Chapter 14 Commentary
The main lines in this chapter center around two themes: God has made Abram great and secondly the events after the victory.
In line with God’s blessing Abram is a force to reckon with. He faces 4 strong kings. These kings were a strong group as they had defeated a much bigger group of 5 kings who included the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. With only a relatively small army Abram defeats these kings. God’s promise to Abram is bearing fruit. I think the highlight here is on God’s blessing bearing fruit rather than a mere rescue operation. The size of the defeated army points to a miracle. At first sight it appears like the Bible is troubling us with unnecessary historical facts of kings we hardly have interest in. The foundation being laid here is that 4 kings defeat 5 kings. They should be powerful indeed! It is these 4 powerful kings that Abram defeats. The picture of God’s blessing shines even brighter in these lines.
Note also that the Bible mentions that the 4 kings defeated other peoples around them before turning on the 5 give kings. The areas are also mentioned. In a way by defeating these four kings Abram takes over the territories of the four kings, together with territories of the five defeated kings and the other defeated kings. Again the picture of the blessing to Abram is getting bigger in a physical sense. “The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.
Genesis 13:14-15 NIV
After the defeat Abram is treated with respect by the rescued kings. His status is very high. Individuals line up to congratulate him and among them is one identified as Priest of the Most High called Melchizedek. What he says confirms Abram’s status. Melchizedek’s encounter with Abram is very brief but the extended coverage in the book of Hebrews tells as that there is much more going on here. Again Melchizedek’s blessing of Abram seem to line up with God’s promise that others would bless Abram and the LORD would bless them in return. This may be seen in Abram giving a tenth to Melchizedek. He is blessed as a consequence of blessing Abram. We shall keep on referring to him as Abram because at this stage the LORD hasn’t yet changed his name to Abraham.
I also note that Abram has a king status at this moment.
There is mention of Dan (just like Bethel in previous chapters). Fact is that Dan didn’t exist as Dan until the time of the Judges. The city being referred to may be another city by that name or indeed the same city being called by its later name.
that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’
Genesis 14:23 NIV This self-boast may be again a reference to the LORD’S blessing on Abram. He is saying that the LORD has blessed me or the LORD blesses me and not you or any other. We should not sit down reading these pages and thinking that Abram got wealthy because of plunder from the wars he fought. Abram is careful to preserve the name of the LORD as the only source of his blessing. This is important in view of the blessing. Just like we have identified the victory in battle as a miracle (God given) we need to identify Abram’s wealth as God-given.
Looking at the lands that the defeated kings occupied, again. Is this the point at which God gives Abraham this land in the physical? How should Abraham respond? Form a dynasty and start ruling? Is the LORD giving us a picture of strength that HE, the LORD, can easily do this? But we know that in between the times, Canaanites would occupy the land until the right time.