Bible Study Notes Rev. Betsy Perkins
The Costs and Benefits of War
Lot gets caught up in the larger powers around him. Abram comes to his rescue. This involvement in the regional conflicts provides opportunities to demonstration and teach about Yahweh, the One True God.
A Time for War (14:1-12):
Four kings of large territories have allied to conquer and rule a vast area, including the valley in which Lot had settled. Five kings of smaller cities within that valley band together to try to regain their freedom.
o Who initiated the battle in the Valley of Siddim?
o Which side was quickly on the run? What hammered their escape?
o Who becomes part of the spoils of war? How is Lot’s choice of what appeared to be the best land turning out?
Abram to the Rescue (14:13-18):
o What is the relationship between Lot and Abram, despite having parted ways? What is Abram’s obligation/commitment to that relationship?
o What other relationships has Abram developed?
o How does Abram respond differently than to the threats he faced in Egypt in ch.12? What is the outcome?
o Who comes out to meet Abram on his return journey?
o How does this story continue to answer the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Is there a message in it for us today?
Spoils and a Tithe (14:18-24):
Melchizedek = “my king is righteous”; Salem = Jeru-salem.
o What were Melchizedek’s roles in Jerusalem?
o Who does Melchizedek serve in his priestly role? What is the relationship to the God of Abraham?
o What does Melchizedek bring for the celebration? In whose name does he bless Abram? Who else does he bless?
o How does Abram respond to Melchizedek’s blessing?
“The story of Abraham and Melchizedek suggests that tithing, like sacrifice, was a well-known practice before God said anything about it. It was a natural instinct. Abraham knew it, and Melchizedek knew it; he wasn’t surprised when Abraham tithed what he had gained and gave it to Melchizedek.” John Goldingay
–Does tithing seem like a “natural instinct” to us today? Why or why not?
o Read Psalm 110. How does Melchizedek’s position become a role model for future leaders of God’s people?
o Read Hebrews 6:20b-7:4 and 7:26-28. How does Melchizedek prefigure Jesus?
o Who has the right to the spoils of war – the people and the goods? Why does Abram refuse any of the plunder?
o What name for God does Abram use in 14:22? What does it mean that he added that name?
“The addition makes all the difference. Yahweh is that name God revealed to Israel, used here even though people did not use it in the time to which Genesis refers. When this name is revealed to Moses in connection with the exodus, it will stand for the new thing God is then doing with Israel, for God’s promise to be with Israel in a distinctive way. The purpose of that is ultimately to fulfill God’s intention to bless the whole world, but God will fulfill this purpose through Israel. As Jesus put it in John 4, ‘Salvation is from the Jews.’ The name ‘Yahweh’ stands for the way God intends to fulfill that purpose. God is the God of grace and truth in relation to the whole world, but the supreme expression of this truth is the way God was involved in Israel in the story that leads up to Jesus. Although in a literal sense Abraham will not have used the name Yahweh, the story makes explicit that while Melchizedek has some real knowledge of God, as is expressed in his knowing God Most High as Lord of heaven and earth, even Melchizedek needs to know the truths about God’s involvement with Israel symbolized by the name Yahweh.” John Goldingay
o Can Abram serve as a role model for us as we relate to people of other faith practices who also worship the Creator, God Most High?
o What does Genesis 14 reveal about God?
o What does Genesis 14 reveal about our relationships to one another as human beings? And about our relationship with God?
In light of this passage and our discussion, what one truth about God and about yourself stand out as something to “take to heart” this week?
Are there steps you will take, by God’s grace, to more fully apply it to your life?
Resources: Robert Alter, Genesis, 1996
John Goldingay, Genesis for Everyone, 2010
Max Lucado, Life Lessons with Max Lucado: Book of Genesis, 1997