Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Sennaar, or Babylon. --- Pontus, Hebrew: Ellasar, perhaps Thalassar, as Jonathan writes, not far from Eden. --- Elamites, or Persians. --- Nations in Galilee, east of the Jordan, whither the conquered kings directed their course. Josue xii. 23, mentions the king of the nations (foreigners) at Galgal. (Calmet)
Now, in the days of Moses. --- Salt sea; called also the vale of salts, and the dead sea.
Served. Thus Noe's prediction began to be fulfilled, as Elam was the eldest son of Sem, to whose posterity Chanaan should be slaves, chap. ix. 26.
Raphaim, Zuzim, and Emim, were all of the gigantic race, robbers, like the Arabs. (Du Hamel) --- These dwelt in the land of Basan, or of giants, Deuteronomy iii. 13.
Chorreans, or Horreans, who dwelt in one part of that extensive range of mountains, which took their name from Seir; perhaps about mount Hor, where Aaron died. (Calmet) --- These also were auxiliaries of the five kings, and hence experienced the fury of the four confederates; who cut off all their opponents, before they made their grand attack upon Sodom. (Haydock)
Misphat, or of judgment and contradiction, because there the Hebrews contended with Moses and Aaron: it was afterwards called Cadez, Numbers xx. 11. --- Amalecites, that is which they afterwards possessed; for as yet Amelec was unborn, chap. xxxvi. 16. (Menochius) --- Amorrheans, to the west of Sodom. (Calmet)
Of slime. Bituminis. This was a kind of pitch, which served for mortar in the building of Babel, Genesis xi. 3, and was used by Noe in pitching the ark. (Challoner) --- Moses does not make this remark without reason. This bitumen would easily take fire, and contribute to the conflagration of Sodom. (Calmet) --- Overthrown, not all slain, for the king of Sodom escaped, ver. 17.
The Hebrew, or traveller who came from beyond the Euphrates, (Calmet) or who dwelt beyond the Jordan, with reference to the five kings. (Diodorus)
Servants, fit for war. Hence we may form some judgment of the power and dignity of Abram, who was considered as a great prince in that country, chap. xxiii. 6. He was assisted by Mambre, Escol, and Aner, with all the forces they could raise on such a short warning; and coming upon the four kings unawares, in four divisions, easily discomfits them, while they were busy plundering the cities, and pursues them to Dan; which is either the city that went by that name afterwards, or more probably one of the sources of the Jordan, (Haydock) which the people of the country call Medan. Neither did he suffer them to repose, before he had retaken all the plunder at Hoba, or Abila, north of the road leading to Damascus. (Calmet)
Melchisedech was not Sem: for his genealogy is given in Scripture. (Hebrew xii. 6.); nor God the Son, for they are compared together; nor the Holy Ghost, as some have asserted; but a virtuous Gentile who adored the true God, and was king of Salem, or Jerusalem, and Priest of an order different from that of Aaron, offering in sacrifice bread and wine, a figure of Christ's sacrifice in the Mass; as the fathers constantly affirm. (Haydock) --- See Pererius. St. Jerome, ep. ad Evagrium, says, "Melchisedech offered not bloody victims, but dedicated the sacrament of Christ in bread and wine...a pure sacrifice." See St. Cyprian ep. 63, ad Cæcil.; St. Augustine, City of God xvi. 22, &c. Many Protestants confess, that this renowned prince of Chanaan, was also a priest; but they will not allow that his sacrifice consisted of bread and wine. In what then? for a true priest must offer some real sacrifice. If Christ, therefore, be a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech, whose sacrifice was not bloody, as those of Aaron were, what other sacrifice does he now offer, but that of his own body and blood in the holy Mass, by the ministry of his priests? for he was the priest: this is plainly referred to bringing forth, &c., which shews that word to be sacrificial, as in Judges vi. 18. The Hebrew may be ambiguous. But all know that vau means for as well as and. Thus the English Bible had it, 1552, "for he was the priest." (Worthington) --- If Josephus take notice only of Melchisedech, offering Abram and his men corporal refreshment, we need not wonder; he was a Jewish priest, to whom the order of Melchisedech might not be agreeable. It is not indeed improbable, but Abram might partake of the meat, which had been offered in thanksgiving by Melchisedech; and in this sense his words are true. But there would be no need of observing, that he was a priest on this account; as this was a piece of civility expected from princes on similar occasions. (Deuteronomy xxiii. 4; 2 Kings xvii. 27.) (Haydock)
Blessed him, as his inferior, and received tithes of him, Hebrews iv. 7. This shews the antiquity of the practice of supporting God's priests by tithes.
The persons (animas), the souls subject to my dominion. (Haydock)
I lift up. This is the posture of one swearing solemnly, by which we testify our belief, that God dwells in the heavens, and governs the world. (Calmet)
Woof-thread. The first word is added by way of explanation. Abram declares he will not receive the smallest present for himself.
Their shares, due to them on account of the danger to which they had exposed themselves. The king of Sodom could not but accept these conditions with gratitude. In a just war, whatever is taken by the enemy, cannot be reclaimed by the original proprietor, if it be retaken. (Grotius, iii. 6, de Jure.)