Forgotten Stories from the Old Testament: Abram Rescues Lot

A funny thing about a lot of the forgotten stories in the bible is that while they are often interesting stories, they contain no particular lesson. Perhaps that’s why they are forgotten.

One such story involves a little mess that Lot, Abram’s (Abraham’s) brother got into. You probably remember that when Abram and Lot first arrived in the land of Canaan, they divided the land in half, and each took a half. Well, there were still people and cities in those lands, and Lot picked a land that was more fruitful, but it was also in the middle of a pretty nasty war.

Lot built a home on the outskirts of Sodom. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were apparently losing the battle, because the armies of those cities fled to an area that was full of “slime-pits,” or bitumen pits – a sticky, petroleum-based goop. The few who were left back at home fled into the mountains, and when the opposing armies collected spoils of Sodom, they took Lot and the people of his household prisoner.

Among the group taken, one escaped and ran to tell Abram about it. Abram, not involved in the war, but having a decent size household of his own, sent his men to rescue Lot.
After having success, two kings came to Abram – the king of Sodom and the king of Salem, who’s name was Melchizedek. Melchizedek blessed Abram, even offering Abram some sort of sacrament.

Sodom, on the other hand, tried to cut a strange deal with Abram. Having retrieved much of the spoils that the captor army had stolen from Sodom, Abram had returned the stuff where it belonged, but the king of Sodom was more interested in having people than stuff. He offered Abram the recovered stuff in exchange for the recovered people.

I don’t know exactly what Sodom wanted with the people, but remember that the city of Sodom was deeply entrenched in homosexual practices – so much so that Lot later had to flee with his family for their lives while being chased by overanxious Sodomites.

Of course Abram flatly refused any kind of deal with the king of Sodom.

Here’s the account:

Genesis 14:8-24

8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim;
9 With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five.
10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
13 ¶ And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.
15 And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.
17 ¶ And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.