14:1 At that time 1 Amraphel king of Shinar, 2 Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations 3 14:2 went to war 4 against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 5 14:3 These last five kings 6 joined forces 7 in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). 8 14:4 For twelve years 9 they had served Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year 10 they rebelled. 11 14:5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings who were his allies came and defeated 12 the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 14:6 and the Horites in their hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is near the desert. 13 14:7 Then they attacked En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh) again, 14 and they conquered all the territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar.
14:8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and prepared for battle. In the Valley of Siddim they met 15 14:9 Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, 16 Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar. Four kings fought against 17 five. 14:10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits. 18 When the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, they fell into them, 19 but some survivors 20 fled to the hills. 21 14:11 The four victorious kings 22 took all the possessions and food of Sodom and Gomorrah and left. 14:12 They also took Abram’s nephew 23 Lot and his possessions when 24 they left, for Lot 25 was living in Sodom. 26
14:13 A fugitive 27 came and told Abram the Hebrew. 28 Now Abram was living by the oaks 29 of Mamre the Amorite, the brother 30 of Eshcol and Aner. (All these were allied by treaty 31 with Abram.) 32 14:14 When Abram heard that his nephew 33 had been taken captive, he mobilized 34 his 318 trained men who had been born in his household, and he pursued the invaders 35 as far as Dan. 36 14:15 Then, during the night, 37 Abram 38 divided his forces 39 against them and defeated them. He chased them as far as Hobah, which is north 40 of Damascus. 14:16 He retrieved all the stolen property. 41 He also brought back his nephew Lot and his possessions, as well as the women and the rest of 42 the people.
[14:2] sn Went to war. The conflict here reflects international warfare in the Early and Middle Bronze periods. The countries operated with overlords and vassals. Kings ruled over city states, or sometimes a number of city states (i.e., nations). Due to their treaties, when one went to war, those confederate with him joined him in battle. It appears here that it is Kedorlaomer’s war, because the western city states have rebelled against him (meaning they did not send products as tribute to keep him from invading them).
[14:2] 5 sn On the geographical background of vv. 1-2 see J. P. Harland, “Sodom and Gomorrah,” The Biblical Archaeologist Reader, 1:41-75; and D. N. Freedman, “The Real Story of the Ebla Tablets, Ebla and the Cities of the Plain,” BA 41 (1978): 143-64.
[14:4] 11 sn The story serves as a foreshadowing of the plight of the kingdom of Israel later. Eastern powers came and forced the western kingdoms into submission. Each year, then, they would send tribute east – to keep them away. Here, in the thirteenth year, they refused to send the tribute (just as later Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria). And so in the fourteenth year the eastern powers came to put them down again. This account from Abram’s life taught future generations that God can give victory over such threats – that people did not have to live in servitude to tyrants from the east.
[14:7] 14 tn Heb “they returned and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh).” The two verbs together form a verbal hendiadys, the first serving as the adverb: “they returned and came” means “they came again.” Most English translations do not treat this as a hendiadys, but translate “they turned back” or something similar. Since in the context, however, “came again to” does not simply refer to travel but an assault against the place, the present translation expresses this as “attacked…again.”
[14:13] 28 sn E. A. Speiser (Genesis [AB], 103) suggests that part of this chapter came from an outside source since it refers to Abram the Hebrew. That is not impossible, given that the narrator likely utilized traditions and genealogies that had been collected and transmitted over the years. The meaning of the word “Hebrew” has proved elusive. It may be related to the verb “to cross over,” perhaps meaning “immigrant.” Or it might be derived from the name of Abram’s ancestor Eber (see Gen 11:14-16).
[14:13] 31 tn Heb “possessors of a treaty with.” Since it is likely that the qualifying statement refers to all three (Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner) the words “all these” have been supplied in the translation to make this clear.
[14:14] 33 tn Heb “his brother,” by extension, “relative.” Here and in v. 16 the more specific term “nephew” has been used in the translation for clarity. Lot was the son of Haran, Abram’s brother (Gen 11:27).
[14:14] 34 tn The verb וַיָּרֶק (vayyareq) is a rare form, probably related to the word רֵיק (req, “to be empty”). If so, it would be a very figurative use: “he emptied out” (or perhaps “unsheathed”) his men. The LXX has “mustered” (cf. NEB). E. A. Speiser (Genesis [AB], 103-4) suggests reading with the Samaritan Pentateuch a verb diq, cognate with Akkadian deku, “to mobilize” troops. If this view is accepted, one must assume that a confusion of the Hebrew letters ד (dalet) and ר (resh) led to the error in the traditional Hebrew text. These two letters are easily confused in all phases of ancient Hebrew script development. The present translation is based on this view.
[14:14] 36 sn The use of the name Dan reflects a later perspective. The Danites did not migrate to this northern territory until centuries later (see Judg 18:29). Furthermore Dan was not even born until much later. By inserting this name a scribe has clarified the location of the region.