Monday, August 9, 2010
Abram rescues Lot
The subject matter in Genesis 14 could probably have been turned into a great movie starring Charlton Heston if it had been written better.
But the way the story is told in the Bible is both confusing and dull. Upon first reading you are bogged down by a long list of kings with hard-to-pronounce names (Amraphel, Arioch, Kedorlaomer, Tidal, Bera, Birsha, Shinab, Shemeber) from a lot of countries you’ve never heard of (Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, Goiim, Admah, Zeboiim) and a couple you have heard of (Sodom, Gomorrah) and names of tribes which you have little if any correlation for (Rephaites, Zuzites, Emites, Horites, Amalekites, Amorites).
And to make things doubly bad, the text is repetitive with the long list of names and places in verses 1-2 being repeated in verses 8-9. It’s enough to make anyone’s eyes glaze over.
But if you can make it through all that, what you find is a fun little story of rebellion, initial defeat and then ultimate victory.
Summarizing what is already a stripped-down story in the Bible, you have several groups of people who have been subjects to another king for several years when they get together and rebel. But their rebellion is squelched when the ruling king shows up with a bunch of allied armies and goes about conquering a large swath of area. But kind of like Santa Anna during the Texas revolution, the conquering king pushes too far and becomes overextended and then he makes the BIG mistake by capturing Lot and his family in Sodom which peaks the ire of Abram - God’s favored one.
So Abram sends his small band of warriors in and catches the conquering army by surprise, not unlike the way Sam Houston’s ragtag army defeated Santa Ana at San Jacinto.
Abram thus rescues Lot and frees all the other people from the ruling king. But he rejects the King of Sodom’s offer to share the spoils, foreshadowing once again that something bad will come of Sodom and its people.
There is also a first reference in Genesis 14 to a Melchizedek king of Salem (Jerusalem) who turns up later in the New Testament in the Book of Hebrews. He is referred to as “a priest of God Most High,” the first mention of a priest in the Bible, and Abram gives him a tithe, or a tenth of everything. But there are no other clues about who this person is or where he came from.