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;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.
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.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.
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,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.
And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar.
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.
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.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.
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.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, Jdg 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.”
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.
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.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.
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: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.
And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.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.
And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.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.
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,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.
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.