Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.
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 they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. 11 So the enemy took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. 12 They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom, and his possessions, and went their way.
In this section of verses, we see that The Battle of Nine Kings continues with the same outcome. The Kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (that is, Zoar) were defeated. All of the possessions of the defeated kings were taken… including Lot and Lot’s possessions.
(8) They joined battle with them.—Heb., they set themselves in array against them. As the five kings left their cities to do battle with the invaders “in the vale of Siddim,” it is plain, as was said in Genesis 14:3, that the vale embraces a far wider extent of country than merely the site of the five cities.
(10) The vale of Siddim was full of slimepits.—That is, of holes whence bitumen had been excavated. Layers of this natural asphalte, well known both to the Greeks and Romans as pia Judaica, Judean pitch, still exist on the western side of the Dead Sea; and the places whence it had been dug out, and which are often very deep, formed dangerous impediments in the way of the defeated side.
We see in Verse 8 that the battle encompasses a wide area. Ellicott’s note on verse 10 explains “bitumen pits.” They are slimepits.
David Guzik‘s Bible Commentary has an interesting anecdote about how the war was waged:
a. Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked: Archaeologist Nelson Glueck documented the destruction left by these kings: “I found that every village in their path had been plundered and left in ruins, and the countryside was laid waste. The population had been wiped out or led away into captivity. For hundreds of years thereafter, the entire area was like an abandoned cemetery, hideously unkempt, with all its monuments shattered and strewn in pieces on the ground.” (Cited in Morris)
Imagine the nature of the attack. The archaeological record shows that “for hundreds of years thereafter, the entire area was like an abandoned cemetery, hideously unkempt, with all its monuments shattered and strewn in pieces on the ground.” One wonders… why? Did it have something to do with the giants who fought in these battles?
Let me take on you a brief detour. We have covered some of this in previous posts. But a belief exists that what we know of as demons are in fact the disembodied souls of the Nephilim giants. If that is the case, then perhaps a mass grave yard of dead giants is a pretty terrible place to visit. That might explain why these villages were abandoned after for hundreds of years.
Here is an excerpt from an article by WalkingChristian.com.
The souls of the Nephilim became demons
Now I am fully aware how weird this sounds but it is my firm conviction based on an examination of the scripture that at least some demons, maybe the majority of them are the twisted up and left over souls of the Nephilim and other tribes that descended from them.
Now first of all you are probably asking yourself what I mean by ‘other tribes descended from the Nephilim.’ Weren’t all the Nephilim wiped out in the flood? Did God fail in His goal of terminating them? Well first off Genesis 6 itself seems to suggest a few if not many Nephilim survived the flood “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—” Second, we are not told how they survived we are only told that they did.
If this is subject matter that interests you, I highly recommend reading the entire article, linked above, for some context.
Dr. Michael Heiser (MA in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MA and PhD in the Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages from the University of Wisconsin–Madison with a minor in Classical studies) has also written extensively on topics such as this, both in his book, The Unseen Realm, and also on his website and on his The Naked Bible Podcast. I’ll post a link from his website HERE that goes a little bit more into the weeds of the Nephilim specifically.
I want to caution that there are dissenters to this point of view re: the Nephilim. Dr. Heiser makes a compelling case in his book that first century Jews and Christians believed “demons” are primarily former Nephilim. That said, do your own research.
We return to Guzik’s Commentary to finish this section of verses. In verse 12, we connect the The Battle of Nine Kings back to Abram – the focus of the narrative in recent verses.
2. (Gen 14:11-12) The four kings take Lot and all his possessions.
Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.
a. They also took Lot: Because Lot was Abram’s brother’s son, the group of four kings involved Abram. Abram was a man of honor and a guardian of his family, so he would fight for his nephew’s life and safety.
b. And his goods: Since Lot lived among the wicked people of Sodom, we are not surprised he was also taken captive. “Those believers who conform to the world must expect to suffer for it.” (Spurgeon)
As a result of taking Lot, Abram will have to get involved in the verses ahead. Getting involved against the four kings who just decimated five kings and their armies of giants seems.. daunting.