Notes for Gen 14:1LEB

The sentence begins with the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayéhi) followed by "in the days of."


Shinar (also in v. 9) is the region of Babylonia.


Or "king of Goyim." The Hebrew term גּוֹיִם (goyim) means "nations," but a number of modern translations merely transliterate the Hebrew (cf. NEB "Goyim"; NIV, NRSV "Goiim").


Notes for Gen 14:2LEB

Heb "made war."


Went to war. The conflict here reflects international warfare in the Early and Middle Bronze periods. The countries operated with overlords and vassals. Kings ruled over city states, or sometimes a number of city states (i.e., nations). Due to their treaties, when one went to war, those confederate with him joined him in battle. It appears here that it is Kedorlaomer’s war, because the western city states have rebelled against him (meaning they did not send products as tribute to keep him from invading them).


On the geographical background of vv. 1–2 see J. P. Harland, "Sodom and Gomorrah," The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 1:41–75; and D. N. Freedman, "The Real Story of the Ebla Tablets, Ebla and the Cities of the Plain," BA 41 (1978): 143-64.


Notes for Gen 14:3]

Heb "all these," referring only to the last five kings named. The referent has been specified as "these last five kings" in the translation for clarity.


The Hebrew verb used here means "to join together; to unite; to be allied." It stresses close associations, especially of friendships, marriages, or treaties.


The Salt Sea is the older name for the Dead Sea.


Notes for [ 14:4LEB

The sentence simply begins with "twelve years"; it serves as an adverbial accusative giving the duration of their bondage.


This is another adverbial accusative of time.


The story serves as a foreshadowing of the plight of the kingdom of Israel later. Eastern powers came and forced the western kingdoms into submission. Each year, then, they would send tribute east – to keep them away. Here, in the thirteenth year, they refused to send the tribute (just as later Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria). And so in the fourteenth year the eastern powers came to put them down again. This account from Abram’s life taught future generations that Elohim can give victory over such threats – that people did not have to live in servitude to tyrants from the east.


Notes for Gen 14:5LEB

The Hebrew verb נָכָה (nakhah) means "to attack, to strike, to smite." In this context it appears that the strike was successful, and so a translation of "defeated" is preferable.


Notes for Gen 14:6LEB

The line of attack ran down the eastern side of the Jordan Valley into the desert, and then turned and came up the valley to the cities of the plain.


Notes for Gen 14:7LEB

Heb "they returned and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh)." The two verbs together form a verbal hendiadys, the first serving as the adverb: "they returned and came" means "they came again." Most English translations do not treat this as a hendiadys, but translate "they turned back" or something similar. Since in the context, however, "came again to" does not simply refer to travel but an assault against the place, the present translation expresses this as "attacked…again."


Notes for Gen 14:9LEB

Or "Goyim." See the note on the word "nations" in 14:1.


The Hebrew text has simply "against." The word "fought" is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.


Notes for Gen 14:10LEB

Heb  "Now the Valley of Siddim [was] pits, pits of tar." This parenthetical disjunctive clause emphasizes the abundance of tar pits in the area through repetition of the noun "pits."


The word for "tar" (or "bitumen") occurs earlier in the story of the building of the tower in Babylon (see Gen 11:3LEB).


Or "they were defeated there." After a verb of motion the Hebrew particle שָׁם (sham) with the directional heh (שָׁמָּה, shammah) can mean "into it, therein" (BDB 1027 s.v. שָׁם).


The reference to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah must mean the kings along with their armies. Most of them were defeated in the valley, but some of them escaped to the hills.


Notes for Gen 14:11LEB

Heb "they"; the referent (the four victorious kings, see v. 9) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.


Notes for Gen 14:12LEB

Heb "Lot the son of his brother."


Heb "he"; the referent (Lot) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


This disjunctive clause is circumstantial/causal, explaining that Lot was captured because he was living in Sodom at the time.


Notes for Gen 14:13LEB

Heb "the fugitive." The article carries a generic force or indicates that this fugitive is definite in the mind of the speaker.


E. A. Speiser (Genesis [AB], 103) suggests that part of this chapter came from an outside source since it refers to Abram the Hebrew. That is not impossible, given that the narrator likely utilized traditions and genealogies that had been collected and transmitted over the years. The meaning of the word "Hebrew" has proved elusive. It may be related to the verb "to cross over," perhaps meaning "immigrant." Or it might be derived from the name of Abram’s ancestor Eber (see Gen 11:14–16LEB).


Or "terebinths."


Or "a brother"; or "a relative"; or perhaps "an ally."


Heb "possessors of a treaty with." Since it is likely that the qualifying statement refers to all three (Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner) the words "all these" have been supplied in the translation to make this clear.


This parenthetical disjunctive clause explains how Abram came to be living in their territory, but it also explains why they must go to war with Abram.


Notes for Gen 14:14LEB

Heb "his brother," by extension, "relative." Here and in v. 16 the more specific term "nephew" has been used in the translation for clarity. Lot was the son of Haran, Abram’s brother (Gen 11:27LEB).


The verb וַיָּרֶק (vayyareq) is a rare form, probably related to the word רֵיק (req, "to be empty"). If so, it would be a very figurative use: "he emptied out" (or perhaps "unsheathed") his men. The LXX has "mustered" (cf. NEB). E. A. Speiser (Genesis [AB], 103-4) suggests reading with the Samaritan Pentateuch a verb diq, cognate with Akkadian deku, "to mobilize" troops. If this view is accepted, one must assume that a confusion of the Hebrew letters ד (dalet) and ר (resh) led to the error in the traditional Hebrew text. These two letters are easily confused in all phases of ancient Hebrew script development. The present translation is based on this view.


The words "the invaders" have been supplied in the translation for clarification.


The use of the name Dan reflects a later perspective. The Danites did not migrate to this northern territory until centuries later (see Judg 18:29LEB). Furthermore Dan was not even born until much later. By inserting this name a scribe has clarified the location of the region.


Notes for Gen 14:15LEB

The Hebrew text simply has "night" as an adverbial accusative.


Heb "he"; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Heb "he divided himself…he and his servants."


Heb "left." Directions in ancient Israel were given in relation to the east rather than the north.


Notes for Gen 14:16LEB

The word "stolen" is supplied in the translation for clarification.


The phrase "the rest of " has been supplied in the translation for clarification.


Notes for Gen 14:17LEB

Heb "he"; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Heb "him"; the referent (Abram) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


The King’s Valley is possibly a reference to what came to be known later as the Kidron Valley.


Notes for Gen 14:18LEB

Salem is traditionally identified as the Jebusite stronghold of old Jerusalem. Accordingly, there has been much speculation about its king. Though some have identified him with the preincarnate Christ or with Noah’s son Shem, it is far more likely that Melchizedek was a Canaanite royal priest whom Elohim used to renew the promise of the blessing to Abram, perhaps because Abram considered Melchizedek his spiritual superior. But Melchizedek remains an enigma. In a book filled with genealogical records he appears on the scene without a genealogy and then disappears from the narrative. In Psalm 110 the Elohim declares that the Davidic king is a royal priest after the pattern of Melchizedek.


The parenthetical disjunctive clause significantly identifies Melchizedek as a priest as well as a king.


It is his royal priestly status that makes Melchizedek a type of Christ: He was identified with Jerusalem, superior to the ancestor of Israel, and both a king and a priest. Unlike the normal Canaanites, this man served "Elohim Most High" (אֵל עֶלְיוֹן, ’el elyon) – one sovereign Elohim, who was the creator of all the universe. Abram had in him a spiritual brother.


Notes for Gen 14:19LEB

The preposition לְ (lamed) introduces the agent after the passive participle.


Some translate "possessor of heaven and earth" (cf. NASB). But cognate evidence from Ugaritic indicates that there were two homonymic roots קנָה (qanah), one meaning "to create" (as in Gen 4:1LEB) and the other "to obtain, to acquire, to possess." While "possessor" would fit here, "creator" is the more likely due to the collocation with "heaven and earth."


The terms translated "heaven" and "earth" are both objective genitives after the participle in construct.


Notes for Gen 14:20LEB

Heb "blessed be." For Elohim to be "blessed" means that is praised. His reputation is enriched in the world as his name is praised.


Who delivered. The Hebrew verb מִגֵּן (miggen, "delivered") foreshadows the statement by Elohim to Abram in Gen 15:1, "I am your shield" (מָגֵן, magen). Melchizedek provided a theological interpretation of Abram’s military victory.


Heb "him"; the referent (Melchizedek) has been specified in the translation for clarity.


Notes for Gen 14:22LEB

Abram takes an oath, raising his hand as a solemn gesture. The translation understands the perfect tense as having an instantaneous nuance: "Here and now I raise my hand."


The words "and vow" are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarification.


Notes for Gen 14:23LEB

The oath formula is elliptical, reading simply: "…if I take." It is as if Abram says, "[May the Elohim deal with me] if I take," meaning, "I will surely not take." The positive oath would add the negative adverb and be the reverse: "[Elohim will deal with me] if I do not take," meaning, "I certainly will."


The Hebrew text adds the independent pronoun ("I") to the verb form for emphasis.


Notes for Gen 14:24LEB

The words "I will take nothing" have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.


Heb "except only what the young men have eaten."