Genesis 14:4
Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) They served.—That is, paid a yearly tribute, that they might be exempt from Chedorlaomer’s marauding expeditions (see 2Kings 18:7). There must, therefore, have been envoys going from time to time to and from the Jordan valley to Shinar.

Genesis 14:4. Twelve years they served him — The Sodomites were the posterity of Canaan, whom Noah had pronounced a servant to Shem, from whom Elam descended. Thus soon did that prophecy begin to be fulfilled. In the thirteenth year (beginning to be weary of their subjection) they rebelled — Denied their tribute, and attempted to shake off the yoke.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 narrative here reverts to the previous circumstances which gave occasion to the present raid. "Twelve years had they served Kedorlaomer." These years date probably from the commencement of his reign. They may have been previously dependent on the dominant power in Shinar, and connected with it by national descent. If Kedorlaomer had wrested the supremacy from the king of Shinar, and so was regarded as an alien by the princes of Siddim, their coolness might gradually ripen into disaffection. In the thirteenth year they rebelled, and in the fourteenth Kedorlaomer came to quell the revolt. This military expedition embraced far loftier objects than the mere subjugation of the Pentapolis in the dale of Siddim. In passing from Shinar the invaders must have marched in a northwesterly direction along the Frat, touching upon Tadmor and Damascus. We are not informed whether they held any sway or made any conquest in these intervening regions. But they overran the country that stretches along the whole cast side of the Jordan, and the parts south and west of the Salt Sea.

The Rephaim lay in Peraea. Some of them also were once found on the west side of the Jordan Genesis 15:20, where they gave name to the valley of Rephaim (Wady el-Werd), southwest of Jerusalem, on the way to Bethlehem Joshua 15:8, occupied part of Mount Ephraim Joshua 17:15, and lingered for a long time among the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:16, ff.). They were a tall or gigantic race. They were not Kenaanites, but seem to have entered the country before them. They were conquered in Peraea by the Amorites, a branch of the Kenaanite family; and by the descendants of Lot, the Ammonites and Moabites. A remnant of them only lingered in the country when the Israelites arrived Deuteronomy 2:20; Deuteronomy 3:11, Deuteronomy 3:13. They may have been Shemites or Japhethites. The site of Ashteroth Carnaim has not been ascertained. Ritter finds it in Tell Ash'areh. Porter suggests 'Afineh, eight miles from Busrah, as the Samaritan version has 'Aphinit for 'Ashtaroth.

The Zuzim dwelt between the Jabbok and the Arnon. They are supposed to be the same as the Zamzummin, who were dispossessed by the Ammonites. If so, they were a branch of the Rephaim Deuteronomy 2:20. Their town, Ham, is of unknown site.

The Emim were also accounted Rephaim. They lay on the east of the Salt Sea, and were afterward conquered by the Moabites, who gave them this name Deuteronomy 2:10-11. Of Shaveh Kiriathaim, the plain of the two cities, the name probably remains in el-Kureiyat, a site near Jebel Attarus in Moab.

The Horites were perhaps a Shemite tribe, the aboriginal inhabitants of Mount Seir, where they dwelt in caves; such as are still to be seen in Petra and other places around. They were afterward absorbed into the Edomites. Mount Seir stretches between the Salt Sea and the Elanitic Gulf. El-Paran, terebinth of Paran, is perhaps the same as Elath, at the head of the gulf of Aelana or Akaba. Paran lay west of Mount Seir and south of Palestine, and stretched into the peninsula of Sinai, where the name may yet be preserved in Wady Feiran. El-Paran would thus be by the wilderness of that name, now et-Tih.

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.

He was their lord, either,

1. By inheritance, as the issue of Elam, Shem’s son, Genesis 10:22. Or,

2. By conquest, having subdued those people in a former war, which Josephus speaks of. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer,.... King of Elam, who was of the race of Shem, and so the prophecy of Noah began to be fulfilled, that Canaan should be servant to Shem, Genesis 9:26; for the kings of Sodom, &c. and their subjects, were of the race of Ham in the line of Canaan, who had by violence seized on that part of the earth which was allotted to the sons of Shem, and therefore Chedorlaomer being a descendant of his claimed his right, and made them tributary to him, which they were for the space of twelve years:

and in the thirteenth year they rebelled; refused homage to Chedorlaomer and to pay tribute to him.

Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. they served] The five kings “served,” i.e. were vassals, and paid tribute to, the king of Elam who was their over-lord.

rebelled] Probably by omitting to pay tribute or to send gifts, as they had done for 12 years. The distance from southern Palestine to Elam was great. The five kings were doubtless petty princes, who took part in a wide-spread rebellion. Perhaps they took advantage of the decline of the power of Elam, and of the growth of the power of Babylonia. This is a justifiable conjecture if “Amraphel” be the same as Hammurabi. For Hammurabi threw off the yoke of Elam, united Babylonia, and founded the Dynasty of Babylon.

Compare the description in 2 Kings 24:1, “Jehoiakim became his [Nebuchadnezzar’s] servant three years; then he turned, and rebelled against him.”Verse 4. - Twelve years - dating from the commencement of his reign (Murphy) - they served - and paid tribute (cf. 2 Kings 18:7) - Chedorlaomer. If the king of Elam was a Shemite prince, this was m accordance with the Noachic prophecy (Genesis 9:26); but according to the monuments the Elamits dynasty was Turanian. And in the thirteenth year - during the whole of the thirteenth year (vide Ewald's 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 300, a; cf. Ver. 5) - they rebelled, or had rebelled. After Lot's departure, Jehovah repeated to Abram (by a mental, inward assurance, as we may infer from the fact that אמר "said" is not accompanied by ויּרא "he appeared") His promise that He would give the land to him and to his seed in its whole extent, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward, and would make his seed innumerable like the dust of the earth. From this we may see that the separation of Lot was in accordance with the will of God, as Lot had no share in the promise of God; though God afterwards saved him from destruction for Abram's sake. The possession of the land is promised עולם עד "for ever." The promise of God is unchangeable. As the seed of Abraham was to exist before God for ever, so Canaan was to be its everlasting possession. But this applied not to the lineal posterity of Abram, to his seed according to the flesh, but to the true spiritual seed, which embraced the promise in faith, and held it in a pure believing heart. The promise, therefore, neither precluded the expulsion of the unbelieving seed from the land of Canaan, nor guarantees to existing Jews a return to the earthly Palestine after their conversion to Christ. For as Calvin justly says, "quam terra in saeculum promittitur, non simpliciter notatur perpetuitas; sed quae finem accepit in Christo." Through Christ the promise has been exalted from its temporal form to its true essence; through Him the whole earth becomes Canaan (vid., Genesis 17:8). That Abram might appropriate this renewed and now more fully expanded promise, Jehovah directed him to walk through the land in the length of it and the breadth of it. In doing this he came in his "tenting," i.e., his wandering through the land, to Hebron, where he settled by the terebinth of the Amorite Mamre (Genesis 14:13), and built an altar to Jehovah. The term ישׁב (set himself, settled down, sat, dwelt) denotes that Abram made this place the central point of his subsequent stay in Canaan (cf. Genesis 14:13; Genesis 18:1, and Genesis 23). On Hebron, see Genesis 23:2.
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