Salem or Sodom – Bera, King of Sodom

Bera may be the most audacious person in the Bible! He is also a type and shadow of the devil. First, he is a king who allowed and possibly encouraged his people to sin. He then takes part in a rebellion against his overlord with the other rulers of the Valley of Siddium. They lose to the coalition lead by Kedorlaomer. The kings with the armies go hide in the hills while their families and towns are looted. The rout and panic of his army were so bad they were falling in tar pits. Then he expects to get his stuff/people given back to him! (Genesis 14)

Abram and his friends come in and save the day, and are traveling back toward Salem probably heading to his village. Out of the hills/hiding come Bera and meets Abram in the Valley of Shaveh or king’s valley, which is identified as the valley near Jerusalem. (The only other mention of a king’s valley in the Bible is in 2 Samuel 18:18 in a reference to Absalom.) I am sure there are a lot of ways to look at the goods Abram recovered, but it is possible that not all of it belonged to the Jordan River valley kings. So Abram could have made claim to everything he had just won and really who was going to take it from him, the kings who had just lost it! So Abram honors the Lord and gives a tithe to Melchizedek. I think the wicked king was getting nervous about losing so much stuff with no chance of getting it back. To curb the flow of goods Bera asks/claims the people, so Abram tells him what is going to happen and why. The nerve of that guy to be asking or claiming anything is unbelievable. But one thing is for sure, Salem brought the party and Sodom brought nothing.

Bera, just like the devil, knows people are more valuable than goods. The riches could have been a distraction for Abram because once you have all of that stuff you have to fight to keep it and Bera would have had more people.

The lesson to be learned here is what Bera/the devil does to a Christian in a fight. Abram had gotten a victory and probably was just hoping for some quiet time. But out comes someone to congratulate you on the victory. Many times that person will be a distraction from what you need, which is what Melchizedek brought, something to refresh and strengthen you. We Christians usually equate the bread and wine with communion but the truth is Melchizedek was throwing a party (feeding) for the victor because they were tired. Abram wisely discerned that Bera and the goods were not the reason he went to battle, that was to get his family back and that mission was accomplished. Bera lost everything, hid while someone else got the job done, and still claimed he was owed something.

Salem or Sodom – Abraham

Well, actually at this time he still was called Abram his name change is not for another three chapters. He would have been in his 80’s and had lived in Canaan less than ten years (16:3). He had made alliances with some of the locals and seemed to well established. He has had the foresight to train his men into a working army and claimed 318 who had been born in his house. That could have made his camp 1000 people strong and would have been a good-sized village. The importance of them having been born into his house speaks not only of loyalty but also the quality and intensity of their training. If his three allies also had similar camps that truly would have been a serious coalition. Josephus records this in Book 1 Chapter 10 and makes it sound like it was just the three brothers who went with Abram and not additional forces. If Aner, Esheol, and Mamre had brought troops the fighting force could have been up to 1,200 troops. Abram trusted these men enough to make a treaty with them so that speaks volumes about their character and abilities.

In musing over Genesis 14 I realized Abram went after Lot not after Sodom. So in verse 22 when he is talking to the king of Sodom, besides being a witness to a very heathen king, Abram is making it very clear he wanted nothing except what God would supply in his life. Given the fact that he had already decided his course of action before hand shows his intelligence and character.

We also need to look at the symbolism of this battle; Abram had victory over his past. The Euphrates River valley was his birthplace so his victory sealed his “new life” and showed his faith in the “Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.”

Other facts:

  1. God will keep you in the know (vs. 13).
  2. Someone did some editing because it was not “Dan” yet (vs. 14).
  3. Ancient Elam and Shinar equate to modern Iran and Iraq it seems they have been bullies for a long time.