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Genesis 14 - Tuesday 05APR11

  • 1 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;
  • 2 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.
  • 3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.
  • 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
  • 5-6 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 El-paran, which is by the wilderness.
  • 7 And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites that dwelt in Hazezon-tamar.

Sometimes the names in the Bible are pretty funny. One time on Twitter I parodied this by writing, "He who spaketh unto Ephtshpareht, Maigollygoshgolah and Amog in the days of Najobullahdongblod (Hezekiah 19:3)"

  • 8-12 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.

Anyhow, there's these ruffians led by King Chedorlaomer who sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, and they took Abram's nephew Lot captive.

  • 13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eschol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.

Only one of Lot's servants escaped to tell Abram. "Call me Ishmael".

14And 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.

Abram had over three hundred able-bodied men which he armed and led into battle to get back all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as rescue Lot and all of his goods.

  • 15-16 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.

If the Bible was a movie, this would be the first set-piece action scene, something that would be included in the sneak previews. This was the first time that God took sides in human conflict. Abram with his three hundred did what it would take an army of many thousands to do.

  • 18-21And 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.

Melchizadek accepted a tenth of Abram's servants but allowed Abram to keep the tithe of goods. This seems to indicate a manpower shortage in that time. Mystery surrounds this Melchizadek figure. He was a priest of Yahweh, but nothing is known about his order. Catholics see his bread and wine oblation as a foreshadow of the Eucharist. Christians in general believe Psalm 110:4 prophesies of Christ when it says "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

In the New Testament, in Hebrews 7:3, it says of Melchizadek: "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." This seems to imply that he is immortal.

Dead Sea Scroll 11Q13 sees him as an angelic being, sort of a tax collector for God, and indeed he accepts a tenth of Abram's spoils. The second book of Enoch says that Melchizadek was born of a virgin and was preseved from the flood by being taken to the Garden of Eden, which presumably had a force-field bubble around it to stay the floodwaters. And when he was there he probably ate the fruit of the Tree of Life, which explains why he was still around in the time of Abram.

Some denomination go further and say that Melchizadek is the pre-incarnate Son of God. But in Hebrews, Paul is comparing the Aaronic priesthood, which is based on genetic descent from Abram through Aaron and the tribe of Levi, to a priesthood by divine appointment. Melchizadek has no pedigree in the Bible, no chain from father to son. And that is what Paul was alluding to when he said "without father, without mother". He says that Christ was appointed High Priest in the same manner, without regard to descent, although Christ can claim descent from Abraham through his mother. And in Christ, the baptized are appointed to a priestly ministry as well, through conversion, after being drawn to faith by God, without regard to their status as Jew or Gentile. Paul implies that this Melchizadek priesthood is the superior one. After all, Abram tithed to him, not the other way around:

  • 22-24 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.

Abram insisted that Melchizadek take the tithe of goods too, not just the servants, and for himself he only accepted the full bellies of the men in his army, and some booty for three of his lieutenants. Abram was not a greedy man.

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