Genesis 14 – The War of Uncivilized Kings

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Today’s PassageGenesis 14

The genealogies of the Bible, particularly those in Genesis, get a bad rap as containing little action and entirely too many hard-to-pronounce names. But while today’s chapter isn’t a genealogy and has no shortage of action, it’s still packed to the gills with people and places with names like Chedorlaomer and Zeboiim. Honestly, as I read these lists of kings at war and their home nations, my eyes gloss over and in my head I start thinking, “In the days of Guy king of Place, and Different Guy king of Other Place…” and if you do the same, I wouldn’t blame you. But that’s what we get for not possessing a native-level familiarity with the ancient Hebrew language.

So, I’ll give you the long and short of it. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah grab three other kings and go to war with their former ruler, King Chedorlaomer, who has three allied kings of his own. But it doesn’t go well for the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their crew, despite having more kings. The tide of battle turns against them, they flee, and they get stuck in the tar pits of the valley of Siddim. Chedorlaomer and his crew loot Sodom and Gomorrah for all they’re worth, and among the loot, they manage to capture our good friend and Abraham’s favorite nephew, Lot. But when Abraham gets word of it, he takes a crew of 318 from his household, routs Chedorlaomer’s looters, and recovers Lot and the loot.

In short, it’s more Good Guy Abraham. With his superior forces and tactics, he saves the day for his nephew and the king of Sodom, and he turns down any reward for himself. But who’s ultimately the Good Guy here? A tenth king, Melchizedek, whom you may remember from Hebrews 7,  shows up to set the record straight. Melchizedek is also a priest, bringing bread and wine and receiving a tithe from Abraham, and he gives a priest’s blessing:

Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. (19-20)

Sure, it wasn’t Abraham’s crew’s first rodeo. And sure, it was smart for them to strike at night with a two-pronged attack. But Abraham and his 318 guys won against these four kings not because they were all that, but because God owns everything. God is El Elyon, the Most High. He’s at the top of the ontological ladder; there’s no one greater.

And at the end of the day, if you own a bunch of kings who kidnapped your nephew, it’s because God delivered them into your hand.


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