Sunday, May 04, 2014

7. Genesis 13-14 (Melchizedek)

Today covers Genesis 13-14
  • Nomad: Genesis 13 reminded me of Hebrews 11:9. Abram was a nomad who wandered across the land with much livestock. Lot too.
  • Bethel: Abram returns to area where he made an altar to Yahweh.
  • Lot Separates: Abram gives Lot the choice of where he will go. They both have become too prosperous to live together. Lot takes the Jordan Valley, near Sodom, near the Dead Sea.
  • Abram's Descendants: In the last part of Genesis 13, Yahweh promises to give Abram as many descendants as the dust of the earth. We will hear this promise again.
  • Sacred Trees: Abram settles by the (sacred) oaks of Mamre at Hebron in the south. In Genesis 12, Abram saw Yahweh near an oak of Moreh at Shechem further north. Again, Abraham didn't understand as much about God as we do and may have had animistic elements in his worship. The altar at Hebron is the third so far for Abram (Shechem, Bethel, Hebron).
  • Hammurabi?: It is difficult to make the time of Hammurabi coincide with a straightforward date for Abraham, but most Assyriologists apparently equate Amraphel in Genesis 14 with Hammurabi, the famous lawgiver of Babylon. 
  • Tar Pits: Remnants of bitumen have apparently been found on the south side of the Dead Sea.
  • Melchizedek: Melchizedek was king of a city called Salem (traditionally, the place that would later become Jerusalem). He was also a priest of El-Elyon (אֵל עֶלְיֹֽון). God Most High. Possibly, in the Canaanite pantheon, this referred to El, the king of the gods, like Zeus in the Greek pantheon. Again, they didn't understand as much as we do. Throughout much of church history, he has been considered a Christophany (an appearance of Christ in the OT).
  • Tithe: Abraham gives Melchizedek a tenth of his possessions.
  • Hebrews 7: Hebrews will use the Genesis 14 story with Melchizedek in order to explain what a "priest after the order of Melchizedek" is in Psalm 110:4. As in Genesis 14, a priest like Melchizedek is also a king and isn't part of a hereditary priesthood. He isn't a priest because of his father or mother or genealogy... like Jesus.
Previous notes:
1. Genesis 1:1-2:3 (Creation)
2. Genesis 2:4-3:24 (The Fall)
3. Genesis 4-5 (Cain and Abel)
4. Genesis 6-9 (The Flood)
5. Genesis 10-11 (The Tower of Babel)
6. Genesis 12 (The Call of Abram)

Next post Wednesday on to Genesis 15-17.


Paul Tillman said...

Because of Melchizedek being invoked by the author of Hebrews as a type of Christ, I didn't ever think to consider him a priest of a Canaanite God. I don't think it is, but you think it a stretch to to consider that even though Abram is called by God, and through him God will begin to call his people, that God also called others? I would think Melchizedek, Balaam more certainly, and perhaps Jethro, perhaps all priests (or prophet) to the God that will come to be known as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. While God only covenanted with Abraham, that does not mean He did not reveal Himself to others (Ecc 3:11, Rom 1:19-20).

Ken Schenck said...

For me it's actually important to think that God calls people outside the normal channels. Job might be another.

Paul Tillman said...

Thanks. Email on this has been sent to you.

Pastor Bob said...

Abraham's knowledge may have been somewhat limited,(not sure, for one lives in the era of his age,) but not his relationship, he is called the "friend of God" and he was keen on listening and conversing with God. The years I served as pastor I desired my parishioners to have such a relationship and knowledge would follow suit if they could only hear God and communicate with Him.