This chapter tells the story of a regional king, Cherdorlaomer of Elam who had been collecting tribute for 12 years from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then these cities rebelled and stopped sending him tribute. After a year of receiving nothing Cherdorlaomer called on his allies: (1) Tidal king of Goiim (‘goiim’ meaning simply, peoples); (2) Amraphel king of Shinar (thought to be present day Syria); and (3) Arioch king of Ellasar making a total of four kings. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah; rallied their allies: the kings of Admah; Zeboiim; and Bela; making a total of five kings to mount a defence.
On his way to the rebellious cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, king Cherdorlaomer clocked up a string of battle victories against the Rephaim; the Zuzim; the Emim; the Horites from Mount Seir to El-paran; the Amalekites of Kadesh and the Amorites of Hazazon-tamar. Now the five rebel kings came out to fight with these battle-hardened troops at the Valley of Siddim. Before long the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and their men were running away, with many falling into tar pits in the valley, and others escaping into the hill country. The four kings and their armies plundered Sodom and Gomorrah, and carried off all their goods and their people, including Abram’s nephew, Lot and his family.
When Abram heard, he could easily have thrown up his arms in despair, but he didn’t. He knew his times and he had a trained army of 318 men. He took them, pursued them for a great distance; divided his men and attacked the armies at night; and then pursued those fleeing for another huge distance, recovering all. On his way back he was met by the king of Sodom, to whom he returned citizens and goods. Abram was also met by mystical Melchizedek, a priest forever like Christ (see Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6) king of Salem (meaning peace), who shared bread and wine with him; and blessed him; and to whom Abram freely paid tithes of everything. All long before there was any command to tithe nor any Old Covenant.
Lord make me strong that I may rescue the weak from bondage. May I be trained in righteousness and equipped for battle. May I be one who freely offers up of my increase to Your ministry.