Historical Context: This portion of our history, takes place at approximately 3'000 B.C.
Authorship: The Torah books are all attributed to the authorship of Moses, which he most probably wrote during Israel's forty-year period of wandering in the desert. Some editorial remarks were later added to these books by priests and other divinely inspired writers, such as Joshua and Samuel.
At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim 2 went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea ). 4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. 7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.
8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim 9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. 11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. 12 They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.
Who won the battle? The four kings. The rebellion was put down. The four kings regained control. What did they do as a punishment to the five kings. They took all their stuff and kidnapped all their people. Last week we read about how Abram and Lot had to separate because they had too many animals to live together and about how Lot went to live near Sodom. And you remember that we thought that might have been a bad idea for Lot to move near Sodom since the people living in Sodom were so sinful. See Genesis 13:12-13.
13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.
Who defeated the four powerful kings? Abram did. How many men did Abram have to help him? 318. He defeated the armies of the four kings that the five kings couldn't with their armies and he only had 318 men. How do you think Abram did that? God must have been helping him. God has a habit of showing us that human power is nothing compared to God's power. God rescued the Hebrew slaves from the mighty army of Pharaoh. He used Joshua and a group of people who had been wandering around the desert for forty years to conquer the land and the mighty peoples of Canaan. He used Gideon to defeat Israel's enemies with only 300 men. So Abram rescued Lot along with all the other people that the four kings kidnapped and brings back all the stuff too.
17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley). 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19 and he blessed Abram, saying,
"Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself." 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath 23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, 'I made Abram rich.' 24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share."
Two kings came to talk to Abram after he defeated the four kings. Who are they? One is Melchizedek. The other is Bela, the king of Sodom. Does Abram treat both kings the same or is there a difference between the way Abram treats Melchizedek and the king of Sodom?
Abram accepts food and a blessing from Melchizedek and gives him a ten percent of everything he has. He won't accept anything from the king of Sodom. Why do you think this is? The king of Sodom is a wicked man. Remember how we talked about how the people of Sodom were sinful. So Abram doesn't want anything to do with this wicked king.
But Melchizedek is different. Melchizedek, in Hebrew, means "king of righteousness." This is a good king. He rules over a place called Salem, which in Hebrew means, "peace". So he's the king of righteousness who rules over the land of peace. And not only is he a king, but he's a priest for God. So Abram has no problem being this king's friend, does he? Melchizedek is not wicked like the king of Sodom is.
Melchizedek is only mentioned one other time in the Old Testament.
Psalm 110:4 - The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
The Apostle Paul, in the book of Hebrews, says that Jesus is a lot like Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:20-7:3 - where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, 2and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means "king of righteousness"; then also, "king of Salem" means "king of peace." 3Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.
Hebrews 7:11-17 - If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law. 13He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. 14For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. 17For it is declared:
"You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
"You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."
How is Jesus like Melchizedek? Usually a priest had to be from the family of Aaron, the brother of Moses. But Melchizedek is not a descendant of Aaron. He is not a Levite because the Levites aren't born yet. Yet Melchizedek comes out of nowhere – we don't know who his parents were, we don’t know when he died – and he's a priest. Just like Jesus. He wasn't from the tribe of priests. He wasn't a Levite. He was from the tribe of Judah, the tribe of kings, David's tribe. Yet Jesus is a priest and a king, just like Melchizedek was a priest and a king.
How is Jesus a king? He's God. He rules over the universe. He's also the adopted descendant of Joseph, a man in the direct line of King David, so He's the rightful king of Israel. How is Jesus a priest? Priests were supposed to make sacrifices for people so that there sins would be forgiven. Jesus sacrificed Himself so that our sins would be forgiven, thus making Him a priest.
And what did Jesus say would be the symbols of His sacrifice for us? What are we supposed to do to remember what He did for us?
Jesus said that bread and wine were the symbols of His body and blood. That's why we take communion. We are remembering what Jesus did for us. This is how Jesus became our priest. He sacrificed Himself for us, which is symbolized by the bread and wine or juice during communion.
And it's interesting to see what the other king, who was also a priest, brought to Abram. What did Melchizedek bring to Abraham in Genesis 14:18? Bread and wine. There is a definite connection between Melchizedek and Jesus.
Just one more point. We said that Melchizedek was the king of Salem, which meant "king of peace". But Salem is also a shortened form of Jerusalem. Melchizedek was the king of Jerusalem before King David years and years later took it over. And what is Jerusalem? The capital city of Israel. And where was Jesus killed, where did He make His priestly sacrifice for us? Jerusalem.
Shinar – Ancient name of Babylon
Arioch – north of Babylon, land of Hurrians
Elam – highlands east of the Tigris
Tidal – Hittite king
Rephaims – see Gen 15:20, Deut 2:11
Zuzims – see Deut 2:20
Emims – see Deut 2:10-11
Horites – aboriginal inhabitants of Edom (Gen 36:20; Deut 2:12, 22
Kadesh – Kadesh Barnea
Hazezon Tamar – En Gedi
Pursuit to Dan was 100 miles
Valley of Shaveh – possibly the Kidron Valley near Jerusalem (Salem)