Genesis 14

 

וַיְהִי בִּימֵי אַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ שִׁנְעָר אַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר כְּדָרְ-לָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם  14:1

Gene. 14:1  And it was in the time of Amraphel, king of Shinar, Arioch, king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim.

עָשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה אֶת בֶּרַע מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וְאֶת בִּרְשַׁע מֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה שִׁנְאָב מֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וְשֶׁמְאֵבֶר  14:2

מֶלֶךְ צְבֹיִים וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִיא צֹעַר

Gene. 14:2  They made war with Bera, king of Sodom, and with Birsha, king of Gomorrah, Shinab, king of Admah, and Shemeber, king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is Zoar).

                                                                                                                             [Return to Gene. 19:22]

כָּל אֵלֶּה חָבְרוּ אֶל עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים הוּא יָם הַמֶּלַח  14:3

Gene. 14:3  All these united in the valley of Siddim -- it is of the Sea of Salt.

שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה עָבְדוּ אֶת כְּדָרְ-לָעֹמֶר וּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה מָרָדוּ  14:4

Gene. 14:4  Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they rebelled.

וּבְאַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בָּא כְדָרְ-לָעֹמֶר וְהַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת רְפָאִים בְּעַשְׁתְּרֹת קַרְנַיִם  14:5

וְאֶת הַזּוּזִים בְּהָם וְאֵת הָאֵימִים בְּשָׁוֵה קִרְיָתָיִם

Gene. 14:5  And in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came, and the kings that were with him, and they smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,

וְאֶת הַחֹרִי בְּהַרְרָם שֵׂעִיר עַד אֵיל פָּארָן אֲשֶׁר עַלהַמִּדְבָּר  14:6

Gene. 14:6  and the Horite at their mount Seir out to El-paran, which is by the wilderness,

וַיָּשֻׁבוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל עֵין מִשְׁפָּט הִוא קָדֵשׁ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת כָּל שְׂדֵה הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְגַם אֶת הָאֱמֹרִי הַיֹּשֵׁב  14:7

בְּחַצְצֹן תָּמָר

Gene. 14:7  and they turned back and they came to En-mishpat -- it is Kadesh -- and they smote all the country of the Amalekite and also the Amorite dwelling in Hazazon-tamar.

                                                                                                                              [Return to Exod. 17:8]

וַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וּמֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה וּמֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וּמֶלֶךְ צְבֹיִים וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִוא צֹעַר וַיַּעַרְכוּ אִתָּם   14:8

מִלְחָמָה בְּעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים

Gene. 14:8  And the king of Sodom went out, and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela -- it is Zoar -- and they set in battle array against them in the valley of Siddim,

אֵת כְּדָרְ-לָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם וְאַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ שִׁנְעָר וְאַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר  14:9

אַרְבָּעָה מְלָכִים אֶת הַחֲמִשָּׁה

Gene. 14:9  against Chadorloamer, the king of Elam, and Tidal, king of Goiim, and Amraphel, king of Shinar, and Arioch, king of Ellasar, four kings against the five.

וְעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים בֶּאֱרֹת בֶּאֱרֹת חֵמָר וַיָּנֻסוּ מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה וַיִּפְּלוּ שָׁמָּה וְהַנִּשְׁאָרִים הֶרָה נָּסוּ  14:10

Gene. 14:10   Now the valley of Siddim was full of pits of slime, and the king of Sodom and of Gomorrah fled and they fell there, but those remaining by the mountain escaped.

This verse contains another instance of the same verb swn being translated differently, first as fled and then as escaped.

וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת כָּל רְכֻשׁ סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה וְאֶת כָּל אָכְלָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ  14:11

Gene. 14:11   And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food, and they departed.

וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת לוֹט וְאֶת רְכֻשׁוֹ בֶּןאֲחִי אַבְרָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב בִּסְדֹם  14:12

Gene. 14:12   But they took Lot, the son of the brother of Abram (as he was dwelling in Sodom), and his goods, when they left.

וַיָּבֹא הַפָּלִיט וַיַּגֵּד לְאַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי וְהוּא שֹׁכֵן בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא הָאֱמֹרִי אֲחִי אֶשְׁכֹּל וַאֲחִי עָנֵר 14:13

וְהֵם בַּעֲלֵי בְרִית אַבְרָם

Gene. 14:13   And one who escaped came and told to Abram, the Hebrew.  Now he was dwelling by the terebinths of Mamre, the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner, and they were covenanted with Abram.

In this verse we find the first direct use of the word yrIb.[i, Hebrew, in the bible.  It occurs four more times subsequently.  Compare this word with its use as the name of the descendent of Shem in Gene. 11:14.

                                                                                                      [Return to Gene. 10:21]

וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת  14:14

וַיִּרְדֹּף עַד דָּן

Gene. 14:14   When Abram heard that his kin had been taken captive, he led forth his trained three hundred and eighteen servants born of his house and pursued as far as Dan.

וַיֵּחָלֵק עֲלֵיהֶם לַיְלָה הוּא וַעֲבָדָיו וַיַּכֵּם וַיִּרְדְּפֵם עַד חוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר מִשְּׂמֹאל לְדַמָּשֶׂק  14:15

Gene. 14:15   And he distributed them against them at night, he and his servants, and he struck them and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left toward Damascus.

וַיָּשֶׁב אֵת כָּל הָרְכֻשׁ וְגַם אֶת לוֹט אָחִיו וּרְכֻשׁוֹ הֵשִׁיב וְגַם אֶת הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת הָעָם  14:16

Gene. 14:16   And he brought back all the goods, and also Lot, his kin, and his goods, and also brought back the women and the people.

וַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם לִקְרָאתוֹ אַחֲרֵי שׁוּבוֹ מֵהַכּוֹת אֶת כְּדָרְ-לָעֹמֶר וְאֶת הַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר  14:17

אִתּוֹ אֶל עֵמֶק שָׁוֵה הוּא עֵמֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ

Gene. 14:17   And the king of Sodom came out to meet him after his return from smiting Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him to the valley of Shaveh -- it is the valley of the king.

וּמַלְכִּיצֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן  14:18

Gene. 14:18   And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and he was a priest to the Most High God.

Where does Salem fit into this description?  Some scholars believe Salem is Jerusalem.  So Abram might have been greeted by the king of Jerusalem on his return to the city not far from his dwelling place in Hebron.  But from v. 21 below, either the king of Sodom had followed Abram to the vicinity of Jerusalem or Melchizedek had come out to meet Abram in the valley of Shaveh.  Now who is this Melchizedek, whose name means my king is righteous?  What kind of priest was he?  The priests of the line of Aaron would not be assigned by God for hundreds of years. Melchizedek is called a priest to the Most High God.  Where did this designation come from?  Is this episode prophetic in some way?

וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ וַיֹּאמַר בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ  14:19

Gene. 14:19   And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram to the Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth.”

In this verse and the next, it sounds like Melchizedek recognizes God.                      [Return to Numb. 22:8]

וּבָרוּךְ אֵל עֶלְיוֹן אֲשֶׁר מִגֵּן צָרֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וַיִּתֶּן לוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר מִכֹּל  14:20

Gene. 14:20   “And blessed be the Most High God, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”  And he gave him a tenth out of everything.

The first tithe!  Interesting that (according to the traditional interpretation, which I have tentatively adopted) Abram would give it to Melchizedek.  Was it because he was a priest or because he was the king of Salem?  It’s also interesting to conjecture about what the tithe consisted of.  Was it really a tenth of everything, including the people and women, and Lot’s goods as well?

Because of the uncertain referents of the pronouns he and him in the last part of the verse, it is hard to unambiguously interpret its meaning.  Besides the traditional interpretation addressed above, the sentence could mean any of the following three additional possibilities, all of which are reasonable given the context.  Melchizedek gave a tenth to the Most High God.  Melchizedek gave a tenth to Abram.  Abram gave a tenth to the Most High God (which is my preferred interpretation – because of v. 22 below).  However, it seems reasonable to assume that Abram’s tithe went to the Most High God through Melchizedek, as he appears to have been recognized as His priest.  A very strange episode! 

וַיֹּאמֶר מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם אֶל אַבְרָם תֶּןלִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהָרְכֻשׁ קַחלָךְ  14:21

Gene. 14:21   And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people, and the goods take for yourself.”

Was the king of Sodom objecting to a tithe of the people, whom he wanted?  Interestingly, the four kings had taken all Sodom’s food (v. 14:11).  Didn’t the king care about this?

וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם הֲרִמֹתִי יָדִי אֶל יְהוָה אֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ  14:22

Gene. 14:22   And Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have contributed of my hand to the Lord, Most High God, Creator of heaven and earth;

Does this verse make the traditional interpretation of v. 20 most reasonable?  Did Abram tithe to Melchizedek as God’s priest, as I’ve indicated with reference to v. 15:20?

אִם מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ נַעַל וְאִם אֶקַּח מִכָּל אֲשֶׁר לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת אַבְרָם  14:23

Gene. 14:23   if a thread or even a shoe lace, or if I would take from anything that is yours, and you would not say, ‘I have made Abram rich’…,

I believe in this verse Abram is responding to the offer of the king of Sodom in v. 14:21 to take the goods for himself. It’s intended to be a hypothetical statement.  It could easily be imagined that Abram is speaking to himself.  In most bibles, the last part of this verse is translated a little differently, by mistranslating the words rmê;ato al{w as “… lest you would say ….”

בִּלְעָדַי רַק אֲשֶׁר אָכְלוּ הַנְּעָרִים וְחֵלֶק הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הָלְכוּ אִתִּי עָנֵר אֶשְׁכֹּל וּמַמְרֵא הֵם 14:24

יִקְחוּ חֶלְקָם

Gene. 14:24   except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; they shall take of their portion.”

Abram seems to be exhibiting some hostility to the king of Sodom.  Gene 13:13 may have appeared before this incident in order to help explain Abram’s unusual behavior.

 

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