Genesis Chapter Fourteen


Read Genesis 14:1-12 – War and Lot’s Capture


v.1 “And it came to pass in the days of Am-ra-phel king of Shinar, Ar-i-och king of El-la-sar, Ched-or-la-o-mer king of E-lam, and Ti-dal king of nations;”


            As seems to be common among men today, war breaks out between these kings and those that are in the vicinity of southern Canaan.  In fact this is the first war we find mentioned in scripture.  Amraphel is king of the region of Shinar, a name that we encountered in chapters 10 and 11; where Babel was built.  We don’t know anything about Arioch except what scripture tells us but Ellasar is a city known as Larsa in southern Mesopotamia, now southern Iraq, near Ur.  Elam is listed as a son of Shem and the Elamite people lived in what is today southwestern Iran and Khuzestan at the head and east of the head of the Persian Gulf, Chedorlaomer is their king.  The identity of Tidal is in question but the word translated “NATIONS” can also mean peoples or ethnic groups and in modern Hebrew means gentiles.


v.2That these made war with Be-ra king of Sodom, and with Bir-sha king of Gomorrah, Shi-nab king of Ad-mah, and Shem-e-ber king of Ze-boi-im, and the king of Be-la, which is Zo-ar.”


            These five kings of the east made war against the Canaanite cities of the southern plains.  We have listed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that we know well, the cities of Admah and Zeboiim were both also destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah but Zoar, the most southern of the five cities, was spared and that is where Lot fled when Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.  Its king is not named and Genesis 19:20 indicates that it was a much smaller city than the others.


v.3All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.”


            These five cities or kingdoms were joined together, or next to one another in a valley near the salt sea or what we today call the Dead Sea.  Siddim is simply the ancient name for this region.


v.4Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.”


            Chedorlamer was apparently the dominate king of this group for the scripture here names him as the ruler of this area after the Canaanite cities had been overthrown.  They served the Elamites for 12 years but then their patience ran out and they rebelled.


v.5And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Reph-a-ims in Ash-te-roth Kar-na-im, and the Zu-zims in Ham, and the E-mims in Sha-veh Kir-i-a-tha-im,”


            The Chaldean and Persian kings that we reviewed in verse one apparently have more problems than just the five city kingdoms of southern Canaan.  Ashteroth Karnaim is a land east of Jordan, thus east of the plain of Siddim.  Virtually nothing is known of the Zuzims except they are called a tribe of giants.  Nave’ Topical Bible lists their region as a valley north of the land of Moab.


v.6And the Hor-ites in their mount Se-ir, unto El-par-an, which is by the wilderness.”


            The Horites are a people that lived in the mountainous region of southeastern Canaan, east of the Dead Sea.  Their name means “cave-dwellers”.  Elparan or the more modern name Paran is a region next to the Sinai wilderness even further south toward Egypt than Mount Se-ir, the location of the Horites.


v.7  And they returned, and came to En-mish-pat, which is Ka-desh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Haz-e-zon-ta-mar.”


            “THEY RETURNED”: these kings of the East had subdued much of the area of modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan.  When the kings of the southern cities rebelled they returned from the East to again bring this area under their rule.  Kadesh is in northern Lebanon on or near the Orontes River.  This river rises in northern Lebanon, forms the border between Lebanon, Syria and Turkey; it flows north then into the Mediterrean.  The Amlekites and Amorites we know from other studies of the Old Testament as Canaanite tribes or peoples who plagued Israel during much of her existence.  Hazezontamar may not be familiar to us but this is not the only mention we have of this location:


II Chronicles 20:2Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat, saying, There cometh a great multitude against thee from beyond the sea on this side Syria; and, behold, they be in Hazazontamar, which is Engedi.”


Hazezontamar is the ancient name for Engedi.  Engedi is the name of a major oasis near the western shore of the Dead Sea.


v.8-9And 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; 9With 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.”


            When the kings of the East came back to re-establish their rule over these five rebellious city kingdoms the result is a battle.


v.1010And 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.”


            We’re told that the valley of Siddim was full of slime pits.  This is the same kind of slime that was used as mortar in the building of the city and tower of Babel.  As we noted in earlier study this is an asphaltic type material, very high in mineral content in it’s natural state and very similar to that which we manufacture by adding mineral to it and use for roads today.  The five city kings lost their battle and fled.  Some were trapped by the slime pits, others hid in the mountain.


v.11-12And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”


            As is common in war, to the victor go the spoils.  Sodom and Gomorrah are stripped of their goods and victuals and their people are carried away into captivity and slavery.  Abram’s nephew, Lot, who had chosen to join himself to the cities of the plain, is not spared.


Read Genesis 14:13-16 Lot’s Rescue


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


            When Lot moved south to the area of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abram stayed in the area just south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem known as the plain of Mamre.  The scripture tells us here that he made a confederation or covenant with the Amorite people who lived there.  With Abram’s great wealth of herds agreements concerning water and grazing were probably required to prevent conflict and just as a matter of being a good neighbor.  We’re not told until verse 24 but this confederation was also extended to an agreement of mutual defense and assistance in war, if needed.


v.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 prepares for war.  This is the only time that we find Abram in this kind of position.  He was not a war-like man, v13 calls him Abram the Hebrew, a descendant and follower of Eber, a man of God.

            He arms his servants, 318 that we’re told about and goes in pursuit of the kings of the East, following them all the way to Dan, a city at the foot of Mt. Herman, well north of the Sea of Galilee and the northern limits of Solomon’s kingdom.  We also read of this city under another name:


Judges 18:29And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.”


v.15-16And 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. 16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.”


            Beyond Dan, Abram and his forces pursue the Eastern kings another 30-40 miles or so, probably up the valley to the west of Mount Herman.  The scripture says to Hobah, to the left of Damascus, the capital of Syria for hundreds of years.  Outside sources tell us that Hobah is a town that is actually north of Damascus.  This tells us that the eastern kings are returning to their homeland on the same route that Abram followed when he came to Canaan.

            Abram was successful in his venture, recovered all of the goods taken from southern Canaan, Lot and all of his goods, the women and all the people that were taken captive.

            In two places in this chapter Lot is called Abram’s brother.  We know that Lot was in fact his nephew; is this an error or conflict in scripture?  No.  In Nave’s Topical Bible we find the word brother used to designate many relationships just as we use it today to designate a brother in Christ.  In this context the word translated “brother” means “near relative”.


Read Genesis 14:17-24 – Abram and Melchizedek


v.17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.”


            We are told two things in this verse.  Abram overcame the kings of the east and their followers and slaughtered them in war.  He eliminated the threat to himself and the Canaanite peoples.  Verse 10 tells us that the king of Sodom fell, indicating that he was beaten in war, if not killed in the slime pits of Siddim.  This would indicate that Sodom has a new king.  This king meets Abram in the valley of Shaveh which we identified as being north of the land of Moab.  Apparently they had gathered up their forces again after their defeat and  followed Abram.


v.18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.”


            Here we meet Melchizedek for the first time.  He was both king and priest of the Most High God, a shadow or symbol of Jesus Christ who reigns today as both priest and king at the right hand of God.  This is confirmed by the Holy Spirit both in prophecy and in the New Testament record:




Hebrews 5:6As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”


v.19-20And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.”


            Melchizedek blessed Abram, praising him as a servant “OF THE MOST HIGH GOD”; and praising and worshipping God because he delivered the kings of the East into Abram’s hand.  Here we’re told that Abram paid tithes or a tenth of the spoils of war to Melchizedek.  What is the significance of Abram doing this?

            There are possibly two.  The first is the significance given by the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews:


Hebrews 7:44Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.”


This tells the Hebrew Christians that the greatness of the Son of God is comparable to the greatness of the King and High Priest of God Melchizedek.  Because of this greatness, even Abraham, the ancestor whom they esteemed and claimed as proof of their relationship with God acknowledged that there was one greater than he.

            The second significance is that since Melchizedek is a priest of “THE MOST HIGH GOD, Abram is actually presenting a tithe or a portion of the goods recovered to God as an offering as Israel later was commanded to do under the Mosaic Covenant.


v.21-22 “And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22And 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,”


            The king of Sodom tells Abram that he only need return his people to him, that he can keep all of the goods that he has recovered.  Abram refuses, why?  He has lifted “UP MINE HAND”, much as we would do in a court of law today and sworn an oath to God.


v.23-24That 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: 24Save 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.”


            In his oath Abram has sworn to God that he will not take even a shoe latch or as we might say a shoelace from the spoils of Sodom.  Why?  Sodom is a wicked city, Abram doesn’t’ want, nor does God want Abram to have material wealth tainted with the kind of sin found in Sodom.  Abram also does not want to the king of Sodom to feel that Abram is obligated to him for any reason or to know resentment against him.  Since God does not change nor does his attitude toward that which is sin (Malachi 3:6) we today should be equally concerned about the source of our wealth or even our daily living.

            Abram does accept the goods that his men have consumed to sustain themselves during their return to their homeland and he leaves his confederates, his neighbors to make their own choice in this matter.