The coalition of Mesopotamian kings (Genesis 14)

Genesis 14

None of the invading kings or events mentioned in Gen. 14 have been identified or con firmed from archeological evidence, but circumstantial evidence in extrabiblical sources does shed light on this text and supports its historicity. There is no reason to treat it as fiction, as many scholars do.

“Amraphel, king of Shinar” i.e. southern Mesopotamia) is no longer identified, as he once was, with Hammurabi of Babylon, but the area but the area from which Amraphel is said to have come, Shinar, is Babylonia.

The name Arioch is rendered as Arriyuk or Arriwuk in the 18th- through 15th century texts discovered at Mari and Nuzi in Mesopotamia.

Ellasar may represent either Asshur or Larsa, a city in sothern Mesopotamia.

Kedorlaomer, the Hebrew version of Kudur-Lagamar, is comprised of known Elamite elements. “Kadur” means “servant of” and is included in the names of five other Elamite kings, and “Lagamar” was an Elamite godess. Thus Kedorlaomer may be interpreted as “servant of Lagamar”.

Tidal is a form of Tudkhalia, the name of five Hittite kings who perhaps all lived later than this king. His title “king of Goiim” (meaning nations), essencially means that he was the principal chief of a loose federation of tribes, reflecting the decentralized nature of Antatolian politics in the 19th through 18th century B.C.

Contemporary records trace similar Mesopotamian confederations that formed after the fall of the Ur III dynasty (approx. 2000 B.C.) and before King Hammurabi rose to power (approx. 1750 B.C.). Immediately thereafter, Assyria and Babylon controlled the entire region.

Curiously, King Yahdun-Lim of Mari (approx. 1820 B.C.) left behind an account of a series of raids he made into Syria-Palestine in order to enforce the submission of local kings to himself, and this record is quite smilar to what we see in Gen. 14. This does not mean that the Biblical episode and the raids conducted by Yahdun-Lim are one and the same, but it does make the point that the Biblical narrative fits well with what we see in the history of the time.


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