Part H. Abram’s Migration to Canaan (12:1—16:16)
H3. Separation of Abram and Lot (13:1–18)
· Lot was the son of Abram’s brother Haran. He migrated with Abram to Canaan. This section describes the quarrel between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot. Abram decided to avoid the quarrel and separated from Lot. Lot had poor judgment of selecting Sodom.
H4. Abram’s rescue of Lot (14:1–24)
· There was a war between two coalitions. The result was the defeat of Sodom and its allies. Then Lot was also captured. On hearing the news, Abram gathered his men to save Lot. He pursued the winning army for a long distance and finally defeated them and saved Lot. After Abram’s victory, he met 2 kings: king of Sodom and Melchizedek, king of Salem.
13:2 Abram had become very wealthy: the result of God’s promise; Lot also accumulated flocks and wealth (v.5). Material goods are often the source of arguments between close relatives.
13:3 until he came to Bethel: Abram returned to the altar that he built. Abram’s emphasis on worshipping God show his strong and perhaps renewed faith as a result of Egypt’s sojourn.
13:7 quarreling arose: Disputes arose probably for water and grazing rights.
13:8 we are brothers: Abram did not ignore the problem or argue with Lot. He valued peaceful relations with his nephew so he proposed a solution quickly after the problem appeared.
13:9 the whole land: Abram was confident of God’s promise of land possession. He spoke as if the land were his to distribute to whomever he chose.
Let's part company: The two “let’s” (v.8,9) were in the sense of polite pleading, showing Abram’s effort in keeping peace without imposing his authority.
If you go to the left: Abram, as the uncle, could have chosen first; yet he let Lot to choose first. In contrast, Lot the nephew should desist; yet he was selfish and chose the land he judged to be good.
13:10 looked up and saw: The beauty of the plain of Jordan attracted Lot but also distracted him from the wickedness of the people. The irony is that this lush land would later be consumed by fire.
The words used in this story are similar to two tragic stories happened earlier in Genesis: in Eden (Gen 3:6) and about “the sons of God” (6:2). There are 10 common words used in all these 3 stories.
13:11 set out toward the east: Different people in Genesis moved east after they sinned, including Adam and Eve (Gen 3:24), Cain (Gen 4:16), and now Lot.
13:12 Lot lived among the cities of the plain: Abram lived in the “land” while Lot lived among the “cities” so was more influenced by them. “Cities of the plain” often refers to places full of sin.
13:13 wicked and were sinning: People in Sodom were described as “great sinners”, probably committing great sin that was exceptional in human history. The word “wicked” is the same as the one used to describe the generation before the Flood (Gen 6:5).
Even after Sodom’s destruction, it was still mentioned as a prototype of Gentile wickedness—with scandalous sins and calamitous end. Besides sexual sins, the cities also mistreated the disadvantaged (widow and orphan, Eze 16:49–50) and aliens. More likely, there were many more great sins. The location is not known, possibly southeast of the Dead Sea or below the Dead Sea.
13:15 All the land that you see: Even though the promise was not completed during Abram’s lifetime, yet he accepted the promise as if it was already completed (Heb 11:13).
13:16 like the dust of the earth: Abram was also promised innumerable descendants, described in other places as “sand on the seashore” (Gen 15:5) and “countless stars” (Gen 26:4).
13:18 moved his tents: Abram moved to Hebron and immediately built an altar to worship God. Hebron-Mamre was the primary settlement of Abram and Isaac (e.g. Gen 18:1; 35:27; 37:14).
14:1-7 The eastern alliance had received tribute from western kings for 12 years (v.4). When the western kings refused to pay, the eastern kings came to punish them.
14:8-12 The 5 kings from the cities of the plain gathered to fight but the 4 eastern kings won. Their only mistake was the capture of Lot. This resulted in their destruction.
14:13 Abram the Hebrew: This is the first mention of Hebrew in the OT. The name is likely originated from the personal name Eber (Gen 10:21,25; 11:16). However, the name can also be related to “to cross over (from the other side)”, thus describing the origin of the Hebrews.
14:14 318 trained men: The term referred to armed retainers by Canaanite chieftains at that time.
Dan: It was the area occupied later by the tribe of Dan, at the northern limit of the promised land. The name was a post-Mosaic updating of the place name for later readers.
14:15 During the night: Night attacks gave smaller forces the advantage (such as Jos 19:47; Jdg 18:29). Abram’s side was certainly a much smaller army so their victory was a miracle (v.20).
14:17 the king of Sodom came out: probably the leader of the 5 kings. The humiliated king emerged from hiding to meet Abram at a valley possibly east of Jerusalem (=Salem).
There were great contrasts between the welcome by 2 kings: the king of Sodom “came out” but the king of Salem “brought out”. The first words of the king of Sodom were “give me” followed by bargaining, but the first word of the king of Salem was “blessed” followed by sharing.
14:18 Melchizedek king of Salem, … priest of God Most High: The name means “king of righteousness”; Salem means peace, thus is an association of righteousness and peace.
14:19 he blessed Abram: The blessing was directed to Abram and to Abram’s God. To bless God means to recognize God’s goodness of blessing His subjects.
God Most High: (Heb. El Elyon) This name means “Creator” or “Possessor” of heaven and earth. Melchizedek was identifying Him as the one who brought Abram victory.
14:20 a tenth of everything: It is the origin of the tithe, a custom of giving a tenth to the Levites (Nu 18:21–28; Dt 14:28–29) and to kings (1Sa 8:15–17). It is a recognition of the blessing.
delivered: These 2 verses include the 2 main descriptions of God: Creator and Saviour.
Question: Who is Melchizedek?
Answer: Melchizedek was given different identities by Biblical scholars, such as an angel, the pre-incarnate Christ. But he could simply be a man (king) who worshipped the true God and acted as a priest of God prior to the priests of Israel. The passage in Heb 5—7 explains that Melchizedek is a “type” of Christ pointing to the true Christ who is above the Levitical order.
14:22 LORD, God Most High: adding Yahweh to El Elyon, thus identifying the same God.
· We can learn from Abram for his way of dealing with conflicts or problems: (1) take initiative and find a solution immediately, (2) based on unselfishness, (3) do not just trust appearance.