Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
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;Melchisedek the Uncanonical
A deeply veiled figure. The force of the figure lies in its background; its mystery in its mean surroundings. Melchisedek was a Canaanite. His birthplace was uncanonical. He ruled with wonderfully despotic power. What gave this man such a marvellous power? His personal sanctity. Abraham represents earth; Melchisedek is the High Priest of heaven.
I. Where did Melchisedek get that priesthood which he was certainly credited with possessing. Melchisedek was the earliest man of his class, and was therefore not ordained with hands. The first priest of God in the history of the world must have come from a house not made with hands.
II. The beginning of every ecclesiastical chain is something not ecclesiastical—something human. The churches of the Old World each began in a human soul. In Melchisedek within the precincts of one heart was laid the nucleus of all that sanctity which attached to the patriarchal line. There are three orders of priesthood in the Bible—the Patriarchal, the Jewish, and the Christian, and at the beginning of each dispensation there stands an individual life whose ordination is not made with hands. The origin of the patriarchal dispensation is the holiness of one man—the man Melchisedek. The origin of the Jewish dispensation is the holiness of one man—Moses. The origin of the Christian dispensation is from the human side the holiness of one man—the man Christ Jesus.
III. The point of comparison between Melchisedek and Christ is just the uncanonical manner of their ordination. Looking at the matter from the human side, and abstracting the attention from theological prepossessions there is nothing more remarkable than the uncanonical aspect of the Son of Man. He has obtained it 'after the manner of Melchisedek'. Unconsecrated he became the source of consecration.
—G. Matheson, Representative Men of the Bible, p. 43.
Reference.—XIV. 18-20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x. No. 589.
Christ the True Joseph
Consider (1) What is the true principle of interpretation to be applied to a particular class of so-called 'types'; and (2) What is the relation in which Christ's people have a right to consider themselves as standing to that outer world, which in some schools of theology is described as 'their spiritual enemy' and in all schools is allowed to be the sphere of their trial.
I. In what sense do we use the words, when caught by, and gazing on, some old saintly or heroic character, whose deeds are chronicled in the history of the people of God, we say instinctively 'Here is a plain type of the Lord Jesus Christ'? What do we mean by this manner of speaking? What sort of relation between type and antitype do our words imply? 'Whatsoever things are true,' says the Gospels' most renowned preacher, 'whatsoever things are honest, whotsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise think on these things'. Think of them as the diadem of grace that crowned the head of Him to whom the Father 'gave not the Spirit by measure,' Who made for Himself one glorious crown of all these precious jewels and set it upon His head that all men might behold its beauty, and Who now weareth it on His throne in the heavenly place for evermore. So He was the perfect man, the 'recapitulation' of humanity, the incarnation—the prototype rather than the antitype—of all that men have ever seen or dreamed of, or pictured to themselves in fancy of the heroic, the pure, the altogether lovely and spotless, the godlike in man.
II. 'The good of all the land of Egypt is yours.' So spake Joseph to his kindred; so speaks Christ to us who are members of His body. We dwell in Egypt, and all its good things are ours, we are not taken out of the world; but by providences and graces, inscrutable in their processes, palpable only in their results, are kept from its evil and suffering, bidden to enjoy its good. For it is possible 'to use the world as not abusing it'; and not only so but to use and be the better for the use. A Christian man may come in contact with what is loathsomest and foulest, and instead of being defiled he shall be the purer, the saintlier, the nearer and the liker God. Egypt is Egypt still: a land lying under a curse; visited at times with plagues; where idols are worshipped with more zeal than God. But if I am Christ's this Egypt is mine. Its curse shall not scathe me. Its plague-spots shall not infect me. While then I assert unfalteringly my claim to all the good things of Egypt, I shall limit myself in the use of them by three main considerations: (1) By my neighbour's good; (2) By the possibility of misconstruction; (3) By a wholesome fear of becoming secularized. I know not that we need any other safeguards; and I do not find that the Gospel has multiplied restraints. A few great guiding principles are better than many subtle, finedrawn rules.
—J. Fraser, University Sermons, p. 18.
Reference.—XIV.—J. Parker, Adam, Noah, and Abraham, p. 111.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.