Kingdoms and Stability

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Lech Lecha 5774


There’s a lesson in Parashat Lech Lecha that is easy to overlook.

It’s found in the middle of the parasha and that’s probably part of the reason why it’s overlooked.

Read these few verses from the Judaica Press translation:

Bereshit Chapter 14
1 Now it came to pass in the days of Amraphel the king of Shinar, Arioch the king of Ellasar, Chedorloemer the king of Elam, and Tidal the king of Goyim.
2 That they waged war with Bera the king of Sodom and with Birsha the king of Gomorrah, Shineab the king of Admah, and Shemeber the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. …12 And they took Lot and his possessions, the son of Abram’s brother, and they departed, and he was living in Sodom. …14 And Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, and he armed his trained men, those born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and he pursued [them] until Dan.
15 And he divided himself against them at night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them until Hobah, which is to the left of Damascus.

You really need to read the whole chapter to understand the flow.

World War

I think about this chapter as being the First Ever World War.

And it was full of destruction.

After many years of relative calm, there was a rebellion. In the course of putting down the rebellion there was a war between Four Kings against Five Kings.

That war resulted in the almost total destruction of nine kingdoms. I’m not even counting the battles that were fought before the main battle (see verses 5 – 7.)

The Four Kings thought that they had won and were escaping with their booty.

They were overtaken and destroyed by Avraham (verses 14 and 15).

Lesson for Us

There is no stability of kingdoms in our world.

You see it when you visit the archaeological sites here in Israel.

That’s why this post starts with the picture of the old harbor in Caesarea.

Two thousand years ago it was one of the busiest and most prosperous ports in the Roman Empire. Today, it’s only a few stones.

You shouldn’t be surprised that the port is no longer prosperous. You should only be surprised that any stones remain.

In the past century, the United Kingdom has ceased to be the world power it was in the 19th Century.

Less than 30 years ago the Soviet Union collapsed.

We’re now seeing signs that the United States may be losing it’s prominent position as a world power.

My point isn’t whether that makes you happy or sad.

My point is that we shouldn’t be surprised.

Kingdoms come and kingdoms go. That is the nature of this world.

Your Turn

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Photo: Old Harbor in Caesarea taken by me.