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Parshat Lech L'cha describes how Lot was captured in the battle of four kings against five kings. When Avraham heard, he mounted a night-time attack to rescue him. This got me wondering: was a night-time raid a typical tactic for the time (a) at all or (b) for purposes of conducting a rescue? Or would a battle-field battle (with both sides aware) have been the way fights were usually conducted? I'm wondering whether Avraham followed the local norms or if he didn't and from that we can learn how far we must go in rescuing captives.

I understand that the victory was a miracle, but since we do not rely on miracles I am wondering about Avraham's context in planning the attack. Did he do what was considered normal in that setting, or were his methods and/or haste unusual and we should learn from that? Or, realized since asking the question, would his captors have expected not a fight at all, but a ransom negotiation?

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This is a good question for History.se. I would word the question more generically about when night time raids for a rescue are first reported. – avi Nov 6 '11 at 9:35
Could it be that Avram began the battle to rescue Lot and refused to rest until successful? – YDK Nov 7 '11 at 3:04
@YDK, A plain reading of 14:15 suggests that the attack began at night: mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0114.htm. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '11 at 3:54
It sounds like the chase began prior to dawn. In any event, I just meant that the battle was immediate and without pause as opposed to a pre-planned night tactic. – YDK Nov 7 '11 at 4:29
@YDK, oh I see what you're saying -- perhaps Avraham got word in the evening and proceeded immediately even though it would be night? Thanks. – Monica Cellio Nov 7 '11 at 13:37

You must remember that this victory was a miracle. Rashi brings an opinion that Avraham and Eliezer alone fought the actual fight. So the question may be when is it more preferable to have a miracle and not what were the tactics at that time.

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Your answer implies that Avram was relying on the miracle. (Otherwise, he would need military tactics also.) Normally we say one should not rely on a miracle. Do you have a source that implies that he was doing so? – msh210 Nov 6 '11 at 8:08
Sanhedrin 96a. A Malhach came to help. – rony Nov 6 '11 at 9:08
I don't see where the g'mara there implies he was relying on the miracle. (It does say there was one, or that he had angelic assistance, anyway.) – msh210 Nov 6 '11 at 15:43
The question was about using the night. From Sanhedrin 96a we learn that the name of the Malach was "Laila" (night). Then it gives another explanation: the night so called "fought" for for him, like in the case of Sisra. That is why I said that we can't learn from this case regular, natural warfare. – rony Nov 6 '11 at 16:19

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