedor-Laomer, a ruler of Elam, are dated astronomically and Biblically to the same BC years.
  19. The consonants in Kudur’ and Kedor’s names are identical: K-d-r.
  20. Vowels were not present in these languages and were handed down through memorization.
  21. Vowels were easily modified over the centuries before they were gradually written down.
  22. The names of Kudur and Kedor are practically identical: Kdr = Kdr (different vowels).
  23. "Markuk" (Elamite source) and "Laomer" (Biblical source) may represent different gods that Kudur/Kedor worshipped.
  24. However, if the vowel "E" is placed before Laomer, we have Kedor-Elaomer, which would perhaps mean Kedor, the Elamite.
  25. Elamite rulers could have used two different names.
  26. Egyptian monarchs used three different names (as do most Americans).
  27. Could Armraphel be Hammurabi?
  28. Gen. 14:4 says Kedor-Laomer, king of Elam, was the leader of three other kings, including Amraphel, king of Shinar.
  29. Gen. 10:10 says thata the country of Shinar included the cites of Babel (Babylon), Accad (Agade), Erech (Uruk) and Calneh (?).
  30. Amraphel, as the king of Shinar, was also king of the province of Babylon in 1866 BC nine years after Abram entered Canaan in 1875 BC.
  31. Hammurabi’s father was Sin-Muballit.
  32. Hammurabi was crown prince at the time of this invasion.
  33. Why then does Genesis 14 call him a "king," if he were only a crown prince.
  34. Princes were often called kings before their fathers die.
  35. Nebuchadnezzar was crown prince and Babylonian commander, while his father Nabopollasar was "king."
  36. 2Kings 23:1 calls Nebuchadnezzar, "king of Babylon," in 609 BC, three and a half years before he became king in 605 BC.
  37. Moses, author of Genesis 14, knowing that Amraphel (Hammurabi) would later become king of Babylon, called him a king, even thought he was a crown prince.
  38. Scholars debate the similarities and differences of the names Amraphel and Hammurabi.
  39. The two names are practically identical as Hayden explains: "The…writing of the name from Ugarit (mrpi) would argue for a "p" instead of a "b," and "h" does not represent the first consonant. Perhaps, ’Ammurapi would be the best spelling…Ammu or Hammu is most likely a god…should be translated "Ammur Is Great."
  40. Analyzing the name of Amraphel the "A" in the Hebrew of Amraphel can be aspirated in Aramaic as "Ha," as the "Apiru" in the Egyptian texts is equivalent to "Hapiru" in the Mari texts.
  41. Also, the "B" is often interchanged with "P" when translating one language into another as "Hapiru" is also translated by the word "Habiru."
  42. The "el" stem at the end of Amraphel means "god."
  43. Thus Amraphel or Hamraphel in Hebrew means, "Amu [Hamu] is a Great God."
  44. In Akkadian Ammurapi or Hammurapi (Hammurabi) means, "Ammu [Hammu] is Great."
  45. Moses interpreted the Akkadian (Babylonian) name of Hammurabi as Amraphel so that his Hebrew readers would known that it was the name of a god by the el ending.
  46. Babylonians already knew that Hammu (Ammu) was the name of one of their gods.
  47. Some argue that Hammurabi, as king of Babylon, was never in submission to Elam.
  48. Thus they say Hammurabi could not be Amraphel king of Sinar, who was subject to Kedor-Laomer, king of Elam.
  49. Kudur-Markuk (Chedorlaomer) and his son Rim Sin I, king of Larsa, defeated Babylon in Rim Sin I’s fourteenth year.
  50. Babylon (Shinar) was conquered two years before the invasion of Canaan mentioned in this chapter.
  51. Who was Arioch, king of Ellasar?
  52. Arioch, king of Ellasar, accompanied Kedor-Laomer in 1866 BC to conquer the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah when Abraham surprised them at night on their return home.
  53. Zimrillim, the famous king of Mari, had a son by the name of Arioch (Arriwuuk).
  54. In 1869 BC, Shamshi-Adad I, king of Assyria, conquered Mari and killed its king, Iakhdunlim, the father of Zimrillim.
  55. Zimrillim took his family, including his son Arioch, and fled to his father-in-law, Iarimlim, king of Aleppo.
  56. Zimrillim and Arioch remained in exile for thirty-two years before returning to reconquer Mari in 1837 BC (Huber’s new dates).
  57. Thus, Zimrillim and his son Arioch lived in the vicinity of Aleppo from 1869 to 1838 BC, which includes the year 1866 BC, when Arioch, king of Ellasar, accompanied Kedor-Laomer in this chapter.
  58. Iarimlim, the father-in-law of Zimrilim, and the grandfather of Arioch, was the powerful king of the country of Iamkhad with its capital at Aleppo between the northern border of Syria and the southern border of Turkey.
  59. Iarimlim’s kingdom was comprised of an alliance of twenty sub-kings in cites located in southern Turkey and northern Syria.
  60. The capital Aleppo was chief market place and caravan route for those traveling south to Canaan, north to Hatti (Turkey), or east along the Euphrates to Mari.
  61. "Alisar," almost identical to Ellasar" is the name of several archaeological sites in Turkey.
  62. The city of Ellasar is likely Alisar in southern Turkey, north of Aleppo and Carchemish.
  63. Ellasar was one of twenty kingdoms that made up Iarimlim’s kingdom of Iamkhab.
  64. Iarimlim could have appointed his grandson, Arioch, as king of Ellasar.
  65. Ancient Jewish Targums on Genesis 14 locate Ellasar in Pontus or Cappadocial in modern Turkey, land of the Hittites.
  66. This presents a unique alliance of kings from Elam, Babylon and Turkey.
  67. Babylon and Elam were separated from Aleppo in Turkey by 200 miles.
  68. Why were these kingdoms allied with each other?
  69. Kupper notes in the Cambridge Ancient History that Iarimlim, king of Aleppo, communicated with Babylon and sent an army to assist Sin-Muballit, who was king of Babylon and the father of Hammurabi.
  70. Sin-Muballit, likely married a daughter of Iarimlim, who was the mother of Hammurabi, just as Zimrilim of Mari married another daughter of Iarimlim (king of Aleppo) who was the mother of Arioch.
  71. Hammurabi (Amraphel) of Babylon and Arioch of Mari were both grandsons of Iarimlim, and so cousins.
  72. Of interest here is the fact that Iarimlim also named one of his sons "Hammurabi."
  73. So, Iarimlim of Aleppo and Sin-Muballit of Babylon both named crown princes by the name of "Hammurabi."
  74. Both Hammurabis became full-fledged kings in the astronomically-fixed date of 1848 BC.
  75. The two Hammurabis immediately exchanged ambassadors with each other when they became kings.
  76. Hammurabi of Aleppo later sent an army to assist Hammurabi of Babylon militarily.
  77. The two fathers and the two sons constantly communicated with each other from 1869 to 1838 BC, including that year when Arioch joined Amraphel (Hammurabi) to invade S. Canaan.
  78. Possibly Hammurabi invited his cousin, Arioch, king of Elasar, to join their military alliance with the approval of Kedor-Laomer.
  79. Arioch agreed to meet Kedor and Hammurabi at the mid-way point, where they united forces and attacked cites on both sides of the Dead Sea.
  80. What about Tidal king of Goiim?
  81. Scholars tend to agree that Tidal is uniquely a royal Hittite name.
  82. The city of Goiim has not yet been located in ancient sources outside the Bible.
  83. If Goiim was a Hittite city in Turkey and not far from Ellasar where Arioch resided then the association is possible.
  84. There is a Canaanite city located at Gilgal according to Josh. 12:23.
  85. We know that Hittites lived in Canaan in the 19th century BC with Abraham.
  86. Possibly Tidal was a Hittites ruler who resided in the Canaanite city of Goiim.
  87. Maybe Tidal was conquered twelve years earlier (1878 BC) when Chedorlaomerer first invaded Canaan and placed the cites of the land under tribute (see v. 4).
  88. These two identifications of the king of Tidal are compatible with the historical picture of Canaan, Elam, Turkey and the Hittites in c. 1866 BC.
  89. Again, the placement of this event within the first decade of Abram’s time in Canaan is toward the very end of the ten years.
  90. Heretofore, faulty biblical chronologies and incorrect astronomical dates for Babylon, Elam and Mari have frustrated the synchronization of this invasion with the time of Abraham in the 19th century BC.
  91. Based in the ancient records and the Bible there is a very narrow time-window for all these pieces to come together.
  92. Rationale for the Invasion (vv. 2-4)

    VERSE 2 that 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 (that is, Zoar) (r[;co-ayhi [l;B, %l,m,W Î~yyIAbc.Ð ¿~yyIboc.À %l,m, rb,aem.v,w> hm'd>a; %l,m, ba'n>vi hr'mo[] %l,m, [v;r>Bi-ta,w> ~dos. %l,m, [r;B,-ta, hm'x'l.mi Wf[' [Qal perf.3p. ashah + noun f.s.abs. milchamah war + d.o. marker + proper noun Bera + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Sodom + waw w/d.o. marker + proper noun Birsha + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Gomorrah + proper noun Shinab + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Admah + waw w/proper noun Shemeber + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Zebooim + waw w/noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Bela + pro.f.s. hi he, it, she + proper noun Zoar]).

    VERSE 3 All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea) (xl;M,h; ~y" aWh ~yDIFih; qm,[e-la, Wrb.x' hL,ae-lK' [noun m.s.constr. kol all + adj.p.abs. elleh these + Qal perf.3p. chabar be joined; "came as allies" + prep el to + noun m.s.abs. emeq valley + prep el to proper noun Siddim + pro.3s. hu "that it" + noun m.s.abs. yam sea + m.s.abs. melach salt]).

    VERSE 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled (Wdr'm' hn"v' href.[,-vl{v.W rm,[ol'r>d'K.-ta, Wdb.[' hn"v' href.[, ~yTev. [adj.f. dual abs. shenayim two + adj.f.s.abs. esreh ten + noun f.s.abs. shanah year + Qal perf.3p. abadh serve + d.o. marker + proper noun Chedorlaomer + waw w/adj.f.s.const. shalosh three + adj.f.s.abs. esreh ten + noun f.s.abs. shanah year + Qal perf.3p. maradh rebel, revolt]).


  93. For the first time we have the mention of war in the Bible.
  94. The three allied kings of the east mentioned in v. 1 "made war" with the five kings of the cities of the fertile plain known today as the Dead Sea.
  95. Four of the kings are mentioned by name, the fifth king is unnamed.
  96. The two pairs "Bera…Birsha…Shinab…Shember" are alliterated.
  97. The five cites targeted were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela.
  98. The modernizing of the city/town of Bela lends a touch of authenticity ("Bela [that is Zoar]."
  99. This is seen as well in v. 3 where Siddim is the pre-destruction name for the valley and the Salt Sea is the post-destruction name (modern name is the Dead Sea).
  100. The southern end of the valley is covered in salt laden water that is about ten times that of the earth’s oceans (32 percent versus 3 percent).
  101. On the southern end of the Dead Sea basin abundant springs fed water into the valley.
  102. The fact that five towns so close together each having its own king/ruler fits with the times where independent city states coexisted versus a unified nation.
  103. V. 4 indicate that these five kings had been previously defeated and made to pay tribute (c. 1877 BC).
  104. If this event occurred towards the very end of the first decade after Abram entered the land for the first time then the date of this invasion would have been c. 1865 BC.
  105. This means the imposition of the 4th cycle was about two years before Abram entered Canaan.
  106. Invasion of Canaan (vv. 5-7)

    VERSE 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him (waw w/prep beth w/adj.f.s.abs. arba four + adj.f.s.abs. eshreh ten + noun f.s.abs. shanah year + Qal perf.3m.s. bo come + proper noun Chedorlaomer + waw w/ m.p.abs. melek + rel. asher + prep.w/3m.s.suff. eth with], came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim [~yIt'y"r>qi hwEv'B. ~ymiyaeh' taew> ~h'B. ~yzIWZh;-ta,w> ~yIn:r>q;ƒtroT.v.[;B. ~yaip'r>-ta, WKY:w: [waw w/Hiphil impf.3m.p. nakah smite; "defeated" + d.o. marker + proper noun Rephaim + prep beth w/proper noun Ashteroth + proper noun Karnaim + w/d.o. marker + noun Zuzim + prep beth w/proper noun Ham + waw w/d.o. marker + noun Emim + prep beth w/proper noun Shaveh + proper noun Kiriathaim]),

    VERSE 6 and the Horites in their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness (rB'd>Mih;-l[; rv,a] !r'aP'ƒlyae d[; ry[ife ~r'r>h;B. yrIxoh;-ta,w> [waw w/d.o. marker + noun Horites + prep beth w/proper noun Mount + proper noun Seir + part adh as far as + proper noun El + proper noun Paran + re lasher which + prep al "by" + m.s.abs. mirebar wilderness]).

    VERSE 7 Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar (rm'T'ƒ!coc.x;B. bveYOh; yrImoa/h'-ta, ~g:w> yqilem'[]h' hdef.-lK'-ta, WKY:w: vdeq' awhi jP'v.miƒ!y[e-la, WaboY"w: WbvuY"w: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. shubh (re)turn; "turned back" + waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. bo come + prep el + proper noun En + proper noun Mishpat + pro.3f.s. "that is" + proper noun Kadesh + waw w/Hiphil impf.3m.p. nakah smite; "conquered" + d.o. marker + noun m.s.constr. kol all + noun m.s.constr. shadeh field, land; "country" + noun Amalakites + waw w/conj gam also + d.o. marker + proper noun Amorites + part.m.s.abs. yashab dwell + prep beth w/proper noun Hazezon + proper noun Tamar]).


  107. Verses 5ff. describe the second East-West conflict.
  108. On this second occasion Chedorlaomer’s conquest of a variety of other peoples is mentioned (vv. 5-7).
  109. This conquest of six separate peoples in addition to the five city states of the plain underscore Chedorlaomer’s military strength.
  110. In v.5 we have mention of three groups that were renown for their physical stature and strength: Rephaim…Zuzim…Emim.
  111. The Rephaim along with the Anakim were giants (e.g. very tall).
  112. Anakim are not mentioned here were located in the Transjordan (Og their king had a nine cubit bed! Deut. 3:11).
  113. The largest concentration of them were found in Bashan in northern Transjordan.
  114. "In Ashteroth" is modern Tell Akara.
  115. Asheroth is mention in a list of Tuthmosis III and in the Armana letters.
  116. Is was the capital of Bashan.
  117. The compound phrase probably means Ashtaroth near Qarnaim.
  118. "Zumim" are mentioned only here.
  119. Genesis Apocryphon and Symmachus equate them with the Zamzummim of Deut. 2:20.
  120. They too were giants.
  121. "Ham" survives as a name of a site south of Ashtaroth along the King’s Highway and 4 miles southwest of Irbid.
  122. "Emim" are also mentioned in the listing of giants in Deut. 2:10-11, where they are equated with the Rephaim.
  123. They were the pre-Moabite inhabitants of Moab, e.g., the are east of the Dead Sea.
  124. Their name means "terrors."
  125. "Shaveh-kiriathaim" has not been identified.
  126. Two places near Madeba present the least difficulties: Khirbet el-Qureiyeh and Qaryet el-Mekhairet (cf. y. Aharoni, The Land of the Bible, 2nd ed., [Philadelphia: Westminister, 1979]).
  127. "The Horites in the mountain of Seir" were the people who occupied this area before the Edomites resided there.
  128. Their name means "cave" and suggests they were cave dwellers.
  129. According to Deut. 2:12, 22, the Horites lived in the mountainous region east of the Arabah between the Dead Sea and the gulf of Akaba (El-paran is the harbor on the northern end of Aqaba known otherwise as Elath).
  130. "They turned back" indicates the armies of Chedorlaomer traveled in a northwesterly direction arriving at En-mishpat or the more recognized name of Kadesh Barnea.
  131. Kadesh was Israel’s base during the 40 years of wilderness wanderings.
  132. Here there was a group of springs some 46 miles south of Beersheba.
  133. Here they attacked the semi-nomadic Amalakites, who were so despicable that God later ordered the Jews to exterminate them from the earth (Deut. 25:17-18; 1Sam. 28:8-11; 30:1-20).
  134. "The Amorites" are one of the peoples most commonly mentioned in the lists of pre-Israelite inhabitants of Canaan and Transjordan.
  135. Sometimes the designation is used as a blanket term for all the earlier residents (cf. 48:22; Deut. 1:22).
  136. "Hazezon Tamar" ("Gravel pit with palms") is identified by 2Chron. 20:2 with Ein-Gedi, a settlement on the western side of the Dead Sea.
  137. Whatever the correct location, it is clear that from Kadesh the kings turned northwest back toward the Dead Sea to engage their primary target the cities of the Siddim plain.
  138. Rout of the Western Kings (vv. 8-10)

    VERSE 8 And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim (~yDIFih; qm,[eB. hm'x'l.mi ~T'ai Wkr>[;Y:w: r[;co-awhi [l;B, %l,m,W Î~yIAbc.Ð ¿~yyIboc.À %l,m,W hm'd>a; %l,m,W hr'mo[] %l,m,W ~dos.-%l,m, aceYEw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. yatsa go out + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Sodom + waw w/noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Gomorrah + waw w/noun m.s.abs. melek + Zeboiim + waw w/noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Bela + pro.3f.s. "that is" + proper noun Zoar + waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. arak arrange, array + prep eth w/3m.p.suff. "against them" + noun f.s.abs. milchamah battle + prep beth w/noun m.s.abs. emeq valley + noun Siddim]),

    VERSE 9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar -- four kings against five (hV'mix]h;-ta, ~ykil'm. h['B'r>a; rs'L'a, %l,m, %Ayr>a;w> r['n>vi %l,m, lp,r'm.a;w> ~yIAG %l,m, l['d>tiw> ~l'y[e %l,m, rm,[ol'r>d'K. tae [prep eth with; "against" + proper noun Chedorlaomer + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Elam + waw w/proper noun Tidal + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Goiim + waw w/proper noun Amraphel + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Shinar + waw w/proper noun Arioch + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Eliasar + adj.m.s.ab.s arba four + noun m.p.abs. melek king + prep eth "against" + chamesh five]).

    VERSE 10 Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them (hM'v'-WlP.YIw: hr'mo[]w: ~dos.-%l,m, WsnUY"w: rm'xe troa/B, troa/B, ~yDIfih; qm,[ew> [waw w/noun m.s.abs. emeq valley + noun Siddim + noun f.p.abs. be-er pit + noun f.p.abs. be-er (doubling of the noun = "full of") + noun m.s.abs. chemar bitumen, tar + waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. nush flee + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Sodom + waw w/proper noun Gomorrah + adv sham there]).

    But those who survived fled to the hill country (WsN" hr'h, ~yrIa'v.NIh;w> [waw w/ part.m.p.abs. sha-ar remain; "survived" + noun m.s.abs. har hill country + Qal perf.3p. nus flee]).


  139. In this second battle between the Eastern kings and the cities of the plain we have a fuller description than the previous battle (vv. 2-3).
  140. It is still brief in its narration.
  141. In v. 9 Chedorlaomer heads the list of Eastern kings, as over against v.1 where he is mentioned third.
  142. This establishes his leadership of the coalition.
  143. Finally, although v.8 describes the battle lines being drawn and v. 10 the rout, there is no account of the battle itself.
  144. This is due to the fact the battle was decided very quickly.
  145. The summarizing phrase "four kings against five" is typical of royal campaign records (cf. Josh. 12:24; 2Sam. 23:39).
  146. In certain places in the Middle East petroleum oozes to the surface and can then be dug out, hence "pits".
  147. Commentators are surprised that the story would have the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah "falling" into the tar bits, and so perishing, yet v. 17 has the king of Sodom reappear.
  148. This apparent contradiction disappears once it is understood the verb naphal can at times also refer to a voluntary lowering of oneself.
  149. See Gen. 24:64 where Rebekah "dismounted from the camel" using this same verb.
  150. Also, verses like Gen. 25:18; and 1Sam. 29:3 show that the verb can also mean "to settle, camp" or even "flee to" and in Jer. 38:19.
  151. At least two of the western kings attempted to hide in the tar pits to escape capture.
  152. Others fled to the high ground as there are steep slopes adjacent to the Dead Sea basin.
  153. Plunder and POWs (vv. 11-12)

    VERSE 11 Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed (WkleYEw: ~l'k.a'-lK'-ta,w> hr'mo[]w: ~dos. vkur>-lK'-ta, Wxq.YIw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. laqach take + d.o. marker + noun m.s.constr. kol all + noun m.s.constr. rekush property; "goods" + proper noun Sodom + waw w/proper noun Gomorrah + waw w/d.o. marker + noun m.s.constr.w/3m.p.suff. okel food + waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. halak "departed"]).

    VERSE 12 They also took Lot, Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom (~dos.Bi bveyO aWhw> WkleYEw: ~r'b.a; yxia]-!B, Avkur>-ta,w> jAl-ta, Wxq.YIw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. laqach take + d.o. marker + proper noun Lot + waw w/d.o. marker + noun m.s.constr.w/3m.s.suff. rekush "possessions" + noun m.s.constr. ben son + noun m.s.constr. ach brother + proper noun Abram + waw w/Qal impf.3m.p. halak "departed" + waw w/pro.3m.s. hu he + Qal part.m.s.abs. yashab dwell + prep beth w/proper noun Sodom]).


  154. The victorious armies led by Chedorlaomer sacked the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah following the rout of the five western kings.
  155. All portable wealth was confiscated along with the "food supply" and placed on pack animals for the long journey home.
  156. Following this general statement of the sacking of Sodom and Gomorrah there is a more detailed remark about the capture of Lot and the confiscation of his personal belongings (v.12).
  157. The point is new in that the last we heard of Lot was simply his camping near Sodom (13:12).
  158. A similarly structured account of the taking of captives is 1Sam. 30:1-5 (first, a general statement; capture of women, v. 1; then capture of David’s wivers, v.5).
  159. In the downward spiral of Lot’s life as a believer we find him caught up in the social and economic life of prosperous Sodom (e.g., "for he was living in Sodom").
  160. Lot wonderfully illustrates the principal of "he who finds his life will lose it," and "he who is first shall be last."
  161. Lot, the POW, sees his life and his possessions removed with no hope of deliverance.
  162. Lot is now a nobody in the mass of captives of war moving toward a dismal existence in foreign lands.
  163. All this because he loved mammon rather than the living God.
  164. Abram Routs the Eastern Kings (vv. 13-16)

    VERSE 13 Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew (yrIb.[ih' ~r'b.a;l. dGEY:w: jyliP'h; aboY"w: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. bo come + m.s.abs. palit fugitive; from root ‘to escape’ + waw w/Hiphil impf.3m.s. nagadh make known + prep lamedh w/proper noun Abram + noun Hebrew]).

    Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram (~r'b.a;-tyrIb. yle[]B; ~hew> rnE[' yxia]w: lKov.a, yxia] yrImoa/h' arem.m; ynEl{aeB. !kevo aWhw> [waw w/pro.3m.s. hu he + Qal part.m.s.abs. shakan dwell + prep beth w/noun m.p.constr. elon oak + proper noun Mamre + noun Amorite + noun m.s.constr. ach brother + proper noun Eschol (grape cluster) + waw w/noun m.s.constr. ach brother + proper noun Aner (youth) + waw w/pro.3m.p. hem these + noun m.p.constr. ba-al owner, husband, Baal; "allies" + noun f.s.abs. berith covenant + proper noun Abram]).

    VERSE 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan (!D'-d[; @Dor>YIw: tAame vl{v.W rf'[' hn"mov. Atybe ydeyliy> wyk'ynIx]-ta, qr,Y"w: wyxia' hB'v.nI yKi ~r'b.a; [m;v.YIw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. shama hear + proper noun Abram + part ki that + Niphal perf.3m.s. shasbah take captive + noun m.s.constr.w/3m.s.suff. ach brother; "relative" + waw w/Hiphil impf.3m.s. riq make empty; "led out" + d.o. marker + noun m.p.constr.w/3m.s.suff. chanik trained servant + adj.m.p.constr. yalidh born + prep beth w/noun m.s.constr.3/3m.s.suff. bayith house + adj.m.s.abs. shemoneh eight + adj.m.s.abs. ashar ten + waw w/adj.f.s.conste. shalosh three + adj.f.p.abs. me-ah hundred + waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. radaph follow after + pre ad until + proper noun Dan]).

    VERSE 15 He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus (qf,M'd;l. lamoF.mi rv,a] hb'Ax-d[; ~peD>r>YIw: ~KeY:w: wyd'b'[]w: aWh hl'y>l; ~h,yle[] qlex'YEw: [waw w/Niphal impf.3m.s. chalaq divide + prep al w/3m.p.suff. "against them" + noun m.s.abs. layil night + pro.3m.s. hu he + waw w/noun m.p.constr.w/3m.s.suff. ebedh servant + waw w/Hiphil impf.3m.s.w/3m.p.suff. nakah strike; "defeated them" + waw w/Qal impf.3m.s.w/3m.p.suff. radaph pursue + prep ad as far as + proper noun Hobah + re asher which + prep min w/noun m.s.abs. shemol left side; "north" + prep lamedh w/proper noun Damascus]).

    VERSE 16 He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people (~['h'-ta,w> ~yviN"h;-ta, ~g:w> byvihe Avkur>W wyxia' jAl-ta, ~g:w> vkur>h'-lK' tae bv,Y"w: [Hiphil impf.3m.s. shub (re)turn + d.o. marker + noun m.s.constr. kol all + m.s.abs. rekush "the goods" + waw w/conj gam also + proper noun Lot + noun m.s.constr.w/3m.s.suff. ach brother; "relative" + waw w/noun m.s.constr.w/3m.s.suff. rekush property + Hiphil perf.3m.s. shubh (re)turn; "brought back" + waw w/conj gam also + f.p.abs. ishah woman + m.s.abs. am people]).


  165. The third battle report naturally follows from the previous two.
  166. Here, however, Chedorlaomer and his allies, after two victorious campaigns, are now defeated by Abram.
  167. The two previous victories put this one into perspective.
  168. It was an able and astute man that Abram defeated.
  169. Chedorlaomer’s great victories are now overshadowed by Abram’s.
  170. Throughout this episode Abram appears in quite a different light from what we saw in chapter 12 where he was under fear and made a spectacle of himself in Egypt.
  171. There he is fearful and does things that are reprehensible.
  172. In this episode Abram is unselfish and full of trust in his God.
  173. Survivors of battles often bring reports back (cf. 1Sam. 4:12; 2Sam. 1:2; 18:19).
  174. A single survivor who managed to avoid capture arrives at Abram’s current encampment and tells him of Lot’s capture.
  175. The fact this man would know Lot is not that amazing when it is understood that Lot was a prominent citizen of Sodom having took up residency there not many years prior to the misfortune that struck him and his household.
  176. Lot prospered in Sodom and his name was known throughout the city.
  177. It is very striking that the narrator should refer to Abram as "the Hebrew."
  178. This designation occurs 33x in the OT.
  179. What are we to make of it?
  180. These 33 instances fall into three groupings: (1) the time of Joseph and Moses during their time in Egypt; (2) Saul’s wars against the Philistines; (3) the laws dealing with the emancipation of the "Hebrew" slave (Ex. 21:2-6; Deut. 15:12-18; Jer. 34:9, 14).
  181. This term is used frequently when a non-Israelite speaks to or about an Israelite (an Egyptian speaking, 5x: Gen. 39:14, 17; 41:12; Ex. 1:26; 2:6; a Philistine speaking; 5x: 1Sam. 4:6, 9; 13:19; 14:11; 29:3).
  182. Conversely, 8x the term is used by an editor (e.g. an Israelite) to distinguish an Israelite from a non-Israelite (Gen. 40:15; 43:32; Ex. 1:15; 2:11, 13; 1Sam. 13:3, 7 (?); 14:21).
  183. The designation Hebrew is used primarily as an ethnic term in the OT.
  184. "Hebrew" (‘ibri) is the gentilic of ‘eber, and here distinguish Abram from other residents living in Canaan.
  185. He is a descendant of Eber of the time of Shem.
  186. The participle "dwelling" (shakan) is more common than ahal (pitch a tent) and suggest a more long-term residency.
  187. Abram preferred living in the forested highlands of Palestine, such as noted here by the phrase "the oaks of Mamre."
  188. "Mamre," here and in v.24 is a personal name; elsewhere a place name.
  189. Mamre, Abram’s friend and ally was an Amorite.
  190. "Eschol" occurs only here and in v.24 as a personal name.
  191. The common noun means "cluster of grapes."
  192. It is also the name of a valley noted for grape-growing (Num. 13:23,24).
  193. "Aner" (cf. v.24) is here a personal name; in 1Chron. 6:70 it is the name of a Levitical city.
  194. During the first decade of Abam’s residency in Canaan he became friends with three Amorites who lived in the highlands of Canaan.
  195. They are described as "allies" (tyrIb. yle[]B;) a combination of two words found only here.
  196. The term ba-al means owner, husband, Baal in the OT.
  197. The second term is the familiar berith meaning "covenant."
  198. So these three prominent Amorites were "owners of a covenant with Abram."
  199. Hence, our translation "allies with Abram."
  200. Elsewhere, Abram is depicted as making agreements with Philistines (21:22-34) and with Hittites (chap. 23).
  201. The brevity with which the capture of Lot and the Sodomites is described goes hand in hand with the speed with which Abram reacted to the crisis.
  202. The expression "trained men" occurs only here.
  203. The noun hanik means a trained servant.
  204. We learn three things about these individuals: (1) that they were trained to fight; (2) that they were 318 of these individuals: (3) they were all born in his household; (4) they were all youths.
  205. These 318 men were Abram’s property before he entered Canaan.
  206. At the time of his entrance into the land they were but young boys.
  207. The phrase "born in his house" recurs 4x in Genesis 17—vv. 12,13,23,27; also Lev. 22:11; Jer. 2:14.
  208. Those "born in the house" are slaves (cf. v.15) who have grown up in Abram’s clan rather than those who were recently acquired and are therefore the most reliable ones.
  209. It is surprising that Abram could field so many fighting men.
  210. If he had that many young men, his total organization must have numbered well over a thousand souls.
  211. The narrative has already implied that large groups were involved in the squabble between Abram and Lot.
  212. There was insufficient pasturage for them to dwell together.
  213. By the standards of the Canaan period a fighting force of 300 men was a sizable army.
  214. It was a group of this size that Gideon defeated the Midianites, a story with parallels to this one (Judg. 7).
  215. The fact that Abram could defeat the Eastern kings with this number suggests that the operation was like a raiding expedition versus a full-blooded conquest.
  216. "Dan" is regarded as the northernmost point of the promised land (cf. the phrase "from Dan to Beersheba") and may well be identified with Tell el Qadi.
  217. Its older name was Laish, by which it is known in the Egyptian texts.
  218. It was changed to Dan when the Israelites overran it in the judges’ era (Judg. 18:29).
  219. The verb translated "he led out" means to empty something like a scabbard that holds a weapon.
  220. V.15 records the military tactics employed by Abram and his allies Mamre, Eschol and Aner.
  221. The verb "divided/spit up" (cf. 1Kgs. 16:21; Job 38:24) support the rendering of the niphal of chalaq rather than "surround."
  222. Abram used the cover of darkness to obscure the size of his army.
  223. By splitting up his men and attacking the enemy encampment by night he could generate the appearance of a much larger attacking force.
  224. He used the element of surprise upon a much larger body of men while they were celebrating their recent success.
  225. Abram possessed the psychological advantage over troops who were not expecting a counter attack after having defeated enjoyed success over a series of opponents.
  226. Chedorlaomer’s men panicked as this late night raid progressed and proceeded to flee in all directions.
  227. Again, Gideon defeated a much larger force by dividing his men into three groups and by surprising the enemy at night (Judg. 7:19-23).
  228. The attack began at the enemy encampment at Dan and once the rout was on Abram’s men pursued the fleeing enemy as far as Hobah which is just north of Damascus.
  229. The northern most border of Canaan ran some way north of Damascus, so perhaps Abram is being pictured driving invaders out of the land of promise; cf. his symbolic driving off of the unclean birds in 15:11.
  230. Damascus was from very ancient times a very important center on the Near Eastern trade routes.
  231. The victory scene concludes with Abram bringing back a vast baggage train containing all the property taken at the end of the previous scene.
  232. Note the twice-repeated "property/goods" and the double use of "brought back," corresponding to the double "took" in vv. 11-12.
  233. Lot is specifically mentioned at both scenes too.
  234. The magnitude of Abram’s victory is underlined by the final phrase "as well as the women and the people."
  235. Previously the capture of Sodom’s food supplies has been noted (v.11) but not the loss of women and other inhabitants.
  236. In rescuing the womenfolk Abram foreshadows David’s later action (1Sam. 30:17-18).
  237. Abram’s "brother" Lot is preserved as well as his precious "goods/property."
  238. Who should take the spoils of victory was a recurrent problem (cf. Num. 31:25-54; Josh. 7; 1Sam. 30:21-25), and is the subject of the next scene (vv. 17ff.).
  239. Abram Encounters Two Kings (vv. 17-24)

    VERSE 17 Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him (ATai rv,a] ~ykil'M.h;-ta,w> rm,[ol'-rd'K.-ta, tAKh;me AbWv yrex]a; [adv achare after + Qal infin.constr.w/3m.s.suff. shub (re)turn; "his return" + prep min from w/Hiphil infin.constr. nakah smite; "defeat" + d.o. marker + proper noun Chedorlaomer + waw w/d.o. marker + m.p.abs. melek + re asher which + prep eth with w/3m.s.suff.], the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley) [%l,M,h; qm,[e aWhhwEv' qm,[e-la, Atar' ~dos.-%l,m, aceYEw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. yatsa go out + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Sodom + prep lamedh w/Qal infin.constr.w/3m.s.suff. qara go out + prep el to; "at" + noun m.s.abs. shsweh level plain; "valley" + proper noun Shaveh + pro.3m.s. hu "that is" + noun m.s.abs. emeq valley + m.s.abs. melek "King’s"]).


  240. The sense and word order of this verse is as follows: "And the king of Sodom (Bera) came out (Qal impf yatsa) to meet him (Abram) after (adv achari) his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him at the valley of Shaveh (that is the King’s valley)."
  241. Abram’s sole objective in this war was to rescue Lot.
  242. He did not risk all for booty, land or glory.
  243. This first explicit mention of warfare in the Bible was a just war and not a war of aggression with the usual pretences.
  244. God blessed Abram with martial success because his motives were pure.
  245. He came to his nephew’s aid as he was a brother and he acted as his brother’s keeper.
  246. Abram returned to his camp which happened to be in the Valley of Shaveh which the narrator tells us was the King’s Valley.
  247. The King’s Valley is just west of Jerusalem.
  248. Abram did not try to bring Lot back into the fold.
  249. He freed him and that was that.
  250. He maintained the separation that had transpired almost a decade earlier.
  251. Lot resumed his selfish life in Sodom never really appreciating the grace that had come upon him through his uncle Abram.
  252. The text does not indicate that the two men had any sort of a reunion following the rout of the kings.
  253. Lot and his family slinked back into Sodom with his precious possessions.
  254. It is hard to imagine the stark contrast between two believers than that of Abram and Lot in the present setting.
  255. Abram has all the dignity; Lot is clothed in indignity.
  256. After the rout of the kings of the east the captives of war were more of less on their own.
  257. At least the king of Sodom survived the conflict and made his way back to Sodom to reestablish his kingship over his shattered city-state.
  258. He cleaned himself up, learned of the person who was responsible for saving his life and kingdom and "went out to meet" (same verb as in v. 8 used of hostile intent) Abram in the King’s Valley just west of Jerusalem.
  259. He appears before Abram empty-handed and has little or nothing to say.
  260. Bera was an especially corrupt ruler devoid of basic human qualities of appreciation and grace.
  261. Even a recently defeated and disgraced monarch with minimal capacity for the well fare of others would have brought something as a token of appreciation, but not Bera the king of Sodom.
  262. He stood before Abram sullen and arrogant as ever.
  263. Melchizedek’s Banquet (v.18)

    VERSE 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High (!Ayl.[, lael. !heko aWhw> !yIy"w" ~x,l, ayciAh ~lev' %l,m, qd,c,-yKil.m;W [waw w/proper noun Melchizedek (king of righteousness) + noun m.s.abs. melek king + proper noun Salem + Hiphil perf.3m.s. yatsa come out; "brought out" + noun m.s.abs. lechem bread, food + waw w/noun m.s.abs. ayin wine + waw w/pro.3m.s. hu he + noun m.s.abs. kohen priest + prep lamedh w/noun m.s.abs. el God + adj.m.s.abs. elyon most high]).


  264. At the very same time as Bera made his appearance in the Valley of Shaveh, another king made showed up and he was none other than the King of Salem (Jerusalem).
  265. His royal title is Melchizedek which means "king of righteousness" (see Heb. 7:2).
  266. Salem is Jerusalem (Ps. 76:2).
  267. Salem means "peace" (Heb. 7:2).
  268. The only thing he has in common with Bera king of Sodom is that they were both kings of a city-state.
  269. These two men are a study in opposites.
  270. "Brought out" (Hiphil perf yatsa cf. v. 17) is in the present context a Hebrew pun considering what the king of Sodom showed up with by contrast.
  271. He brings food ("bread") and wine to celebrate the righteous action of a man whom he had somehow come to know about.
  272. We may safely assume that Melchizedek was well informed as to who and what Abram was.
  273. "Bread and wine" is an expression (merism) for a full dinner, a royal banquet (cf. 2Sam. 17:27-29; Prov. 9:5).
  274. In other words Melchizedek hosted a royal banquet in honor of the men who expelled the aggressors from the east from his part of the world.
  275. Melchizedek and Abram were like-minded positive believers living out their lives in honor of God in the 19th century BC.
  276. The author of this book informs us that this man was not only a king but a duly authorized "priest of the God Most High."
  277. Rulers of ancient times wore two hats: king and high priest.
  278. But these rulers served false gods.
  279. Melchizedek, like Abram, served the living God, Possessor of heaven and earth.
  280. Melchizedek was a Gentile of Hamitic origin (?).
  281. The people he ruled over were the Jebusites whose territory encompassed the city of Jerusalem until the time of David (e.g., Salem).
  282. This is the first mention of a "priest" in the Bible.
  283. His beginning and ending as King-Priest is shrouded in mystery (cf. Heb. 7:3).
  284. The Hebrews citation does not mean that this man did not have parents, a birth date or a death date, rather his life was not written down.
  285. He appeared for a time on the scene and just as quietly disappeared from the scene.
  286. Everything about him was a mystery, apparently even to his own people.
  287. God made him a king and called him as His priest.
  288. With regard to the term "priest" it appears here without the article, suggesting that there may have been other such priests of God.
  289. He may not have been unique although there no doubt were a precious few who upheld the righteousness of God in this venue in ancient times.
  290. "God Most High" is the Hebrew El Elyon.
  291. El is simply a term for deity, that is, God.
  292. El was used in compounds in Canaanite and in the OT.
  293. El was the top deity in the Canaanite religion and was as corrupt as were the Canaanites themselves (to judge from texts around 1400 BC).
  294. Here for the first time in the OT we have Elyon (cf. v.19,20,22; occurs 50x in both the Old and New Testaments).
  295. It means "Most High" stressing divine transcendence (2Sam. 22:14; Psa. 47:2).
  296. Satan knows Him by this title (Isa. 14:14; Mk. 5:7//Lk. 8:28; cp. Acts 16:17).
  297. The designation is used often in Daniel (3:26; 4:2, 17, 24, 25, 32, 34; 5:18, 21; 7:25).
  298. Of the 50x it is used in the Bible 22x it is found in Psalms.
  299. Jesus used the term 1x in the NT (Lk. 6:35).
  300. Abraham’s specification of the personal name Yahweh in v.22 is probably a latter addition to the text, but it accurately reflects the narrator’s intention and understanding of the events.
  301. The narrator of Genesis (Moses), though aware that the God first reveals His name Yahweh to Moses (Ex. 6:2-3), uses Yahweh to insist that God, who is worshipped by the patriarchs as El, El Shaddai, and the like, is indeed Yahweh.
  302. The God of the patriarchs is Yahweh, not El of the Canaanite pantheon.
  303. Abraham who was not a priest engaged in priestly functions such as building altars and offering sacrifice.
  304. The Greater Blesses the Lesser and the Lesser Tithes to the Greater


    VERSE 19 He blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth (#r,a'w" ~yIm;v' hnEqo !Ayl.[, lael. ~r'b.a; %WrB' rm;aYOw: Whker>b'y>w: [waw w/Piel impf.3m.s.w/3m.s.suff. barak bless + waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. amar say + Qal pass.part.m.s.abs. barak "Blessed be" + proper noun Abram + prep lamedh w/noun m.s.abs. el God + adj.m.s.abs. elyon most high + Qal part.m.s.asbs. qanah acquire; "possessor" + noun m.p.abs. shamayim heaven + waw w/noun both s.abs. eretz earth]);

    VERSE 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand (^d,y"B. ^yr,c' !GEmi-rv,a] !Ayl.[, lae %Wrb'W [waw w/Qal pass.part.m.s.abs. barak bless; "blessed" + noun m.s.abs. el God + adj.m.s.abs. elyon most high + rel. asher which, who + Piel perf.3m.s. magan deliver up + noun m.p.constr.w/2m.s.suff. tsar distress; "enemies" + prep beth w/noun f.s.constr.w/2m.s.suff. yad hand])."

    He gave him a tenth of all (lKomi rfe[]m; Al-!T,YIw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. nathan give + prep lamedh w/3m.s.suff. "him" + noun m.s.abs. ma-asher tithe; "tenth" + prep min w/noun m.s.abs. kol all]).


  305. As priest-king, Melchizedek mediates divine power and protection by placing God’s name (El Elyon) on Abram (see 1:22; Num. 6:22-27; 1Chron. 16:2).
  306. One can rightly infer from this that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham in rank (see Heb. 7:7).
  307. "Blessed be" is a doxological benediction on Abram (cf. Noah’s blessing on the God of Shem in 9:26).
  308. This verbal blessing (probably associated with the laying on of hands) reaffirms God’s promise to Abram that he would be blessed and be a blessing to others.
  309. "Possessor" means owner of something.
  310. The participle qanah (to acquire) is a synonym for "Creator."
  311. It is very important for the believer who is suffering the trials of life to remember that his God is the source of all things and as such the He works on behalf of the believer under testing to bring about a favorable end, if the believer will simply keep his trust and faith in the originator of all things.
  312. A similar expression occurs in Pss. 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3 and 146:6.
  313. It is associated with the azar ("to help") in 121:2; 124:8 and 146:6.
  314. Melchizedek continues with his priestly blessing in verse 20 where he blesses (or praises) the Most High God.
  315. The situation at hand is the conquest of the eastern armies who had taken Abram’s son/nephew/brother captive.
  316. Melchizedek reminds all present that it was God who brought the victory to pass.
  317. The verb "has delivered" has the same root as the noun "shield" found in the 15:1, providing a key word linking the two scenes.
  318. "He gave a tithe of everything" is a one-time tithe of booty (cf. Num. 31:25-41), not an annual tithe to the priest.
  319. Tithing is an old and ancient practice in the world of the Bible.
  320. Chedorlaomer’s tribute is paid as a tithe to the Lord!
  321. The text does not suggest that Melchizedek has come to collect his tithe, though some foist this suggestion upon it.
  322. Melchizedek celebrates Abram’s God as warrior and blesses him.
  323. Abram recognizes Melchizedek as the legitimate priest and king of his God.
  324. "of all" refers to the booty and here fulfills the proverb "And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous" (13:22b).
  325. Bera’s Command and Abram’s Oath (vv. 21-24)

    VERSE 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself (%l'-xq; vkur>h'w> vp,N<h; yli-!T, ~r'b.a;-la, ~dos.-%l,m, rm,aYOw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. amar say + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Sodom + prep el to + proper noun Abram + Qal imper.m.s. nathan give + prep lamedh w/1s.suff. "to me" + f.s.abs. nephesh soul; "people" + waw w/ m.s.abs. rekush property + Qal imper.m.s. laqach + prep lamedh w/2f.s.suff. "for yourself"])."

    VERSE 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have sworn to the LORD God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth (#r,a'w" ~yIm;v' hnEqo !Ayl.[, lae hw"hy>-la, ydIy" ytimoyrIh] ~dos. %l,m,-la, ~r'b.a; rm,aYOw: [waw w/Qal impf.3m.s. amar say + proper noun Abram + prep el to + noun m.s.abs. melek + proper noun Sodom + Hiphil perf.1s. rum be high; cause to lift up; "I have sworn" + noun f.s.constr.w/1s.suff. yadh hand; "I have raised my hand" + prep el to + proper noun Yahweh + prep el to + noun m.s.abs. el God + adj.m.s.abs. elyon most high + Qal part.m.s.abs. qanah acquire; "possessor" + noun m.p.abs. shamayim heaven + waw w/noun both s.abs. eretz earth]),

    VERSE 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, 'I have made Abram rich (~r'b.a;-ta, yTir>v;[/h, ynIa] rm;ato al{w> %l'-rv,a]-lK'mi xQ;a,-~aiw> l[;n:-%Arf. d[;w> jWxmi-~ai [part im "that…not" + prep min from w/noun m.s.abs. chut thread + waw w/prep adh even to + noun m.s.constr. sherok strap + noun f.s.abs. na-al sandal + waw w/part. im that; "anything" + Qal impf.1s. laqach take + prep min from + noun m.s.constr. kol all + re asher which +prep lamedh w/2f.s.suff. "is yours" + waw w/neg lo + Qal impf.2m.s. amar say + pro.1s. ani I + Hiphil perf.1s. ashar make rich + d.o. marker + proper noun Abram]).'

    VERSE 24 "I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share (~q'l.x, Wxq.yI ~he arem.m;W lKov.a, rnE[' yTiai Wkl.h' rv,a] ~yvin"a]h' ql,xew> ~yrI['N>h; Wlk.a' rv,a] qr; yd;['l.Bi [prep bil’ade apart from, except + adv raq thin + asher what + Qal perf.3p. akal eat + m.p.abs. na-ar youth; "young men" + waw w/noun m.s.abs. cheleq share + m.p.abs. ish man + asher who + Qal perf.3p. halak go + prep eth with w/1s.suff. "with me" + proper noun Aner + proper noun Eschol + waw w/proper noun Mamre + pro.3m.p. hem they + Qal impf.(jussive)3p. laqach take + noun m.s.constr.w/3m.p.suff. cheleq share])."


  326. Following the fellowship with Melchizedek, Bera speaks to Abram with a command.
  327. The surliness of Bera is contrasted with the warm generosity of Melchizedek who served a royal banquet on the plain of Shivah.
  328. Sodom makes a short bordering on rude demand of just six words: "Give me people, take property yourself."
  329. There is no customary courtesy here.
  330. The word order mentions "giving" before "taking" and reflects Sodom’s ungracious self-centeredness.
  331. As their rescuer, Abram had the legal right to both the people (servants/slaves) and the property that he had recovered.
  332. Abram risked his life and fortune.
  333. Bera’s proposal is fair but it is not the defeated who has the right to stipulate the disposition of the spoils of war.
  334. Again, Bera’s attitude is begrudging as he does not greet Abram with gladness and appreciation.
  335. Abram anticipates this in turning down the offer so that the king of Sodom could not claim that he was disadvantaged in order for Abram to be advantaged.
  336. Certainly he does not expect the allies to forfeit their share (v.24).
  337. Abram’s response to ungrateful king is a doctrinal slap in the face.
  338. "I have sworn" is literally, "I have raised my hand."
  339. Raising the hand in oath-taking underscores its seriousness (cf. Deut. 32:40; Dan. 12:7).
  340. For the use of Yahweh in connection with God Most High see points in the previous analysis.
  341. This Yahweh insertion in the text proves that the patriarchs worshipped the same God as did later Israel.
  342. Abram will not risked being stained with the moral ambiguity of keeping a victim’s plunder.
  343. "thread or sandal thong" like "bread and wine" is a merism.
  344. Reference to a narrow and wide strap is synecdoche for all the plunder.
  345. Abram desired a clear and unambiguous moral claim to all his possessions so he says "No thanks!"
  346. Abram especially does not want this creep to later boast that he made Abram rich (Hiphil perf ashar; cf. 1Sam. 2:7).
  347. The only exception is that the 318 be given "only what they have eaten" and that his three friends and allies, "Aner, Eschol and Mamre" be compensated for their efforts (v. 24).
  348. Abram demonstrates fairness and generosity.
  349. In forgoing his normal fee, Abram speaks only for himself.
  350. What has already been consumed by the troops cannot be given back, nor does Abram expect his Allies to give up their share.
  351. This is the first explicit mention that these men accompanied Abram on the campaign (cf. v.14).
  352. As with Lot being allowed to have first choice in the pick of the land, so here he allows the surly king of Sodom more than his share.

END: Genesis Chapter Fourteen

April, 2011

Jack M. Ballinger