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Lot’s Captivity and Rescue


In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, 2these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3All these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea). 4Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the edge of the wilderness; 7then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar. 8Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits; and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; 12they also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

13 Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner; these were allies of Abram. 14When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. 16Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). 18And King Melchizedek of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High. 19He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,

maker of heaven and earth;


and blessed be God Most High,

who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him one-tenth of everything. 21Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 22But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the L ord, God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, 23that I would not take a thread or a sandal-thong or anything that is yours, so that you might not say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre. Let them take their share.”

1. And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel. The history related in this chapter is chiefly worthy of remembrance, for three reasons: first, because Lot, with a gentle reproof, exhorted the men of Sodom to repentance; they had, however, become altogether unteachable, and desperately perverse in their wickedness. But Lot was beaten with these scourges, because, having been allured and deceived by the richness of the soil, he had mixed himself with unholy and wicked men. Secondly, because God, out of compassion to him, raised up Abram as his avenger and liberator, to rescue him, when a captive, from the hand of the enemy; in which act the incredible goodness and benevolence of God towards his own people, is rendered conspicuous; since, for the sake of one man, he preserves, for a time, many who were utterly unworthy. Thirdly, because Abram was divinely honored with a signal victory, and was blessed by the mouth of Melchizedek, in whose person, as appears from other passages of Scripture, the kingdom and priesthood of Christ was shadowed forth. As it respects the sum of the history, it is a horrible picture both of the avarice and pride of man.

The human race had yet their three progenitors, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, living among them; by the very sight of whom they were admonished, that they all sprung from one family, and one ark. Moreover, the memory of their common origin was a sacred pledge of fraternal connection, which should have bound them to assist each other, by mutual good offices. Nevertheless, ambition so prevailed, that they assailed one another on all sides, with sword and armor, and each attempted to subdue the rest. Wherefore, while we see, at the present day, princes raging furiously, and shaking the earth to the utmost of their power; let us remember that the evil is of ancient date; since the lust of dominion has, in all ages, been too prevalent among men. Let us, however, also remark, that no fault is worse than that loftiness of mind, which many deem a most heroical disposition. The ambition of Chedorlaomer was the torch of the whole war: for he, inflamed with the desire of triumphing, drew three others into a hostile confederacy. And pride compelled the men of Sodom and their allies to take arms, for the purpose of shaking off the yoke.

That Moses, however, records the names of so many kings, while Shem was yet living, (although derided by profane men as fabulous,) will not appear absurd, if we only reflect that this great propagation of the human race, was a remarkable miracle of God. For when the Lord said to Noah himself, and to his sons, Increase and multiply, he intended to raise them to the hope of a far more excellent restoration than would have taken place, in the ordinary course of nature. This benediction is indeed perpetual, and shall flourish even to the end of the world: but it was necessary that its extraordinary efficacy should then appear; in order that these earliest fathers might know, that a new world had been divinely inclosed within the ark. By the Poets, Deucalion with his wife, is feigned to have sown the race of men after the deluge, by throwing stones behind him.356356     See Ovid’s Metamorphosis 1. But it followed of necessity, that the miserable minds of men should be deluded with such trifles, when they departed from the pure truth of God; and Satan has made use of this artifice, for the purpose at discrediting the veracity of the miracles of God. For since the memory of the deluge, and the unwonted propagation of a new world, could not be speedily obliterated, he scattered abroad clouds and smoke; introducing puerile conceits, in order that what had before been held for certain truth, might now be regarded as a fable. It is however to be observed, that all are called kings by Moses, who held the priority in any town, or in any considerable assembly of men. It is asked, whether those kings who followed Chedorlaomer dwelt at a great distance; because Tidal is called the king of nations? There are those who imagine that he reigned over different nations far and wide; as if he was a king of kings. The ancient interpreter fetches Arioch from Pontus;357357     Arioch rex Ponti.” — Vulgate which is most absurd. I rather think the true reason of the name was, that he had a band composed of deserters and vagrants, who, having left their own country, had resorted to him. Therefore, since they were not one body — natives of his own country — but gathered together from a promiscuous multitude, he was properly called king of nations. In saying that the battle was fought in the vale of Siddim, or in the open plain, which, when Moses wrote, had become the Salt Sea, it is not to be doubted that the Dead Sea, or the lake Asphaltites, is meant. For he knew whom he was appointed to instruct, and therefore he always accommodated his words to the rude capacity of the people; and this is his common custom in reference to the names of places, as I have previously intimated. Before, however, the battle was fought, Moses declares that the inhabitants of the region were partially beaten. It is probable that all had been scattered, because they had no leader, under whose auspices they might fight, until five kings advanced to meet them with a disciplined army. Now, though Chedorlaomer had rendered so many people tributary to him by tyranny rather than by lawful authority, and on that account his ambition is to be condemned; yet his subjects are justly punished for having rashly rebelled. For although liberty is by no means to be despised, yet the subjection which is once imposed upon us cannot, without implied rebellion against God, be shaken off; because ‘every power is ordained by God,’ notwithstanding, in its commencement, it may have flowed from the lust of dominion, (Romans 13:1.) Therefore some of the rebels are slaughtered like cattle; and others, though they have clothed themselves in armor, and are prepared to resist, are yet driven to flight; thus, unhappily to all concerned, terminates the contumacious refusal to pay tribute. And such narratives are to be noticed that we may learn from them, that all who strive to produce anarchy, fight against God.

10. And the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled. Some expound that they had fallen into pits: but this is not probable, since they were by no means ignorant of the neighboring places: such an event would rather have happened to foreign enemies. Others say, that they went down into them for the sake of preserving their lives. I, however, understand them to have exchanged one kind of death for another, as is common in the moment of desperation; as if Moses had said, the swords of the enemy were so formidable to them, that, without hesitation, they threw themselves headlong into the pits. For he immediately afterwards subjoins, that they who escaped fled to the mountains. Whence we infer, that they who had rushed into the pits had perished. Only let us know, that they fell, not so much deceived through ignorance of the place, as disheartened by fear.

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