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Genesis 14:1-5

Context
The Blessing of Victory for God’s People

14:1 At that time 1  Amraphel king of Shinar, 2  Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations 3  14:2 went to war 4  against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 5  14:3 These last five kings 6  joined forces 7  in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 8  14:4 For twelve years 9  they had served Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year 10  they rebelled. 11  14:5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings who were his allies came and defeated 12  the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim,

1 tn The sentence begins with the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayÿhi) followed by “in the days of.”

2 sn Shinar (also in v. 9) is the region of Babylonia.

3 tn Or “king of Goyim.” The Hebrew term גּוֹיִם (goyim) means “nations,” but a number of modern translations merely transliterate the Hebrew (cf. NEB “Goyim”; NIV, NRSV “Goiim”).

4 tn Heb “made war.”

sn Went to war. The conflict here reflects international warfare in the Early and Middle Bronze periods. The countries operated with overlords and vassals. Kings ruled over city states, or sometimes a number of city states (i.e., nations). Due to their treaties, when one went to war, those confederate with him joined him in battle. It appears here that it is Kedorlaomer’s war, because the western city states have rebelled against him (meaning they did not send products as tribute to keep him from invading them).

5 sn On the geographical background of vv. 1-2 see J. P. Harland, “Sodom and Gomorrah,” The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 1:41-75; and D. N. Freedman, “The Real Story of the Ebla Tablets, Ebla and the Cities of the Plain,” BA 41 (1978): 143-64.

6 tn Heb “all these,” referring only to the last five kings named. The referent has been specified as “these last five kings” in the translation for clarity.

7 tn The Hebrew verb used here means “to join together; to unite; to be allied.” It stresses close associations, especially of friendships, marriages, or treaties.

8 sn The Salt Sea is the older name for the Dead Sea.

9 tn The sentence simply begins with “twelve years”; it serves as an adverbial accusative giving the duration of their bondage.

10 tn This is another adverbial accusative of time.

11 sn The story serves as a foreshadowing of the plight of the kingdom of Israel later. Eastern powers came and forced the western kingdoms into submission. Each year, then, they would send tribute east – to keep them away. Here, in the thirteenth year, they refused to send the tribute (just as later Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria). And so in the fourteenth year the eastern powers came to put them down again. This account from Abram’s life taught future generations that God can give victory over such threats – that people did not have to live in servitude to tyrants from the east.

12 tn The Hebrew verb נָכָה (nakhah) means “to attack, to strike, to smite.” In this context it appears that the strike was successful, and so a translation of “defeated” is preferable.



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