Quirks, Queries and Commentary—Genesis 14
Abram’s nephew Lot, and all of Lot’s household, had been travelling with Abram since leaving Haran but when their herdsmen started to quarrel with each other, they decided to separate. Lot chose the fertile plain of the Jordan River and settled in Sodom. Abram chose the hill country to the west.
Sometime after, four kings went to war against the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah and three other cities. The four won the battle, carrying off “all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah,” including Lot. One man managed to escape, found Abram and told him what had happened.
Abram “called out the 318 trained men born in his household” (Genesis 14:14 NIV) and, along with his allies, chased the four kings, recovered all the plunder and captives and returned them to Sodom. How did Abram come to have so many men born into his household? Who were their parents? How big was Abram’s household? Was the sole purpose of all these extra people to fight? But this is the only story of Abram going to war. Did he have enough cattle and sheep to warrant having such a large staff? Where and how did he acquire all the people needed to have so many men born to his household?
His grandson, Jacob, was heir after Isaac. He left home with nothing and came back with many of his own herdsmen and shepherds. Did he also inherit all the extra people that were in Abram’s household? Did all these people go with him when Jacob eventually moved to Egypt?