Summary: This is a "talking paper" type of outline for Genesis 14, a description of what could be called the truly First World War!

Introduction: The holiday we call Veterans’ Day was originally called Armistice Day, in honor of the cease-fire that ended World War I. That conflict had other names, such as “the Great War”, the “War to End All Wars”, and even “the 1914-18 war”. Certainly it was one of the worst times of war in all human history.

Yet there was another truly world war, and it’s mentioned in Genesis! Armies from the north and east of Canaan came to rule and control the area around Sodom, Gomorrah, and probably a lot of other territory as well. The conquered peoples rebelled, the conquerors came and captured a good number of people, and were taking them away to an unknown future and fate. Then Abram became involved and with God’s help, Abram helped end this war.

Text: Genesis 14 (omitted to save space)

1 The war’s beginning, Gen. 14:1-12

--Note the large masses of land and territory: Shinar, part of modern day Iraq; Elam, part of modern day Iran; Ellassar’s location is uncertain and it’s not clear what is meant by Tidal being “king of ‘nations’”. At any rate, this was a large area of land north and east of Canaan.

--Now note the area under control of these kings: Sodom and Gomorrah are in the southern extremity of Canaan, near the “Salt Sea (modern day Dead Sea)”; Zoar must not have been too far from there, as Lot would later flee to that city; the locations of “Admah” and “Zeboiim” are not certain. What is certain is that this land, and the people living there, were subject to the other kings listed above.

--After 12 years of “serving”, these southern peoples rebelled. How the word reached the northern overlords is nowhere specified but news did reach them, and they moved to crush this rebellion.

--And they succeeded. While on the way, these four northern kings also destroyed other people groups: the Rephaims, Emims, and Zuzims in their (apparently) home territory. The details about these people groups are unknown.

--The northern kings conquered everything—the goods, food supplies (“victuals”) except for some who “fled to the mountain (verse 10)”. Then they departed, most likely back to their home lands and territories. This was truly a world war, with Japhethites and Semites attacking some of the Hamitic peoples!

2 The war’s expansion, Gen 14:13-16

-- Abram was living near Hebron (Gen 13:18), which was several if not many miles west of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other places (apparently). Did he know of the battle?

-- There was an escapee (also translated fugitive and survivor in other translations) who found Abram and told him all that had happened. I wonder why this person sought Abram—the Scriptures do not explain further.

--Abram got involved: he armed his own group of trained servants and led them from Hebron to Dan (nearly 80-100 miles!) We are not told when these men were born, or where; nor what weapons they used for this encounter. What is important is that Lot, Abram’s nephew, had been taken captive and now Abram was going to rescue him.

--Arriving at Dan, they split into three groups of, perhaps, 100 each and attacked the conquerors during the night. Compare this with Gideon’s strategy against the Midianites in Judges 7.

--Abram and his men chased the others all the way to Hobah, a good distance north of Damascus, even further away from Dan. The point is that Abram and his men chased the invaders a long way back towards their own land and that Abram recovered everything: the goods, the people, plus Lot.

3 The war’s conclusion, Gen 14:17-24

--Technically the war ended when the enemies (northern conquerors) fled the area. There is no indication of a treaty or anything else to mark the end.

--As Abram and the people headed back to their own homelands, the king of Sodom met them at “the valley of Shaveh (location unknown)”. He seems to have escaped the battle—was he one of those who had fled to the mountain?

--The whole group met with Melchizedek, king of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the Most High God (another name for the One True God, compare verse 22). Melchizedek brought bread and wine (some see a picture of communion here) and blessed Abram (would a pagan priest do this?) After this, Abram gave tithes of everything to Melchizedek. The writer of Hebrews made mention of this in chapter 7 of that book, making the link between Abram and Levi.

--In one of the greatest acts of integrity, Abram flatly refused to take any of the spoils or prizes of war for himself. Partly, I think this was Abram’s recognition that none of it was his to begin with (he didn’t live anywhere near the cities he liberated) and also that he didn’t want anyone to take credit for making him rich. This had happened in Egypt not long before and was probably painfully fresh in Abram’s mind.

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