Abram the Hebrew.--That is, the immigrant (from beyond the Euphrates), but also his patronymic from Eber, who in like manner had crossed the Tigris. It was, no doubt, the usual title of Abram among the Canaanites, and has been preserved from the original document, whence also probably was taken the exact description of Lot in Genesis 14:12.
The plain of Mamre . . . these were confederate with Abram.--Heb., the oak of Mamre (see Genesis 13:18), and lords, or owners of a covenant. Abram had not occupied Mamre without the consent of the dominant Amorites, and probably there was also a league for mutual defence between him and them.
And told Abram the Hebrew; that there had been a battle of four kings with five, that the latter were beaten, among whom were the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah; and that Lot, his kinsman, who dwelt in or near Sodom, was carried captive, with all his goods. Abram is called the Hebrew, either from his passing over or coming beyond the river Euphrates, from Chaldea into Canaan; with which the Septuagint version agrees, rendering it the "passer over"; and so Jarchi says he is called, because he came beyond the river: or rather from his having lived beyond it, as such as dwelt there were called; for it can hardly be thought that he should peculiarly have this name from that single action of his passing the river, which multitudes did besides him: but rather, why should he not be called Ibri, the word here used, from the place of his birth? For, according to the Talmudists (b), Ur of the Chaldees was called , "little Ibra"; though it is more generally thought he had this name from his being a descendant of Eber, and who was not only of his sons' sons, and spoke the same language, but professed the same religion, and which was continued in his posterity, who to the latest ages were called Hebrews, and sometimes Eber, Numbers 24:24; and which is the opinion of many Jewish writers (c), and seems most probable:
for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite; see Genesis 13:18; it was about forty miles from Sodom, but from it to Dan, whither he pursued the four kings, and where he overtook, fought, and smote them, is by some computed one hundred and twenty four miles (d): this Mamre, from whom the plain or grove of oaks were called, was the
brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; who are particularly mentioned, because of their concern in the following expedition:
and these were confederate with Abram; or "were masters" or "authors of a covenant" (e) with him; they had entered into a league to defend one another, their persons and properties, from the insults of invaders and tyrants, or thieves and robbers: and it may be lawful to form such leagues with irreligious persons on such accounts, where there is no prohibition from God, as there was none as yet, though there afterwards was one; and the Israelites, were forbid to make covenants with the Canaanites, but that was after they were drove out of the land for their sins, Deuteronomy 7:1; besides, it is not improbable that these men were religious men, and worshipped the same God with Abram, for such there were among the Canaanitish princes, of which Melchizedek, after spoken of, is an instance; and as yet the sin of the Amorites was not full, of which tribe or nation these men were.
(z) Pirke Eliezer, c. 27. (a) Targum Jon. & Jarchi in loc. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 2. T. Bab. Niddah, fol. 61. 1.((b) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 91. 1. & Gloss. in ib. (c) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 42. fol. 37. 3. Sepher Cosri, par. 1. sect. 49. fol. 24. 2. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 75. 1. Aben Ezra on Exod. i. 16. (d) Bunting's Travels, p. 57. (e) , "Domini vel antores foederis", Piscator, Oleaster.