Pristine Grace

Gen 14:17-20, (GILL)
17  And the king of Sodom went out to meet him,.... While Abram was in pursuit of the four kings, the king of Sodom came down from the mountain whither he and those that escaped with him fled, and came to Sodom: and from hence he went out, not alone, but accompanied with his retinue, to meet Abram:

after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that [were] with him; to congratulate him upon the victory he had obtained over them; and this meeting was

at the valley of Shaveh; a most plain and even valley, as the word signifies, clear of trees and everything that obstructs sight or passage, as Jarchi observes, and so a proper place to have an interview in:

which [is] the king's dale; some say King Melchizedek's, but one should rather think it was the king of Sodom's; the Targum of Jonathan calls it the place of the king's exercise, where he had his diversions in riding, walking, &c. it can hardly be that in 2Sa 18:18; though some are of this opinion, being near to Jerusalem, which they suppose to be the same with Salem in Ge 14:18.

18  And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine,.... Both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem say, this is Shem the son of Noah, and which is the sense of the Jewish writers in general, and of many Christian ones; but, though it is highly probable he was living at this time, yet it is not easy to account for it why his name should be changed, or that he should reign in a country in the possession of his brother's son; or that he should meet Abram, and congratulate him on the slaughter of one of his own descendants, as Chedorlaomer was; and especially it cannot be said of him that he was without father or mother, or that those were not known, since Shem's parentage and pedigree are famous enough; some have thought him to be more than a mere man, even the Son of God himself, but he is manifestly distinguished from him in Heb 7:3; he seems to be what Josephus [k] says he was, a Canaanitish prince, a pious and religious man, eminently raised up by God, and whose genealogy was kept a secret, that he might be in this as in other things a type of Christ; but that he should be Canaan himself, as Dr. Clayton [l] thinks, a brother of Metsir, or Mizraim, the second son of Ham, being by Sanchoniatho called Sedec, is not likely, since he was cursed by Noah. Salem, of which he was king, is by the above Targums said to be Jerusalem, and which is the opinion of many writers, Jewish and Christian, and of which opinion I myself was formerly, See Gill on "Heb 7:1"; Jerusalem being plainly called Salem, Ps 76:2, but it seems clear from hence that it must be near to Sodom, and lay in the way between Damascus and Sodom; whereas Jerusalem was in a contrary situation, and lay nearly forty miles from Sodom; for Josephus says [m], the lake Asphaltites, where Sodom once stood, was three hundred furlongs from Jerusalem, which is about thirty eight miles; and Jerom relates [n], that Salem was a town near Scythopolis, which was so called in his times, and where was showed the palace of Melchizedek, which, by the largeness of the ruins, appeared to have been very magnificent, and takes it to be the same place with Shalem in Ge 33:18; and Salim, near to which John was baptizing, Joh 3:23: this great man "brought forth bread and wine"; not as a priest for an offering, but as a munificent king, to refresh Abram and his weary troops, and which the king of Sodom could not do, because the victuals of that place were carried off by the four kings, Ge 14:11; and as Abram had the land of Canaan by promise, and now had made conquest in it over the invaders of it, Melchizedek, sensible of his right unto it, brings forth the best fruits of it, and, as Dr. Lightfoot observes [o], tenders them to him as "livery and seisin" of it: in this Melchizedek was a type of Christ, who comforts and refreshes his hungry and weary people with himself, the bread of life, and with the wine of his love, as well as his name and title agree with him, who is a righteous King and Prince of Peace, Jer 23:5:

and he [was] the priest of the most high God; a priest as well as a king, as in many countries princes were both [p]; and in this he was a type of Christ in his kingly and priestly offices, who is a priest upon the throne, both king and priest, Zec 6:13. Melchizedek was a priest not of any of the Phoenician deities, but of the true and living God, who is above all gods, dwells in the highest heaven, and is the most High over all the earth; by him was he called to this office and invested with it, and he ministered to him in it.

[k] De Bello Jud. l. 6. c. 10. [l] Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 100. [m] Autiqu. l. 15. c. 6. sect. 2. [n] Ad Evagrium, tom. 3. fol. 13. E. [o] Works, vol. 1. p. 694. [p] "Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos", Virgil. Aeneid. l. 3. vid. Servium in loc.

19  And he blessed him,.... Melchizedek blessed Abram, which was one part of his office as a priest, to wish and pray for a blessing on others, see Nu 6:23, &c. and herein typified Christ, who really blesses or confers blessings on all his people, even spiritual blessings, such as redemption, remission of sins, and justifying righteousness, adoption, and eternal life:

and said, blessed [be] Abram of the most high God; that is, may he be blessed by him who is the most high God, with all kind of blessings, both temporal and spiritual; or he declares him to be blessed of him, as he undoubtedly was, or foretells that he would be, as was certainly his case: and another epithet of God is added, which abundantly shows he was able to bless him, since he is the

possessor of heaven and earth; is the Maker of both, and has a right to dispose of all things in them, both heavenly and earthly.

20  And blessed be the most high God,.... Let his name be praised, and thanks be given to him for all mercies temporal and spiritual, since all flow from him, and particularly for the mercies Abram and others through him were now made partakers of; for whoever were the instruments, God was the efficient cause, and to him all the glory was to be given:

which hath delivered thine enemies into thine hand; the four kings, who are called Abram's enemies, because the enemies of God and of true religion, and because they had been injurious to a relation of his; and especially they may be so called, if their intention was, as, say the Jewish writers [q] to slay him, beginning first with Lot: and those four kings, according to them, signify the four monarchies, the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and Roman [r] who in their turns distressed his posterity, but in the latter day shall fall into their hands, as those did into Abram's, and fall by them:

and he gave him tithes of all; not Melchizedek to Abram, but Abram to Melchizedek, as appears from Heb 7:4; and these tithes were given not out of the goods that were recovered, for they were restored to the proprietors of them, but out of the spoils that were taken from the enemy, as is evident from the same place referred to; and these were given both as a return for the respect shown him by Melchizedek, and by way of thankfulness to God for the victory, whose priest he was; otherwise, as a king, he stood in no need of such a present; nor was it for his maintenance as a priest, or what Abram was obliged unto, but was a voluntary action, and not out of his own substance, but out of the spoils of the enemy, and to testify his gratitude to God: this was imitated by the Heathens in later times; so the Tarentines, having got a victory over the Peucetians, sent the tenth (of the spoil) to Delphos [s]: the Jews [t] say Abraham was the first in the world that began to offer tithes; but they are mistaken, when they say in the same place, that he took all the tithes of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of Lot his brother's son, and gave them to Shem the son of Noah. Eupolemus [u] makes mention of this interview between Abram and Melchizedek by name; he says, Abram was hospitably entertained in the holy city Argarizin, which is by interpretation the mountain of the most High (but seems to be the Mount Gerizzim) and that he received gifts from Melchizedek, the priest of God, who reigned there.

[q] Pirke Eliezer, c. 27. [r] Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 1. [s] Pausan. Phocica, sive l. 10. p. 633. [t] Pirke Eliezer, c. 27. [u] Apud Euseb. Evang. Praepar. l. 9. c. 17. p. 419.

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