Genesis 14:21

ESV And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.”
NIV The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.'
NASB Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give the people to me and take the possessions for yourself.'
CSB Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the people, but take the possessions for yourself."
NLT The king of Sodom said to Abram, 'Give back my people who were captured. But you may keep for yourself all the goods you have recovered.'
KJV And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.

What does Genesis 14:21 mean?

Both Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18) and Bera, the king of Sodom (Genesis 14:2) have come out to meet Abram on his way home from defeating the enemy and rescuing all that had been taken by the four kings of the east. The structure of this passage is meant to compare Bera, the King of Sodom, to Melchizedek, the King of Salem, and their interaction with Abram. At this time, Sodom was already known for its extreme wickedness (Genesis 13:13).

The demand given here from the king of Sodom stands in stark contrast to the exchange which just took place between Abram and Melchizedek. Melchizedek greeted Abram with a royal meal of wine and bread and a blessing from God. Abram responded by giving ten percent of all of the plunder to this priest and king.

Bera has witnessed this, but only offers a curt order to Abram: "Give me the people; keep the material possessions." This might have been the beginning of negotiations to recover from Abram some of what was taken by the enemy. The people likely would have included both the citizens of Sodom, as well as the slaves and servants of the king. Bera's lack of humility seems all the more rude considering that he had been conquered and sent running by the very enemy Abram—really, Abram's God—had so quickly defeated. The next verse contains Abram's humble, faithful response.
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