Genesis 14:4
Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
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(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.


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.
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. Genesis 14:4The occasion of the war was the revolt of the kings of the vale of Siddim from Chedorlaomer. They had been subject to him for twelve years, "and the thirteenth year they rebelled." In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer came with his allies to punish them for their rebellion, and attacked on his way several other cities to the east of the Arabah, as far as the Elanitic Gulf, no doubt because they also had withdrawn from his dominion. The army moved along the great military road from inner Asia, past Damascus, through Peraea, where they smote the Rephaims, Zuzims, Emims, and Horites. "The Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim:" all that is known with certainty of the Rephaim is, that they were a tribe of gigantic stature, and in the time of Abram had spread over the whole of Peraea, and held not only Bashan, but the country afterwards possessed by the Moabites; from which possessions they were subsequently expelled by the descendants of Lot and the Amorites, and so nearly exterminated, that Og, king of Bashan, is described as the remnant of the Rephaim (Deuteronomy 2:20; Deuteronomy 3:11, Deuteronomy 3:13; Joshua 12:4; Joshua 13:12). Beside this, there were Rephaim on this side of the Jordan among the Canaanitish tribes (Genesis 15:20), some to the west of Jerusalem, in the valley which was called after them the valley of the Rephaim (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; 2 Samuel 5:18, etc.), others on the mountains of Ephraim (Joshua 17:15); while the last remains of them were also to be found among the Philistines (2 Samuel 21:16.; 1 Chronicles 20:4.). The current explanation of the name, viz., "the long-stretched," or giants (Ewald), does not prevent our regarding רפא as the personal name of their forefather, though no intimation is given of their origin. That they were not Canaanites may be inferred from the fact, that on the eastern side of the Jordan they were subjugated and exterminated by the Canaanitish branch of the Amorites. Notwithstanding this, they may have been descendants of Ham, though the fact that the Canaanites spoke a Semitic tongue rather favours the conclusion that the oldest population of Canaan, and therefore the Rephaim, were of Semitic descent. At any rate, the opinion of J. G. Mller, that they belonged to the aborigines, who were not related to Shem, Ham, and Japhet, is perfectly arbitrary. - Ashteroth Karnaim, or briefly Ashtaroth, the capital afterwards of Og of Bashan, was situated in Hauran; and ruins of it are said to be still seen in Tell Ashtereh, two hours and a half from Nowah, and one and three-quarters from the ancient Edrei, somewhere between Nowah and Mezareib (see Ritter, Erdkunde).

(Note: J. G. Wetztein, however, has lately denied the identity of Ashteroth Karnaim, which he interprets as meaning Ashtaroth near Karnaim, with Ashtaroth the capital of Og (see Reiseber. b. Hauran, etc. 1860, p. 107). But he does so without sufficient reason. He disputes most strongly the fact that Ashtaroth was situated on the hill Ashtere, because the Arabs now in Hauran assured him, that the ruins of this Tell (or hill) suggested rather a monastery or watch-tower than a large city, and associates it with the Bostra of the Greeks and Romans, the modern Bozra, partly on account of the central situation of this town, and its consequent importance to Hauran and Peraea generally, and partly also on account of the similarity in the name, as Bostra is the latinized form of Beeshterah, which we find in Joshua 21:27 in the place of the Ashtaroth of 1 Chronicles 6:56; and that form is composed of Beth Ashtaroth, to which there are as many analogies as there are instances of the omission of Beth before the names of towns, which is a sufficient explanation of Ashtaroth (cf. Ges. thes., p. 175 and 193).)

"The Zuzims in Ham" were probably the people whom the Ammonites called Zam zummim, and who were also reckoned among the Rephaim (Deuteronomy 2:20). Ham was possibly the ancient name of Rabba of the Ammonites (Deuteronomy 3:11), the remains being still preserved in the ruins of Ammn. - "The Emim in the plain of Kiryathaim:" the אימים or אמים (i.e., fearful, terrible), were the earlier inhabitants of the country of the Moabites, who gave them the name; and, like the Anakim, they were also reckoned among the Rephaim (Deuteronomy 2:11). Kiryathaim is certainly not to be found where Eusebius and Jerome supposed, viz., in Καριάδα, Coraiatha, the modern Koerriath or Kereyat, ten miles to the west of Medabah; for this is not situated in the plain, and corresponds to Kerioth (Jeremiah 48:24), with which Eusebius and Jerome have confounded Kiryathaim. It is probably still to be seen in the ruins of el Teym or et Tueme, about a mile to the west of Medabah. "The Horites (from חרי, dwellers in caves), in the mountains of Seir," were the earlier inhabitants of the land between the Dead Sea and the Elanitic Gulf, who were conquered and exterminated by the Edomites (Genesis 36:20.). - "To El-paran, which is by the wilderness:" i.e., on the eastern side of the desert of Paran (see Genesis 21:21), probably the same as Elath (Deuteronomy 2:8) or Eloth (1 Kings 9:26), the important harbour of Aila on the northern extremity of the so-called Elanitic Gulf, near the modern fortress of Akaba, where extensive heaps of rubbish show the site of the former town, which received its name El or Elath (terebinth, or rather wood) probably from the palm-groves in the vicinity.

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