Photo Credit: David Cohen/Flash90

The Torah portion of Lech Lecha discusses the war between the four kings and the five kings (Bereishit 14). The Malbim asks a pertinent question: “Why was it necessary to describe this war in such minute detail? The names of the kings, the course of the war, who defeated whom, where they fled to, etc. – eleven long verses in the holy Torah, in which every single letter is essential and significant. What place and purpose does this lengthy, seemingly mundane episode have in the Torah?”

The Yalkut Shimoni says that when you see the major nations in the world at war with each other, look for the “trappings of Mashiach.” Hashem does not plunge the world into the turmoil of war unless the war has a significant part to play in the process of geulah and the coming of Mashiach.


Our Sages tell us that, despite the apocalyptic undertones of this “world war” of the four and five kings, its purpose was singular – to eliminate Mashiach. Although nation fought nation, hundreds of thousands of lives were lost, and the world order changed – the whole purpose was to capture Lot and kill him and Avraham.

Let us take a moment to explore the character that was Lot. Lot was Avraham’s nephew. When Avraham discovered G-d and began preaching His word, this raised the ire of the leader of the world’s superpower at the time, Nimrod. Nimrod dates back to the “Dor Hapalaga,” the generation of the tower of Babel, so named because Nimrod rebelled and waged war against Hashem. When Nimrod discovered Avraham defying his decrees, he gave him the ultimatum to either recant or be thrown into the furnace. The Midrash says that Avraham’s brother, Haran, was also offered the same choice. Haran, who did not believe in Hashem to the same degree as Avraham, said to himself “Let’s wait to see what happens with Avraham. If he dies in the fire, then I will recant, if he survives then I will follow suit.” When Avraham emerged unscathed from the furnace, Haran said, “I’m with Avraham!” Nimrod ordered Haran to also be thrown into the fire, but, unlike Avraham, Haran perished because his faith was not absolute. Haran had a son – Lot.

At the beginning of our parsha, Hashem says to Avraham, “Lech Lecha,” leave the land of your birth and go to the land that I will show you, where I will make you into a great nation and bless you! The next verse says that Avraham left as Hashem told him and that Lot also left with him. The commentaries say that Lot weighed his options. He was now orphaned with no prospects, while his uncle Avraham had miraculously survived the furnace and was promised untold riches. Lot said to himself, “Avraham is old and has no children. I will go with him and when he dies, I will inherit his wealth!” That’s a no-brainer. However, the following verse says that Avraham took Sarah and Lot with him. One can understand Lot wanting to tag along, but why did Avraham agree to this? When Hashem told Avraham to leave, nothing was said about shlepping Lot along. We know that Avraham blindly followed Hashem in everything and did not deviate one inch. How could Avraham take Lot, if he was not told to? Interestingly, Hashem did not reprimand Avraham for doing this; why not?

Lot was not such a great tzaddik, to put it mildly. His behavior and decisions were highly questionable. His shepherds grazed their flocks on land that did not belong to them. Avraham said to Lot, “We cannot live together, we must part ways.” Lot chose to go live in the most depraved location on earth, Sdom.

Then the above “world war” takes place and Lot is taken captive. Avraham drops everything and goes to wage battle with the strongest nations on the face of the earth with a handful of warriors (some say only him and his servant Eliezer), just to free and save Lot.

Why is Lot so important that Avraham took him along and risked his life to save him?

Although Lot wasn’t exactly the Gadol HaDor, there was one act he preformed admirably. When Avraham went down to Egypt because of the famine and reached the Egyptian border, Avraham said “This is Sarah, my sister,” for fear that if he had said “wife,” the Egyptians would have killed him and taken Sarah to Pharaoh as she was very beautiful. Lot could easily have ratted on Avraham, but he backed up Avraham’s story, saying, “Yes, she is his sister!” For this even small chesed, Hashem repaid Lot in that there descended from him Ruth, King David’s great-grandmother.

Nimrod’s entire purpose in the war of the four vs. the five kings was to capture Lot, to lure Avraham into rescuing him, and then kill both of them, thereby eliminating the future Am Yisrael and Mashiach in one fell swoop. He failed.

The Yalkut Shimoni continues to say that the story of the “four kings” is not simply part of a meaningless story of some ancient war but in fact refers to the four exiles – Amrafel – Babylon, Aryoch – Greece, Kdorla’omer – Persia, and Tidal – Edom. The Torah had to include this chapter because it harbors the secrets of Mashiach and the Geulah.

We are currently living through a period of the world in turmoil, with rumblings of war between the most powerful nations on earth (meanwhile via proxies). We must try to look beyond the surface and see the trappings of Mashiach on the way, speedily in our days, Amen.

Parshat HaShavua Trivia Question: What were the consequences of Avraham asking Hashem for a sign (Bereishit 15:8) that he would indeed inherit the Land of Israel as promised?

Answer to Last Week’s Trivia Question: There was one unwelcome guest in the Ark; who was it? Og the king of Bashan, a stowaway, clinging to the outside of the Ark. According to Rashi, the “Palit,” the survivor, who came to tell Avraham of Lot’s capture, was none other than Og.


Previous articleWatch: IAF Airstrike Hits Hamas Underground Rocket Storage Tunnel
Next articleQ & A: Shnayyim Mikra Ve’echad Targum – Torah Twice And Onkelos Once (Part III)
Eliezer Meir Saidel ([email protected]) is Managing Director of research institute Machon Lechem Hapanim and owner of the Jewish Baking Center which researches and bakes traditional Jewish historical and contemporary bread. His sefer “Meir Panim” is the first book dedicated entirely to the subject of the Lechem Hapanim.