Genesis 14:10
And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
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(10) The vale of Siddim was full of slimepits.—That is, of holes whence bitumen had been excavated. Layers of this natural asphalte, well known both to the Greeks and Romans as pia Judaica, Judean pitch, still exist on the western side of the Dead Sea; and the places whence it had been dug out, and which are often very deep, formed dangerous impediments in the way of the defeated side.

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.We have now arrived again at the point we had reached in Genesis 14:3. The five kings came out and joined battle with the four in the dale of Siddim. This dale abounded in pits of mineral pitch, or asphalt. The kings of Sodom and Amorah fled toward these pits, and seem to have fallen into them and perished. The others betook themselves to the mountain - probably the heights on the cast of the dale.CHAPTER 14

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.

The vale of Siddim was chosen by those five kings for the place of battle, that their adversaries being ignorant of the place might unawares fall into those pits, which they by their knowledge of it thought to escape.

Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, i.e. their armies; a figurative speech, frequent in Scripture and other authors; for their persons escaped: see Genesis 14:17. They either,

1. Fell into the pits which they designed for others; or rather,

2. Were slain, as this word is oft used, as Joshua 8:24,25 Jud 8:10 12:6; and here too; for those that fell are here opposed to those that remained.

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.

And the {e} vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.

(e) And afterward was overwhelmed with water, and so was called the salt sea.

10. full of slime pits] i.e. bitumen pits. Bitumen, or asphalt, is found in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea. Josephus speaks of the bitumen floating upon the surface of its waters. Here we are to suppose that the bitumen came out of large holes or pits in the earth, into which the confederates fell in their flight.

“Full of slime pits.” The Hebrew idiom gives be’erôth be’erôth ḥêmar, “pits, pits of bitumen” = “all bitumen pits.” Cf. 2 Kings 3:16, “trenches, trenches” = “nothing but trenches.”

The narrative is so fragmentary, or condensed, that only the rout is recorded.

they fell] Referring to the fugitive troops generally. The king of Sodom appears again in Genesis 14:17. It is implied that those who fell into the pits were lost.

to the mountain] i.e. to the mountains of Moab, the chain of hills on the east side of the Dead Sea.

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. Genesis 14:10After conquering all these tribes to the east and west of the Arabah, they gave battle to the kings of the Pentapolis in the vale of Siddim, and put them to flight. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell there, the valley being full of asphalt-pits, and the ground therefore unfavourable for flight; but the others escaped to the mountains (הרה for ההרה), that is, to the Moabitish highlands with their numerous defiles. The conquerors thereupon plundered the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and carried off Lot, who dwelt in Sodom, and all his possessions, along with the rest of the captives, probably taking the route through the valley of the Jordan up to Damascus.
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