The story of the capture of Lot (who now headed a separate “clan”) is told in considerable detail in Genesis 14:1-12. When a rebellion between local vassal servant kings and a regional imperial power broke out, Lot and his family were captured, together with everyone else who stood in the way of the winning party. It appears that Abram had excellent people and life skills. He developed a true friendship and military alliance with Eshkol and Aner, who were his neighbors. His man came from the field of battle and reported to Abram at the oaks of Mamre (Mamre was apparently the name of the person who owned the land, as inferred from Gen. 14:24) that Lot had been captured. This was the perfect opportunity for Abram to mimic Cain’s response – “Am I my brother’s keeper?!”

Unlike Cain, and at great personal risk to himself and his entire household (from whom Lot had separated) Abram responded decisively and set out on a daring rescue mission. His young men were fully trained solders. He knew, given the dangers of living in the Middle East at that time (and nothing has really changed), that sooner or later their training would pay off. So he summoned over three hundred of his men, born in his household, along with the men of his military allies Aner, Eshkol and Mamre, and set out towards the very north of what would one day become Israel – the future territory of the tribe of Dan. This essentially continues to fulfill God’s command to explore the entire land he was given as inheritance (Gen. 14:13-14).

Let us read carefully how Moses and the editors formulate the result of Abram’s daring short-term military operation. We read in Genesis 14:16:

וַיָּשֶׁב אֵת כָּל־הָרְכֻשׁ וְגַם אֶת־לוֹט אָחִיו וּרְכֻשׁוֹ הֵשִׁיב וְגַם אֶת־הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת־הָעָם׃

He brought back all the possessions; he also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, and the women and the rest of the people (Gen. 14:16)

Abram put Lot’s captors to flight and drove them out of the land which God had now promised would belong to him (Gen. 13:14-17, 14:15). What is interesting is that we see here, with the rescue of Lot’s clan, the direct benefit of being connected to Abram even if not part of his immediate family. We might remember that Lot’s children will one day become part of the nations of the world living around Israel. In seeking to understand the Torah’s positive assessment of the life of Abram, we are also forced to face his obvious imperfections. Nevertheless, he is characterized by his trust in God, despite his imperfect behavior. Abram showed himself to be a reliable friend, a loyal relative, and a committed worshiper of the LORD at every critical point in his life.

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50 COMMENTS

  1. And what a wonderful piece of Scripture this is. Thank yo Dr Eli. Your quite right Abraham had no real reason to rescue Lot since given the choice Lot showed little respect for Abram but chose the land where he would dwell while Abram who had the right over Lot humbly allowed Lot to have first choice. How often Abraham demonstrated deep humility and great faith in the living God. Can I thank you Dr for bringing this amazing piece of Scripture to our attention.

  2. Thank you, I am so blessed by your ministry. I do not have the funds to enroll in your lessons, but I so enjoy the beautiful love and teaching of HIS PERFECT WORD. Could you tell me where the best place to shop for a complete Jewish study Bible AND IT COULD BE USED.

  3. What a great contrast: Cain’s rude retort v. Abram’s rapid response. Abram doesn’t dialog with God but goes to the aid of his brother’s son, Lot. Responsibility is key, along with having a heart that hears God and seeks to do his will. Yet, even if Cain had brought the best of the best of his crop but brought it without faith it would be unacceptable with God: for without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). That, surely, was the essence of Cain’s problem. Thank you for this blessing.

    • The essence of Cain’s problem was he didn’t do what God told him to do. He did bring his best, and God rejected it. We are to worship God as He told us to, not as we want. Cain’s sacrifice was like saying he could pay for his own salvation. Like far too many churches, he said “I’ll do it my way” instead of God’s way.

  4. Abraham acted on faith and that was accounted to him as righteousness. He would become our demonstration of faith, a foreshadow of what God planned. As it says in the scriptures “the just shall live by faith. Faith acts in Love and Trust in God’s goodness and mercy toward those that believe in God’s goodness and mercy. David, even though he also sinned was called by God a man of God’s heart. In summary: Abraham had Faith that God would deliver him in the battle to free Lot and his family.

  5. I am not able to do study at the moment,but I do enjoy some of your comments and insights. My mothers family fled from Poland in the mid 1800s to escape antisemitism. My mother taught me as a child to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” and to me it seemed a miracle in 1948 to see Israel become a nation in their own right. Not all of our relatives were so fortunate and some of them,39 people, perished in the Holocaust. I have been impressed by Israel’s progress and I followed closely their farming practices .

    • I am referring to later generations that would act in the spirit of Cain as opposed to those that act in the spirit of Abraham.

  6. I’ve recently done a bit of study, and some interesting things to note about Abraham’s rescue of Lot. It was less than 400 years
    Noah had only been dead for 15 or 20 years, Shem was still alive.

    I’d be curious what you think of Melchizadek, since his city wasn’t involved in the battle.

    • Well Jewish tradition certainly identifies Melchizedek as Shem (Rashi, Targum Jonathan, Nedarim 32b, Midirash Psalms 76:3). The reason that tradition gives for why Shem was “involved” was to demonstrate “that he bore no grudge against Abram for slaying his sons.” (Midrash Tanchuma, Lech Lecha 15)
      Another interpretation is that the king of Sodom invited or hired Melchizedek. He must have been a very respected person since Abraham refused any material gain/wealth from the king of Sodom, but he honored and tithed Melchizedek.

      • That is a great point to remember and kind of a head-scratcher for me, that Abraham gave those gifts to Melchizedek *before* taking (only) his own reimbursements and shares for his allies. So, Abraham effectively gave away *Sodom’s* wealth to Melchizedek, not his own.

      • Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg. I suggest that there are 2 points that are missing. 1 He was not Abraham at that point. 2 The word tithed has a problem as he gave most if not all goods not food. And that tithe is mentioned once. Not from his Goods

      • Every story of Abraham is very refreshing and spiritually satisfying. An excellent Bible Character, there is much to learn from his life of sacrifice, selfless service and blessng to humanity.

  7. Dr. Eli an amazing reference to Melchizedek as Shem and Abram. Would like more references on slaying of Shems sons by Abram.

    Shalom

  8. I am a Pastor in South Africa since I was 19, now 69, ministering in Africa as a Mentor to Pastors, preaching the Gospel, motivating and expiring people and do upliftment work I APPRECIATE YOUR TEACHING MINISTRY AND PRAY FOR YOU AND THE PROGRESSIVE REVELATION OF THE PRECIOUS HOLY SPIRIT

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  9. I believe Abram had to rescue Lot, because Abram was the Go’el, the Redeemer just like Boaz was the redeemer to Ruth and Naomi.

  10. The story is comical. Notice that the king of Sodom perished in verse Gn 14:10 and then the king of Sodom appears again in 14:17 (probably was revived 🙂 ).

    It would be great to have some map to see where the kings/kingdoms were located and where the battle happened.

    • Radim, because of a directional heh suffix, the Hebrew demands the reading “fell into there”, hence the reason for the Bible telling us about the pits. The King fell into a pit, but since he shows up several verses later, it is reasonable to conclude that he did not die.

      • Does this reading preclude the king(s) being captured and then released or replaced by a new king? I’ve always read this as having many possible options. If more insight into the Hebrew phrasing narrows down the possibilities, that would be nice.

      • Also, there is a very intriguing book (istorical fiction of a sort) called “I, Abraham” by Edwin Walhout. Do you know it? It is told by a time traveler who goes back to interview Abraham about his life experiences (including this one). Cute, if a bit quirky.

  11. It seems like very small number 300 soldiers. I am curious how many soldiers had the 4 kings. Is it possible to make estimation, how big is the area of the kings, they lived in? How many people lived there and how many men they could have?

  12. Abram knew Lot very_long_time_since_been_a_child (Gn 11:31). I believe they had very strong relationship. For Abram maybe, he was like his son. He loved him. I believe during the life of Terah, they had a long journey from Ur and have to face a lot of hardships or life test.

  13. True, the action of Abraham to rescue Lot have resulted a future nation of Moab (present day Jordan), Though we frequently read about Moab as enemy of Israelite, but we also remember the positive side of the result, that later a Great Redeemer came from a Moabite woman.

  14. Hi Dr Eli. As always I enjoy your articles. This one is also great in the insight it gives. However, the topic and the article seem different. Please clarify on what was Cains curse and how Abraham broke away. What did he do to break free from it?

    • Cain demonstrated a life of jealousy and selfishness. When God asked him where his brother was, he retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Abram could have responded likewise when he was told that his nephew Lot had been taken captive, but instead Abram risked everything to go save Lot and bring him back. Cain was selfish whereas Abram was selfless.

  15. God never told Abram to take Lot or stay 2 years in Haran. He could have dug wells and avoided Egypt and all the hassles with nephew Lot in Sodom

  16. THIS NONSENSE IDEA OF GOD BEING PARTIAL TO PERSONS AND ONE NATION IS PRECISELY THE REASON AND CAUSE OF THE CONFLICT BETWEEN THE ISHMAELITES AND SO CALLED “JEWS”.
    A TRIBALISTIC GOD WHO TAKES SIDES IN PETTY HUMAN MUNDANE MATERIALISTC SQUABBLES , DISPUTES AND CONFLICTS IS NOT THE GOD I KNOW AND SERVE!

  17. ABRAHAM IS COMMENDED BY BIBLE BELIEVERS FOR HIS “OBEDIENCE” TO A MURDEROUS SATANIC “VOICE” IN HIS HEAD REQUESTING A FATHER TO MURDER AND SACRIFICE HIS CHILD AS A HOLOCAUST AND THIS EVIL VOICE IN ABRAHAM IS CREDITED TO THE CREATOR? UTTER NONSENSE! READ THE GOSPEL OF JUDE, JE’SUIS HERE TO SET STRAIGHT ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SPOKEN HARD AND EVIL WORDS AGAINST GOD!

  18. DR. ELI, YOUR CAIN AND ABRAHAM ANALOGY IS AN EPIC FAILURE IN MY OPINION.
    ABRAHAM DID NOT MURDER OR CAUSE LOT TO GET INTO ANY PREDICAMENT!
    GOD NEVER ASKED ABRAHAM WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO LOT AND!
    ON MANY INSTANCES IT IS CLEAR TO ME THAT YOU ARE JUST A PARROT THAT KNOWS “WHAT TO THINK” BUT NOT “HOW TO THINK”.
    THIS IS A CHALK AND CHEESE ANALOGY!
    BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME, IF EVER! NOT ONE BIT IMPRESSED!

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