Genesis 14:15
And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them to Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Hobah . . . on the left hand of Damascus.—That is, to the north, as the Hebrews looked eastward in defining the quarters of the heaven. The victory had thus been followed up with great energy, the pursuit having lasted, according to Josephus, the whole of the next day and night after that on which the attack was made. At Hobah the mountains cease, and the great plain of Damascus begins, and further pursuit was therefore useless.

14:13-16 Abram takes this opportunity to give a real proof of his being truly friendly to Lot. We ought to be ready to succour those in distress, especially relations and friends. And though others may have been wanting in their duty to us, yet we must not neglect our duty to them. Abram rescued the captives. As we have opportunity, we must do good to all.Abram and his confederates found the enemy secure and at their ease, not expecting pursuit. They attack them on two quarters; Abram, probably, on the one, and his allies on the other; by night, defeat and pursue them unto Hobah. "On the left hand of Damascus." Hobah was on the north of Damascus. An Eastern, in fixing the points of the heavens, faces the rising sun, in which position the east is before him, the west behind, the south at the right hand, and the north at the left. Hobah is referred by the Jews to Jobar, a place northeast of Damascus. J. L. Porter suggests a place due north, called Burzeh, where there is a Muslim wely or saint's tomb, called Makam Ibrahim, the sanctuary of Abraham (Handbook, p. 492). This route, by the north of Damascus, illustrates the necessity of advancing far north to get round the desert intervening between Shinar and the cities of the plain.

Damascus, Dimishk, esh-Sham, is a very ancient city of Aram. The choice of the site was probably determined by the Abana (Barada) and Pharpar (Awaj), flowing, the one from Anti-Libanus, and the other from Mount Hermon, and fertilizing a circuit of thirty miles. Within this area arose a city which, amidst all the changes of dynasty that have come over it, has maintained its prosperity to the present day, when it has one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants. It was originally occupied by the descendants of Aram, and may have been built, as Josephus informs us, by Uz his son.

Abram, with his allies, succeeded in defeating the enemy and recovering the property, with the prisoners, male and female, that had been carried away, and, among the rest, Lot, the object of his generous and gallant adventure.

Verse 7-24

Abram's reception on his return. "The king of Sodom." This is either Bera, if he survived the defeat, or, if not, his successor. "The dale of Shaveh, which is the King's dale." The word עמק ‛ēmeq is rendered here uniformly by the familiar term "dale." The dale of Shaveh is here explained by the "King's dale." This phrase occurs at a period long subsequent as the name of the valley in which Absalom reared his pillar 2 Samuel 18:18. There is nothing to hinder the identity of the place, which must, according to the latter passage, have been not far from Jerusalem. Josephus makes the distance two stadia, which accords with the situation of Absalom's tomb, though the building now so-called, in the valley of Jehoshaphat, seems to be of later origin. The identity of the King's dale with the valley cast of Jerusalem, through which the Kedron flows, corresponds very well with the present passage.

15, 16. he divided himself … by night—This war between the petty princes of ancient Canaan is exactly the same as the frays and skirmishes between Arab chiefs in the present day. When a defeated party resolves to pursue the enemy, they wait till they are fast asleep; then, as they have no idea of posting sentinels, they rush upon them from different directions, strike down the tent poles—if there is any fight at all, it is the fray of a tumultuous mob—a panic commonly ensues, and the whole contest is ended with little or no loss on either side. He divided himself, i.e. his forces into several parties, that coming upon them from several quarters he might strike them with greater terror, whilst they thought his army far more numerous than it was. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants by night,.... Together with his confederates; and very probably their whole three was divided into four parts, under their four leaders; and this might be done in order to attack the four kings and their soldiers, who might be in four separate bodies; or to fall upon their camp in the four quarters of it, and to make a show of a greater army, thereby to intimidate the enemy: Abram seems to have understood the art of war, and the use of stratagems in it; and, as it might be night before he could come up to them, he took the advantage of that, and fell upon them unawares, when some were asleep in their beds, and others drunk, as Josephus (g) relates; and who also says, it was on the fifth night after Abram had knowledge of what had happened at Sodom:

and smote them, and pursued them unto Hoba, which is on the left hand of Damascus; a famous city in Syria; it was in later times the metropolis of that country, Isaiah 7:8; and was most delightfully situated in a vale; see Gill on Jeremiah 49:25; according to Josephus (h) it was built by Uz, the son of Aram and grandson of Shem, and some say (i) by Shem himself, and that it is to this day called Sem in the Saracene language, and lay between Palestine and Coelesyria; on the left hand of this city, or on the north of it, as all the Targums paraphrase it, lay a place called Hoba, and is completed to be eighty miles from Dan, from whence he pursued them hither, after he had discomfited them there.

(g) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 10. sect. 1.((h) lbid. c. 6. sect. 4. (i) Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 3. c. 4. p. 111.

And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. divided himself against them by night] Abram divides his forces into three bands, and from three different quarters delivers a simultaneous night attack. The same manoeuvre was adopted by Gideon (Jdg 7:20-22), when a small force similarly routed a large army. Cf. 1 Samuel 11:11. The surprise was complete. Chedorlaomer’s panic-stricken troops are chased for over 100 miles, and all the prisoners and booty recovered.

There is no mention of Abram’s confederates (see Genesis 14:13; Genesis 14:24). The credit of the victories lies with Abram and his household force.

unto Hobah] Probably a place about 50 miles north of Damascus. Skinner rightly points out that “it is idle to pretend that Abram’s victory was merely a surprise attack on the rearguard, and the recovery of part of the booty. A pursuit carried so far implies the rout of the main body of the enemy” (p. 267).

which is on the left hand of Damascus] For “left hand,” R.V. marg. has north. An Israelite always spoke as if he were facing eastward; and the north is, therefore, on his left hand; cf. Genesis 2:24.

Damascus, the capital of Syria (Heb. Damméseḳ = Assyr. Dimashḳi, = Dimashk esh-Shâm, i.e. “Damascus of Syria”), a famous city, mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions as early as the 16th century. On the fable of Abram’s capture of it, see note on Genesis 12:5.Verse 15. - And he divided himself (i.e. his forces) against them, he and his servants (along with the troops of his allies), by night, and (falling on them unexpectedly from different quarters) smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah. A place Choba is mentioned in Judith 15:5 as that to which the Assyrians were pursued by the victorious Israelites. A village of the same name existed near Damascus in the time of Eusebius, and is "probably preserved in the village Hoba, mentioned by Troilo, a quarter of a mile to the north of Damascus" (Keil); or in that of Hobah, two miles outside the walls (Stanley, ' Syria and Palestine,' 414, k.), or in Burzeh, where there is a Moslem wady, or saint's tomb, called the sanctuary of Abraham (Porter's 'Handbook,' p. 492). Which is to the left of (i.e. to the north of, the spectator being supposed to look eastward) Damascus. The metropolis of Syria, on the river Chrysorrhoas, in a large and fertile plain at the foot of Antilibanus, the oldest existing city in the world, being possessed at the present day of 150,000 inhabitants. After 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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