Raiders carry off Lot and the inhabitants of Sodom, but Abram gives chase with 318 men and rescues them. On their return Abram encounters an interesting character called Melchizedek. The 318 points to another book with a lengthy discussion about Melchizedek.

Genesis 14:13-24

13One who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew who dwelt by the oak of Mamre FE the Amorite, brother of Aner and Eshcol, lords of the contract of Abram. 14Abram heard the son of his brother had been taken captive and armed his young men born in his own house FE , 318, and pursued them FE as far as Dan. 15He and his servants divided against them in the night and struck them and pursued them as far as Hobah which is on the left of Damascus. 16He brought back all the goods and also Lot FE , son of his brother, and his goods, FE also the women, also the people. Genesis 14:13-1617The king of Sodom went out to greet him after his return from the destruction of Kedorlaomer and the kings who were with him FE in the valley of Shaveh, that is, the valley of the kings. Genesis 14:1718Melchi Zedek FE king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was the priest of the highest god. 19He blessed him saying, Blessed is Abram to the highest god, the possessor of the skies and land. 20Blessed is the highest god who has delivered your enemies into your hands. He gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:18-2021The king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the people and take the goods for yourself. Genesis 14:2122Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hands to FE the highest god FE , the possessor of the skies and land, 23that I will not take of anything that belongs to you from a thread to a shoestring lest you should say, I have made Abram rich, FE 24apart from anything the young men ate and the portions of the men who went with me, Aner and Eshcol and Mamre. Let them take their portions. Genesis 14:22-24 (Genesis 14:13-24 BRB)


318 = Hebrews


A simple word search on Melchizedek shows that beyond the original story in Genesis, the word only occurs in two places, Psalm 110, where it is mentioned once, and Hebrews chapters 5, 6, and 7 where it is used many times in a rambling discussion. So Abram's 318 not only points to a book with related material, it points to the book everyone reads to learn more about Melchizedek. And, to be complete, Hebrews quotes Psalm 110 several times, so the third passage is also covered. Profound.

The properties of this count make it a textbook example. The number 318 is such a strange detail to include. Why doesn't it just say he took a bunch of men, or he took a few hundred men, or he took about 300 men? No. He took exactly 318 men. The best explanation I've seen so far is that the number is a cross reference to a book with related information.

The odds are also easy to understand. Since there are only two books outside of Genesis that mention Melchizedek the odds of landing in one of them is roughly 1 in 33 or 3%. The odds of landing in the book that quotes the third passage is more like 1 in 66 or 1.5%. Not impossible odds, but not likely either. Yet it works.

Here's part of the Melchizedek passage in Hebrews:

FA 1For this Melchi Zedek was king of Salem, the priest of the most high god, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2and to whom Abraham also set aside a 10th from the choice things he had with him. His name is interpreted king of righteousness, and again, king of Salem, which means king of peace. 3Neither his father nor his mother is recorded in the genealogies; and neither the beginning of his days nor the end of his life; but, like the son of god, his priesthood stays forever. Hebrews 7:1-34Consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave tithes of the head. 5For those children of Levi who received the office of the priesthood, were authorized by law to take tithes from the people, even from their own brothers who had also come out of the loins of Abraham. 6But this man who is not recorded in their genealogies, took tithes even from Abraham, and blessed him who had received the promises. 7Beyond dispute, he who was less, was blessed by him who was greater than himself. 8Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he of whom the writing testifies that he lives receives them. 9Speaking as a man, through Abraham, even Levi, who received tithes, also gave tithes. 10For he was yet in the loins of his forefather when Melchi Zedek met him. Hebrews 7:4-10 (Hebrews 7:1-10 BRB)