There’s a story in Genesis of when there is a battle between a bunch of Canaanite kings. It was the king of Shinar, the king of Ellasar, the king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations versus king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela. (Genesis 14:1-2) (We’ll call it team Shinar versus team Sodom, shall we?)

Team Sodom didn’t make out very well. In fact, they lost badly and team Shinar took all of team Sodom’s stuff. But they also took Lot and his family captive with their stuff.

Well, Abraham heard about Lot’s capture, and so he took his men servants to rescue Lot. He attacked the camp at night with divided groups of 318 people total and won. (Sounds like a Gideon tactic or a Captain Moroni tactic, doesn’t it?) Then he brought everything back. And when he comes back, there is this interesting scene:
17 ¶And the king of Sodom went out to meet him [Abraham] after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
23 That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:
24 Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion. (Genesis 14:17-24)
It struck me how interesting it was that both these kings are present—the wicked king of Sodom and the righteous King Melchizedek of Salem. This suggested to me that a contrast was being set up between these two kings.

King Melchizedek blesses Abraham and Abraham pays tithes to him. The king of Sodom tries to bless Abraham too, but with the wealth of Sodom, and Abraham refuses to accept it. It seemed to me that Abraham didn’t want to be under any obligation to the king of Sodom. Or maybe, he would rather keep the king of Sodom under obligation to him rather than be paid like a mercenary.

Either way, it is clear that Abraham would rather pay tithing to Melchizedek than be made rich by the king of Sodom. (Even Abraham chose his friends carefully.) Holy alliance and the quality of his affiliations meant more to him than any tangible reward. What a great example!
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