OK, 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?