Milchemet Hamelachim, Part 2

  • 40 minutes
  • Grades: 2-3
  • Lesson Plan

by: Semadar Goldstein

Four-lesson unit on Bereshit 14: 1-24. Students participate in multiple intelligences exercises in order to understand the battle of the kings. Includes worksheets.

Lesson objectives

Students will be able to:
1. Relate how Avram heard of the battle and Lot’s capture despite the battlefield location.
2. Describe how Avram reacted to hearing that Lot was taken captive.
3. Describe how Avram prepared for battle.
4. Describe how Avram fought his enemies.
5. Relate how Avram returned Lot and his property.


Students will be able to:
1. Locate warring kingdoms on map of Israel.
2. Locate the battlefield on map of Israel.
3. Locate Hebron, Avram’s dwelling, in relation to battlefield on map of Israel.


Students will be able to appreciate:
1. Avram’s self-sacrifice in going to war and saving his nephew Lot.
2. The mitzvah of pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captives).



fugitive, runaway



was captured



and he gave his students armor for war

וירק את חניכיו


and he chased after them



until the city of Dan

עד דן


and he fought against them



and he returned



Resources & Equipment needed

Vocabulary binder/workbook, blackboard, highlighter pens/pencil, copy of Daat Mikra map (see appendix), overhead Projector and markers.


I. Teacher Preparation (before class) Review map before class and copy onto overhead projector paper. Prepare highlighted copy of kingdoms on regular paper for quick reference during class. Write the vocabulary list on the board.

II. Class Opening T:After the shepherds of Avram and Lot fought, where did each choose to live? S: Lot chose to live in Sedom. T: Who can look at Bereshit 13:18 and tell me where Avram lived? S: Hebron. T: In which land? S: Elonei Mamre. T: So who lived in area which was involved in the war of the 4 kings against the 5 kings? S: Lot, because he lived in Sedom. T: Kedorlaomer and his group have just conquered Sedom. What do you think happened to Lot’s belongings? S: They were captured! T: What is that called, when the conquerer comes and takes all of the city’s belongings? S: Spoils of war. T: What happened to Lot? S: He was taken prisoner! Q: When a person is captured during war, it is called נלקח בשבי . Taken as a captive, or prisoner of war. Where was he in relation to the other kings? Let’s take a look on the map.

III. Map Activity Distribute map (see appendix). Put in on overhead projector as well. T: Who was involved in the battle? Let’s find the kingdoms of Kedorlaomer’s group (Group A) and highlight them in yellow. Look at 14:1 to remember the names of the kingdoms. Which nations do we need to highlight? S: שנער, אלסר, עילם, גוים . T: Find them on the map. Call volunteer up to overhead to help. The kingdoms are difficult to find so guide them to the area or tell them. In fact, the kingdom גוים does not exist on the map. Some researchers have identified this kingdom with that of the Ancient Hittites. Others have identified it as being located at בעבר הנהר which is located in the center of the map. Now let’s highlight the kingdoms of Sedom and Amora (Group B) in blue. Who can read the next verse? Now let’s look in the small inserted section of the map to find them. Indicate general area on the overhead projector. Highlight in blue. T: Where was the battlefield? (Hint: verse 3). S: עמק השדים, the Dead Sea! Indicate. T: Now where was Avram, tell me again? S: Hebron. T: Can you find Hebron on the map? Clue: It’s in the little inserted map, near Jerusalem. Highlight it in red.

IV. Student Vote T: Did Avram know about Lot’s capture? Remember, there was no internet, no TV, no radio. He lived in Hebron, far away from the battlefield. Do you think he knew? Let’s do a prediction vote: Put your thumbs up if you think Avram knew about the battle and Lot’s capture, and put your thumbs down if you think he didn’t know. Mark votes on board under Avram knew /didn’t know. Now let’s see.

V. Textual Preparation T: Highlight the words on the board in your chumashim. When you are done, read the verses quietly to yourself until we are ready to begin.

VI. Textual Reading T: I will read the verses. Follow along in your texts and raise a finger when I read a highlighted word. When I pause at the end of a phrase, find the translation on the board and get ready to shout it out! Read the verses carefully, pausing at each phrase to check comprehension, like this: ויבא הפליט. Pause and wait for raised fingers. T: What does that mean? S: And the fugitive came. T: What is a fugitive? S: A runaway. T: Where was he running from? S: The battlefield. T: Correct. Let’s continue. What did the fugitive do? S: ויגד לאברם העברי. T: He told Avram. What do you think the fugitive told Avram? S: That Lot was captured. Read the first 5 words of verse 14. T: What does that mean? Check the board. S: That his ‘brother’ was taken. T: Does this literally mean his brother? S: No, his nephew. T: It’s a Biblical way of referring to family. What was Avram’s immediate reaction? וירק את חניכיו, ילידי ביתו. S: He prepared his students for battle. T: How many were they? שמנה עשר ושלש מאות. S: 318 people. T: Where did they go? וירדף עד דן. S: They chased them until the city of Dan. T: Read verse 15 until ויכם. What did Avram do? S: Fought against them and chased them away. T: Read the rest of the verse and translate it. Locate Damascus on a map and indicate. Read verse16. What did Avram do with Lot and his belongings? S: He brought them home to Sedom. T: He brought Lot back home, along with all the women of the city who hadn’t fought, and the rest of the nation.

VII. Teacher Pantomime: Choose a student to read the text and pantomime the phrases. Include all the main factors: the fugitive telling Avram the news, Avram hearing the news, Avram preparing his students for battle, fighting, and returning Lot and his belongings.

VIII. Mitzvat Pidyon Shvuyim T: Once Avram found out that Lot was captured, did Avram hesitate to go after him? S: No. T: How does the text tell us this? S: Because as soon as the fugitive tells him Lot was captured, he immediately prepares his students for battle. T: Why does it make SENSE that Avram would HESITATE to save Lot? S: It’s dangerous – anything can happen in war. S: It’s scary. He was outnumbered. S: He didn’t like Lot very much. They didn’t get along so well, remember how they separated. Even their shepherds didn’t get along. T: Why would Avram want to go save Lot? S: They’re still family. S: He was captured. Maybe they weren’t treating Lot nicely. Avram felt badly for him. S: It’s a mitzvah to return a prisoner of war to his home. T: What’s that mitzvah called? S: Pidyon Shvuyim. T: The Rambam calls this one of the biggest mitzvot ever. Why do you think that Pidyon Shvuyim is considered one of the biggest mitzvot in the world? Student answers vary. Accept 3 responses. T: You have heard some ideas as to why this is considered such a special mitzvah. For homework, write down your favorite reason, EXPLAIN WHY and bring it in next class.