Genesis 14:1-4 – Abram dwelt securely in Mamre for probably at least for a few years. According to this passage a confederacy of nations from the land of Mesopotamia made up of the kings of Shinar (Babylonia) Ellasar (a leading tribe in southern Babylonia), Elam (Persia), and Goiim (a tribe in northeastern Babylonia). These tribes joined together and subjected the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Zoar to pay tribute to them. After twelve years the kings of Siddim or the valley of the Salt Sea, rebelled against this taxation without representation.
Genesis 14:5-12 – The result of the Siddim rebellion was retaliation led by King Chedorlaomer and his allies. They took their anger against the entire region probably to neutralize them from aligning with the alliance of Siddim. They then turned their attention to 5 nations of the Siddim confederacy. They beat them decisively, so that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled hiding in the vicinity of asphalt pits, while most of their armies fled to the mountains.
Chedorlaomer took everything that had value, along with the women, children, and servants, along with the captured soldiers and headed back home. They took something that they shouldn’t have and that was Lot and his family. Lot, had moved into the city, forsaking the suburban life of a gentleman farmer. In spite of Lot’s bad decision to live in Sodom, Scripture declares that he was a righteous man (2 Peter 2:7-8).
Genesis 14:13-16 We have in Genesis 14:13 the first time “Hebrew” applied to Abram. Their are a number of opinions as to the derivation, the first is that Abram is a descendant of Eber, the great-grandson of Shem. Secondly there is a term “habiru” describing a people group that was nomadic. Still another term that I prefer is that Hebrew comes from the Hebrew root ‘abar’ which means to cross or pass over. This gives us the idea that Abram was one who had “crossed over” the river.
In essence this is what commended him to God, his leaving Ur and “crossing over” the Euphrates to come to a land he knew nothing about. This is what made Israel a nation when they “crossed over” the Red Sea. When they crossed over the Egyptians who were seeking to enslave them were drowned in the Sea. In much the same way God calls us to “cross over”, leaving the world we know behind and travel led by the Spirit to a land that we know little about. We too in that regard are “Hebrews”. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4) .
Genesis 14:17-24 – In these verses we have a brief encounter with Melechizedek. He is referred to 900 years later by King David in Psalm 110:4, and then again 1,000 years later by the writer of the Book of Hebrews nine times. Melechizedek in Scripture is described as a type of the Messiah. A type refers to an Old Testament person, practice or ceremony that has a counterpart, an anti-type, in the New Covenant. In a sense types foreshadow events that will happen in the future.
The type pictures or prefigures the anti-type. In Hebrews 6:20 we are told that the priesthood of Jesus is according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is the type of which Jesus is the anti-type. In writing to the Jewish Believers the writer of Hebrews utilizes typology to illustrate the superiority of the priesthood of Jesus to the levitical priesthood.
Genesis 14:1-2 of Hebrews 7 are essentially a summary of the Genesis 14 account. They remind us that Melchizedek was the king of Salem, that he was a priest of the Most High God, That he blessed Abraham after the victory of the battle of the Kings, and that Abraham gave to him a tenth of the spoils of the victory. We are also reminded that his name means king of righteousness, and king of peace.
But it is the priesthood of Melchizedek that is the subject of this passage. But first let’s review the Levitical priesthood by which his priesthood is compared.
The Levitical Priesthood.
- The entire tribe of Levi was appointed to service to God. Not all Levites were priests, only the kohanim, the descendants of Aaron. the non-priestly Levites served as helpers.
The priesthood was strictly Jewish.
- The Levites were subject to the King. Their priestly functions were not under the authority of the king, but they were subjects. They were in no way a ruling class, in fact Scripture forbade them from being kings.
- The priestly sacrifices that were made including those on Yom Kippur, were not permanent. They had to be repeated over and over. They provided no permanent forgiveness or peace.
- The Levitical priesthood was hereditary. It was not based on what kind of person you were but who your parents were.
- The Levitical priests term of office was temporary. He served from the age of 25 until the age of 50.