Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 14:17-20

17 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.

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

There is very little that we know of this King Melchizedek. We do not know his genealogy, we don’t know anything about the land of Salem that he was king over (unless this is a shortened version of Jerusalem), and we don’t know what happened to him after these events.

We do hear some later references to him, though. In Hebrews chapters 5 and 7 it is stated that Jesus was a priest “after the order” of Melchizedek. So clearly he was a figure of importance to the ancient Israelites, and evidently Abram respected him as an emissary of God as he paid his tithes to him.

So much of the biblical account is exclusively about the Abrahamic line that it becomes surprising to hear about a legendary, righteous king that existed outside of that lineage. It makes me wonder how many other good people in history have their ripples washing over us today, and we don’t even know anything about them.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 14:13-16

13 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.

14 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.

15 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.

16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.

This story stirs my heart! I love the image of Abram hearing that his kin is in trouble and rushing off to the rescue. Never mind the fact that the army he is pursuing just finished laying waste to the militias of Sodom, Gomorrah, and three other cities. It doesn’t matter what the difficulty of the task is, Lot needs to be rescued, so that’s what Abram is going to do!

I’m also touched by how Lot is called Abram’s “brother” here, not his nephew. I mentioned previously how after the death of Haran (Abram’s brother and Lot’s father) that the record seemed to treat Lot as if he stood in the place of his father, and this verse further reinforces that notion. Of course I’m sure this also has to do with the customs of the time, but that does not diminish the passion Abram clearly has for this “brother” as he smites the enemy, pursues the battle all the way into another land, and doesn’t let up until he has retrieved every single thing they had taken.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 14:1-5, 8, 10

1 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;

2 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.

3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5 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,

8 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;

10 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.

I mentioned previously that we probably only hear about this war in the Bible because of how it intersected with the story of Abram. Surely there were other wars that were glossed over or left out entirely. But since we do have a record of this war, I thought it would be fitting to provide a small recap of what exactly transpired.

Lot, Abram’s nephew had gone to live in the city of Sodom, which was a vassal state to the kingdom of Elam. There were several other cities that were subservient to the kingdom of Elam as well, including Gomorrah. Eventually, several of those vassal cities decided to throw off their overlord, resulting in the ruler of Elam, King Chedorlaomer, rallying his loyal subjects and giving the rebels a sound beating. The rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah fell in battle, their cities were pillaged, and citizens that hadn’t even been involved in the fight, such as Lot and his household, were taken captive by the conquering horde.

A truth that is repeated many times throughout the Bible is that a great burden of responsibility sits upon every ruler, for the follies of a foolish king are most often paid for by his subjects. Even to this day, a wise ruler is the greatest blessing that can be given to a nation, and a foolhardy one its greatest curse.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 14:1-5, 8, 10

1 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;

2 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.

3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

5 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,


8 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;

10 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.

I mentioned yesterday that we probably only even hear about this war in the Bible because of how it intersected with the story of Abram. Surely there were other wars and events that are glossed over or even left entirely unmentioned.

But since we do have a record of this war, I thought it would be fitting to provide a small recap of what exactly transpired.

Lot, Abram’s nephew had gone to live in the city of Sodom, which was a vassal state to the kingdom of Elam. Gomorrah was also subservient to the kingdom of Elam, as well as several other great cities. And at the time of this story several of these vassal cities decided to throw off their overlords. The ruler of Elam, King Chedorlaomer, rallied his loyal subjects and made war with these rebels, in which the uprising was given a sound beating. The rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah fell, and their cities pillaged. During which pillaging, Lot and his household were taken captive by the conquering horde.

There is a great burden of responsibility upon every ruler. The follies of a foolish king are most often paid for by his subjects, whether they were themselves innocent or guilty. Those of us who have the privilege of electing our own rulers should consider that a great blessing, and we should be very studious only those who are wise.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 13:17-18

17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.

18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord.

There is something very satisfying in God’s command to walk the length and breadth of the land, to feel out the whole of it. Even if Canaan was more humble than the plain of Jordan I get excited by the idea of Abram taking stock of the land that God is giving to him.

Maybe this stands out to me because my wife and I recently bought our first single-family home, and I very much enjoy walking between its borders, too! There is something so exciting about having a place of your own. Large or small, lavish or humble, it is the foundation to build your future from.

And now, at long last, we have Abram living fully within the boundaries of Canaan, the place that will be the backdrop for most of the Biblical record. In fact, all of the stories that Abram is best known for will all begin from here.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 13:10-12, 14-16

10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.

11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.

14 And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:

15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.

Abram was very decent in how he handled the conflict between his and Lot’s workers. In order to maintain the peace they needed to have enough space, and that meant separating from one another. Having determined this, Abram gave Lot the first choice of where to go. After comparing the two halves Lot took the better portion and Abram accepted the lesser.

And all this helped bring Abram into greater alignment with God’s plan for him. Long before, God had told Abram to go to Canaan, for that was to be the land for his inheritance, and now, at last, Abram was finally dwelling fully within Canaan’s borders. And there, in that promised land, Abram was met by reassurances from God that the covenants that had been made to him years before still held firm.

Just a few months ago God met me in the mountains with reassurances as well, telling me that promises and intentions He had for my life are still in full force. In our dealings with other people it is easy to wonder if the promises they’ve offered have expired, or if they’ve forgotten about them, or if they just don’t want to follow through on them anymore. But God reminded me that He isn’t petty, forgetful, or changing. That though time and circumstance may undo the pledges of man, those do not weigh on the covenants of God.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 13:5-9

5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents.

6 And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together.

7 And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land.

8 And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren.

9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Abram’s story has thus far been a family affair. He began with father, three brothers, and a nephew, and one-by-one his kin have been left behind while he continued through his journey. First his brother Haran died when the family lived in Ur of the Chaldees. Then the family left for Canaan and another brother, Nahor, elected to stay behind.

Abram, his father Terah, and his nephew Lot then came to rest in Haran, but eventually Abram’s father died and the Lord called Abram to travel farther. Abram and Lot sojourned together, to Beth-el, then to Egypt, then back to Beth-el, but now even they are going to part ways, taking Abram away from his last companion outside of his own household.

Bit-by-bit Abram has been made more and more alone as he grew into the man he was to become. And this is true for all of us. The more we develop into the individual God intends for us, the more we outgrow our previous trappings and the more we venture into unmarked waters, until we become an isolated pioneer. And then, even if family and friends are around us physically, we walk alone in spirit with our Maker. There, in the privacy of His hand we are transfigured into our full potential.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 13:1-4

1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.

2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.

3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai;

4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.

Abram’s story highlights the mysterious ways that God works in. First there was that famine which got Abram into the land of Egypt, where he would accumulate great wealth, the beginnings of his future kingdom. But Egypt was not supposed to be the land of Abram’s inheritance, Canaan was. So then there arose the dispute about Abram’s wife, another blessing in disguise, which pushed out of Egypt and back to his prior home on Canaan’s outskirts.

Abram has returned home, but he is not the same as when he went out. As we will see in the next verses he has grown too big for this place, the old clothes don’t fit anymore. God led him away to obtain the things that he needed, then led him back to continue his larger story.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 12:10-11, 13, 15-18, 20

10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.

11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:

13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house.

16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.

17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.

18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?

20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

This is an interesting and perplexing piece of Abram’s story. Abram stating that Sarai is his sister seems dishonest. At another part of the story he will explain that Sarai actually is his half-sister (daughter of his father Terah, but not of his mother), but not mentioning the fact that they are also married still fells like a lie of omission.

There is another account of these events in the Pearl of Great Price, where it states that calling Sarai his sister was an instruction given to Abram by God, Himself. Though obviously that record isn’t canonical to those who aren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

So there are a number of different ways that one might interpret this story. For some it might be a sign of just how harsh an environment Abram was coming into, where such tactics were necessary for survival. For some it might be an indication that the men in Egypt wouldn’t stay their hands from violence unless they were first given a show of force from God. And for some this story might be evidence that Abram was flawed, imperfect in spite of being a prophet, still needing to improve like the rest of us.

But no matter which of these interpretations one holds to, there is a common message in them all, a message that things work out. Even if the world is dangerous, or the truth is difficult to speak, or our better parts fail us, all remains in God’s hands, and all works out according to His purposes. Though the road may be bumpy, so long as we strive with Him, we will ultimately get where we need to go.