Genesis 14:1
In those days Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim
Hints for TeachingThe Congregational PulpitGenesis 14:1-12
HoritesW. Adamson.Genesis 14:1-12
KiriathaimW. Adamson.Genesis 14:1-12
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 14:1-12
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 14:1-12
Mountain FlightW. Adamson.Genesis 14:1-12
The Battle of the Kings MelchizedekThe Congregational PulpitGenesis 14:1-12
The Dead Sea a Special Memento of the Doom that Awaits the WickedT. Williston.Genesis 14:1-12
The First War on RecordT. H. Leale.Genesis 14:1-12
WarJ. C. Gray.Genesis 14:1-12
WarJ. Parker, D. D.Genesis 14:1-12
The Kingdom of God in its Relation to the Contending Powers of the WorldR.A. Redford Genesis 14


1. As a matter of business it was good.

2. In its moral aspects the step was dangerous. But -

3. Doubtless at first Lot did not intend entering the city. And perhaps -

4. Lot may have justified his doubtful conduct by hoping that he would have opportunities of doing good to the Sodomites.


1. Surprised them to see a good man like Lot coming to a neighborhood so bad.

2. Led them to think adversely of a religion that preferred worldly advantage to spiritual interest.

3. Rendered them impervious to any influence for good from Lot's example. Lessons: -

1. It is perilous to go towards Sodom if one wants to keep out of Sodom.

2. It is useless preaching to Sodomites while gathering wealth in Sodom. - W.

These made war.

1. Ambition.

2. Plunder.

3. The desire to recover lost sovereignty.

II. AS TO THE CONDITIONS OF ITS SUCCESS. From the failure of human foresight, and the endless complications of events, it may happen that the battle is not always to the strong; still there are general conditions of success. Some of these may be seen in the instance before us.

1. By depriving the enemy of all friendly help.

2. By favourable physical conditions.

3. By moral causes.


1. That men often suffer who take no part in the quarrel.

2. That the vanquished do not always benefit by the discipline of adversity.

(T. H. Leale.)

The Congregational Pulpit.
I. See here an example and contrast of UNLAWFUL AND LAWFUL WAR. Chedorlaomer and Abram both went to war: but the former did so from pride, covetousness, and hatred to his neighbours; the latter from love to his neighbour, pity for the innocent captives, affection for his kindred, and zeal for right. The outward act was the same, but the motives as different as light and darkness. But could not God have delivered Lot and the other captives without Abram's interference? Certainly; but God commonly works by means, not by miracle; and this was the means He chose, to humble the pride of the oppressor, to deliver the injured, to exercise the faith and courage and energy of Abram and his servants, and to put honour on Abram. War is always a dreadful thing; it must also be a most wicked thing, except only when the great law of love to our neighbour requires it (1 Kings 8:44; Judges 6:12, 14, 16; Romans 13:4).

II. MELCHIZEDEK is one of the most remarkable OLD TESTAMENT TYPES OF CHRIST (see Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:11-13; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-3). By this I understand, not that Melchizedek personally, during his lifetime, was a type of Christ to Abram or his contemporaries; but that the history of Melchizedek's interview with Abram is so recorded, by Divine inspiration, as to supply an image of Christ. The type lies not in the man, but in the Scripture record. St. Paul expresses this by saying he was "made like unto the Son of God," i.e., made in the history a figure of Him. In his names and title, "King of righteousness" and "King of peace" (Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 11:4; Isaiah 32:1, 17).

(The Congregational Pulpit.)


1. Their names suggestive of character. Heads of savage and wandering tribes; having their headquarters in the plain of Shinar and neighbourhood.

2. Cause of this recorded war not given. Probably to be referred exclusively to the cause stated (James 4:1). Doubtless plunder and tribute the chief objects sought.

3. Falling upon the kings of the plain, most probably by surprise, they were victorious. Levied tribute and returned.

4. Tribute paid during twelve years; declined in the thirteenth year. By this time the kings of the plain thought they were strong enough to resist; had probably organized resistance.

5. Chedorlaomer and his confederates march to enforce payment, taking and plundering various cities on their way (vers. 5-7).

6. Battle of the Vale of Siddim. The kings of the plain hemmed in and destroyed. The nature of the ground facilitating their overthrow.


1. He was in Sodom when it was taken (vers. 11, 12). He now suffers the penalty of his folly. "He that soweth to the wind shall reap the whirlwind."

2. Perils arising from worldly choice and ungodly companions. Young people often suffer through their companions. Lot lost the property for the increase of which he was so anxious. He trusted more to the strong walls and untried friends in Sodom than in the living God. "This their way is their folly."

3. A hopeless captivity and poverty are now before him. From what quarter could he expect deliverance?


1. He hears the news.

2. Summons his confederates. This an alliance for mutual protection and defence.

3. Collects and arms his trained servants. These, with the retainers of his friends, make a numerous band.

4. Marches in pursuit of Chedorlaomer. Might have abandoned Lot to his fate. Hurries through the country and overtakes the spoilers and their captives at Daniel

5. The night attack. Surprise of Lot. Abram to the rescue. The forces divide, that the enemies' camp may be attacked from various sides at once. Consternation and rout of the confederate kings of the east, and the rescue of Lot.

6. The kings not only routed, but pursued and slain. A guarantee of freedom in the future from molestation. LEARN —

I. Evils of war; desolation carried through a great country and into many cities and homes. The innocent perish with the guilty.

II. Results of thoughtless choice of home and friends.

III. Friend in need is a friend indeed. Abram prosperous does not abandon Lot in adversity.

IV. Jesus, the great conqueror, delivers our captive souls.

(J. C. Gray.)

The Congregational Pulpit.

1. The occasion. It was necessary that depredators should be kept in check, and the plan adopted by Abraham was the only one possible in that age. Abraham was not actuated by love of conquest or desire of gain, still less by a spirit of revenge. He merely sought to deliver those who had unjustly been made captives, and to recover stolen property. His functions, as warrior, were essentially those of our modern police. It seems impossible to find fault with his conduct in entering on such an expedition; and thus far it would be easy to show the allowability and even the duty of engaging in defensive war. You will also see how piety and faith do not unfit a man for the active duties of life; or even for bold and heroic enterprises, when these come in the way of duty. Religion does not unman us. It does not make us effeminate, or cowards. Rather, it ennobles and strengthens our whole nature.

2. Abraham's conduct in the fight. It was distinguished by generosity, valour, prudence, righteousness, and faith. It is not hard to account for his victory.

3. His behaviour after it. We see this in his conduct toward Melchizedek; and in his conduct toward the king of Sodom. He presented to God a tithe of all the spoils, which at once displayed his piety, and rebuked the idolatry of the inhabitants of the cities of the plain. From motives of piety, we may explain his conduct to the king of Sodom. He refused any reward for ills services. This he did, in order to evince the purity of his motives; also in order to avoid undue fellowship with idolaters. This behaviour was the more necessary because of the false position in which Lot had placed himself. And here we see the folly of mingling closely with the ungodly. Lot could not rebuke the Sodomites, for why had he come to live among them? Neither did he gain anything, but lost much, by preferring their country on account of its wealth and fertility.


1. The believer is called to fight against many foes. This is not a fiction, but a reality; nor is this a despicable, but a most important species of conflict. Our enemies are spiritual spoliators.

2. Let us consider the spiritual Melchizedek, and our relation to him.

3. See in this history how far God notices the wars and commotions of the world. Only so far as they stand connected with the history and welfare of His people. We should do well to cultivate the same spirit; and judge of all events by the light of the Word of God. And then we shall be better able to comprehend the real importance of mundane changes and events; while we learn to be patient and hopeful under all adverse circumstances, for we know that God will take care of us; and the path of duty will be the path of safety.

(The Congregational Pulpit.)

Prince Eugene, speaking of war, said, "The thirst of renown sometimes insinuates itself into our councils, under the garb of national honour. It dwells on imaginary insults; it suggests harsh and abusive language; the people go on from one thing to another, till they put an end to the lives of half a million of men. A military man becomes so sick of bloody scenes in war, that in peace he is averse to recommence them. I wish that the first minister, who is called to decide on peace and war, had only seen actual service."

(J. Parker, D. D.)

The Salt Sea.

Near the southeast corner of Palestine is a body of water more remarkable in some respects than any other on the earth. Though the Jordan is annually pouring a vast quantity of fresh water into this remarkable lake, its own water is intensely salt, exceeding in saltness that of the ocean; and so great is its specific gravity that "one floats easily on its surface, as if reclining on a couch." He who bathes in it can, as Mr. Stephens affirms, lie on the water and read or even sleep; but when he comes out, his body will smart and burn, and he will find himself partially incrusted with salt. This mysterious lake has no visible outlet, and yet, strange to say, it never overflows. By means of evaporation it preserves nearly the same level throughout the year. No vessels are seen on its bosom, no fish are found darting through its saline waters, and neither grass nor flowers nor green trees are found in its immediate vicinity. A silence like that of the tomb broods over it, and its entire aspect is dreary, dismal, and desolate in the extreme. In view of these facts, it is not strange that what in our text Moses calls "the Salt Sea" should in modern times be denominated the Dead Sea; for, perhaps, no better emblem of death and desolation could be found on the face of the globe. But has this mysterious sea always existed? Has the gloom and desolation that now marks the spot always reigned there? Ah, no! The spot now occupied by the Salt Sea was once a part of the fertile valley of the Jordan; and the tramp of armed men was once heard where now an almost unbroken silence prevails. What has produced this marvellous change? What throe of nature, what mighty power, has transformed the Vale of Siddim into a salt, sluggish, unnavigated lake, having naught but its history to render it attractive? The answer is found in Genesis 19:24, 25. So filthy and unutterably loathsome had the doings of the Sodomites and their neighbours become, that God saw fit not only to put an end to their vile career, but to make the very spot they occupied, the very cities they dwelt in, a visible and abiding monument of His abhorrence of sin, and of what all who persist in sin have to expect. He saw fit to convert a fertile and populous valley into a scene of desolation and ruin; to bury beneath the waters of the Dead Sea a tract of earth which its inhabitants had so awfully defiled. God's object in all this was, to "make them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly." And to render the lesson more effectual, He chose to set up, on the spot once occupied by those cities, a striking remembrance of their wickedness, and of the vengeance that overtook them. As a tombstone reminds us of our mortality, or as a rainbow reminds us of a deluged world, so should the Dead Sea, whether actually seen or only thought of, prove an impressive memento of "the wrath to come." Hear its warning voice, ye worldlings and sensualists, and become wise! else a desolation will soon overtake you that is far gloomier and more terrible than that which now broods over the buried cities of the plain.

(T. Williston.)

They rebelled. —

1. Ambition delays no time: when it hath power to revenge any affronts against it. Prom the time considered with the assailants.

2. Usually unjust rebellions are followed with severe destructions, and that speedily.

3. Ambition labours to get confederates and engage them with itself for its own ends.

4. Usurping ambition when it is powerful is very cruel, smiting, killing.

5. Ambitious oppressors spare not nations in their power. They destroy nations not a few. Such is the rant of the Assyrian (Isaiah 37).

6. Usurping tyrants pursue after blood when they have once tasted it.

7. God's overruling providence maketh wicked men execute vengeance upon each other for their wickedness.

8. Ambitious usurpers destroy all that is in their way to their unjust ends (vers. 5, 6, 7).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)


We have here some of the most ancient houses of which the world can boast. As Porter remarks, they are just such dwellings as a race of giants would build. The walls and roofs, but especially the ponderous gates, doors, and bars, are in every way characteristic of a period when architecture was in its infancy, when giants were masons, and when strength and security were the grand requisites. The heavy stone slabs of the roofs resting on the massive walls make the structure as firm as if built of solid masonry, and the black basalt used is almost as hard as iron. There can scarcely be a doubt that these are the cities erected and inhabited by the Pephaim — that on these masses of masonry, which Ritter remarks now stand as constant witnesses of the conquest of Bashan by Jehovah, Abram gazed — and that amid these secure strongholds Chedorlaomer and his Elamite warriors roamed ere they attacked the kings in the Vale of Siddim. Yet how dreary now!

(W. Adamson.)


1. These received their name from dwelling in caves. Strabo says that the life of these cave dwellers was nomadic. They are governed by tyrants, wear skins, and carry spears and shields which are covered with raw hides. They anoint their bodies with a mixture of blood and milk, drink an infusion of buckthorn, and travel and tend their flocks by night.

2. It is interesting to know that the excavated dwellings of the Horites are still found in hundreds in the sandstone cliffs and mountains of Edom, and especially in Petra. Some of them, Wilson says, have windows as well as doors. In front of others are receptacles for water. They are all approachable by a common way. The region is now a habitation of dragons — literally, as Irby says, swarming with lizards and scorpions, etc.

3. Mount Hor, upon which Aaron died, is a striking summit. Mangles remarks that an artist who would study rock scenery in all its wildest and most extravagant forms, and in colours, which, to no one who has not seen them, would scarcely appear to be in nature, would find himself rewarded should he resort to Mount Her for that purpose.

(W. Adamson.)

1. When the South African chief, Sekukuni, who had ravaged the borders of the white man's land, was assailed by the English soldiers, he and his followers fled to a mountain, and hid themselves in the caves and recesses.

2. History relates how it was usual for the Vaudois, when attacked by the Papal troops, to remove their families and goods for security to the Alpine heights and caverns, where they could make a firm stand against their merciless foes.

3. The Archbishop of Tyre relates that when Baldwin IV, one of the Crusade kings of Jerusalem, ravaged the fruitful valley of Bacar, the inhabitants fled to the mountains, whither his troops could not easily follow them.

4. D'Arvieux says that in his time, when the Arabs attacked the rebel peasants of the Holy Land in the plain of Gonin, they fled towards the hills, and there, hiding themselves, were secure from attack or pursuit.

5. This explains the statement here that the defeated Sodomites, who escaped from the field of battle, betook themselves to a mountain. And it is supposed that among the fugitives thus secure from the Elamite attack was the king of Sodom.

6. It is worthy of notice that in the solemn woe on Mount Olives the Lord employs this figure in connection with the Roman armies: "Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains" (Luke 21:21). See also Revelation 6:15.

(W. Adamson.)

1. Sinners' advantages may prove contrary, to be disadvantages to them.

2. Pits may take those who intend them for others (Psalm 9).

3. God makes sinners fly and die, and be dispersed by sinners.

4. Pits and mountains are chosen to perish in by flesh, rather than the sword of their enemies.

5. Ambitious wars make havoc and lay waste, by killing, plundering, and starving all that be in their way (ver. 11).

6. Wars in the world sometimes prove very prejudicial to the innocent Church of God.

7. Ambitious conquerors spare neither good nor bad. All they have is spoiled.

8. It is bad sitting down for the saints among the tents of the wicked. He that chooseth their pleasures, shall feel their pains.

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

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