This chapter was completely unfamiliar to me. Reading it was confusing, even in translation, because it introduces so many characters and places that I don’t recall ever seeing in Tankah. In this chapter, kings in the region of Canaan fight one another, form alliances, have rebellions, and attack one another. The kings attack Sodom and Gomorrah, and the inhabitants of these cities, taking all of their possessions. This includes the possessions of Lot, Abram’s nephew. Abram hears about Lot’s captivity, and leaves Mamre with 318 men.
“And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people (Genesis 14:15-16).”
This is a new view of Abram. While there are many strong military leaders in Tanakh, I’ve never counted Abram amongst them. But in this story, he rises to the defense of Lot, and brings a fighting force to redeem him. Abram shows loyalty to his family member, who he just separated from in the previous chapter. He shows the depth of the bond that he and Lot share, and sets up future stories that will continue to show the lengths to which he’ll go to protect his nephew.