(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 20)

were lost. Yet many fanatics repel rich men from the hope of salvation;
as if poverty were the only gate of heaven; which yet, sometimes,
involves men in more hindrances than riches. But Augustine wisely teaches
us, that the rich and poor are collected together in the same inheritance
of life; because poor Lazarus was received into the bosom of rich
Abraham. On the other hand, we must beware of the opposite evil; lest
riches should cast a stumblingblock in our way, or should so burden us,
that we should the less readily advance towards the kingdom of heaven.

3. "And he went on his journeys." In these words Moses teaches us, that
Abram did not rest till he had returned to Bethel. For although he
pitched his tent in many places, yet he nowhere so fixed his foot, as to
make it his permanent abode. He does not speak of the south in reference
to Egypt; he merely means that he had come into the southern part of
Judea; and that, therefore, he had, by a long and troublesome journey,
arrived at the place where he had determined to remain. Moses next
subjoins, that an altar had before been there erected by him and that he
then also began anew to call upon the name of the Lord: whereby we may
learn, that the holy man was always like himself in worshipping God, and
giving evidence of his piety. The explanation given by some, that the
inhabitants of the place had been brought to the pure worship of God, is
neither probable, nor to be deduced from the words of Moses. And we have
stated elsewhere what is the force of the expression, 'To invoke in the
name,' or, 'To call upon the name of the Lord;' namely, to profess the
true and pure worship of God. For Abram invoked God, not twelve times
only, during the whole course of his life; but whenever he publicly
celebrated him, and by a solemn rite, made it manifest that he had
nothing in common with the superstitions of the heathen, then he is also
said to have called upon God. Therefore, although he always worshipped
God, and exercised himself in daily prayers; yet, because he did not
daily testify his piety by outward profession before men, this virtue is
here especially commended by Moses. It was therefore proper that
invocation should be conjoined with the altar; because by the sacrifices
offered, he plainly testified what God he worshipped in order that the
Canaanites might know that he was not addicted to their common

5. "And Lot also, which went with Abram." Next follows the inconvenience
which Abram suffered through his riches: namely, that he was torn from
his nephew, whom he tenderly loved, as if it had been from his own
bowels. Certainly had the option been given him he would rather have
chosen to cast away his riches, than to be parted from him whom he had
held in the place of an only son: yet he found no other method of
avoiding contentions. Shall we impute this evil to his own excessive
moroseness or to the forwardness of his nephew? I suppose, however, that
we must rather consider the design of God. There was a danger lest Abram
should be too much gratified with his own success inasmuch as prosperity
blinds many. Therefore God allays the sweetness of wealth with
bitterness; and does not permit the mind of his servant to be too much
enchanted with it. And whenever a fallacious estimate of riches impels us
to desire them inordinately, because we do not perceive the great
disadvantages which they bring along with them; let the recollection of
this history avail to restrain such immoderate attachment to them.

Further, as often as the rich find any trouble arising from their wealth;
let them learn to purify their minds by this medicine, that they may not
become excessively addicted to the good things of the present life. And
truly, unless the Lord were occasionally to put the bridle on men, to
what depths would they not fall, when they overflow with prosperity? On
the other hand, if we are straitened with poverty, let us know, that, by
this method also, God corrects the hidden evils of our flesh. Finally,
let those who abound remember, that they are surrounded with thorns and
must take care lest they be pricked; and let those whose affairs are
contracted and embarrassed know, that God is caring for them, in order
that they may not be involved in evil and noxious snares. This separation
was sad to Abram's mind; but it was suitable for the correction of much
latent evil, that wealth might not stifle the armour of his zeal. But if
Abram had need of such an antidote, let us not wonder, if God, by
inflicting some stroke, should repress our excesses. For he does not
always wait till the faithful shall have fallen; but looks forward for
them into the future. So he does not actually correct the avarice or the
pride of his servant Abram: but, by an anticipated remedy, he causes that
Satan shall not infect his mind with any of his allurements.

7. "And there was a strife." What I hinted respecting riches, is also
true respecting a large retinue of attendants. We see with what ambition
many desire a great crowd of servants, almost amounting to a whole
people. But since the family of Abram cost him so dear; let us be well
content to have few servants, or even to be entirely without them, if it
seem right to the Lord that it should be so. It was scarcely possible to
avoid great confusion, in a house where there was a considerable number
of men. And experience confirms the truth of the proverbs that a crowd is
commonly turbulent. Now, if repose and tranquility be an inestimable
good; let us know, that we best consult for our real welfare, when we
have a small house, and privately pass our time, without tumult, in our
families. We are also warned, by the example before us, to beware lest
Satan, by indirect methods, should lead us into contention. For when he
cannot light up mutual enmities between us, he would involve us in other
men's quarrels. Lot and Abram were at concord with each other; but a
contention raised between their shepherds, carried them reluctantly away;
so that they were compelled to separate from each other. There is no
doubt that Abram faithfully instructed his own people to cultivate peace;
yet he did not so far succeed in his desire and effort, as to prevent his
witnessing the most destructive fire of discord kindled in his house.
Wherefore, it is nothing wonderful, if we see tumults often arising in
churches, where there is a still greater number of men. Abram had about
three hundred servants; it is probable that the family of Lot was nearly
equal to it: what then may be expected to take place between five or six
thousand men,--especially free men,--when they contend with each other?
As, however, we ought not to be disturbed by such scandals; so we must,
in every way, take care that contentions do not become violent. For
unless they be speedily met, they will soon break out into pernicious
  "The Canaanite and the Perizzite." Moses adds this for the sake of
aggravating the evil. For he declares the heat of the contention to have
been so great, that it could neither be extinguished nor assuaged, even
by the fear of impending destruction. They were surrounded by as many
enemies as they had neighbours. Nothing, therefore, was wanting in order
to their destruction, but a suitable occasion; and this they themselves
were affording by their quarrels. To such a degree does blind fury
infatuate men, when once the vehemence of contention has prevailed, that
they carelessly despise death, when placed before their eyes. Now,
although we are not continually surrounded by Canaanites, we are yet in
the midst of enemies, as long as we sojourn in the world. Wherefore, if
we are influenced by any desire for the salvation of ourselves, and of
our brethren, let us beware of contentions which will deliver us over to
Satan to be destroyed.

8. "And Abram said unto Lot." Moses first states, that Abram no sooner
perceived the strifes which had arisen, than he fulfilled the duty of a
good householder, by attempting to restore peace among his domestics; and
that afterwards, by his moderation, he endeavoured to remedy the evil by
removing it. And although the servants alone were contending, he yet does
not say in vain, "Let there be no strife between me and thee:" because it
was scarcely possible but that the contagion of the strife should reach
from the domestics to their lords, although they were in other respects
perfectly agreed. He also foresaw that their friendship could not long
remain entire, unless he attempted, in time, to heal the insidious evil.
Moreover, he calls to mind the bond of consanguinity between them; not
because this alone ought to avail to promote mutual peace, but that he
might more easily bend and mollify the mind of his nephew. For when the
fear of God is less effectual with us than it ought to be; it is useful
to call in other helps also, which may retain us in our duty. Now however
since we all are adopted as sons of God, with the condition annexed, that
we should be mutually brethren to each other: this sacred bond is less
valued by us than it ought to be, if it does not prove sufficient to
allay our contentions.

9. "Is not the whole land before thee?" Here is that moderation of which
I have spoken; namely, that Abram for the sake of appeasing strifes
voluntarily sacrifices his own right. For as ambition and the desire of
victory is the mother of all contentions; so when every one meekly and
moderately departs, in some degree, from his just claim, the best remedy
is found for the removal of all cause of bitterness. Abram might indeed,
with an honorable pretext, have more pertinaciously defended the right
which he relinquished, but he shrinks from nothing for the sake of
restoring peace: and therefore he leaves the option to his nephew.

10. "And Lot lifted up Lois eyes." As the equity of Abram was worthy of
no little praise; so the inconsideration of Lot, which Moses here
describes, is deserving of censure. He ought rather to have contended
with his uncle for the palm of modesty; and this the very order of nature
suggested; but just as if he had been, in every respect, the superior, he
usurps for himself the better portion; and makes choice of that region
which seemed the more fertile and agreeable. And indeed it necessarily
follows, that whosoever is too eagerly intent upon his own advantage, is
wanting in humanity towards others. There can be no doubt that this
injustice would pierce the mind of Abram; but he silently bore it, lest
by any means, he should give occasion of new offense. And thus ought we
entirely to act, whenever we perceive those with whom we are connected,
to be not sufficiently mindful of their duty: otherwise there will be no
end of tumults. When the neighbouring plain of Sodom is compared to the
paradise of God, many interpreters explain it as simply meaning, that it
was excellent, and in the highest degree fertile; because the Hebrews
call anything excellent, divine. I however think, that the place where
Adam resided at the beginning, is pointed out. For Moses does not propose
a general similitude, but says, 'that region was watered;' just as he
related the same thing respecting the first abode of man; namely, that a
river, divided into four parts, watered it; he also adds the same thing
respecting a part of Egypt. Whence it more clearly appears, that in one
particular only, this place is compared with two others.

13. "But the men of Sodom." Lot thought himself happy that so rich a
habitation had fallen to his share: but he learns at length, that the
choice to which he had hastened, with a rashness equal to his avarice,
had been unhappily granted to him; since he had to deal with proud and
perverse neighbours, with whose conduct it was much harder to bear, than
it was to contend with the sterility of the earth. Therefore, seeing that
he was led away solely by the pleasantness of the prospect, he pays the
penalty of his foolish cupidity. Let us then learn by this example, that
our eyes are not to be trusted; but that we must rather be on our guard
lest we be ensnared by them, and be encircled, unawares, with many evils;
just as Lot, when he fancied that he was dwelling in paradise, was nearly
plunged into the depths of hell. But it seems wonderful, that Moses, when
he wishes to condemn the men of Sodom for their extreme wickedness,
should say that they were wicked before the Lord; and not rather before
men; for when we come to God's tribunal, every mouth must be stopped, and
all the world must be subject to condemnation; wherefore Moses may be
thought to speak thus by way of extenuation. But the case is otherwise:
for he means that they were not merely under the dominion of those common
vices which everywhere prevail among men, but were abandoned to most
execrable crimes, the cry of which rose even to heaven, (as we shall
afterwards see,) and demanded vengeance from God. That God, however, bore
with them for a time: and not only so, but suffered them to inhabit a
most fertile region, though they were utterly unworthy of light and of
life, affords, as we hence learn, no ground to the wicked of
self-congratulation, when God bears also with them for a time, or when,
by treating them kindly, and even liberally, he, by his indulgence,
strives with their ingratitude. Yet although they exult in their luxury,
and even become outrageous against God, let the sons of God be admonished
not to envy their fortune; but to wait a little while, till God, arousing
them from their intoxication, shall call them to his dreadful judgment.
Therefore, Ezekiel, speaking of the men of Sodom, declares it to have
been the cause of their destruction, that, being saturated with bread and
wine, and filled with delicacies, they had exercised a proud cruelty
against the poor, (Ezek. 16: 49.)

14. "And the Lord said unto Abram." Moses now relates that after Abram
was separated from his nephew, divine consolation was administered for
the appeasing of his mind. There is no doubt that the wound inflicted by
that separation was very severe, since he was obliged to send away one
who was not less dear to him than his own life. When it is said,
therefore, that the Lord spoke, the circumstance of time requires to be
noted; as if he had said, that the medicine of God's word was now brought
to alleviate his pain. And thus he teaches us, that the best remedy for
the mitigation and the cure of sadness, is placed in the word of God.
  "Lift up now thine eyes." Seeing that the Lord promises the land to the
seed of Abram, we perceive the admirable design of God, in the departure
of Lot. He had assigned the land to Abram alone; if Lot had remained with
him, the children of both would have been mixed together. The cause of
their dissension was indeed culpable; but the Lord, according to his
infinite wisdom, turns it to a good issue, that the posterity of Lot
should possess no part of the inheritance. This is the reason why he says
'All the land which is before thee, I assign to thee and to thy seed.
Therefore, there is no reason why thou, to whom a reward so excellent is
hereafter to be given, shouldst be excessively sorrowful and troubled on
account of this solitude and privation.' For although the same thing had
been already promised to Abram; yet God now adapts his promise to the
relief of the present sorrow. And thus it is to be remembered that not
only was a promise here repeated which might cherish and confirm Abram's
faith; but that a special oracle was given from which Abram might learn,
that the interests of his own seed were to be promoted, by the separation
of Lot from him. The speculation of Luther here (as in other places) has
no solidity; namely, that God spoke through some prophet. In promising
the land "for ever," he does not simply denote perpetuity; but that
period which was brought to a close by the advent of Christ. Concerning
the meaning of the word "olam", the Jews ignorantly contend: but whereas
it is taken in various senses in Scripture, it comprises in this place
(as I have lately hinted) the whole period of the law; just as the
covenant which the Lord made with his ancient people is, in many places,
called eternal; because it was the office of Christ by his coming to
renovate the world. But the change which Christ introduced was not the
abolition of the old promises, but rather their confirmation. Seeing,
therefore, that God has not now one peculiar people in the land of
Canaan, but a people diffused throughout all regions of the earth; this
does not contradict the assertion, that the eternal possession of the
land was rightly promised to the seed of Abram, until the future

16. "And I will make to seed as the dust." Omitting those subtleties, by
means of which others argue about nothing, I simply explain the words to
signify, that the seed of Abram is compared to the dust, because of its
immense multitude; and truly the sense of the term is to be sought for
only in Moses' own words. It was, however, necessary to be here added,
that God would raise up for him a seed, of which he was hitherto
destitute. And we see that God always keeps him under the restraint of
his own word; and will have him dependent upon his own lips. Abram is
commanded to look at the dust; but when he turns his eyes upon his own
family, what similitude is there between his solitariness and the
countless particles of dust? This authority the Lord therefore requires
us to attribute to his own word, that it alone should be sufficient for
us. It may also give occasion to ridicule, that God commands Abram to
travel till he should have examined the whole land. To what purpose shall
he do this, except that he may more clearly perceive himself to be a
stranger; and that, being exhausted by continual and fruitless
disquietude, he may despair of any stable and permanent possession? For
how shall he persuade himself that he is lord of that land in which he is
scarcely permitted to drink water, although he has with great labour dug
the wells? But these are the exercises of faith, in order that it may
perceive, in the word, those things which are far off, and which are
hidden from carnal sense. For faith is the beholding of absent things,
(Heb. 11: 1,) and it has the word as a mirror, in which it may discover
the hidden grace of God. And the condition of the pious, at this days is
not dissimilar: for since they are hated by all, are exposed to contempt
and reproach, wander without a home, are sometimes driven hither and
thither, and suffer from nakedness and poverty, it is nevertheless their
duty to lay hold on the inheritance which is promised. Let us therefore
walk through the world, as persons debarred from all repose, who have no
other resource than the mirror of the word.

18. "And Abram removed his tent." Here Moses relates that the holy man,
animated by the renewed promise of Gods traversed the land with great
courage as if by a look alone he could subdue it to himself. Thus we see
how greatly the oracle had profited him: not that he had heard anything
from the mouth of God to which he had been unaccustomed, but because he
had obtained a medicine so seasonable and suitable to his present grief,
that he rose with collected energy towards heaven. At length Moses
records that the holy man, having, performed his circuit, returned to the
oak, or valley of Mare, to dwell there. But, again, he commends his piety
in raising an altar, and calling upon God. I have already frequently
explained what this means: for he himself bore an altar in his heart; but
seeing that the land was full of profane altars on which the Canaanites
and other nations polluted the worship of God, Abram publicly professed
that he worshipped the true God; and that not at random, but according to
the method revealed to him by the word. Hence we infer, that the altar of
which mention is made was not built rashly by his hand, but that it wag
consecrated by the same word of God.

Chapter XIV.

1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king
of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations;
2 [That these] made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of
Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the
king of Bela, which is Zoar.
3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt
4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they
5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that [were]
with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in
Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which [is] by the
7 And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which [is] Kadesh, and smote
all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in
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
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
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

1. "And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel." The history related in
this chapter is chiefly worthy of remembrance, for three reasons: first,
because Lot, with a gentle reproof, exhorted the men of Sodom to
repentance; they had, however, become altogether unteachable, and
desperately perverse in their wickedness. But Lot was beaten with these
scourges, because, having been allured and deceived by the richness of
the soil, he had mixed himself with unholy and wicked men. Secondly,
because God, out of compassion to him, raised up Abram as his avenger and
liberator, to rescue him, when a captive, from the hand of the enemy; in
which act the incredible goodness and benevolence of God towards his own
people, is rendered conspicuous; since, for the sake of one man, he
preserves, for a time, many who were utterly unworthy. Thirdly, because
Abram was divinely honoured with a signal victory, and was blessed by the
mouth of Melchizedek, in whose person, as appears from other passages of
Scripture, the kingdom and priesthood of Christ was shadowed forth. As it
respects the sum of the history, it is a horrible picture both of the
avarice and pride of man.
  The human race had yet their three progenitors, Shem, Ham, and Japheth,
living among them; by the very sight of whom they were admonished, that
they all sprung from one family, and one ark. Moreover, the memory of
their common origin was a sacred pledge of fraternal connection, which
should have bound them to assist each other, by mutual good offices.
Nevertheless, ambition so prevailed, that they assailed one another on
all sides, with sword and armour, and each attempted to subdue the rest.
Wherefore, while we see, at the present day, princes raging furiously,
and shaking the earth to the utmost of their power; let us remember that
the evil is of ancient date; since the lust of dominion has, in all ages,
been too prevalent among men. Let us, however, also remark, that no fault
is worse than that loftiness of mind, which many deem a most heroical
disposition. The ambition of Chedorlaomer was the torch of the whole war:
for he, inflamed with the desire of triumphing, drew three others into a
hostile confederacy. And pride compelled the men of Sodom and their
allies to take arms, for the purpose of shaking off the yoke.
  That Moses, however, records the names of so many kings, while Shem was
yet living, (although derided by profane men as fabulous,) will not
appear absurd, if we only reflect that this great propagation of the
human race, was a remarkable miracle of God. For when the Lord said to
Noah himself, and to his sons, "Increase and multiply," he intended to
raise them to the hope of a far more excellent restoration than would
have taken place, in the ordinary course of nature. This benediction is
indeed perpetual, and shall flourish even to the end of the world: but it
was necessary that its extraordinary efficacy should then appear; in
order that these earliest fathers might know, that a new world had been
divinely inclosed within the ark. By the Poets, Deucalion with his wife,
is feigned to have sown the race of men after the deluge, by throwing
stones behind him. But it followed of necessity, that the miserable minds
of men should be deluded with such trifles, when they departed from the
pure truth of God; and Satan has made use of this artifice, for the
purpose at discrediting the veracity of the miracles of God. For since
the memory of the deluge, and the unwonted propagation of a new world,
could not be speedily obliterated, he scattered abroad clouds and smoke;
introducing puerile conceits, in order that what had before been held for
certain truth, might now be regarded as a fable. It is however to be
observed, that all are called kings by Moses, who held the priority in
any town, or in any considerable assembly of men. It is asked, whether
those kings who followed Chedorlaomer dwelt at a great distance; because
Tidal is called "the king of nations?" There are those who imagine that
he reigned over different nations far and wide; as if he was a king of
kings. The ancient interpreter fetches Arioch from Pontus; which
is most absurd. I rather think the true reason of the name was, that he
had a band composed of deserters and vagrants, who, having left their own
country, had resorted to him. Therefore, since they were not one body--
natives of his own country--but gathered together from a promiscuous
multitude, he was properly called "king of nations." In saying that the
battle was fought in the vale of Siddim, or in the open plain, which,
when Moses wrote, had become the Salt Sea, it is not to be doubted that
the Dead Sea, or the lake Asphaltites, is meant. For he knew whom he was
appointed to instruct, and therefore he always accommodated his words to
the rude capacity of the people; and this is his common custom in
reference to the names of places, as I have previously intimated. Before,
however, the battle was fought, Moses declares that the inhabitants of
the region were partially beaten. It is probable that all had been
scattered, because they had no leader, under whose auspices they might
fight, until five kings advanced to meet them with a disciplined army.
Now, though Chedorlaomer had rendered so many people tributary to him by
tyranny rather than by lawful authority, and on that account his ambition
is to be condemned; yet his subjects are justly punished for having
rashly rebelled. For although liberty is by no means to be despised, yet
the subjection which is once imposed upon us cannot, without implied
rebellion against God, be shaken off; because 'every power is ordained by
God,' notwithstanding, in its commencement, it may have flowed from the
lust of dominion, (Rom. 13: 1.) Therefore some of the rebels are
slaughtered like cattle; and others, though they have clothed themselves
in armour, and are prepared to resist, are yet driven to flight; thus,
unhappily to all concerned, terminates the contumacious refusal to pay
tribute. And such narratives are to be noticed that we may learn from
them, that all who strive to produce anarchy, fight against God.

10. "And the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled." Some expound that they
had fallen into pits: but this is not probable, since they were by no
means ignorant of the neighbouring places: such an event would rather
have happened to foreign enemies. Others say, that they went down into
them for the sake of preserving their lives. I, however, understand them
to have exchanged one kind of death for another, as is common in the
moment of desperation; as if Moses had said, the swords of the enemy were
so formidable to them, that, without hesitation, they threw themselves
headlong into the pits. For he immediately afterwards subjoins, that they
who escaped fled to the mountains. Whence we infer, that they who had
rushed into the pits had perished. Only let us know, that they fell, not
so much deceived through ignorance of the place, as disheartened by fear.

12. "And they took Lot." It is doubtful whether Lot remained at home
while others went to the battle, and was there captured by the enemy; or
whether he had been compelled to take arms with the rest of the people.
As, however, Moses does not mention him till he speaks of the plundering
of the city, the conjecture is probable, that at the conclusion of the
battle, he was taken at home, unarmed. We here see, first, that
sufferings are common to the good and the evil; then, that the more
closely we are connected with the wicked and the ungodly, when God pours
down his vengeance on them, the more quickly does the scourge come upon

13. "And there came one that had escaped." This is the second part of the
chapter, in which Moses shows, that when God had respect to his servant
Lot, he gave him Abram as his deliverer, to rescue him from the hands of
the enemy. But here various questions arise; as, whether it was lawful
for Abram, a private person, to arm his family against kings, and to
undertake a public war. I do not, however, doubt, that as he went to the
war endued with the power of the Spirit, so also he was guarded by a
heavenly command, that he did not transgress the bounds of his vocation.
And this ought not to be regarded as a new thing, but as his special
calling; for he had already been created king of that land. And although
the possession of it was deferred to a future time; yet God would give
some remarkable proof of the power which he had granted him, and which
was hitherto unknown to men. A similar prelude of what was to follow, we
read in the case of Moses, when he slew the Egyptian, before he openly
presented himself as the avenger and deliverer of his nation. And for
this reason the subject ought to be noticed, that they who wish to defend
themselves by armed force, whenever any force is used against them, may
note from this fact, frame a rule for themselves. We shall hereafter see
this same Abram bearing patiently and with a submissive mind, injuries
which had at least, an equal tendency to provoke his spirit. Moreover,
that Abram attempted nothing rashly, but rather, that his design was
approved by God, will appear presently, from the commendation of
Melchizedek. We may therefore conclude, that this war was undertaken by
him, under the special direction of the Spirit. If any one should take
exception, that he proceeded further than was lawful, when he spoiled the
victors of their prey and captives, and restored them wholly to the men
of Sodom, who had, by no means been committed to his protection; I
answer, since it appears that God was his Guide and Ruler in this
affair,--as we infer from His approbation,--it is not for us to dispute
respecting His secret judgment. God had destined the inhabitants of
Sodom, when their neighbours were ruined and destroyed, to a still more
severe judgment; because they were themselves the worst of all. He,
therefore, raised up his servant Abram, after they had been admonished by
a chastisement sufficiently severe, to deliver them, in order that they
might be rendered the more inexcusable. Therefore, this peculiar
suggestion of the Holy Spirit ought no more to be drawn into a precedent,
than the whole war which Abram had carried on. With respect to the
messenger who had related to Abram the slaughter at Sodom, I do not
accept what some suppose, that he was a pious man. We may rather
conjecture that, as a fugitive from home, who had been deprived of all
his goods, he came to Abram to elicit something from his humanity. That
Abram is called a Hebrew, I do not explain from the fact of his having
passed over the river, as is the opinion of some; but from his being of
the progeny of Eber. For it is a name of descent. And the Holy Spirit
here again honorably announces that race as blessed by God.
  "And these were confederate with Abram." It appeared that in the course
of time, Abram was freely permitted to enter into covenant and friendship
with the princes of the land: for the heroical virtues of the man, caused

(continued in part 21...)

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