Ab-Rambo – Genesis 14

Do you remember the movie where the Rambo is recruited to go on a mission to rescue a bunch of POWs? Did you know that Abram did the same thing, when he was 80+ years old? This week’s Pastor’s Ponderings, we ask, “Why?” 

The Setup

Ok, Genesis 14 drops 11 verses that seem to come out of nowhere. We’re invited into the intriguing geopolitical dynamics of the Middle Bronze Age. We read about 4 kings who go to war with 5 other kings. We hardly even know the places the rule. The details of those involved start (1-3), then we read about the reason (4). It appears that one of the Four Kings, Chedorlaomer, had ruled over the Five Kings. We hear about some other campaigns that Chedorlaomer goes on (5-7). Finally, we get to the actual battles between the 4 and 5 kings (8-11).

The Reason

I thought we were following the Patriarchs and their journeys through the Promised Land? Why are we interested in this ancient war? The relevance of this war is only clear at verse 12, “They also took Lot.” Now it is no longer about some ancient geopolitics gone amok, now it’s about family! And remember, who is responsible for Lot should he get into any kind of trouble? So, when someone escapes the conquering kings (13), the only place to turn is Lot’s next of kin who is required by the customs of the day to come to the rescue.

Just in Case You Forgot

So, is this passage only reminding us of Abram’s responsibilities as the head of the household? Perhaps, but look closer. Abram has a huge household! It wasn’t just him, Sarai, Lot, and a bunch of sheep along with a few hired shepherds that liked to fight (remember Chapter 13). No, Abram has at least 318 men of fighting age trained for battle. How many others live in his household? The wives and children of these men? Also, take a look at how physically powerful this passage portrays Abram. He’s not shown as a general commanding troops from behind the lines, he’s shown as a warrior going after the four king alliance and roundly defeating them.

As we continue with Abram’s story, these two pieces of knowledge are important. Abram is literally a force to be reckoned with in the region now, capable of taking on local kings and winning. Abram is surely rich to lead and provide for this number of people. This estate is huge, but who will inherit all this if Abram dies? And where did it all come from for that matter? These will be answered in due time.

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