A Contextualist Reading of Genesis 14.
In this chapter, one thing that is evidenced is that the foundations of ECONOMICS in Abraham’s epoch were laid on the principle of WAR: the resources (human and material) of defeated nations become the source of livelihoods of conquering nations.
In order to ensure the sustainability of one’s economy, more wars must be fought, and what this implies is the bastardization of the sanctity of the human life. Some must be killed to ensure the survival of others, and this is undoubtedly the principle on which secularism is founded.
Noteworthy it is to remind us that it is out of one of these nations that God called Abraham for the purpose of making him a great nation. Under the reign of God, Abraham began to discover the value and sacredness of the human life.
Leaving aside the inventory of these discoveries, let’s zoom directly on his action when he heard that Lot was taken as a prisoner of war, Gen 14: 13-14. He put human relations first and even put his own life at risk in order to rescue Lot. The reality is that he could have been killed but he still went ahead to lead the war.
Note that he was a man of over 75 years. Abraham didn’t take account of what had ever transpired between him and Lot. He didn’t say “that serves him right!” But he perceived that Lot is a relative of his, his nephew, and a son to him for that matter.
Now imagine this! Abraham had to actually leave his own family unprotected in this context of war as a means of subsistence. He didn’t seek his own. He trusted that the Lord was able to protect his family and also grant him victory over the enemies.
Remember, Abraham was not going after a small group of people. The Bible made it clear that the war during which Lot was captured was fought between an alliance of five kings against an alliance of another four.
So Abraham was going up against four kings, each having their warriors. If the other five kings could not defeat these four, what made Abraham think that he could defeat them?
But love compelled him to give it a try, and he also formed an alliance with the Amorites, who obviously did not have the capacity of having a large and trained army of their own. However, God granted them victory over these strong kings and their well trained armies.
What can we then say of Abraham for now? HE LOVED LOT AS HIMSELF. Does this sound familiar? “Love your neighbour as yourself” is the lesson God was leading Abraham to discover, and it is one of the two greatest commandments for humanity that Jesus later revealed in Matthew 22: 39.
This is very fundamental in our dealings with the sanctity of the human life.
May God grant us the grace to also discover more of the truths that are hidden in this passage with the sole help of the Holy Spirit.