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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-12


Verses 1-12:

Lot appears to have moved from the rural area of the "plain" or round of Jordan into Sodom, to become identified as a citizen of that city.

A confederacy of four kings had invaded the region of southern Palestine, and subjected the people to their rule. This likely occurred before Lot moved to Sodom. These four kings were:

Amraphel, "keeper of the gods" (Sanscrit). He was king of Shinar, or Babel, and is identified as successor to Nimrod (Ge 10:10).

Arioch, "venerated" (Sanskrit Arjakah). He was king of Ellasar, the region between Elymais and Babylon. The Greeks identified this as Larsa or Laranka.

Chedorlaomer, "a handful of sheaves." Archaeologists identify him from inscriptions on monuments as Kudur-mapula, the "Ravagers of the West." He was king of Elam, a territory east of Babylonia on the north of the Persian Gulf.

Tidal, "fear or veneration or terror." He was "king of nations," a term denoting the Scythians, or some smaller tribes subjugated by him.

Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela were city-states located in the "plain" or "round" of the lower Jordan valley. After twelve years of being tributary to the Babylon Confederacy, the kings of these cities joined in revolt. In the following year, the confederacy moved to re-establish their rule and to punish the rebels. They moved not only against the five kings but also their neighbors. These included:

The Rephaims, in the Septuagint, gigantas, denoting people of gigantic stature (see De 3:11, for a note on one of their later kings). They were part of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Land, existing as late as the time of Joshua. Their city was Ashteroth­karnaim, "Ashteroth of the Two Horns." This indicates that they were idolaters, dedicated to the worship of the sex-goddess Ashteroth.

Zuzims, probably the Zamzummims who lived between Jabbok and Arnon (see De 2:20). Their city, Ham, was likely Rabba of the


Emims, "fearful and terrible men," who lived in the territory later known as Moab. Their city was Shaveh Kiriathaim.

The Horites, cave-dwellers who lived in the mountainous region between the lower Jordan Valley and the Gulf of ELa

The eastern Confederacy swept through the territory of these peoples, and moved against Enmisphat, the "well of judgment," near Kadesh. The exact site of this city is unknown.

The "country of the Amalekites" refers to the territory later inhabited by the descendants of Amalek, who was a grandson of Esau.

The Amorites were mountain-dwellers. Hazezon-tamar is identified as En-gedi, see Jos 15:62; Isa 24:1, 2; 2Ch 20:2.

The five kings of lower Jordan joined in fierce battle with the Babylon Confederacy in the vale of Siddim, the region which later became the Dead Sea. There were wells in that area, filled with "slime" or bitumen. These wells or pits claimed many lives that day. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled in defeat, and died in the’"slime" pits or wells. The others escaped to the mountains. The victorious confederacy then plundered the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and took the inhabitants captive. Among them was lot.

Verses 13-16

Verses 13-16:

A survivor of the battle brought word to Abram, and told him of Lot’s capture. Abram had made a treaty with Mamre, Aner, and Eschol. These were apparently chieftains who lived in the region, and who joined Abram in his pursuit of the invaders. Abram’s own private army consisted of three hundred eighteen warriors. Abram pursued the invaders to the north, where he and his allies mounted a surprise attack in the dead of night. The rout was complete. The defeated confederacy fled with Abram’s army in pursuit almost to Damascus. All captives and all loot were recovered. There is no mention of casualties among Abram’s forces. This victory broke the power of the Confederacy, and there is no record of any subsequent attempt to renew their hold on the Land.

Verses 17-24

Verses 17-24:

Sodom’s new king came to meet Abram on his victorious return. This meeting took place at the "Valley of Shaveh," a short distance north of Jerusalem. Another king also came to meet Abram: Melchizedec, the king of Salem (Jerusalem). Melchizedec, "king of righteousness," is not a title but a proper name. Salem, "peace," is the ancient name of Jerusalem, see Ps 76:2.

Melchizedek is a man of mystery. He is mentioned in only two other Books of the Bible: Ps 110:4, and Hebrews (chapters 5, 6 and 7). He was both a king and a priest "of the most High God," EL-Elion, a proper name or Supreme Deity. This is the same God whom Abram worshipped, and Abram recognized him as a legitimate and true priest, by receiving a benediction from him (bread and water), and by paying tithes to God through him. See Heb 7:1-10 for the significance of this.

The king of Sodom offered Abram all the spoils he had taken in the battle. He reserved for himself only the people. Abram refused to take for himself any of the spoils, lest any should attribute his wealth to the godless king of Sodom. He would take only enough to compensate his allies, and to replace what his own men had eaten.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-14.html. 1985.
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