Gen 14:1-4 In c.1833BC, five local kings in the Valley of Siddim (the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea) - Bera of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (Zoar) - rebel against their four distant overlords - Amraphel of Shinar (Babylonia), Arioch of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer of Elam (south east Mesopotamia), and Tidal of Goiim (see 1 on Map 39).
Map 39 Abram rescues Lot
Gen14:5-7 The four overlords march south defeating the Rephaites of Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites of Ham, and the Emites of Shaveh Kiriathaim (see 2 on Map 39). They then carry out raids in the hill country of Seir (Edom) (see 3 on Map 39).
Gen 14:8-12 They defeat the five rebel kings in the Valley of Siddim (see 4 on Map 39), and carry off goods and prisoners from Sodom, including Lot, Abram's nephew (see 5 on Map 39).
Sodom and Gomorrah
Around 1800BC, Sodom was a thriving commercial city in the Vale of Siddim – the area of the Jordan Valley stretching south from the Dead Sea. The exact site of Sodom is uncertain. Some believe that Early Bronze Age remains of the city can be seen at Bab ed-Dhra at the south east corner of the Dead Sea, while more recent excavations suggest that archaelogical remains of Sodom can be found at Tall el-Hamman. Others think that a modern chemical works processing minerals from the local salt now covers the site of the ancient city.
The neighbouring city of Gomorrah was also situated at the south east corner of the Dead Sea. Early Bronze Age remains visible today at Numeira may well occupy the site of ancient Gomorrah.
The Dead Sea near the site of Sodom and Gomorrah (Neukoln)
Sodom and Gomorrah were important trading centres on the north-south route along the Jordan Valley linking Edom and Arabia in the south to Damascus and Mesopotamia in the north. As it was situated on the floor of the Jordan Valley, it would have been an oasis in an otherwise dry land, probably fed by springs (like those to the north at En Gedi) along the foot of the barren valley side.
Like many cities crowded with numerous foreign merchants and businessmen, it was a notorious place of loose morals and decadence. Its destruction by an earthquake and volcanic activity in this highly volatile rift valley area was seen as God’s judgement on it's wicked lifestyle. Its reputation as the ‘Sin City’ of its day has lived on long after its own destruction.
Gen 14:13 The news of Lot's capture is taken to Abram at Hebron (see 6 on Map 39).
Gen 14:14-16 Abram, with 318 men, pursues the four kings along The Kings Highway north to Dan (see 7 on Map 39). Abram's men attack at night and pursue the four kings to Hobah, north of Damascus (see 8 on Map 39). Lot and his family and possessions are rescued.
Gen 14:17-24 On the return journey south, Abram is met by the King of Sodom in the Valley of Shaveh or The King’s Valley (the Kidron Valley to the east of Jerusalem), and Abram is blessed by Melchizedek, the priestly King of Salem (Jerusalem) (see 9 on Map 39).