And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations;
Never, perhaps, was any warlike expedition conceived in such simplicity of intention, or carried out with such entire unselfishness, as when Abraham led his trained servants to recover Lot and his goods from the hands of the confederate kings. It was as he was returning from this enterprise of high affection that he received the mysterious visit from Melchizedek.
I. Their interview began, as all our intercourse with God must begin, by an act first on the part of him who stood in the higher relationship. Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine and blessed Abraham. Then Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. This was communion. Communion is something more than prayer. God speaks to us, and of that speaking prayer is our return.
II. Very bountiful was the board which Melchizedek set for his friend—bread and wine—Nature in her most nourishing and her most exhilarating form. And we, too, have, at the hands of the Second Melchizedek, bread and wine. But to us they are but figures: the reality is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
III. As Melchizedek gave the bread and wine, he blessed. The very essence of the priestly character was to bless. And, true to the shadows that went before, when Christ came He blessed the world.
IV. Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. Under the Levitical code every man was required to pay three tithes of his property—one for the Levites, one for the use of the temple and the great feasts, and one for the relief of the poor. The tithe was a recognition that all belonged to God. We, like Abraham, give our offerings to the great High Priest, who claims them of us by His one sacrifice of Himself, which is all our peace and all our hope.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 2nd series, p. 22.
I. Consider the historical facts of this narrative. (1) Melchizedek makes his appearance at the close of the first war recorded in the annals of the human race. Abraham was on his journey home from the rescue of Lot, and had reached a place called the King's Dale, when his meeting with the priest took place. (2) Who was Melchizedek? There is an old tradition of the Jews to the effect that he was Shem, the son of Noah, Shem being his personal name, Melchizedek his official designation. This, however, is improbable, since (a) it is unlikely that Moses, who has hitherto spoken of Shem by his proper name, should here veil his identity under a different one; (b) it seems unlikely that Abraham and Shem could have been co-residents in the same land without intercourse; (c) it is unlikely that a man whose pedigree was distinctly known should have been selected as a typical instance of a man whose pedigree was altogether unknown. We are therefore limited to the conclusion that he was a Canaanitish prince, who retained the uncorrupted faith of his forefathers. (3) What was the secret of his peculiar greatness? His names suggest an explanation. He must have been eminently righteous to have earned such titles as "King of Righteousness" and "King of Peace." He stood alone in his office, as priest of the most High God. He was known by undeniable tokens as the man whom God had consecrated to be His priest.
II. Consider the spiritual significance of this narrative of Melchizedek. (1) He was a symbol of the mystery connected with the Saviour's person. (2) He shadowed forth important truths in relation to Christ as our Priest. His priesthood was distinguished for its antiquity, its catholicity, its independence. (3) Melchizedek was the prefiguration of Christ as the King of His people. (4) The story seems to be a typical picture of Christ exercising His ministry of benediction.
C. Stanford, Symbols of Christ, p. 3.
References: Gen 14.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 209; Parker, vol. i., p. 204; Expositor, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 285. Genesis 14:18-20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 589.
That these 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, which is Zoar.
All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.
Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar.
And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;
With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.
And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
And they took Lot, Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.