Although it may be an error to speak of “chosen people,” it is not a mistake to refer to Abraham as a chosen individual. Melchizedek did lay upon Abraham the responsibility of keeping alive the truth of one God as distinguished from the prevailing belief in plural deities.
The choice of Palestine as the site for Machiventa’s activities was in part predicated upon the desire to establish contact with some human family embodying the potentials of leadership. At the time of the incarnation of Melchizedek there were many families on earth just as well prepared to receive the doctrine of Salem as was that of Abraham. There were equally endowed families among the red men, the yellow men, and the descendants of the Andites to the west and north. But again, none of these localities were so favorably situated for Michael’s subsequent appearance on earth as was the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. The Melchizedek mission in Palestine and the subsequent appearance of Michael among the Hebrew people were in no small measure determined by geography, by the fact that Palestine was centrally located with reference to the then existent trade, travel, and civilization of the world.
For some time the Melchizedek receivers had been observing the ancestors of Abraham, and they confidently expected offspring in a certain generation who would be characterized by intelligence, initiative, sagacity, and sincerity. The children of Terah, the father of Abraham, in every way met these expectations. It was this possibility of contact with these versatile children of Terah that had considerable to do with the appearance of Machiventa at Salem, rather than in Egypt, China, India, or among the northern tribes.
Terah and his whole family were halfhearted converts to the Salem religion, which had been preached in Chaldea; they learned of Melchizedek through the preaching of Ovid, a Phoenician teacher who proclaimed the Salem doctrines in Ur. They left Ur intending to go directly through to Salem, but Nahor, Abraham’s brother, not having seen Melchizedek, was lukewarm and persuaded them to tarry at Haran. And it was a long time after they arrived in Palestine before they were willing to destroy all of the household gods they had brought with them; they were slow to give up the many gods of Mesopotamia for the one God of Salem.
A few weeks after the death of Abraham’s father, Terah, Melchizedek sent one of his students, Jaram the Hittite, to extend this invitation to both Abraham and Nabor: “Come to Salem, where you shall hear our teachings of the truth of the eternal Creator, and in the enlightened offspring of you two brothers shall all the world be blessed.” Now Nahor had not wholly accepted the Melchizedek gospel; he remained behind and built up a strong city-state which bore his name; but Lot, Abraham’s nephew, decided to go with his uncle to Salem.
Upon arriving at Salem, Abraham and Lot chose a hilly fastness near the city where they could defend themselves against the many surprise attacks of northern raiders. At this time the Hittites, Assyrians, Philistines, and other groups were constantly raiding the tribes of central and southern Palestine. From their stronghold in the hills Abraham and Lot made frequent pilgrimages to Salem.
Not long after they had established themselves near Salem, Abraham and Lot journeyed to the valley of the Nile to obtain food supplies as there was then a drought in Palestine. During this brief sojourn in Egypt Abraham found a distant relative on the Egyptian throne, and he served as the commander of two very successful military expeditions for this king. During the latter part of his sojourn on the Nile he and his wife, Sarah, lived at court, and when leaving Egypt, he was given a share of the spoils of his military campaigns.
It required great determination for Abraham to forego the honors of the Egyptian court and return to the more spiritual work sponsored by Machiventa. But Melchizedek was revered even in Egypt, and when the full story was laid before Pharaoh, he strongly urged Abraham to return to the execution of his vows to the cause of Salem.
Abraham had kingly ambitions, and on the way back from Egypt he laid before Lot his plan to subdue all Canaan and bring its people under the rule of Salem. Lot was more bent on business; so, after a later disagreement, he went to Sodom to engage in trade and animal husbandry. Lot liked neither a military nor a herder’s life.
Upon returning with his family to Salem, Abraham began to mature his military projects. He was soon recognized as the civil ruler of the Salem territory and had confederated under his leadership seven near-by tribes. Indeed, it was with great difficulty that Melchizedek restrained Abraham, who was fired with a zeal to go forth and round up the neighboring tribes with the sword that they might thus more quickly be brought to a knowledge of the Salem truths.
Melchizedek maintained peaceful relations with all the surrounding tribes; he was not militaristic and was never attacked by any of the armies as they moved back and forth. He was entirely willing that Abraham should formulate a defensive policy for Salem such as was subsequently put into effect, but he would not approve of his pupil’s ambitious schemes for conquest; so there occurred a friendly severance of relationship, Abraham going over to Hebron to establish his military capital.
Abraham, because of his close connection with the illustrious Melchizedek, possessed great advantage over the surrounding petty kings; they all revered Melchizedek and unduly feared Abraham. Abraham knew of this fear and only awaited an opportune occasion to attack his neighbors, and this excuse came when some of these rulers presumed to raid the property of his nephew Lot, who dwelt in Sodom. Upon hearing of this, Abraham, at the head of his seven confederated tribes, moved on the enemy. His own bodyguard of 318 officered the army, numbering more than 4,000, which struck at this time.
When Melchizedek heard of Abraham’s declaration of war, he went forth to dissuade him but only caught up with his former disciple as he returned victorious from the battle. Abraham insisted that the God of Salem had given him victory over his enemies and persisted in giving a tenth of his spoils to the Salem treasury. The other ninety per cent he removed to his capital at Hebron.
After this battle of Siddim, Abraham became leader of a second confederation of eleven tribes and not only paid tithes to Melchizedek but saw to it that all others in that vicinity did the same. His diplomatic dealings with the king of Sodom, together with the fear in which he was so generally held, resulted in the king of Sodom and others joining the Hebron military confederation; Abraham was really well on the way to establishing a powerful state in Palestine.