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Genesis
Chapter 14

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Book of Genesis Chapter 14
by Pastor Ron Beckham

Audio Bible Study – Genesis 14:1-5

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,”

One thing to note about the kings and places named in these verses is that they were, from the perspective of history, more like chieftains and clans than the modern world leaders, great armies and large nations of today. The Catholic Encyclopedia identifies “Amraphel,” a name that meant “powerful people,” as Hammurabi, a famous leader of roughly the time and place of this verse. Hammurabi’s name translates as “The god Ammu is great.” The Jewish Encyclopedia calls him the “Nimrod” of Genesis 10:8-11. His identity is actually uncertain, though it is clear from this verse that his kingdom was in “Shinar,” the alluvial plain surrounding Babylon that is presently called Iraq.

It can be seen in places like Isaiah 11:11, that “Shinar” would be one of the lands where the people Israel was later to be taken in captivity. The name of King “Arioch” meant “lion-like,” and he ruled a place of uncertain location, which likely was between Sodom, in the area of the present Dead Sea, and modern Iraq. The name of King “Chedorlaomer” can be translated “servant of the god Lagamar,” and his country, “Elam” (“hidden”), was east of Babylonia, north of the Persian Gulf. “Tidal” meant “splendor,” “fear” or “terror,” and his kingdom, “Goiim,” can be translated, “nations.” The location of Goiim is uncertain, though some have thought it was an older name for “Galilee.”

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).”

The nations listed in Verse 1 formed an alliance and those kings decided to attack the countries, “SodomGomorrahAdmahZeboiim… and Bela,” also known as “Zoar,” as indicated in this verse. It’s interesting and rather sad that wars have been a part of human history from the beginning. “Bera” meant “gift” or “excellent,” suggesting that great things had been expected of him, and he, along with “Birsha” (“with wickedness” or “son of wickedness”) were leaders of Sodom and Gomorrah, countries that would soon be destroyed by God for their sin, as reflected in Genesis 19.

The name “Shinab” is thought to mean, “father’s tooth” or “splendor of Ab.” He was the king of “Admah,” a place that would later be destroyed along with “Zeboiim,” “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” by the wrath of God, as seen in Deuteronomy 29:23. “Admah” meant “red earth.” “Shemeber” meant “splendor of heroism” and he ruled the kingdom called “Zeboiim” (dwelling). “Bela” may be translated “destruction” or “devoured.” The city named “Zoar” is translated “little,” and it would be the place Lot escaped to, in avoiding the destruction of the other cities of these verses.

Verse 3. “All these came as allies to the valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).”

At the time the armies mentioned in Verse 1 banded together and began to march against the city-states of “SodomGomorrahAdmahZeboiim… and Bela” (Verse 2), the Dead Sea of today did not exist. Moses, who was the human author of the Book of Genesis, lived in a time when the same “Salt” or Dead “Sea,” with its ruined landscape, had become utterly desolate as it is right now. This “valley of Siddim” was not like the place that was later called “the Salt Sea,” and as it is today, the “Dead Sea.” Moses wanted contemporary and future readers to understand just where this “valley of Siddim” was located.

The place was green, beautiful and lush; the kind of place its neighbors envied. That was to be the response of Abram’s nephew, Lot, when his uncle saw the need for them to separate and Lot was given his choice of land (Genesis 13). Lot could have gone in any direction, but he looked from the hilltop they stood on and saw the area of Sodom (Genesis 13:12), which in this verse is in “the valley of Siddim.” It still was, at the time this verse relates to, the most beautiful place in what is now called Israel. It was to this beautiful place that the armies came.

Verse 4. “Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but the thirteenth year they rebelled.”

Bera king of SodomBirsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah… (and) Shemeber king of Zeboiim and… Bela (Zoar)," a group we saw in Verse 2, had “rebelled” against a man who had been the ruler of a league of nations. His name was “Chedorlaomer,” and he was displeased to the point where he gathered up whatever armies he could muster, and marched in the direction of the “valley of Siddim” we saw in Verse 3. This man, “Chedorlaomer,” was likely the successor in a line of kings who descended from the “Nimrod” who was discussed in Genesis 10:8-11 and its context.

This particular grouping of nations was not united, as they seem to have previously been under Nimrod. He was a great warrior, an empire builder, who took what he wanted and crushed any rebellion that might have occurred. Chedorlaomer wanted to rule, but he was not able to hold the empire together with the skill that Nimrod had apparently exhibited. The city states near what is now the “Dead Sea” saw what they thought of as his comparative weakness and “rebelled.” He was not happy about their rebellion and soon marched toward their cities.

Verse 5. “In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim and the Zuzim in Ham and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,”

What this king “Chedorlaomer” seems to have lacked in the ability to rule a bloc of national groups, as suggested in the commentary on Verse 4, he seems to have made up for by becoming a reasonably effective military leader. He put together a coalition that worked rather well, and as armies have done in history, he conquered as he went, obtaining supplies by defeating other groups that were between him and his ultimate goal. Some of those defeated groups are named in this verse.

The “Rephaim,” a name which means “giants” were a group of exceptionally tall people, so tall that they reveal a tendency toward height that exceeds anyone among us today. This people lived in "Ashteroth-karnaim," or literally, “Ashteroth of the two horns” or “twin peaks,” near Gilead, a tableland east of the Jordan River. The “Zuzim” (prominent, giant) were another group of tall people in that same area, who were probably the “Zamzummin” of Deuteronomy 2:20. The “Emim” were another people of great stature and “Shaveh,” which meant “plain,” was called the “King’s valley” in Verse 17 of this chapter; the place where Abram was to meet the king of Sodom. The Emim occupied a place that later became known as Moab.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for this look at history.  As a people we've been fighting since the beginning.  Please bring peace to our hearts and lives in Jesus Name.  Amen.

Friday Study 8/14/09 – Genesis 14:6-10

Verse 6. “and the Horites in their Mountain of Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.”

King Chedorlaomer, his armies, his allies and conquered mercenaries, continued their march toward Sodom, Gomorrah and the other city-states in the area of what we call the Middle East, attacking other countries as a means of gaining access through their lands, and gain sufficient food and water for his soldiers. It was the custom of that time to pay soldiers by plundering other countries. The soldiers in his army could keep whatever they were able to carry.

Now they came to and conquered the “Horites,” a name which meant “cave dwellers.” The Horites still existed after they were defeated by Chedorlaomer, but they were later in time conquered and exterminated or absorbed by the Edomites (Deuteronomy 2:12). Their territory was a mountainous area dominated by the “mountain of Seir,” a natural fortress. “El-paran” is called the “wilderness of Paran” in Genesis 21:20, where Abram’s son, Ishmael grew up and “became an archer.”

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.”

Notice that the places named in these verses were often called by different names at various times because multiple languages were used to describe them. For instance, “En-mishpat” (“well of judgment”) was later known as “Kadesh,” which meant “holy.” What they were called depended on who had managed to conquer the place at the moment. The kings and other notables who occupied those places often had more than one name as well. It’s common for people today to have two, three or more names and also to have what is called “nicknames.” As it is now, it was then, making it difficult to confidently identify the people or locations in historical works such as the Bible.

We first met King Chedorlaomer of Elam in Verse 1 of this chapter. As it was mentioned in relation to him in Verses 4 and 5, he may have lacked management skills in keeping his conquered territories together, but he certainly was skilled in warfare. The “Amalekites” and “Amorites” are seen numerous times in Scripture as tribal and national groups that produced strong armies, but he defeated them in battle and this verse makes it seem that his forces won easily.

Verse 8-9. “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, against Chedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim and Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar--four kings against five.”

Now finally, after conquering the territories that were located in between his own country of Elam and the area which is now the Dead Sea, in battles that probably lasted at least a number of months, the chieftain-king named "Chedorlaomer" had reached his goal. He would now attack the armies of the city-states called "Sodom... Gomorrah... Admah... Zeboiim... (and) Bela." The latter place also came to be known as "Zoar."

There were four main attacking armies, but no doubt the countries that these nations defeated on the way to this battle, supplied more than just food, water, discarded weapons and the wealth of those places. It’s also very likely that fighting men from all of those city-states became mercenaries in the armies that now were attacking Sodom and the other cities in the “valley of Siddim.” There were only “four kings against five,” but that does not mean the “four” were outnumbered. On the contrary, the “four” were likely to win this battle.

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. But those who survived fled to the hill country.”

A good general, which is to say an effective military leader on the battlefield, will not only train and equip his troops, but he will also consider the terrain in which the battle is to take place. Chedorlaomer, in placing his soldiers into position, did it in such a manner that he drew his enemies’ troops into a place from which they could not effectively retreat. King Chedorlaomer knew that his men were ready for this battle and he also knew that the opposing soldiers would be desperately concerned for the family members and possessions that would be lost if the defending cities were overrun.

And so he drew them into a part of the valley where “tar pits” would be behind the troops forming against him. When allies fight together, one of the leaders must be the final decision-maker, and now this king, this general, was in full control as the fighting began. And he likely knew, as God did, that the men of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other three cities, lived in a place of “fullness of food,” they had an “abundance of idleness,” and they were filled with pride (Ezekiel 16:49). Such men may think well of themselves, but they are soft and unlikely to do well in battle. After a few skirmishes, they “fled,” but could not retreat effectively because of the “tar pits” behind them. Many fell into the pits and were killed. “But those who survived fled to the hill country” surrounding the “valley of Siddim.”

Father, we also are in a battle, a supernatural war that has existed since the beginning of time.  Help us to look to You, our Leader, in this great fight, and trust in You with the honor You deserve.  Let us defend with faith and fight in Your strength, not in our own.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study – Genesis 14:11-15

Verse 11. “Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.”

King Chedorlaomer’s troops, including soldiers from three other city-states in the area of the country of Elam he ruled, and no doubt mercenaries enlisted from other countries they had defeated, had won the battle. “Sodom and Gomorrah” and the other groups allied with them, had been routed. The surviving soldiers, the defenders of Sodom and Gomorrah, had run for their lives and the people who lived in those cities, the people they were supposed to defend, were open to attack. Whatever gates and walls protected the cites were quickly breached and Chedorlaomer’s men overran the cities of that area, looting and pillaging as they went.

It was the custom in those centuries for armies to be paid for their service by conquering and then the soldiers were encouraged to take anything of value they could carry. They took not only “all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah,” but they also, as it was customary for armies of the time, took “all their food supply” as well. The survivors were devastated by what happened to them, and they also had no food to eat and no money to buy more. Most of their soldiers had been killed, and for all the survivors knew, ALL of their so-called protectors were dead.

Verse 12. “They also took Lot, Abram's nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.”

The whole of the Book of Genesis deals with beginnings. The original Hebrew title of this Book is Bereshith, which means, “In The Beginning.” The Book starts with the beginning of – everything! In the life of Abram (Abraham), we find the beginning of God’s communication to humanity that He wants a relationship with us which is based on – faith. And finally, we find the roots of a nation intended first to bring God’s Law into the world to show us the futility of our efforts to save ourselves, and then to reveal on an amazing scale the grace of God – Israel is that nation.

“Grace” is the unmerited favor of God to his people. We catch glimpses that Abraham was not perfect in his actions, and this “Lot” was an example. The Lord commanded Abram, “Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house” (Genesis 12:1). The man did get out of that country, but he also took several family members with him, including his nephew, Lot. Abram was not perfect in obedience to God, but he had faith in the Lord. Lot should never have been “living in Sodom,” but he was, and now King Chedorlaomer and his men took Lot and his possessions, intending to turn these Sodomite captives into slaves.

Verse 13. “Then a fugitive came and told Abram the 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.”

We know that some of the Sodomites survived King Chedorlaomer’s attack and managed to escape. As Verse 10 reveals about the soldiers of Sodom and Gomorrah, “those who survived fled to the hill country.” If some of the soldiers made it out alive, maybe some of the people in the city managed to escape also. “A fugitive,” which literally is “the fugitive party,” whether soldiers or civilians we are not told, had escaped from the valley of Siddim, at what is now the Dead Sea, and some managed to get to Abram, who was living with his flocks and herds at the “oaks of Mamre the Amorite…” which was west of the valley of Siddim and north of the Negev.

Mamre” meant “firmness” and he was, as indicated by this verse, the chieftain of a place with many oak trees. He was an “Amorite,” a name which meant “mountain dwellers.” His brothers were “Eshcol” (“cluster of grapes”), and “Aner” (“waterfall”). It is likely that all three were minor leaders of the Amorites, and they may well have been believers in the Lord, for when the Lord Himself later spoke to Abram, He said, “…the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Genesis 15:16).

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.”

Now we see another side of Abram. We have observed that he was a man who had faith in the Lord. He really believed, which is uncommon in any generation. People are often willing to be religious, but abandoning your will to follow God's will is something much more. We also have seen that he was someone who made mistakes. He loved Lot and took him along, even though it was God’s intention that the younger man should be left behind. Abram knew it, he felt responsible, and now he would ride off to save the man who really should have been still residing in Ur or Haran. The Lord’s grace in Abram’s life was not based on his perfection; it is seen in his trust in the character of God.

This additional look at Abram, which is seen in these verses, is that he kept his word and he was capable of bravery. He “led out his trained men…” and even though “three hundred and eighteen” of them does not seem like very many, you wouldn’t want them riding their camels into your neighborhood, waving their swords around. And notice they had been “trained” in the use of arms. They were “born in (Abram’s) house,” and likely had been drilled in the use of weapons since they were boys. The men “went in pursuit as far as Dan,” in the north near the present day border of Israel and Lebanon. This name, “Dan,” may refer to the place called “Dan Jaan” of 2 Samuel 24:6 – the later Israelite tribe of Dan was not yet in existence.

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.”

You might wonder, how could Abram have only “three hundred and eighteen” men, even though they were “trained” in warfare (Verse 14), and defeat an army which had been victorious in many battles, as we have seen in this chapter? Partly the answer is that Abram had MORE than “three hundred and eighteen” men at arms. His friends, “Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre,” seen in Verses 13 and 24, not only went with him, but no doubt they brought an unknown number of armed men from their own camps along to fight on the side of Abram.

The other factor is seen in military strategy. It would have been obvious to Abram and the others that to attack these armies in daylight in a conventional manner, would simply not have worked. And this idea to attack at night must have come to Abram, the faithful man, as a gift from the Lord, for “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17). And so they attacked, and just as the armies of Sodom and Gomorrah had “fled” from King Chedorlaomer’s forces (Verse 10), those same forces now fled from the men of Abram. It was a battle reminiscent of Gideon’s attack on the Midianites in Judges 7:16 & the context of that verse.

Lord, give us the faith and the intelligence to follow You.  Sometimes we are called to be men and women of peace, and other times we are called to war.  Help us to know the difference and respond to Your will, no matter what.  We trust in You, Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study – Genesis 14:16-20

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.”

This Abram who "brought back all the goods" really CARED for his nephew, the man named “Lot” mentioned in this verse as his “relative.” His actions in rescuing Lot were in stark contrast to what he did when his wife, Sarai, who was also his half-sister, was taken from him and placed into Pharaoh’s harem (Genesis 12:14-15 & context). At that time, Abram did essentially – nothing. Lot was the son of Abram’s brother, Haran, who died before the family left Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:27-28, 31). Abram cared for Sarai; no doubt about it, but Lot occupied that special place in his heart that no one else could quite attain to. It is likely Abram promised his father, Terah, that he would watch out for his nephew, Lot.

These verses represent quite a victory for Abram and the men who were with him. Four kings, chieftains, actually, had invaded and looted the goods of several neighboring tribes, as they were traveling overland toward other little kingdoms who had declared their independence. And then they took Sodom and Gommorah, stripping them of wealth as well. And now Abram had beaten them by attacking at night, and “he brought back all the goods” taken by King Chedorlaomer and his soldiers. Slaves had been taken by the armies that had invaded those places and Abram brought them back also. “Lot” was “brought back” which was Abram’s motivation in all this and Lot’s considerable “possessions” were returned to him. Almost as an afterthought, we find that “the women and the people” were rescued from a life of slavery.

Verse 17. “Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).”

The king of Sodom” was in trouble. His army had been defeated by Chedorlaomer, the walls of his city had been breached, many of the citizens of Sodom had been taken as slaves, anything of value had been taken away and his city could no longer be adequately defended. No doubt the gates of Sodom had been smashed as forced entry was made through them and the men likely to rebuild them had been killed or taken away. And suddenly there came word that another large group of armed men were headed for Sodom – what was it about this time?

But the word was good news – it was Abram, a notable person who would have been known to the king, along with the allies of Abram; and amazingly not only were the captives taken from Sodom being returned, but the wealth of the city was essentially intact as well. No doubt, the king must have thought, this “Abram” will want all the spoils – I’ll be lucky just to get people back who can help me rebuild my ruined city. And so, “the king of Sodom went out to meet him (Abram) at the valley of Shaveh,” near the city of Salem, as it was called then. That city is now known as Jerusalem. “Shaveh” is called by the name, “the King’s Valley,” in 2 Samuel 18:18.

Verse 18. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.”

This “Melchizedek” is an interesting character who is mentioned a number of times in Scripture. His name means “king of righteousness,” and he was, according to this verse, the king, the leader of the city-state known as "Salem" (peace), which is an earlier name for the city of Jerusalem. He was also “a priest of God Most High,” and it would have been very rare to non-existent to find a person in such a high position of authority who was also an ordained religious person, a priest. He is mentioned much later in time in Psalm 110:1-4, where David said, “the Lord said to my Lord…” David was the lord, the king of Israel, who had a Lord himself, who had a Lord also; a reference to God the Father and God the Son, who would be the Messiah of Israel, the Christ of the Living God. In that context, David referred to the Lord, the Messiah who was to come, stating that He would be of “the order of Melchizedek.”

This priest-king was also mentioned several times in the Book of Hebrews, in reference to the origins and authority of Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah of God. As it was for a number of people, places and situations in what came to be called the “Old Testament,” Melchizedek was not only a real person, but he was also intended as a parable to help us understand the nature of God and His intentions. Quoting Psalm 110:4, we are told of the Messiah, the Christ, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6). The priest is intended to occupy two roles: to bring God to the people, and secondly, to bring the people to God. Jesus is alive and is at the right hand of God. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for themwho is harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners… (and) He offered up Himself” as a sacrifice that fully satisfied the requirements of the Law of God (Hebrews 7:25-27). The sharing of “bread and wine” by Melchizedek, 4000 years ago, as seen in this verse in Genesis, looks forward in time to the Sacrifice 2000 years ago, that God would offer up for our sins.

Verse 19. “He blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;’”

Melchizedek the king and priest now “blessed” Abram, who, unknown to him at that time, was to be the father of Isaac, grandfather of Israel. As Hebrews Chapter 7 intimates, all of the nation Israel, including its priests, from that moment until the end of time, all who would be descendents of Abram were genetically still within him at that moment and therefore this blessing was upon all that would follow as well. To bless Abram, by the way, was to call upon God to watch over him, to ask the Lord to look kindly upon him, and to ask Him to give this man prosperity and happiness.

Some have misunderstood this verse, thinking it meant that Abram is the “possessor of heaven and earth,” but that’s not what it means. It is “God Most High” who owns the title to everything, including you and me. If you think you own a house, you don’t – it is God’s house. If you own a business, it is really God’s business, lent to you for a time. The stars, the galaxies, the land, the sea, even your body – all of it is His. That is a key reason why we are to “give” our hearts and lives to “God Most High.” If we don’t, we become like a thief who takes something that belongs to someone else. If we do entrust ourselves to Him, we will be “blessed” with the blessings that come from God.

Verse 20. “And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ He gave him a tenth of all.”

This verse is reflected in Hebrews 7:2 and its context, actually beginning in Verse 1, where it says, “For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all.” Not much is known of Melchizedek, and Hebrews continues by stating he was (in Scripture) "without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.” That’s what the author of Hebrews commented about him, and Abram certainly thought highly of him, because “he gave him a tenth” of the considerable spoils they had taken in battle.

We should really praise God more often. As humans, even those who purport to be followers of the Lord, we tend to call out to God when we are in trouble and forget about prayer when things are going well. It should occur to us that when we are doing well, it is because God has delivered us from something much worse, every moment of every day. If you read back through the context of this Chapter in Genesis, you’ll note that Abram’s followers and friends defeated a tough army of soldiers who had won several victories themselves. It truly was “God Most High,” who, as Melchizedek told Abram, “has delivered your enemies into your hand.” Melchizedek the king and priest, had considerable faith in the Lord, was a priest of the true God, and so Abram “gave him a tenth of all.”

Lord, we look to You.  Thank You for delivering us.  We offer ourselves to You in faith, recognizing that You have given Yourself for us.  We praise Your Holy Name and worship You.  Thank You for Your love.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Audio Bible Study – Genesis 14:21-24

Verse 21. “The king of Sodom said to Abram, ‘Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.’”

The king of Sodom” had absolutely nothing in his favor at that moment. His army had been badly defeated and the walls of his city had been breached. The people he needed to rebuild the army and fortify the city walls were being held by Abram at the moment. He would have rationalized that someone like Abram, who was, from the perspective of the moment, a military conqueror, had the “people” and the “goods,” and would not get them back. Slavery was a common practice at that time and it must have seemed obvious that Abram would keep – everything. His only hope seemed to be that Abram might have had some kind of sympathy in relative to his relative, Lot, and would give at least some of the people back. He assumed that the wealth of the city was lost to him forever. And so with that in mind, the king said, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” He hoped to get SOMETHING out of all that had happened. Who knows – it didn’t hurt to ask.

Verse 22. “Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,’”

Abraham had done some thinking about what he would do when he, his allies and his men returned from his surprising God-given victory over King Chedorlaomer’s army (Verse 15 & context). And it’s obvious from the words of this verse that he had also spent some considerable time in prayer. Prayer is more than speaking to God, though we should praise Him, confess to Him and express our needs to Him on every possible occasion. It’s also a time for seeking God’s will, understanding that He is always ready to lead His people, through His Word and in other ways, including the direct leading of His Holy Spirit. As we glimpsed in the preceding verse, the king of Sodom really expected nothing from Abram, but he asked anyway, with the idea that, you never know, but SOMETHING might be returned to him if he did ask the question. Abram now revealed to the king that he had already taken the matter to “God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth.” Abram was testifying to the king that all of the people and all of the goods that Abram’s army had taken from the defeated soldiers of King Chedorlaomer actually belonged to the Lord of heaven – everything on earth is merely on loan to us for a time.

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.’”

There is a tendency within humanity for each of us to take whatever we can get whenever we can get it, which is why many have gone to prison and so many live ruined lives. It’s becoming rare that a person who finds a wallet will return it, and it’s best to never let someone into your home unescorted or something might be missing when you return. That was true in those days, just as it is now, and the king of Sodom, Abram, his “three hundred and eighteen” trained men, and everyone else present at that moment knew it.

Corruption often starts at the top of a business or government, and the leaders in Sodom were very corrupt. At a certain point in the future, God revealed to Abram (or “Abraham” as he was to be named in the future) that He was going to destroy Sodom because of their sins. As the Lord put it, “their sin is very grievous” (Genesis 18:20). Abram and probably everybody else in the region knew the character of this king, and so he said the words of this verse: “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.’” Abram was already rich, but it was God who had made him so. He had rescued his nephew, Lot, and that was all he wanted.

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.”

As we saw in Verse 13, these three friends of Abram, “Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre” were Amorites and they were “allies with Abram.” The Amorites were descended from Shem, son of Noah, and they were among the most ancient inhabitants of the area of Canaan. They lived not only in what is now Israel, near the Mediterranean Sea, but they were also a strong group in Syria, where their dwelling place was called “the Mountain of the Amorites.” At one point they were so dangerous to other tribes that a 170-mile wall from the Tigris River to the Euphrates River was built to stop them from advancing further. The Amorite people would remain a force in the area of Israel for centuries, and it is noted in 1 Samuel 7:14 that finally “there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.”

Abram was later to learn something of the destiny of his own family in relation to the Amorites. He was told in a vision that his descendents would be slaves in another land (Egypt) for “four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13). They would be out of the land for such a long time because, as he was told, “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16). There was still faith in the true God to be found in Amorites such as “Aner, Eshcol and Mamre,” and as long as faith existed in that people, Israel would not be released to destroy them. Actually, the slavery of the people Israel would last a little longer, to “four hundred and thirty years” and the extra time would have been due to their faith. Those in leadership around the world should consider placing their faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is likely to spare the nation that trusts in the Lord.

Lord God, we place our faith in You, now, for only You can see us through.  We pray for the leaders of our nations, that many of them will come to faith also.  Save us, save our children, save our land.  In Jesus Name.  Amen. 

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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