Genesis 14:1
And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations;
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(1) It came to pass.—Connected with the settlement of Lot in the Jordan valley is one of the most remarkable episodes in the whole of the Bible, derived either from Canaanite records, or, as Mr. Sayce thinks (Chald. Genesis, p. 72), from those of Babylon. The latter view is made the more probable by the fact that Amraphel, though but a subject king, is placed first; and the way in which the patriarch is described in it, as “Abram the Hebrew,” seems certainly to suggest that we have to do here with a narrative of foreign origin.

Its incorporation with the history admirably sets forth the consequences of Lot’s choice in the troubles, and even ruin, which overtook him, the bravery and power of Abram, and his generosity to the rescued kings. It is also most interesting, as showing Abram’s relation to the Amorites, among whom he lived, and the existence in Palestine of a Semitic population, who still worshipped “the most high God,” and over whom one of the noblest figures in the Old Testament was king. The narrative is Jehovistic, for Abram calls God Jehovah El Elton, but is, nevertheless, of such ancient date as to forbid the acceptance of the theory which regards the occurrence of the name Jehovah as a proof of later authorship. Upon Elam and the conquests and route of Chedorlaomer, see Excursus at end of this book.

Amraphel.—An Accadian name, which Lenormant has found on Babylonian cylinders, and which he explains as meaning “the circle of the year.”

Shinar.—See on Genesis 10:10.

Arioch.i.e., Eriaku, which in Accadian means “servant of the moon-god.” He was king of Ellasar, i.e., Al-Larsa, the city of Larsa, now called Senkereh. It is situated on the left bank of the Euphrates, in Lower Babylonia, and has contributed some very ancient tablets to the collection in the British Museum. The name occurs again in Daniel 2:14.

Tidal.—More correctly in the LXX., Thargal, that is, Tur-gal. the great son (Sayce). In the Syriac he is called “Thargil, king of the Gelae,” the latter being a mistake, through reading Gelim for Goim. This word does not mean “nations,” but is a proper name, spelt Gutium in the inscriptions, “by which the Accadians designated the whole tract of country which extended from the Tigris to the eastern borders of Media, including the district afterwards known as Assyria” (Chald. Gen., p. 197).

Genesis 14:1-2. We have here an account of the first war that we read of in Scripture, in which we may observe: 1st, The parties engaged in it. The invaders were four kings; two of them no less than kings of Shinar and Elam; that is, Chaldea and Persia; yet, probably, not the sovereign princes of those great kingdoms, but rather the heads of some colonies which came out thence, and settled themselves near Sodom, but retained the names of the countries from which they had their original. The invaded were the kings of five cities that lay near together in the plain of Jordan, Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. 2d, The occasion of this war was, the revolt of the five kings from under the government of Chedorlaomer.

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.The raid is minutely described in Genesis 14:1-12. The dominant confederacy consists of four kings. Many generations back the first world power, consisting of four cities, was established by Nimrod in the land of Shinar Genesis 10:8-10. This has now given way to a world-confederacy, consisting of four kings. From the vicinity of the places in which they reigned it is evident that they were petty princes of domains varying from a town and its suburbs to a comparatively extensive territory. The first, Amraphel, is king of Shinar. He is therefore the successor of Nimrod, and the sovereign of the most ancient kingdoms, and on these grounds occupies the first place in the list. But this kingdom is no longer the sole or even the supreme power. Amraphel is probably the descendant of Nimrod, and a Kushite. The second, Ariok, is king of Ellasar. If this town be the same as Larsa, lying between the Frat and the Shat el-Hie, the land of Shinar has been divided between two sovereigns, and no longer belongs entirely to the successor of Nimrod. Lower Shinar includes also Ur of the Kasdim; and hence, Ariok probably represents that race.

The third, Kedorlaomer, is king of Elam, or Elymais, a country east of the lower Tigris, and separated by it from Shinar. He is probably a Shemite, as the country over which he ruled received its name from a son of Shem Genesis 10:22. He is the lord paramount of the others, and commander-in-chief of the united forces. Hence, the Hamite seems to have already succumbed to the Shemite. The fourth, Tidel, is designated "king of Goim." Goim means nations; and it is doubtful whether it denotes here a special nation or a congeries of tribes. The Gentiles, especially so called, seem to have been Japhethites Genesis 10:5. It is obvious that four nationalities are here leagued together, corresponding probably to the Kiprat arbat, four nations or tongues mentioned by Rawlinson (Anc. Mon. I. p. 69). But Kedorlaomer, king of Elam, is clearly not a Kushite. The only question seems to be whether he is a Shemite or a Japhethite, or Arian, in which race the Shemite was ultimately absorbed. If the former alternative be adopted, we may have two Shemite languages among the four. If the latter be accepted, Kedorlaomer is an Arian; Tidal, a Turanian; Amraphel, a Hamite; and Ariok, a Shemite. In either case the Kushite has become subordinate, and a Japhethite or a Shemite has attained the predominance.


Ge 14:1-24. War.

1. And it came to pass—This chapter presents Abram in the unexpected character of a warrior. The occasion was this: The king of Sodom and the kings of the adjoining cities, after having been tributaries for twelve years to the king of Elam, combined to throw off his yoke. To chastise their rebellion, as he deemed it, Chedorlaomer, with the aid of three allies, invaded the territories of the refractory princes, defeated them in a pitched battle where the nature of the ground favored his army (Ge 14:10), and hastened in triumph on his homeward march, with a large amount of captives and booty, though merely a stranger.Several kings wage war against the king of Sodom, &c.; Lot is taken prisoner, Genesis 14:1-12. Abram rescues him, Genesis 14:13-16. The king of Sodom congratulates him his victory, Genesis 14:17. Melchizedek king of Salem blesses him; to him Abram gives tithes, Genesis 14:18-20. The king of Sodom offers to give Abram the goods taken in victory, Genesis 14:21; which Abram refuses to accept, Genesis 14:22-24.

i.e. Of a people which came to him out of several nations, (being allured possibly by his fame, or by promises and privileges granted to them), and put themselves under his government. Or Goiim is the name of a certain place or country, so called from the confluence of divers people or nations thither, as Tyrus is called the mart of nations, Isaiah 23:3, upon the same account.

And it came to pass, in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar,.... Or Babylon, as Onkelos, where Nimrod began his kingdom, Genesis 10:8. This was Nimrod himself, as the Jewish writers generally says; though more likely Ninyas the son of Ninus and Semiramis, and grandson of Nimrod; or rather some petty prince or deputy governor of Shinar, under the king of Babylon; since, though named first, he was not the principal in this war, but fought under the king of Elam, and as an ally and auxiliary of his; and it may be the kingdom of Babylon was not as yet of any great extent and power, and that all those stories told of Ninus, Semiramis, and Ninyas, are mere fables; and indeed we hear nothing in Scripture of this kingdom, and the kings of it, from this time, until the times of Merodach Baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, in the reign of Hezekiah king of Judah; nor of the Assyrian kingdom, and the kings of it, until Pul king of Assyria, in the times of Menahem king of Israel; wherefore it is greatly to be questioned, whether those kingdoms rose to any considerable height until these times: though some think that Shinar here does not intend Shinar in Chaldea or Babylon, which was too far distant from Abram, but Shinar in Mesopotamia, a large city at the foot of a mountain, three days distant from Mansil, which is now, in Arabic, called Singjar, and by Ptolemy, Singara (n).

Arioch king of Ellasar; or Telassar, according to the Targum of Jonathan, a place in Mesopotamia, inhabited by the children of Eden, Isaiah 37:12; and Stephanus (o) makes mention of a city in Coelesyria, upon the borders of Arabia, called Ellas, of which this prince may be thought to be the governor; or rather he was king of a people called Elesari, whose country is placed by Ptolemy (p) in Arabia; and could Ninyas be thought to be Amraphel, this king would bid fair to be Ariaeus a king of Arabia, or a son of his of the same name, that was a confederate of Ninus, as Diodorus Siculus (q) relates out of Ctesias. Next follows:

Chedorlaomer king of Elam; or the Elamites, as the Vulgate Latin version, the Persians, see Acts 1:9. This led Diodorus (r) to say, that the war Moses speaks of is what the Persians waged against the Sodomites. This seems to have been the most powerful prince at this time, to whom the five kings of Sodom, &c. had been subject for twelve years, but now had rebelled, and to subdue them again he came forth, with three other kings his allies, see Genesis 14:4; but if Elam is the same with Persia, as it often signifies, or with Elymais, a part of Persia, that kingdom could not be at this time so large and potent as it has been since; or Chedorlaomer would not have stood in need of the assistance of other princes against such petty kings as those of Sodom, &c. Nor does it seem credible that he should come out of Persia, and pass through so great a part of the world as the countries of Assyria, Chaldea, Mesopotamia, Syria, and part of Arabia and of Canaan, to bring five such small towns or cities into subjection to him, as he must, as Sir Walter Raleigh (s) observes; nor could the trifle of goods, as they may be comparatively called, he carried off, be an equivalent to the expense he must be at in so long a march. It is more probable, therefore, that this was the name of some place near to the land of Canaan, built by some of the posterity of Elam, the son of Shem, and called after the name of their ancestor; or it may be a colony of the Elamites in those parts, of which this prince was their head and chief:

and Tidal king of nations; that is, either of other nations distinct from those before mentioned, so Aben Ezra; or else, as he also observes, the name of a province; or as Jarchi and Ben Melech, the name of a place called Goim, because there were gathered together many out of various nations and places, and they set a man to reign over them, whose name was Tidal; just as one of the Galilees in later times was called Galilee of the nations, for a like reason. Sir Walter Raleigh (t) conjectures, that as there were many petty kingdoms joining to Phoenicia and Palestine, as Palmyrene, Batanea, Laodicene, Apamene, Chalcidice, Cassiotis and Celibonitis, these might be gathered together under this man. According to Eupolemus (u), an Heathen writer, these several princes were Armenians that fought with the Phoenicians, and overcame them, by whom Lot was carried captive. Josephus (w) indeed, accommodating himself to the Greek historians, and in favour of them, says that the Assyrians at this time were masters of Asia, and led out an army under four generals, and made the kings of Sodom, &c. tributary to them; and they rebelling against them, made another expedition upon them under these four kings as their generals, and conquered them: but it seems not likely that the Assyrian monarchy was so large at this time; or if it was, these live petty kings of the plain of Jordan, who had not so much ground as our Middlesex, as Sir Walter Raleigh (x) observes, and perhaps not a quarter of the people in it, would never have dared to have engaged with so powerful an adversary.

(n) Hyde Hist. Relig. Pers. c. 2. p. 46. (o) De Urbibus. (p) Geograph. l. 6. c. 7. (q) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 90. (r) Apud Drusium in loc. (s) History of the World, par. 1. B. 2. c. 1. sect. 13. p. 138. (t) Ibid. sect. 11. p. 137. (u) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 17. p. 418. (w) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 9. (x) Ut supra, (History of the World, par. 1. B. 2. c. 1.) sect. 10. p. 136.

And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of {a} Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of {b} nations;

(a) That is, of Babylon: by kings here, meaning, them that were governors of cities.

(b) Of a people gathered from various countries.

Khammurabi (? Amraphel), King of Babylon, receiving laws from Shamash, the Sun-god.

1–12. The Campaign

1. And it came to pass in the days of] The opening formula of a new Hebrew section. Cf. Ruth 1:1; 2 Samuel 21:1; Esther 1:1; Isaiah 7:1.

Amraphel] King of Shinar, very generally accepted as the Hebrew reproduction of the name Hammurabi, king of Babylonia about 2150 b.c. (?). On the assumption of this identification it has been conjectured that the last syllable of the name should be “-i” instead of “-el,” i.e. Amraphi. For Shinar, see note on Genesis 10:10 and Genesis 11:2.

Hammurabi is famous as the king who finally freed his kingdom from the yoke of the Elamites, who united northern and southern Babylonia under one rule, and extended his conquests as far west as Palestine. Many cuneiform documents, belonging to his reign and referring to his government, have been discovered and deciphered, most remarkable and important of all being his Code of Laws1[15].

[15] Discovered in Dec. 1901 and Jan. 1902 by M. Le Morgan at Susa. See Driver’s Exodus, Appendix III.

Arioch king of Ellasar] Possibly the same as Rim-sin who is said to be referred to in an ancient Sumerian record as Eri-Aku, son of Kudur-Mabug, king of Larsa, and a contemporary of Hammurabi. Ellasar is clearly the Babylonian town Larsa, which is identified with the ruins of the modern Senkereh on the E. bank of the Euphrates in S. Babylonia.

We meet with the name of Arioch in a Babylonian court-official (Daniel 2:15); and as a “king of the Elymaeans,” a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar (Jdt 1:6).

Chedorlaomer] King of Elam. The name has not hitherto been identified in the history of Western Asia. In its formation, however, it is genuinely Elamite, i.e. Kudur = “servant,” and Lagamar = an Elamite deity. The supremacy of Elam over all that region of Western Asia about the time of Hammurabi is attested by the ancient documents. For Elam, see note on Genesis 10:22. It is the country called in the Assyrian Elamtu, and in the Greek Elymais, north of the Persian Gulf and east of the Lower Tigris. Its capital was Susa, which appears in the classical form of Susiana. On the overthrow of Elam by the Persians, see Jeremiah 49:34-39.

Tidal king of Goiim] The attempts which have been made to identify Tidal have not yet been successful. But there is no reason to suppose that it is a fictitious name; and future research may bring his name to light. Goiim is the regular Hebrew word for “nations,” and therefore seems to be very improbable as the name of a country or city. It may have been substituted by a Hebrew copyist for some unfamiliar proper name resembling it in pronunciation, or in shape of letters. Thus Sir Henry Rawlinson’s conjecture of Gutim has very generally found favour. The Guti were a people often mentioned in the inscriptions, living in the region of Kurdistan. Sayce suggests that Goiim may be correct as the Hebrew translation of the Assyrian Ummanmanda, the peoples, or nomad hordes, that constantly swept through those regions.

Verse 1. - And it came to pass. After the separation of Abram and Lot, the latter of whom now appears as a citizen of Sodom, and not merely a settler in the Jordan circle; perhaps about the eighty-fourth year of Abram's life (Hughes). The present chapter, "the oldest extant record respecting Abraham" (Ewald), but introduced into the Mosaic narrative by the Jehovistic editor (Knobel, Tuch, Bleek, Davidson), possesses traces of authenticity, of which not the least is the chronological definition with which it commences (Havernick). In the days of Amraphel. Sanscrit, Amrapala, keeper of the gods (Gesenius); Arphaxad (Furst); powerful people (Young, 'Analytical Concordance'); root unknown (Murphy, Kalisch). King of Skinar. Babel (Onkelos); Bagdad (Arabic version of Erpenius); Pontus (Jonathan); the successor of Nimrod (vide Genesis 10:10). Arioch. Sanscrit, Arjaka, venerated (Bohlen, Gesenius, Furst); probably from the root אֲרִי, a lion, hence leonine (Gesenius, Murphy). The name, which re. appears in Daniel 2:14, has been compared, though doubtfully, with the Urukh of the inscriptions (vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 9). King of Ellasar. Pontus (Symmachus, Vulgate); the region between Babylon and Elymais (Gesenius); identified with Larsa or Laranka, the Λάρισσα or λαράχων of the Greeks, now Senkereh, a town of Lower Babylonia, between Mugheir (Ur) and Wrarka (Erech), on the left bank of the Euphrates (Rawlinson). Chedorlaomer. A "handful of sheaves," if the word be Phoenicio-Shemitie, though probably its true etymology should be sought in ancient Persian (Gesenius, Furst). The name has been detected by archaeologists in Kudur-mapula, the Ravager of the West, whom monumental evidence declares to have reigned over Babylon in the twentieth century B.C.; and "Kudurnanhundi the Elamite, the worship of the great gods who did not fear," and the conqueror of Chaldaea, B.C. 2280; but in both instances the identifications are problematical. The name Chedorlaomer in Babylonian would be Kudur-lagamer; but as yet this name has not been found on the inscriptions (vide 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3 pp. 7, 19). King of Elam. East of Babylonia, on the north of the Persian Gulf (cf. Genesis 10:22). And Tidal. "Fear, veneration" (Gesenius); terror (Murphy); "splendor, renown" (Furst); though the name may not be Shemitic. King of nations. The Scythians (Symmachus); the Galilean heathen (Clericus, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch), which are inappropriate in this connection nomadic races (Rawlinson); probably some smaller tribes so gradually subjugated by Tidal as to render it "impossible to describe him briefly with any degree of accuracy" (Kalisch). Genesis 14:1In Genesis 14:1-3 the account is introduced by a list of the parties engaged in war. The kings named here are not mentioned again. On Shinar, see Genesis 10:10; and on Elam, Genesis 10:22. It cannot be determined with certainty where Ellasar was. Knobel supposes it to be Artemita, which was also called Χαλάσαρ, in southern Assyria, to the north of Babylon. Goyim is not used here for nations generally, but is the name of one particular nation or country. In Delitzsch's opinion it is an older name for Galilee, though probably with different boundaries (cf. Joshua 12:23; Judges 4:2; and Isaiah 9:1). - The verb עשׂוּ (made), in Genesis 14:2, is governed by the kings mentioned in Genesis 14:1. To Bela, whose king is not mentioned by name, the later name Zoar (vid., Genesis 19:22) is added as being better known.
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