That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is yours, lest you should say, I have made Abram rich:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)That I will not take; Heb. If I shall take. Understand, God do so and so to me, which is expressed 1 Samuel 14:44. A defective manner of swearing used amongst the Hebrews, either to maintain the reverence of oaths, and the dread of perjury, seeing they were afraid so much as to mention the curse which they meant; or to show that they were willing to submit to any punishment which God should inflict upon them, without exception, if they violated their oaths.
Even to a shoe-latchet, i.e. any thing, though never so small or mean, lest thou shouldst claim a share with God in the honour due to him, to whose blessing alone I do and I will owe my riches. Or, lest thou shouldst say, Abram is enriched with my spoils; and however he pretended kindness and charity, yet indeed it was his covetousness that put him upon this work.
and that I will not take anything that is thine; the least thing that belonged to him, or to any of his subjects, for this reason:
lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich; lest he should upbraid him with it afterwards, and say, that all his riches were owing to him; whereas God had promised to bless him, and make him rich and great, as he had begun to do, and still would more and more; and in whom his trusted, and to whom he was desirous all the glory of his greatness and riches should be ascribed.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:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)23. a thread … a shoelatchet] Not the most trifling thing, not even, the lace for a sandal, will Abram take. The fact that Abram has already (Genesis 14:20) given to Melchizedek a tithe of all the spoil, strictly speaking, conflicts with his refusal, in this verse, to take any share of the spoil. Probably this discrepancy is an indication that the episode of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20) has been introduced from a distinct source of tradition.
lest thou shouldest say, &c.] Abram emphasizes the fact, (1) that he did not make war in order to make himself richer or stronger: (2) that he and his household are not going to be beholden to the king of Sodom and the people of the Plain. What he had done, was not for gain, but for the safety of his relative Lot. Contrast, however, Abraham’s acceptance of gifts, in Genesis 12:16, Genesis 20:14-16, under different cumstances.Verse 23. - That I will not take - literally, if (sc. I shall take); an abbreviation for "May God do so to me, if...!" (cf. 1 Samuel 3:17; 2 Samuel 3:35). The particle אִם has the force of a negative in adjuration - from a thread even to a shoe-latchet, and that I will not take any thing (literally, and if I shall take anything) that is thine, - literally, of all that (sc. belongs) to thee - lest thou shouldest say (literally, and thou shalt not say), I have made Abram rich. Though not averse to accept presents from heathen monarchs (Genesis 12:16), the patriarch could not consent to share in the wealth of the impious Sodomites; in this a striking contrast to Lot. 2 Samuel 18:18), was, according to Josephus, two stadia from Jerusalem, probably by the brook Kidron therefore, although Absalom's pillar, which tradition places there, was of the Grecian style rather than the early Hebrew. The name King's dale was given to it undoubtedly with reference to the event referred to here, which points to the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. For the Salem of Melchizedek cannot have been the Salem near to which John baptized (John 3:23), or Aenon, which was eight Roman miles south of Scythopolis, as a march of about forty hours for the purpose of meeting Abraham, if not romantic, would, at least be at variance with the text of Scripture, where the kings are said to have gone out to Abram after his return. It must be Jerusalem, therefore, which is called by the old name Salem in Psalm 76:2, out of which the name Jerusalem (founding of peace, or possession of peace) was formed by the addition of the prefix ירוּ equals ירוּי "founding," or ירוּשׁ "possession." Melchizedek brings bread and wine from Salem "to supply the exhausted warriors with food and drink, but more especially as a mark of gratitude to Abram, who had conquered for them peace, freedom, and prosperity" (Delitzsch). This gratitude he expresses, as a priest of the supreme God, in the words, "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, the founder of heaven and earth; and blessed be God, the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand." The form of the blessing is poetical, two parallel members with words peculiar to poetry, צריך for איביך, and מגּן. - עליון אל without the article is a proper name for the supreme God, the God over all (cf. Exodus 18:11), who is pointed out as the only true God by the additional clause, "founder of the heaven and the earth." On the construction of בּרוּך with ל, vid., Genesis 31:15; Exodus 12:16, and Ges. 143, 2. קנה, founder and possessor: קנה combines the meanings of κτίζειν and κτᾶσθαι. This priestly reception Abram reciprocated by giving him the tenth of all, i.e., of the whole of the booty taken from the enemy. Giving the tenth was a practical acknowledgment of the divine priesthood of Melchizedek; for the tenth was, according to the general custom, the offering presented to the Deity. Abram also acknowledged the God of Melchizedek as the true God; for when the king of Sodom asked for his people only, and would have left the rest of the booty to Abram, he lifted up his hand as a solemn oath "to Jehovah, the Most High God, the founder of heaven and earth," - acknowledging himself as the servant of this God by calling Him by the name Jehovah, - and swore that he would not take "from a thread to a shoe-string," i.e., the smallest or most worthless thing belonging to the king of Sodom, that he might not be able to say, he had made Abram rich. אם, as the sign of an oath, is negative, and in an earnest address is repeated before the verb. "Except (בּלעדי, lit., not to me, nothing for me) only what the young men (Abram's men) have eaten, and the portion of my allies...let them take their portion:" i.e., his followers should receive what had been consumed as their share, and the allies should have the remainder of the booty.
Of the property belonging to the king of Sodom, which he had taken from the enemy, Abram would not keep the smallest part, because he would not have anything in common with Sodom. On the other hand, he accepted from Salem's priest and king, Melchizedek, not only bread and wine for the invigoration of the exhausted warriors, but a priestly blessing also, and gave him in return the tenth of all his booty, as a sign that he acknowledged this king as a priest of the living God, and submitted to his royal priesthood. In this self-subordination of Abram to Melchizedek there was the practical prediction of a royal priesthood which is higher than the priesthood entrusted to Abram's descendants, the sons of Levi, and foreshadowed in the noble form of Melchizedek, who blessed as king and priest the patriarch whom God had called to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. The name of this royal priest is full of meaning: Melchizedek, i.e., King of Righteousness. Even though, judging from Joshua 10:1, Joshua 10:3, where a much later king is called Adonizedek, i.e., Lord of Righteousness, this name may have been a standing title of the ancient kings of Salem, it no doubt originated with a king who ruled his people in righteousness, and was perfectly appropriate in the case of the Melchizedek mentioned here. There is no less significance in the name of the seat of his government, Salem, the peaceful or peace, since it shows that the capital of its kings was a citadel of peace, not only as a natural stronghold, but through the righteousness of its sovereign; for which reason David chose it as the seat of royalty in Israel; and Moriah, which formed part of it, was pointed out to Abraham by Jehovah as the place of sacrifice for the kingdom of God which was afterwards to be established. And, lastly, there was something very significant in the appearance in the midst of the degenerate tribes of Canaan of this king of righteousness, and priest of the true God of heaven and earth, without any account of his descent, or of the beginning and end of his life; so that he stands forth in the Scriptures, "without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life." Although it by no means follows from this, however, that Melchizedek was a celestial being (the Logos, or an angel), or one of the primeval patriarchs (Enoch or Shem), as Church fathers, Rabbins, and others have conjectured, and we can see in him nothing more than one, perhaps the last, of the witnesses and confessors of the early revelation of God, coming out into the light of history from the dark night of heathenism; yet this appearance does point to a priesthood of universal significance, and to a higher order of things, which existed at the commencement of the world, and is one day to be restored again. In all these respects, the noble form of this king of Salem and priest of the Most High God was a type of the God-King and eternal High Priest Jesus Christ; a thought which is expanded in Hebrews 7 on the basis of this account, and of the divine utterance revealed to David in the Spirit, that the King of Zion sitting at the right hand of Jehovah should be a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).
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