A Daily Genesis

Genesis 14:13c-16

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:13c . . who was dwelling at the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, kinsman of Eshkol and Aner, these being Abram's allies.[/B]

Abram had become a shrewd sheik. The best way to survive on the frontier is to team up-- especially with someone that all the others know and fear. That way most everyone will leave you alone because they don't want to deal with your friends. The terebinths (oaks) belonged to Mamre, a well known Amorite in that region. His kin, Eshkol and Aner, were Abram's friends too.

That tactic pays off in many of America's penal systems too. First thing a new inmate has to do is join a gang or otherwise he'll be prey for all of them.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:14a . .When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household, numbering three hundred and eighteen,[/B]

The word for "retainers" is [I]chaniyk[/I] (kaw-neek') which means: initiated; i.e. practiced. This is the one and only place in the entire Old Testament where chaniyk is located so it's difficult to know precisely what Genesis means by it; but seeing as how the retainers' origin is mentioned, chaniyk probably refers to their unusual degree of loyalty (cf. John 10:30). In other words: it's my guess those men comprised Abram's personal body guards; viz: his retinue-- a sort of ancient Secret Service.

Abram was their sheik by birth, rather than by conscription. So these particular men weren't mercenaries; but rather more like his very own sons. They were men of deep gratitude for their master's providence; and every one of them, to a man, were more than willing to die for him.

Though Abram was by nature a man of peace, he was prepared to fight in the event it became necessary. In the wild untamed land of Palestine 4,000+ years ago, men without mettle didn't survive very long. And even today, it's still true that a strong man armed, keeps his goods. (cf. Luke 11:21)

They numbered 318. If we assume that each one was married, then the number of persons doubles to 736. If each man had at least one child, then the number triples to 954. A plausible scenario is that Sheik Abram's camp was a community of at least 1,000 people-- a fair sized town. When this man broke camp, it was a serious caravan.
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[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:14b . . and went in pursuit as far as Dan.[/B]

At this early date, there was neither a region, nor a town, in Canaan colonized and named after Jacob's son Dan. There wasn't even one in Moses' day. It wasn't until Joshua 19:40-48 that Dan's tribe received their portion of Canaan. So Dan's name could very well be a later editorial insertion.

It's unthinkable that Abram would leave his camp and his wife, and all the women and children unprotected while he and his warriors traveled miles from home. So it's reasonable to expect that some of his Amorite allies remained behind to reinforce Abram's camp while he was out of town.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:15a . . At night, he and his servants deployed against them and defeated them;[/B]

Not too shabby for a former city slicker. Abram, no doubt coached by Mamre, employed excellent Bedouin guerrilla tactics against a well-armed, seasoned foe of superior numbers. After his scouts located The Ched's caravan, Abram dogged him, waiting for an opportunity to attack in circumstances to his advantage. When the time came, he did it under cover of darkness, rather than in daylight; and came at them from more than one direction, which would help to create confusion, chaos, and panic amidst Ched's army.

El Ched's men were probably laid back, stuffed full of stolen food and sleepy with booze; and proud of themselves for their victories; totally unsuspecting anyone remaining in Canaan would have the moxie to take them on. Having no flares, nor Claymores, nor barbed wire, mines, nor flashlights, night vision capability, nor motion detectors, or early warning systems of any kind; Ched's forces were easily surprised and routed.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:15b . . and he pursued them as far as Hobah,[/B]

Unfortunately this is the only place in the entire Old Testament where Hobah is mentioned; and archaeologists have had no luck so far in discovering its exact location.
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[/COLOR][B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:15c . .which is north of Damascus.[/B]

Many, many years later, in 1918, the Hejaz Arab Army led by T.E Laurence (Laurence of Arabia) would fight the Turks in this very region and drive them out of Damascus.

Ol' Abram sure didn't want those guys to forget Canaan none too soon. It wasn't enough to beat them at Dan; no, he ran them all the way out of the country. The survivors of the invading army no doubt straggled back to their homelands as best they could, amazed at this sudden, unexpected humiliating end to what had been up till then a mighty wave of victory and conquest.

No mention of this battle has ever yet been found on any of the Babylonian or Elamite inscriptions-- which is understandable. Ancient kings were accustomed to boast only about their victories since defeat usually left them dead or in slavery.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:16 . . He brought back all the possessions; he also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, and the women and the rest of the people.[/B]

If Abram had left the Federation's people in enemy hands and rescued only his nephew, no one would have faulted him for it. They were, after all, total strangers and had nothing in common with either Abram or Abram's religion; being "very wicked sinners against the Lord." But that would have been a terribly ignoble show of charity; not to mention downright politically stupid in a land where you needed all the friends you could get.

It's easy to imagine the tremendous amount of respect this campaign won for Abram in the eyes of all the Canaanites. He was a great sheik in that land, no doubt about it now. Abram beat a Babylonian army. That was an impressive accomplishment; and a testimony to his cunning, his dependability, and to his courage under fire.

Everyone in Canaan knew now that Abram wasn't a man to be trifled with. He's a perfect example of the old proverb: Walk softly, and carry a big stick. Abram was no bully, yet didn't allow others to bully him. Now if only he would quit lying to people about his relationship to Sarai.

[B][SIZE=1]NOTE[/SIZE]:[/B] US President Theodore Roosevelt is famous for his comment about walking softly, but the way he went about obtaining the Panama Canal zone was not what I would call "soft".

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