A Daily Genesis

Genesis 14:1-4a

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:1 . . Now, when King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of nations.[/B]

Shinar was the whole of Babylonia; Ellasar was the leading tribe in its southern part; and Elam was the original kingdom of Persia.

The Hebrew word for "nations" is [I]gowy[/I] (go'-ee) a word wielded by some Jews as a racial epithet to indicate non-Jewish peoples. But gowy isn't really all that specific. The people of Israel are called gowy at Gen 18:18, and Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes, is called a gowy at Gen 25:23.

Gowy really just simply indicates a massing; e.g. a herd of animals and/or a horde of locusts; which when extended, indicates a particular people; e.g. Iroquois, Maya, Inuit, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, Japanese, and/or Arabs, et al.

Mr[B].[/B] Tidal was probably the chief of a large confederacy consisting of mongrel, multi racial people; possibly a tribal area in northeastern Babylonia. America is a perfect example of Tidal's confederacy because it's a melting pot of assimilation, intermarriage, and diverse races, cultures, languages, and nationalities. The only true Americans in America are its indigenous peoples. Everybody else is either an immigrant or the posterity of an immigrant.

At one time, Amraphel was thought to be Hammurabi; the great king of Babylon. But it's now widely agreed that Hammurabi didn't arrive on the scene until many years later. The other kings remain a mystery too, having not yet been archaeologically identified.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:2 . . made war on King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar,[/B]

None of these men were "kings" in the fashion that we today think of royalty. They were more like mayors, sheiks, or chieftains. And they didn't actually have extensive realms; nor very much jurisdiction beyond the very community each one dominated.

Canaanite cities weren't really serious municipalities; but rather more like fortified hamlets-- much like the strategic villages in Viet Nam; except that just about all Canaanite towns were enclosed within stone walls made of rough boulders about six feet in diameter. Archaeologists call this type of wall a Cyclops wall. The boulder walls were usually combined with an escarpment and reinforced with earthen revetments.

Canaanite towns doubled as forts; places of refuge in time of danger, whether from sudden attack by nomadic bands or from civil wars among the Canaanites themselves. Towering perimeter walls invariably enclosed small areas, not much bigger than Ste. Peter's Square in Rome. Each of these town-forts had a water supply, but weren't really suitable for housing large populations in permanent homes.

Inside the walls lived only the chieftain, the aristocracy, wealthy merchants, and even sometimes Egyptian representatives. The rest of the inhabitants of the township-- the ranchers and farmers, the vassals and the servants and the serfs-- lived outside the walls; often in tents or simple mud hogans or wattle huts. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all lived in tents; viz: pavilions.

In Tell el-Hesi, probably Eglon, the town proper was just over an acre. In Tell es-Safi, formerly Gath, it was twelve acres. In Tell el-Zakariyah, formerly Megiddo, the same amount. Gezer, on the road from Jerusalem to Jaffa, occupied just over twenty acres. Even in the more built up area of Jericho, the inner fortified wall, the Acropolis proper, enclosed a space of little more than five acres; yet Jericho was an important city and one of the strongest fortresses in the country.

So the five cities of the Plain were nothing to brag about-- well, maybe in their day they might have been notable enough amongst their contemporaries.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:3 . . all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the Dead Sea.[/B]

The vale of Siddim has pretty much always contained massive amounts of water. In its early history; the vale contained a blend of ocean waters from the Red Sea and the fresh waters of the Jordan River and that's because the vale hasn't always been land-locked like it is today.

At one time the earth's crust south of the Sea was lower; allowing ocean water to ebb in and out of the vale of Siddim like a huge San Diego Bay; but over time, the earth buckled and bulged to block the vale's access to ocean water.

The author apparently knew the Sea's natural history and that's why he called it the "now" dead sea because there was a time when it was far more ecologically healthy than in his day.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 14:4a . .Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer,[/B]

Apparently El Ched was the instigator behind the extortion scheme holding Sodom and its neighbors economically hostage. The other kings who came along with him to Canaan were just reinforcements to back his play. You have to wonder how The Ched ever found the Valley of Siddim in the first place and what in the world motivated him to travel so far from home.

Ched's home turf, Elam, is a well-known tract, partly mountainous, whose western boundary, starting on the northeast side of the Persian Gulf, practically followed the course of the lower Tigris. It was bounded on the north by Media, on the east by Persia and on the west by Babylonia.

The Assyro-Babylonians called the tract Elamtu, expressed ideographically by the Sumerian characters for Nimma or Numma, which seems to have been its name in that language. As Numma, or Elam, apparently mean height, or the like, these names were probably applied to it on account of its mountainous nature.

Another name by which it was known in early times was Ashshan-- or Anshan --or Anzan, (Anzhan) --one of its ancient cities. The great capital of the tract, however, was Susa (Shushan), whence its Greek name of Susiana, interchanging with Elymais, from the semitic Elam. Shushan is famous for its stories of Esther and Nehemiah.

The modern-day city of Ahvaz Iran is a pretty good locator for the region of Elam. If you have a map handy you can readily see just how far The Ched traveled to reach the Jordan Valley. Even if he came straight over by helicopter, it's at least 780 miles.

It's amazing the distances that conquerors traveled on foot and the backs of animals in ancient times. Hannibal crossed the Pyrenees and the Alps, with elephants no less, to attack northern Italy. But even just getting to the far sides of those mountain ranges from Carthage was itself an arduous journey sans mechanical conveyances It's no surprise then that the Second Punic War lasted nigh unto seventeen years.

In the past; it took armies a long time just to get to the battlefields before they even did any fighting. Invaders from China thought nothing of skirting the Himalayas and entering India via the Khyber Pass in order to conduct campaigns in the Ganges River Valley. I really have to wonder sometimes how commanders kept their armies from becoming discouraged by all that travel and by all that time away from home.

That situation actually befell Alexander the Great. After eight years and 17,000 miles, his weary army refused to campaign anymore in India and mutinied at the Hyphasis River (today's Beas). Abandoning his ambition to conquer lands and peoples more distant to the east of Greece than any man before him, including his father Philip, the young commander had no choice but to turn back.

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