The Bible & War: General Abraham?

Bible & soldiersOK, I’m ready to start looking some at God’s people and war in the Bible. Genesis 14 seems like a good place to start, though someone may want to point out an earlier passage.

In Genesis 14, we see two groups of kings going to battle against one another. At this time, kings tended to rule over city states, rather than countries. In the ensuing fighting, Sodom is conquered and Abraham’s nephew lot is taken captive. So Abraham decides to rescue his nephew.

“When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” (Genesis 14:14)

That’s an intriguing verse. While Matthew Henry suggests that these men may have been religiously trained, that is, Abraham only took those who had faith in God. However, this phrase, while unique to the Bible, has been seen in other writings to refer to “armed retainers,” according to the NIV Study Bible. I would tend to think that in this context it’s referring to some sort of combat training. Which is in itself remarkable. What use did Abraham have of a fighting force, besides this one incident we see here? It’s a small army, granted. But it’s an army.

It should be noted, however, that Abraham did not pledge his loyalty to any of these kings, not even the king of Sodom. He refused to accept anything in payment.

Another interesting part of this story is the tribute Abraham pays to Melchizedek, the king of Peace. There is no record that Melchizedek’s people took part in the fighting, yet Melchizedek came out to bless Abraham.

Here’s our first foray into the fighting world of ancient times. What shall we make of it?

2 thoughts on “The Bible & War: General Abraham?

  1. Wes

    Simply put, Abram, was frightened by what had happened and what probably would happen to the nephew who had always been like a son to him. This is what happens to most Christians who choose to engage in carnal warfare. The government knows our fears and plays on them. They tell us of the problems and persecutions that await if we do not “defend” our freedom.

    Almost any Christian will tell you that this is what motivates their service in the military. It is not the blood lust that motivates most people. Unfortunately, their military training is intended to arouse this second motivation.

    Genesis 15, shows clearly that it was fear that motivated Abram. In fact, God mildly rebukes Abram in verse 1. Telling him, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” If we place complete trust in God, we do not need physical protection.

    That does not mean that we will always be free of persecution. It does not mean that we may not be put to death because of our faith. It does mean that God will give us the crown of life that he has promised the faithful.

    “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

    May you always be at peace,

  2. Gary Cummings

    I think the story of Abraham going to war is descriptive of a man in fear reacting to a situation with violence. This story is merely descriptive of what Abraham did, and not what he should have done. Violence for the believer is not justified here nor prescribed as the moral course of action.

    C.O./Vietnam Era Vet

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