A war with the king of Sodom and his allies, ver. 1 - 12.
Abram's rescue of Lot from captivity, ver. 13 - 16.
Abram's return from that expedition, ver. 17.
with an account of what passed,
Between him and the king of Salem, ver. 18 - 20.
Between him and the king of Sodom, ver. 21 - 24.
In part fulfilled, that God would make his name great.
1: We have here an account of the first war that ever we read of in
scripture, in which we may observe.
[1.] 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.
[2.] The occasion of this war was, the revolt of the five kings from under
the government of Chedorlaomer.
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.
5: In the fourteenth year - After some pause and preparation,
Chedorlaomer, in conjunction with his allies, set himself to reduce
[3.] The progress of the war. The four kings laid the neighbouring
countries waste, and enriched themselves with the spoil of them,(Ge 14:5-7). Upon the alarm of which, the king of
Sodom and his allies went out and were routed.
13: We have here an account of the only military action we ever find
Abram engaged in; and this he was not prompted to by avarice or
ambition, but purely by a principle of charity.
14: He armed his trained servants, born in his house - 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 catechized 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
18: The Rabbins say, that Melchizedek was Shem the son of
Noah, who was king and priest to those that descended from him,
according to the patriarchal model. 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 this name. But as nothing is expressly
revealed concerning it, we can determine nothing. He brought forth bread
and wine - For the refreshment of Abram and his soldiers, and in
congratulation of their victory. This he did as a king. As priest
of the most high God he blessed Abram, which we may suppose a
greater refreshment to Abram than his bread and wine were.
19: Blessed be Abram, of the most high God - Observe the titles he
here gives to God, which are very glorious.
The most high God, which speaks his absolute perfections in himself,
and his sovereign dominion over all the creatures.
Possessor of heaven and earth - That is, rightful owner and sovereign
Lord of all the creatures; because he made them.
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.
God as the most high God must have the glory of all our victories. In
them he shews 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, (Heb 7:4). This may be looked upon,
As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his
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
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 expence for our
22: I have lift up mine hand to the Lord that I will not take
anything - Here Observe,
The titles he gives to God, the most high God, the possessor of
heaven and earth - The same 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.
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 shouldst 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
afterwards, and when we have to do with such men, we have need to act with
23: From a thread to a shoe - latchet - Not the least thing that had
ever belonged to the king of Sodom.