2

In parshas Lech Lecha (Bereishis 14:1-3), the Torah recounts the war of the four kings:

וַיְהִ֗י בִּימֵי֙ אַמְרָפֶ֣ל מֶֽלֶךְ־שִׁנְעָ֔ר אַרְי֖וֹךְ מֶ֣לֶךְ אֶלָּסָ֑ר כְּדׇרְלָעֹ֙מֶר֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ עֵילָ֔ם וְתִדְעָ֖ל מֶ֥לֶךְ גּוֹיִֽם And it came to pass in the days of Amrafel king of Shin῾ar, Aryokh king of Ellasar, Kedorla῾omer king of ῾Elam, and Tid῾al king of Goyim,

עָשׂ֣וּ מִלְחָמָ֗ה אֶת־בֶּ֙רַע֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ סְדֹ֔ם וְאֶת־בִּרְשַׁ֖ע מֶ֣לֶךְ עֲמֹרָ֑ה שִׁנְאָ֣ב ׀ מֶ֣לֶךְ אַדְמָ֗ה וְשֶׁמְאֵ֙בֶר֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ (צביים) [צְבוֹיִ֔ם] וּמֶ֥לֶךְ בֶּ֖לַע הִיא־צֹֽעַר that these made war with Bera king of Sedom, and with Birsha king of ῾Amora, Shin᾽av, king of Adma, and Shem᾽ever, king of Żevoyim, and the king of Bela which is Żo῾ar.

כׇּל־אֵ֙לֶּה֙ חָֽבְר֔וּ אֶל־עֵ֖מֶק הַשִּׂדִּ֑ים ה֖וּא יָ֥ם הַמֶּֽלַח׃ All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.

The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah 42:2) explains that:

Just as he started off with four kingdoms, so will he conclude with four kingdoms.

The Midrash tells us that just as Avraham's travails begin with these four kingdoms, so too the travails of Abraham’s descendants throughout history will end with four kingdoms.

The Ramban famously explains that these events are a hint to the future:

This event happened to Avraham in order to teach us that four kingdoms will arise to rule the world. In the end, his [Avraham’s] children will prevail over them, and they will all fall into their hands. Then they will return all their captives and their wealth.

Although the Midrash links these four kings to the kingdom of Babylon, the kingdom of Media, the kingdom of Greece, and the kingdom of Edom, I am looking for other explanations on how especially this story about the four kings, the war, and Avraham Avinu are a reference to the future redemption. Are there meforshim, seforim etc.. that explain this narrative in light of the future redemption? For example, the kings took all the wealth of Sodom and Gomorrah, and then took Lot. What does this teach us with regard to the future, e.g. the Messianic redemption?

1 Answer 1

1

In the recently published sefer דבר שפר on בראשית, which consists of the Thursday night shiurim of the late Rabbi Moshe Shapero z"l, on Parshas Lech Lecho, there is an enlightening essay on the subject. Anyone familiar with the shiurim of Rav Shapero zl knows that they can't really be condensed into a few sentences, but I'll attempt to supply here a short overview. Firstly, he points out, following the rule set out by the גר"א and others, that since this is the first time that wars are mentioned in the Torah, it defines the whole Torah essence of wars in general. Wars, he says, are an expression of force and strength by kings and rulers and are an earthly expression of the Strength and Kingdom of הקב"ה. Just as a מלך is only a king because he is accepted by the people (unlike a מושל who rules by force). We accept G’d as our King, by using our בחירה to do right and stay away from sin. אברהם אבינו did just that,and was the first one to do so. Lot, as the ancestor of Moshiach (through Moav, Ruth & David, and through Amon & Naamoh) signified the “final king” i.e. Moshiach. As such, G’d’s ultimate Kingdom in this world, was personified by אברהם (who accepted it) and לוט (who rebelled against it,but will eventually lead towards the world accepting G’d as The Only King). חז"ל (בראשית רבה מב-א) tell us, (based on the פסוק תהלים לז-יד which says that חֶרֶב  פָּתְחוּ רְשָׁעִים וְדָרְכוּ קַשְׁתָּם לְהַפִּיל עָנִי וְאֶבְיוֹן לִטְבוֹחַ יִשְׁרֵי־דָרֶךְ) the war of the 4 kings against the 5 kings was waged with the intention to destroy אברהם and לוט, i.e. it was a war against that very principle of G’d’s Kingdom being revealed. As such, they were the forerunners of the 4 kingdoms (note: they are all called with the prefix Malchus!) who exiled us and had the same intentions. As mentioned, this is just a very small bite of a beautiful many-layered cake and in no way does justice to words of the great Rabbi Shapero zl

9
  • 1
    at least give a brief answer this is just providing a source without answering the question and is no better than a comment?
    – Dov
    Jan 30 at 19:44
  • Per the site policy please add in any more information about what the sefer says. What does the author say with reference to the four kings etc... I don't have the sefer, so I would not be able to look in it. The more effort you put into it, the more points you will get :)
    – Shmuel
    Jan 31 at 15:22
  • Anyone familiar with the shiurim of Rav Shapero zl knows that they can't really be condensed into a few sentences, but I'll attempt to supply here a short overview. Firstly, he points out, following the rule set out by the גר"א and others, that since this is the first time that wars are mentioned in the Torah, it defines the whole Torah essence of wars in general. Wars, he says, are an expression of force and strength by kings and rulers and are an earthly expression of the Strength and Kingdom of הקב"ה. Just as a מלך is only a king because he is accepted by the people (unlike a מושל who ...
    – Imanonov
    Jan 31 at 20:40
  • ... rules by force). We accept G’d as our King, by using our בחירה to do right and stay away from sin. אברהם אבינו did just that, and was the first one to do so. Lot, as the ancestor of Moshiach (through Moav, Ruth & David, and through Amon & Naamoh) signified the “final king” i.e. Moshiach. As such, G’d’s ultimate Kingdom in this world, was personified by אברהם (who accepted it) and לוט (who rebelled against it, but will eventually lead towards the world accepting G’d as The Only King). ...
    – Imanonov
    Jan 31 at 20:42
  • 1
    @Shmuel - I've followed your suggestion and added all this as an answer, adding the source to the חז"ל in answer to your query
    – Imanonov
    Feb 3 at 17:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .