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Genesis 14:1-12

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, 14:6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is near the desert. 13  14:7 Then they attacked En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh) again, 14  and they conquered all the territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.

14:8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and prepared for battle. In the Valley of Siddim they met 15  14:9 Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, 16  Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar. Four kings fought against 17  five. 14:10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. 18  When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into them, 19  but some survivors 20  fled to the hills. 21  14:11 The four victorious kings 22  took all the possessions and food of Sodom and Gomorrah and left. 14:12 They also took Abram’s nephew 23  Lot and his possessions when 24  they left, for Lot 25  was living in Sodom. 26 

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.

13 sn The line of attack ran down the eastern side of the Jordan Valley into the desert, and then turned and came up the valley to the cities of the plain.

14 tn Heb “they returned and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh).” The two verbs together form a verbal hendiadys, the first serving as the adverb: “they returned and came” means “they came again.” Most English translations do not treat this as a hendiadys, but translate “they turned back” or something similar. Since in the context, however, “came again to” does not simply refer to travel but an assault against the place, the present translation expresses this as “attacked…again.”

15 tn Heb “against.”

16 tn Or “Goyim.” See the note on the word “nations” in 14:1.

17 tn The Hebrew text has simply “against.” The word “fought” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

18 tn Heb “Now the Valley of Siddim [was] pits, pits of tar.” This parenthetical disjunctive clause emphasizes the abundance of tar pits in the area through repetition of the noun “pits.”

sn The word for “tar” (or “bitumen”) occurs earlier in the story of the building of the tower in Babylon (see Gen 11:3).

19 tn Or “they were defeated there.” After a verb of motion the Hebrew particle שָׁם (sham) with the directional heh (שָׁמָּה, shammah) can mean “into it, therein” (BDB 1027 s.v. שָׁם).

20 tn Heb “the rest.”

21 sn The reference to the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah must mean the kings along with their armies. Most of them were defeated in the valley, but some of them escaped to the hills.

22 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the four victorious kings, see v. 9) has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

23 tn Heb “Lot the son of his brother.”

24 tn Heb “and.”

25 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Lot) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

26 tn This disjunctive clause is circumstantial/causal, explaining that Lot was captured because he was living in Sodom at the time.



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