- Locate the passage
This pericope records the battle scene of four kingdoms of the East battle five kingdoms of the West to whom they have been subjugated for twelve years. In the battle, Lot is taken during the defeat of the western kingdoms.
The passage is narrative. There is no narrative until the last battle is concluded and Abram and Melchizedek both recount and demonstrate their faith in God
- Determine the structure of the passage
14:1-12 – The land of the Covenant plundered
14:13-17 – Abram’s rescue of his nephew and restoration of people and property
14:18-24 – The blessing of Melchizedek and the tithe of Abram
- Exegete the passage
The events of this pericope open without Abram or Lot being mentioned until vs. 12. The four kings and the people have been subject to the five kings for twelve years. In the 13th year of their “service” they rebelled. In the ensuing battle, Sodom and Gomorrah are ransacked and Lot is taken captive.
The text does not indicate how the four kings came under subjugation. The story begins after these conditions have already been in place for 12 years. Curiously, only four of the five kings of the west are actually named; the king of Zoar is not named.
14:2 – This is the first mention of war (Hb. “mischamah”) in Scripture
14:10 – The Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits
- Asphalt or bitumen was previously mentioned in Gen. 11:3 as the substance from which the Tower of Babel was constructed.
- These pits were obstacles that some from Sodom and Gomorrah fell victim into and died.
14:12 – no details are given regarding the capture of Lot.
14:13 – Abram “the Hebrew”
- The first occasion of this word as a description for Abram and his descendants
14:13 – the reference to the Oaks here recalls Abram’s dwelling in 13:18 and anticipates the Lord’s appearance to him there in 18:1.
14:14 – Abram’s response is swift. The presence of “trained men” with his readiness
- “chaniyk” only occurs here in Scripture. The root is used to refer to buildings that have been dedicated to the Lord (1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5). The root is also used in Prov. 22:6 (“Train up” a child in the way he should go). The idea of training and preparation and dedication help to explain the way that our children are to be prepared for the “way that they should go.”
14:16 – Abram’s rescue of Lot is equally devoid of details as was Lot’s capture
- Abram’s “trained men” defeated the four kingdoms who had previously been successful in defeating five other kingdoms.
14:17-24 – Both the kings of Sodom and Salem came out to meet Abram. But their interactions with him are strikingly different.
- The king of Sodom presents a financial proposition to Abram. However, Abram sees through this and knows that is not the time to financially profit from the misfortune of others (a lesson he should have known in his previous interaction with Pharaoh)
- The king of Salem blesses the Lord who possesses heaven and earth and delivered the enemies into Abram’s hands
- He seems to know the reason for Abram’s victory
- Melchizedek was not involved in the previous battles
- Abram’s response to the two kings emphasizes their significance of their interactions
- To Melchizedek, Abram doesn’t speak, but gives
- To the king of Sodom, Abram speaks, but refuses to receive
14:18 – Melchizedek
- His name means, “my king is righteous”
- He is the first priest named in Scripture
- Because Abram received a blessing from Melchizedek it was appropriate for Abram to pay him a tithe.
- The fact that Abram gave a tithe to Melchizedek indicates the significance of the king of Salem (Cf. Heb. 7:1-17)
- 11:6 – the one who whose genealogy is not recorded in the text blesses the one who had inherited the promise of God
- 11:7 – the greater always blesses the lesser
14:22 – “I have raised my hand to the Lord”
- This describes a conversation Abram must have had with God before going to battle against the four kings that is not recorded in the text.
- God “Most High”
- Both Abram and Melchizedek refer to God with this title
- Let the structure of the text drive the sermon
- The Land of the Covenant was plundered, but the Covenant was unaffected
- Lot got swept up in the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah due to his selfish pursuits of his own happiness
- The king of Sodom confused the riches of man with the blessings of God
- Melchizedek reminds us that deliverance comes from the Lord
- Jesus is our ultimate High Priest