|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
14:1-12 The wars of nations make great figure in history, but we should not have had the record of this war if Abram and Lot had not been concerned. Out of covetousness, Lot had settled in fruitful, but wicked Sodom. Its inhabitants were the most ripe for vengeance of all the descendants of Canaan. The invaders were from Chaldea and Persia, then only small kingdoms. They took Lot among the rest, and his goods. Though he was righteous, and Abram's brother's son, yet he was with the rest in this trouble. Neither our own piety, nor our relation to the favourites of Heaven, will be our security when God's judgments are abroad. Many an honest man fares the worse for his wicked neighbours: it is our wisdom to separate, or at least to distinguish ourselves from them, 2Co 6:17. So near a relation of Abram should have been a companion and a disciple of Abram. If he chose to dwell in Sodom, he must thank himself if he share in Sodom's losses. When we go out of the way of our duty, we put ourselves from under God's protection, and cannot expect that the choice made by our lusts, should end to our comfort. They took Lot's goods; it is just with God to deprive us of enjoyments, by which we suffer ourselves to be deprived of the enjoyment of him.
Verse 10. - And the vale of Siddim was full of slime-pits. Literally, was pits, pits (cf. 2 Kings 3:16; Ezekiel 42:12 for examples of repeated nouns) of slime, bitumen or asphalte, and therefore unfavorable for flight. "Some of the wells near the Dead Sea are 116 feet deep, with a stratum of bitumen fifteen feet in depth, and as black as jet" (Inglis). And the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled and fell there. Stumbled into the pits and perished (Keil, Lange, Murphy), though if the king of Sodom escaped (Ver. 17), the language may only mean that they were overthrown there (Knobel, Rosenmüller, Bush, 'Speaker's Commentary'). And they that remained fled to the mountain, of Moab, with its numerous defiles.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits,.... Or "wells" or "fountains of slime" or bitumen (s); a liquid of a pitchy nature, cast out of fountains, and which was used for a cement in buildings; such fountains were near Babylon; see Gill on Genesis 11:3; so that this place was naturally prepared for what it was designed to be, a bituminous lake; and hence, when turned into one, it was called the lake Asphaltites, from this slime or bitumen, called by the Greeks "asphaltos". Brocardus (t) says, these pits or wells of bitumen are at this day on the shore of the lake, each of them having pyramids erect, which he saw with his own eyes; and such pits casting out bitumen, as fountains do water, have been found in other countries, as in Greece (u). Now this vale being full of such pits, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah chose it to fight in, and here drew up in a line of battle, hoping that the enemy, being ignorant of them, would fall into them and perish, and their ranks be broke and fall into confusion; but as it often is, that the pit men dig and contrive for others they fall into themselves, so it was in this case:
and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled: the battle going hard against them, and they not able to stand before their enemies:
and fell there, or "into them" (w); the slimepits, or fountains of bitumen, into which they precipitately fell, and many perished; or of their own accord they threw themselves into them for their own safety, as some think; though the sense may be this, that there was a great slaughter of them made there, as the word is frequently used, see 1 Samuel 4:10; this is to be understood not of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah; for it is certain that they were preserved alive, at least the king of Sodom, for we hear of him afterwards, Genesis 14:17; but of their soldiers:
and they that remained fled to the mountain: or mountains hard by, where Lot after went when Sodom was destroyed, Genesis 19:30; hither such fled that escaped the sword of the enemy, or perished not in the slimepits, judging it more safe to be there, than to be in their cities, which would fall into the hands of their enemies, and be plundered by them, and where they would be in danger of losing their lives.
(s) "putei, putei bituminis", Vatablus, Piscator, Cartwright, Drusius, Schmidt; so Jarchi. (t) Apud Adricom. Theatrum Terrae Sanct. p. 44. (u) Aelian. Var. Hist. l. 13. c. 16. (w) "in eos", Cocceius.
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