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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[Gen. 14:1–24]

GOD blessed Abram and increased his herds and those of Lot in such a manner that the pasture in that country was not sufficient for them. On this account a strife arose between the herdsmen of Abram and those of Lot. And Abram said to Lot: “Let there be no quarrel, I beseech thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren. Behold, the whole land is before thee: depart from me, I beseech thee. If thou wilt go to the left hand, I will take the right; if thou choose the right hand, I will pass to the left.” Lot chose the fertile country about the Jordan, and dwelt in Sodom. Abram dwelt in Hebron, and built there an altar to the Lord.

Some time after this, strange kings, having come into the land, began to rob and plunder the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, took Lot captive, and seized all his substance. As soon as Abram heard that Lot had been taken captive, he, with three hundred and eighteen well-armed men, his servants, pursued the kings, overtook them, rescued Lot from their hands, and brought him back with all his possessions. As Abram returned victorious, Melchisedech, king of Salem, and the king of Sodom went out to meet him. Melchisedech, being a priest of the Most High, offered to the Lord a sacrifice of bread and wine, as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for Abram and his servants. He blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram by the Most High God, by whose protection the enemies are in thy hands.” Abram gave him the tithes of the booty. The king of Sodom then said to Abram: “Give me the persons, and the rest take to thyself.” But Abram would accept of no reward.

 

Fig. 6. Bedouins riding on their Camels.

Peacemaking. Abram was a lover of peace. He was older than Lot and, moreover, the head of the family; yet he withdrew in his favour, and gave him the choice of the best pasturage, rather than that there should be any further strife. We ought to love peace in the same way, and prevent quarrelling and fighting, as far as we can. We ought to give up an advantage, and suffer some loss, rather than begin a quarrel; for we are all brethren in Jesus Christ. “Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called the children of God.”

Abram’s disinterestedness was shown by his conduct on two occasions; first, towards Lot, and next, towards the king of Sodom. When Abram found it necessary to separate from Lot, he did not consult his own interests by keeping the best part of the country for himself, though it was to him and not to Lot that God had promised the whole land; but he gave Lot his free choice of the best pasturage. Then, when the king of Sodom offered him all his booty as a reward, he refused to keep anything for himself. He had undertaken the dangerous war out of pure love, without any thought of his own profit or advantage. His love was, therefore, quite disinterested.

This noble disposition of Abram puts to shame those Christians who are always seeking their own advantage, and who will not even show a kindness to anyone, without hope of reward. But did Abram, then, receive no reward? Yes, he received the reward of a good conscience. The consciousness that he had done a good work, and had deserved a reward of God, filled his heart with very great joy. We, too, ought to value the approbation of our own consciences and of Almighty God, far more than the praise and rewards of this world.

Real love of our neighbour. When Abram learnt the misfortune which had overtaken his nephew, he decided at once to go to his help. He remembered no more Lot’s selfish and ungrateful conduct, but only remembered his present necessity and misfortune. He sincerely loved Lot, and wished to help him, even at the risk of great danger; for, after all, these powerful kings might easily have defeated him, and killed or taken him prisoner.

Inordinate self-love. Lot did not behave well to Abram. Firstly, he ought never to have accepted Abram’s generous offer, and ought rather to have given the preference to his uncle. His love of himself was inordinate, therefore he became selfish. Lot believed he had chosen the best portion, and yet his very choice soon brought misfortune upon him. Secondly, he ought not to have gone so far away from his loving uncle and protector. Thirdly, he ought not to have gone to live in Sodom, full as it was of impious and vicious men. There was great danger there both to himself and his family, who might be led away by the bad example around them. We ought not to throw ourselves into the company of the wicked, and we ought to avoid all occasions of sin. We ought to care more for our souls and their eternal interests, than for our bodies and their temporal interests. Lot, therefore, did wrong in going to Sodom, and putting his soul into danger, for the sake of mere temporal advantages. And God punished him for this by letting the strange kings rob him and take him prisoner.

Melchisedech, the fourth type of Jesus Christ. Melchisedech’s name signifies the king of justice, and he was king of Salem, which name means peace: Jesus Christ is in a far higher sense King of justice, and the Prince of peace who bought for us everlasting peace. Melchisedech was not only a king, but also a priest: Jesus Christ is our sovereign king and priest. Melchisedech offered bread and wine to God as an unbloody sacrifice: Jesus Christ offered Himself to His Eternal Father at the Last Supper, under the form of bread and wine, and continues to do so in the holy mass. Melchisedech, after the sacrifice, blessed Abram and his servants: Jesus Christ, by the hand of His priest, blesses the faithful at the end of mass. This will make you understand the meaning of the words which God spoke to the Divine Redeemer by the mouth of the prophet David: “Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedech” (Ps. 109:4 and Hebr. 7:1–28).

You have now learnt four types of our Lord, namely, Adam, Abel, Noe, and Melchisedech. These types show that our Divine Redeemer is, firstly, our Head; secondly, the Just One who suffered and was slain; thirdly, our Saviour from the destruction of sin and hell; and fourthly, an eternal King and Priest who, like Melchisedech, offers an unbloody sacrifice.

APPLICATION. Do you love peace as Abram did? What is the principal reason why you quarrel with other children? Try to be more unselfish. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 132:1). If you have hitherto been quarrelsome, check that evil habit as soon as possible.

Abram gave tithes of his spoils to Melchisedech, because he was a priest. Reverence the priesthood. Priests are the messengers of God.








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