Rarely do rebellions go well; there are exceptions of course, but rarely do they go well.
This rebel alliance of Sodom, Gomorrah, and three other places went to war against their lords; particularly Kedorlaomer the king of Elam. It seems like five kings against four would work out with pretty good odds, but not when one looks at the impressive conquest list of Kedorlaomer:
– Defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim.
– Defeated the Zuzites in Ham.
– Defeated the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim.
– Defeated the Horites in Seir.
– Defeated the Amalekites in En Mishpat.
– Defeated the Amorites in Hazezon Tamar.
Now for all we know these could have just been a few small tribes of people, but judging how some of them became perennial enemies of Israel after the Conquest of Canaan this is unlikely. Kedorlaomer had conquered all of these people (with the help of his buddies), so if the Sodom and Gomorrah coalition of the five willing were going to win, they were going to have to bring their A-game.
Well apparently they did not.
So the rebel alliance went out to fight Kedorlaomer (who shall be henceforth known as “the Emperor”) and they were squashed. What is even more perplexing is the choice of this battlefield:
10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills. (Gen. 14:10 NIV)
The question must be asked: Who decided to use a valley full of tar pits to wage a battle? Who thought that would be a good idea?
If the idea was to draw the Emperor into the Valley of Siddim and then have him get stuck in the pits, something went horribly wrong. While fleeing, it is the rebel alliance chiefs of Sodom and Gomorrah who get stuck in the tar pits and get routed by the Emperor (but notice the leaders are not there; it was just the army that was routed).
The Emperor and his cronies went to grab the spoils of war: supplies, goods, and even servants. But there was one person they never should have taken:
12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. (Gen. 14:12 NIV)
If the Emperor had been content with the goods and supplies of Sodom and Gomorrah, nothing would have happened to him, but the fool chose to take Lot.
So, when somebody escapes the battle to tell Abram guess what happens:
14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. (Gen. 14:14 NIV)
Apparently you don’t mess with Abram’s family because next thing you know it is like a prequel to “Taken,” where Abram gets 318 guys together and goes on a hunt for his taken relative. But the question needing to be asked is:
Has Abram lost his mind?
I mean go scroll back up to the list of people the Emperor has punked; I mean he just routed the rebel alliance consisting of four kings and their armies. How does Abram think he is going to get back Lot with such overwhelming odds?
He doesn’t think; in fact, Abram’s best moments come when he is not thinking. Whenever he decides to think, he does something rather boneheaded. Instead, Abram hears his brother’s son is being taken off as a slave and he sets out to rescue him.
So, Abram comes upon the Emperor’s camp at night; he divides the men and attacks them; this seems like a strategy doomed to fail…but it doesn’t. In fact, Abram routes them and then pursues them as for north as Hobah which is above Damascus. Wow, that really is like Liam Neeson’s character in “Taken!”
Abram takes back all of the goods and of course rescues his dim-witted nephew, who just had to choose to live on the plain of Sodom (who at this point was living in Sodom itself). Abram brought all of the stuff and the people back with him to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Now, it is obvious the Abram has some confidence that God was able to help him in this situation. Having obtained some amazing promises, Abram probably felt almost invincible (except of course when men were looking at his wife). Abram would not have attacked these large armies with 318 men if he did not think God would help him win the battle. It also shows that Abram cared deeply for his slow-brained nephew, even though it seems that he continued to go the way of Sodom and away from Yahweh.
Abram returns with the spoils to meet the losing rebel alliance chiefs and a mysterious fellow by the name of Melchizedek.