by Tzvi Schnee
November 6, 2019
Abraham learns of Lot’s capture when the five kings who warred with four other kings, including the King of Sodom, plundered the city. He immediately took three hundred eighteen of his trained men, and set out to retrieve his “brother.” The term is used in the Biblical sense, covering cousins and nephews as well as actual brothers (Lot was Abraham’s nephew).
“And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people” (Genesis 14:16, JPS 1917 Tanach). Abraham was greeted by the King of Sodom; also, Melchizedek, the King of Salem brought out bread and wine, and blessed him. Abraham gave a tenth of everything to Melchizedek, kohein [priest] of G-d, Most High (14:18-20).
Yet, Abraham refused to receive any reward from the King of Sodom, lest he should say that he made Abraham rich (14:22-24). It seems clear that Abraham honored Melchizedek; although, he distanced himself from the honors that the King of Sodom meant to bestow upon him. The blessing of Melchizedek was enough recompense for Abraham: “‘Blessed be Abram of G-d Most High, Maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be G-d the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand'” (Genesis 14:19-20, JPS 1917 Tanach).