This series is presented as an honest, sincere look into the study of the Bible with my own personal theories, opinions, comments and that of others’ insights and research into what the verses could mean. I cannot claim one way or another that everything that I am stating is fact and the true meaning of what is meant in these verses.
To lay it out in a way that I can manage, I have highlighted the texts of verses that I either don’t understand or have a comment or question about in yellow. And the comments I’ve left beneath it will be of a smaller font and using brown text.
I would love it if you’d join me in this journey and if you have any insights and/or knowledge of these chapters/verses etc., please feel free to share with me and the other readers. Any chance to get a clearer understanding of the Bible and Jesus Christ would be welcomed with open arms.
Abram Rescues Lot
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;
It’s interesting, what a little peek into a different translation of the Bible can reveal. For instance, I did not know that when this verse states “nations”, it is also meant to mean “goiim”, or “goyim” – as can be seen in the NIV, for example. I am slowly but steadily growing more informed about this term, thanks to some readings into Jewish customs and beliefs, and that history has espoused some interesting (if not, conflicting) view points of this culture. There is so much debate and disagreements about what Judaism entails, and I cannot form a strong opinion on it one way or another because I have not studied it extensively enough.
But what I CAN say, is that it is most definitely WORTH studying, to get a clearer understanding of not only another religion’s belief structure, but also since it seems to be a key component to some of the Bible’s mysteries.
I will leave my opinion at that, and hope that if anyone reads this, that it may compel you to do the same.
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.
So if I’m understanding this correctly, the tribes and “nations” mentioned in verse 1 engaged in war with these kings – yet there is no context about what brought about this conflict. WHY did the “nations” initiate war onto these cities?
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.
Coming down to this verse, perhaps the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Admah, Zeboiim, Zoar – were all subjugated by the kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, and the Tidal nations. It doesn’t quite specify what the conditions were under their rule, but the obvious implications is that the ruled over cities had enough and rebelled, which seemed to have initiated the war.
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,
And again, there is no context about the severity of the rebellion either. What exactly did these rebelling tribes do to spur this attack?
6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness.
7 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.
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;
9 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.
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.
11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
Wow… am I the only one completely lost with all of this pronoun confusion that I see? I have read these verses at least 20 times trying to make sense on who is referred to as “they” in each context. Verse 7 is most undoubtedly indicating that “they” is referring to the king of Chedorlaomer (and his compatriots), but beyond that… I am having a hard time connecting who’s who.
From verse 10 to verse 11, the “they” pronoun seems to have switched ownership. Verse 10 implicates those who lost from the battle – but then verse 11 switches the meaning of “they”, I’m assuming…, to being the victors of the war. It is extremely unclear to me and leaves room for interpretation.
Of course, taking a look into other translations can provide further insight and clarification, but then there’s the question of whether they were misinterpreted or incorrectly transcribed.
12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
And here, by “they”, it’s most likely meant to mean the victor as well. It’s, again, unclear as to the motive of taking Lot, but perhaps this was done in an attempt to either expand upon their own city, and/or use Lot and the other citizens of Sodom as slaves/workers. There is no clear reason and it can only be implied or assumed in these contexts. The goods are an obvious motive, in order to enrich their own community or kingdom.
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.
This verse does indicate that the taking of the peoples from Sodom were to hold them captive. Again, just as a conquest of war? Or deeper motives? And there is no time frame during this conflict that could tell us how long this struggle ensued for. Days? Months? Years? Would researching/studying other texts such as the Torah/Talmud, Quran, etc. shed further light onto the information of the Bible? Is the Bible only presenting one side of the story while an engaged look into other doctrines could reveal some hidden truths?
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.
So it seems as though Abram and his army were still able to win victory over the men who captured Lot and the others, and their goods, and safely return them back home. And while the below verse indicates that they “slaughtered” Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, it makes no mention of who took over their kingdoms after their death.
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.
Hm… this small verse brings up some controversial topics that send some alarm bells ringing when I read it… Again, perhaps I’m overthinking things, but just within this one passage, I can see references to the transubstantiation, ritualistic practices, sacrificial rites… the debate on whether the God of Abraham is the one True God…
I’m sure that’s probably blasphemy to a lot of people, but I am not the only person to have proposed such a theory. In fact, if one can read the Bible without a blind faith and predisposed conditions on what the verses mean, one could look outside of this paradigm and come to some other interesting premises. I won’t go into too much detail, but they are highly controversial in nature and these suppositions are not to offend or criticize anyone, but just to give a glimpse into some other hypothetical queries that are, in my opinion, worth looking into.
Now, besides the allusion into the stark contrast of the God of Abraham and the One True God, who very well may be the one in the same, there is also the theory that Melchizedek is Jesus Christ, perhaps in a former incarnation. This theory derives from the verses in Hebrews 7:1-3, which states:
“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.”
“King of peace” is also referred to as Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ, although being born of Mary, was not conceived by her or by man, but allegedly by the Holy Spirit. The phrase “like the Son of God” – again, alluding to Jesus Christ, but with one key difference. Jesus Christ IS known as the Son of God. Not like the Son of God. Furthermore, if we’re going to get technical here, which I am, because it’s my effort to seek Jesus Christ and seek the Truth, I can see the obvious contrast compared to Melchizedek, and Jesus Christ.
For instance, whereas Melchizedek is congratulating and blessing Abram and his team of men for retaliating and defeating – no, not just defeating, slaughtering their enemies, Jesus Christ’s teachings, on the other hand, encourages one to love their enemies and turn their cheek against violence. …Admittedly, not sound advice when confronted with warring nations, but perhaps that’s because we as humans have a limited perception on what’s really important in life.
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.
Again, there is the questionable addressing of the pronouns here. The verses start out as Melchizedek blessing Abram and his crew for taking down the enemy and recovering the goods and rescuing their people. Then it segues into “And he gave him tithes of all.” This, to me, would imply that Melchizedek, upon blessing Abram, gave Abram the offering. But this is not the case. Instead, it is Abram who gives the offering – presumably from the spoils of the war, to Melchizedek. And herein lies another huge contrast between Melchizedek and Jesus Christ. Jesus wanted nothing to do with riches, material gain, etc. Instead, he preached to give one’s possessions away and to follow Him. And the True blessing to be received in Heaven into the Kingdom of God. So why was the focus here with Abram upon material possessions, lands, cattle, etc.?
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 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,
23 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:
Here are more references to material gain and riches. Goods, wealth, …stuff. There is an interesting lack of “spirituality” about this whole chapter. Now, while the efforts to save one’s own nation is undoubtedly important, the question soon boils down to, what necessitated it to begin with? What initially led to the rebellion of the five nations against the four kingdoms to begin with? Were they under an oppressive rule? What caused the breakaway and revolution? Living alongside/with other factions, etc. for 12 years, to then create a rebellion in the 13th year, followed by a full-blown attack in the 14th year… It does say that the five kingdoms served Chedorlaomer so perhaps it was a slavery of sorts. Of course, it seems as if Chedorlaomer is only mentioned in this chapter of the Bible, with no other references, so this would be based on supposition of the terminology used alone. Anything else surmised would be based on conjecture.
24 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.
I know sometimes it would seem as if I’m questioning the veracity of the Bible’s origins, and while that may be true in some sense, it is not meant to presume, condemn, or ridicule, and certainly not meant to certify the propositions I set forth. It is only to get a clearer understanding of the meanings of the Bible, and the possibility that during so many transitions and translation efforts, and perhaps intentional/unintentional mishandling and misinterpretations, that the Truth along the way may have been concealed more than we’d like.
And as usual, I want to reiterate that some of my thoughts and theories may be way off base, and I also research some other things on the side as well to try and get a broader understanding of what I’m reading, so please bear with me, or, even better, if you have insights that bring more light to these verses, please let me know.
I enjoy bouncing off theories and theology off of each other and love to hear other people’s perspectives on things. Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!
Fact checking is extremely important. I want to reiterate not to take everything at face value; no matter what you read, where you read it from, or who you hear it from. And to be clear, do not rely on “fact checking” websites to give you accurate information either. These are just as likely, (if not even more likely…), to feed false information and false debunking accounts to manipulate the reader. Please take everything into consideration before adhering to a certain narrative – and always keep your mind open to other possibilities.
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