If only we could learn to play it cool.
Nothing new, war breaks out in the Middle East.
Instead of the modern Israeli/Muslim conflict, the descendants of Shem face off against the decendants of Ham, making it a family fight among distant cousins. This is a bit like saying the Iranians are picking on those living around the Dead Sea. For the record, the Shemite kings (those from Iran) defeat the Hamite kings (those from the Dead Sea).
At the end of the chapter we meet a guy named Melchizedek, one of the more fascinating people in the Bible.
Here are the 4 Shemite kings attacking from northeast region:
- Amraphel, king of Shinar, located close to Babylon.
- Arioch, king of Ellasar, call it southern Babylon.
- Chedorlaomer (kedo-la-o-mer), king of Elam, years later the Elamites ultimately become the Persians, and he seems to be the big dog in the fight.
- Tidal (I love that name), king of Goiim, call it northeast Babylon
Here are the 5 Hamite kings defending themselves in the soutwest plain of the Salt (Dead) Sea region.
- Bera, king of Sodom
- Birsha, king of Gomorrah
- Shinab, king of Admah
- Shemeber, king of Zeboiim
- Unnamed ruler, king of Bela a place also know as Zoar
Not Feeling It
For twelve years the Salt Sea kings, a group of 5, served Chedolaomer (kedo-la-o-mer). They did not like it, so they rebelled.
They were most likely forced to pay taxes and finally got sick of it.
Chedorlaomer and his group of 4 came down to settle the bill. The Group of 4 defeated the Group of 5, and took spoil for themselves.
Their big mistake was in taking Lot.
Abram has allies and wealth and God, and a well trained militia works for him.
For the first time the word Hebrew appears in the Bible, and is used to describe Abram. The word Hebrew has a profound meaning—one from beyond or one who crossed over—a definition fitting of Abram.
The army of 4 kings defeats the army of 5 kings, but was beaten by the army of the 1 King.
Abram’s militia marches all the to Damascus and forcefully brings Lot back, and for the moment peace returns to the Middle East.
Those in love with conspiracy theories will enjoy this: the Rephaim are believed by some scholars to be Nephilim. The scripture says there were Nephilim before and after the flood (Genesis 6:4), and Dueteronomy 2:10 alludes to them, and for some reason they are known as large people.
A Most Interesting Man
After Abram’s victory, a peace agreement was needed. Chedolaomer and his coalition, along with the king of Sodom, meet with Abram in Jerusalem. The text calls it the Valley of Shaveh, or the King’s Valley.
Oddly enough a man named Melchizedek pops on the scene. He is described as a king (king of Salem), and a Priest, a rare occurence in scripture, and something only Jesus perfectly fulfilled. The text goes the extra mile to mention Melchizedek as a priest of the Most High God, and to the reconciliation party Melchizedek brings bread and wine, tools Jesus used at the Last Supper to declare divine reconciliation.
The book of Hebrews brings to light the theology of Melchizedek. The priesthood of Melchizedek is of a higher order than priesthood of Aaron. In Hebrews 7 the Melchizedek priesthood is desbribed as older than the laws of Moses, and Jesus is mentioned as forever in that Priesthood.
Melchizedek was of divine royalty, in a way not fully understood, Abram recognized this and received the blessing Melchizedek gave to him, then tithed to Melchizedek a tenth of his winnings.
The king of Sodom saw this and wanted in on the action, saying to Abram, Give me the persons but take the goods yourself.
Abram put the king of Sodom in his place saying (paraphrase) I will not allow you to steal God’s glory by saying you made Abram rich.