You’d recall that Lot chose a “well watered Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of YAHWEH, like the land of Egypt…”, though “…the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before YAHWEH exceedingly”, in the last installment of Bible Stories.
I guess he must have had some early successes there considering that the land was quite amenable to the shepherding business he was into. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the politics and diplomacy, local, regional and international, of the area. For as soon as Amraphel the king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, as well as Tidal king of nations(?), felt themselves well established they came together and declared war against Bera king of Sodom, and Birsha, king of Gomorrah, as well as Shinab, Shemeber and Zoar, kings of Admah, Zeboiim and Bela respectively.
Though, their intention for stoking the flames of war against these nations are not mentioned, it may not be unconnected with the riches of these lands, as is commonplace in the days of yore.
The battle ground will be the valley of Siddim, which for some reason is also called the salt sea.
It will appear that the latter were defeated in that battle for in verse 4 of the 14th Chapter of the book of Genesis, we are told that they served Chedorlaomer (one of the invading kings) for twelve years, before they rebelled in the thirteenth. Most likely, while they retained their places, and cities, they sent tributes, taxes etc to their colonizing masters, out of the proceeds of their produce, maybe including slaves, in tandem with what was obtainable at the time, as well as with the terms and conditions of the truce, reached at the conclusion of the last battle.
So, we could juxtapose that Lot didn’t quite enjoy much of his stay in the land with greener pastures, as he had to give some parts of his yield over to the overlords.
Expectedly, the refusal of the conquered to abide by the terms of their servitude was to be the harbinger of dire consequences, as Chedorlaomer and his cohorts rose in the fourteenth year since the last war to show those rebels, “who’s BOSS”!
They “….smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzims in Ham, the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, the Horites in their mount Seir (their fortresses built on high grounds obviously couldn’t hold out)…”, people of the countries of the Amalekites, the Amorites dwelling in Hazezontamar were not left out of the massacre, as the marauding conquerors made their way towards Sodom, to soothe their bruised egos.
The kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela must’ve have been building their weapons stockpile over the twelve years they served Chedorlaomer and his cohorts, and must’ve bolstered their military prowess considerably, to have audaciously decided to rebel in the first place. They proved that assertion right by going full speed ahead to engage their invaders head-on, again in the valley of Siddim.
To cut the long story short, the Sodom and Gomorrah group were roundly beaten again, most found their Waterloo in the slimepits dotting much of the landscape of the valley of Siddim. Some of the survivors fled to the mountains, while the others like Lot, Abram’s nephew were captured and taken away with the massive loot they amassed from their encounter.
One of those who had escaped, came to the oaks of Mamre, were Abram lived at the time and informed him of what had happened, and how his nephew had gone into captivity.
A visibly enraged Abram gathered those that were with him, and with three hundred and eighteen men, trained under his roof and those of his allies, Aner, Eshcol and Mamre, who were also his landlords, they chased the marauding party even unto Dan.
You will notice that Abram like many of us will do to younger ones or friends and acquaintances who may be younger or older, whom we’d warned of consequences to an action we disapprove of and they paid no heed, didn’t waste time lamenting and castigating his troubled nephew for been hard at hearing, nor refused to help thinking that Lot deserved his predicament. He wasn’t judgemental, but rather made moves immediately to find solution to the situation on ground even at great personal risk to his own life and property. He exhibited true love towards his nephew in that singular brave action of his.
Abram and his men invaded Chedorlaomer’s camp by night, after laying an ambush for them, and thereafter pursued survivors of their onslaught “…unto Hobah, which is on the left of Damascus”. Not only did he rescue Lot, he brought back also all the goods, the women and all those captured.
A magnanimous Abram will not accept gifts of the king of Sodom when the latter went out to meet him after his return ‘from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer’, nor take for himself the bootie, from the spoils of war, “save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol and Mamre; let them take their portion”, “….lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich”, he stated.
And that was how Abram did good without expecting and accepting reward even from someone many would regard as ungrateful. As for Lot, this will be only a tip of the iceberg of the tragedy that his decision to choose the land with greener pastures will bring him, for his situation in the long run did not get any better.
Abram however, did give a tithe (10% of all he acquired from that battle) to Melchizedek, the king of Salem, as well as the priest of the Most High YAHWEH. This will be the first time tithing was mentioned in the Bible, and it wasn’t done under duress, infact Melchizedek came to Abram with “bread and wine”, unlike today’s priests in the cloak of clergy, who like leeches cannot say enough, do not give anything back (to society), only asking for more, and more, and more, to satisfy their gluttony!
We do have lots to learn from the life of Abram as documented in The Bible. Here, his selflessness is laid bare, as are many of the sterling attributes that make him exceptional. Attributes, that we’ll do well to emulate if we must make this world a better place.
* Genesis Chapter 14 Verses 1-24, THE WORD OF YAHWEH, 2000