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Root of all Evil - Abraham's Refusal of Sodom's Spoils

1 Timothy 6:10

10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

Matthew 6:24

24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Genesis 14:23

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:


When you read an old testament text such as Genesis, there are glimpses that read like the new. One example is Abraham's refusal of Sodom's wealth. To give background, Sodom was ravaged by the Mesopotamian kingdoms as the Canaanite kingdoms stopped giving tribute to them. This resulted in them being pillaged with many of their people being taken, including Abraham's nephew, Lot. This spurred Abraham and his 319 servants to chase down the retreating army to recover the people, possessions, and primarily Lot (A remarkable tale, as the invading army laid waste to several other kingdoms aside from Sodom, yet they could not defeat a simple shepherd with servants that presumably have little to no warfare experience).


Not only did he refuse the king of Sodom's offer, he made him wait as he first met with the priest-king of Salem, Melchizedek. He brought forth bread and wine for him and gave him this blessing:

Genesis 14:19

19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:

Furthermore, Abraham not only didn't ask for any reward, but instead tithed the priest king afterwards. But when he dealt with the king of Sodom, he refused the prize so he could never say "I have made Abram rich". There would've been strings attached to the spoils. Perhaps he would've been resented for it, and they would've stolen or even killed him to get it back. However, what seems more likely is that they would've wanted favors out of him, and he would have fallen into some of the compromises and sins that Lot had to face. The prime example was when the men of Sodom sought after the angels visiting Lot, he offered his daughters instead. Abraham would likely have had to deal with similarly unseemly compromises as well.


Note that Abraham was already wealthy because of his dealings in Egypt so any more riches gained would not have been out of necessity or provision, but from "love of money". His previous acquisition was a different situation. The Pharaoh was terrified of Abram because of the plagues unleashed on him (as the Lord punished Pharaoh for marrying Sarah, Abram's wife*) and the fact that Abraham was a sojourner escaping a famine, the gain of wealth was justified as it was something that he needed and it was without strings attached, as the Pharaoh would fear the wrath of God if he dealt wrongly with Abraham again.


Abraham was a prophet of God so he would've been aware of the corrupting power of wealth. It is much more exemplary to have that discernment as he lived in a much harsher time. Jesus even said that had he done the same miracles in Sodom as in the three unrepentant cities in Galilee, perhaps it would have stayed standing. It amplifies the sin of Judas, who was very close to our Lord, and betrayed him for only thirty pieces of silver. By contrast, when Abraham was purchasing a tomb for Sarah in Hebron, the sons of Heth insisted on giving it for free (out of respect for God's prophet) despite it being worth four hundred pieces, and Abraham had to press them to pay for it. It was a much larger sum of money, but they knew that it was worthless compared to God's grace. It is these diamonds in the rough like these that make the old testament enjoyable to read.


Addendum

Addressing Abraham's dealings with Pharaoh in Egypt. He did deceive him by saying that Sarah was his sister, but the fact that God sent plagues likely indicated that his heart was not just and he would have planned on marrying her anyways. The proof of this is when Abraham does the same mistake with Abimelech, but God does not punish him since he was a righteous man.


Bibliography:

Abraham and the Pharaoh: Genesis 12

Abraham and the King of Sodom: Genesis 14 Abraham and Abimelech: Genesis 21 Abraham Purchases a Tomb for Sarah: Genesis 23



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