The Story of Patriarchs and Prophets
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 12: Abraham in Canaan
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Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, had invaded Canaan fourteen
years before, and made it tributary to him. Several of the princes
now revolted, and the Elamite king, with four allies, again
marched into the country to reduce them to submission. Five
kings of Canaan joined their forces and met the invaders in the
vale of Siddim, but only to be completely overthrown. A large [p. 135] part of the army was cut to pieces, and those who escaped fled
for safety to the mountains. The victors plundered the cities of
the plain and departed with rich spoil and many captives, among
whom were Lot and his family.
Abraham, dwelling in peace in the oak groves at Mamre,
learned from one of the fugitives the story of the battle and the
calamity that had befallen his nephew. He had cherished no unkind
memory of Lot's ingratitude. All his affection for him was
awakened, and he determined that he should be rescued. Seeking,
first of all, divine counsel, Abraham prepared for war. From his
own encampment he summoned three hundred and eighteen
trained servants, men trained in the fear of God, in the service
of their master, and in the practice of arms. His confederates,
Mamre, Eschol, and Aner, joined him with their bands, and together
they started in pursuit of the invaders. The Elamites and
their allies had encamped at Dan, on the northern border of
Canaan. Flushed with victory, and having no fear of an assault
from their vanquished foes, they had given themselves up to revealing.
The patriarch divided his force so as to approach from different.
directions, and came upon the encampment by night. His
attack, so vigorous and unexpected, resulted in speedy victory.
The king of Elam was slain and his panic-stricken forces were
utterly routed. Lot and his family, with all the prisoners and
their goods, were recovered, and a rich booty fell into the hands
of the victors. To Abraham, under God, the triumph was due.
The worshiper of Jehovah had not only rendered a great service
to the country, but had proved himself a man of valor. It was
seen that righteousness is not cowardice, and that Abraham's
religion made him courageous in maintaining the right and defending
the oppressed. His heroic act gave him a widespread influence
among the surrounding tribes. On his return, the king
of Sodom came out with his retinue to honor the conqueror. He
bade him take the goods, begging only that the prisoners should
be restored. By the usage of war, the spoils belonged to the
conquerors; but Abraham had undertaken this expedition with no
purpose of gain, and he refused to take advantage of the unfortunate,
only stipulating that his confederates should receive the
portion to which they entitled.
Few, if subjected to such a test, would have shown themselves
as noble as did Abraham. Few would have resisted the temptation [p. 136] to secure so rich a booty. His example is a rebuke to self-seeking,
mercenary spirits. Abraham regarded the claims of justice and
humanity. His conduct illustrates the inspired maxim, "Thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Leviticus 19:18, "I have lifted
up my hand," he said, "unto the Lord, the most high God, the
possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread
even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take anything that is
thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich." He
would give them no occasion to think that he had engaged in
warfare for the sake of gain, or to attribute his prosperity to their
gifts or favor. God had promised to bless Abraham, and to Him
the glory should be ascribed.
Another who came out to welcome the victorious patriarch
was Melchizedek, king of Salem, who brought forth bread and
wine for the refreshment of his army. As "priest of the most high
God," he pronounced a blessing upon Abraham, and gave thanks
to the Lord, who had wrought so great a deliverance by his servant.
And Abraham "gave him tithes of all."
Abraham gladly returned to his tents and his flocks, but his
mind was disturbed by harassing thoughts. He had been a man
of peace, so far as possible shunning enmity and strife; and with
horror he recalled the scene of carnage he had witnessed. But the
nations whose forces he had defeated would doubtless renew the
invasion of Canaan, and make him the special object of their
vengeance. Becoming thus involved in national quarrels, the
peaceful quiet of his life would be broken. Furthermore, he had
not entered upon the possession of Canaan, nor could he now
hope for an heir, to whom the promise might be fulfilled.
In a vision of the night the divine Voice was again heard.
"Fear not, Abram," were the words of the Prince of princes; "I
am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." But his mind
was so oppressed by forebodings that he could not now grasp
the promise with unquestioning confidence as heretofore. He
prayed for some tangible evidence that it would be fulfilled. And
how was the covenant promise to be realized, while the gift of a
son was withheld? "What wilt thou give me," he said, "seeing I
go childless?" "And, lo, one born in my house is mine heir." He
proposed to make his trusty servant Eliezer his son by adoption,
and the inheritor of his possessions. But he was assured that a [p. 137] child of his own was to be his heir. Then he was led outside his
tent, and told to look up to the unnumbered stars glittering in
the heavens; and as he did so, the words were spoken, "So shall
thy seed be." "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto
him for righteousness. "Romans 4:3.
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