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Go to Bible: Genesis 14
|Gen 14:1||- (top)|
|Gen 14:2||- (top)|
“the Salt Sea.” The “Salt Sea” is another name for the Dead Sea.(top)
|Gen 14:4||- (top)|
|Gen 14:5||- (top)|
“Seir.” A Horite, and the one whom Mount Seir is named after (cp. Gen. 36:20).(top)
“conquered all the territory.” The Hebrew uses the idiom: “struck the whole field.”(top)
|Gen 14:8||- (top)|
|Gen 14:9||- (top)|
|Gen 14:10||- (top)|
|Gen 14:11||- (top)|
|Gen 14:12||- (top)|
“was living.” Abraham lived in a tent and had many servants who watched his flocks and herds, and they would have also lived in tents with him, so this was a typical Bedouin tent encampment, with dozens of tents. Genesis 12:16 says that Abram had flocks, herds, donkeys, camels, and both male and female servants (more likely a mixture of slaves and servants. The Hebrew can be used of either servant or slave). We learn from Genesis 14:14 that Abram had 318 men who were fighting age who had been “born in his house,” that is, as part of his household of slaves and servants, so he had a huge camp. Thus Abram was a powerful Bedouin chief. As the weather changed and grazing needs changed, the camp would move. This way of life is almost gone today, although a few Bedouin tribes that camp are left.(top)
“trained men, born in his own house.” The word translated “trained men” occurs only here in the Bible. It could very likely refer to slaves since they were born in Abraham’s “house,” that is, in the extended camp over which he was the “father,” the leader, but it could also refer to servants or even, as some lexical evidence suggests, “retainers.” For more uses of “born in his house, see commentary on Genesis 17:12.
“Dan.” At the time of Abraham, and later when Moses wrote Genesis, the town was called “Laish” (Judg. 18:7, 27), but when the Danites conquered it they changed the name to “Dan” (Judg. 18:29). An editor during or after the time of Judges edited the name in Genesis to “Dan” to clarify the location for later readers.
The phrase “pursued as far as Dan” can be confusing because the next verse, Genesis 14:15, says he pursued them to Hobah north of Damascus. Abraham pursued Chedorlaomer and his allies as far as Dan and fought an initial battle with them there, but when Chedorlaomer’s army retreated north, Abraham and his allies pursued them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.(top)
“left hand of Damascus.” That is, north. In our Western culture, we ordinarily turn our maps to point north, and think of East as “to the right” of north. In the biblical culture, everyone thought of East as “straight ahead” because it was where the sun rose, and the sun was a blessing from God. So, for example, the Tabernacle and Temple had their entrances to the East. The Messiah is called, “the sunrise from on High” (Luke 1:78) because when he comes he will dispel these dark times. So the “left hand of Damascus is north of Damascus. While it would have been easy to put “north of Damascus” in the REV text, we believe it is important that the student of Scripture keep in mind that the biblical world was oriented to the East; it comes up in a number of verses.(top)
|Gen 14:16||- (top)|
|Gen 14:17||- (top)|
“Melchizedek.” “Melchizedek” is perhaps more easily understood if it is spelled “Melchi-zedek” (“My king is righteousness”). It is noteworthy that at this point during the time of Abraham, “Salem” (Jerusalem) was ruled by a godly king, but when Joshua entered the land some 450 years later, Jerusalem was ruled by Adoni-zedek (“My lord is righteousness”) who was a very ungodly king and organized a confederation of armies to attack Gibeon, which had made peace with Joshua (Josh. 10:1-5).
[For more on Melchizedek, see Hebrews 7:1-17.]
“Salem.” “Salem” is apparently the oldest and original name of Jerusalem, and this is the first time it occurs in the Bible. “Salem” means “peace,” (related to shalom, “wholeness, peace”). The first time the city is recorded as being called “Jerusalem” is Joshua 10:1, and the king at that time was Adoni-zedek. When the Jebusite city of Jerusalem was finally conquered by David, the king of the city was not named, although the city was called “Jebus” as well as Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:6-9; 1 Chron. 11:4-7).
“bread and wine.” This would not have ordinarily been any kind of grand reception in the biblical world; in fact, it is so ordinary that to a man of Abram’s wealth and stature it would have been an insult. The bread and wine are mentioned because they prefigure the death of Jesus Christ, as he showed us at the Last Supper. It is likely that with, or after, the bread and wine that other food was brought out. We know that Abram knew about the coming Messiah, and in fact, would begin to offer his son in a way that pictured the Messiah (Gen. 22:1-18). This verse shows that Melchizedek also knew much about the coming Messiah.(top)
|Gen 14:19||- (top)|
“a tenth of all.” This is the first time in the Bible that a “tenth,” a “tithe” is mentioned. However, it was not the same as the tithe required by the Mosaic Law (Lev. 27:30-32). The tenth “of all” that Abraham gave was a tenth of the spoils of war he was bringing home from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him (Gen. 14:17). Abraham had fought them close to Damascus in Syria (Gen. 14:15) and was on his way back home close to Hebron (Gen 14:13), which was about 30 miles south of Jerusalem. So to get from Damascus home, Abraham had to pass by Jerusalem (called “Salem” at the time), where Melchizedek was, and as Abraham was passing by Salem, Melchizedek came out and blessed him, and so Abraham, in recognition of the blessing and in the knowledge that Melchizedek was a priest of Yahweh, the Most High God, gave him a tenth of all the spoils of war he had taken. Abraham’s tenth was a one-time offering (it is never again recorded that Abraham gave a tenth—or any amount at all—to anyone else in recognition that they represented Yahweh, so Abraham’s tenth cannot be compared to the regular tithe commanded by the Law that was given every year. It was at the time of the Exodus, about 400 years after Abraham gave his tenth to Melchizedek, that God told Moses to establish the regular tithe.
The regular tithe in the Law was necessary because God established the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle), which eventually was the Temple, and it needed lots of manpower and sacrifices to maintain it. So God commanded that the Levites could not own any land (Num. 18:20-24; Deut. 10:9-10), and their portion was to be the part of the tithes and offerings given to Yahweh by the other Israelites. Then, to sustain the Levites, God commanded that the other 11 tribes of the Israelites give a tenth of all they produced. Before the Tent of Meeting and the separation of the Levites, there was no regular tithe. That brings us to today in the Church Age. There are no more Levites, and the Body of Christ is the Temple. In that light, we can see why God changed from no regular tithe before Moses to a regular tithe when the Tent of Meeting and its regulations were established, and then changed back to giving from the heart as each person decided after the Levites and the Temple were made unnecessary by the death of Christ (2 Cor. 9:7). The New Testament epistles encourage people to give to the poor (Rom. 15:26; Gal. 2:10), to the Lord’s people who needed it (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:14), and to those who serve the Lord (1 Cor. 9:6-14; 1 Tim. 5:17-18). God loves a cheerful giver, and will reward people for the gifts and good deeds they do today (2 Cor. 9:6-8).(top)
|Gen 14:21||- (top)|
“lifted up my hand.” One way a person swore a solemn oath was to raise his hand and swear. We still raise a hand and swear in our courts of law today, so this custom, thousands of years old, still survives in various forms. We see the custom of lifting up your hand to swear an oath in many places in Scripture (Gen. 14:22; Deut. 32:40; Ezek. 20:5, 6, 15, 23, 28, 42; 36:7; 44:12; 47:14; Rev. 10:5). Another ancient way of swearing was to hold the genitals of the one to whom you were swearing (see commentary on Gen. 24:2).(top)
|Gen 14:23||- (top)|
“share of the spoil.” It is an ancient custom that if men risk their life and go into battle that they get a share in the spoils of war. This included the arms and armor of anyone they personally killed. Abram recognized that the men who fought with him risked much, and wanted to make sure they got their reward for their bravery.(top)