An Atheist Reads the Bible

A godless heathen’s religious experience

Posts Tagged ‘extortion’

Genesis 14

Posted by Urbane Spaceman on January 29, 2008

Genesis 14

Abram Rescues Lot

1 At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Goiim
2
went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
3 All these latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea).
4 For twelve years they had been subject to Kedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.
5 In the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him went out and defeated the Rephaites in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim
6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert.
7 Then they turned back and went to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they conquered the whole territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazezon Tamar.
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) marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim
9 against Kedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar— four kings against five.

Zzzzzzzz….hhmph, oh, sorry. Dozed off for a moment there.

It’s not exactly a blockbuster tagline is it. You can’t imagine voiceoverman intoning it in his deep baritone.

“Starring, Bruce Willis as …. the king of Elam.”

I can only hope it gets better.

10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills.

I think Moses missed a chance here to expand on some prolonged death and suffering. Drowning slowly in a tar pit can’t be a pleasant way to go. I’m really quite surprised the publishers didn’t insist on the more juicy details.

11 The four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away.
12 They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom.

I think we’re about to come to the interesting bit. Bruce Willis et al have just kidnapped god’s favourite toys. The future doesn’t seem very bright for our kingly heroes.

13 One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite, a brother of Eshcol and Aner, all of whom were allied with Abram
14 When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household

(read “slaves”)

and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

Here‘s an interesting resource. I got fed up wondering where on earth all these places were. This application integrates with google maps and you can search by chapter and verse. Clicking on the link in the chapter displays a bubble with information about the place. For example, here’s the summary for Dan:

A city familiar as marking the northern limit of the land of Israel in the common phrase “from Da even to Beer- sheba” (Judges 20:1; 1 Samuel 3:20, etc.). Its ancient name was Laish or Leshem (Judges 18:7, etc.). It was probably an outlying settlement of Tyre of Sidon. Its inhabitants, pursuing the ends of peaceful traders, were defenseless against … read more
occurs 57 times in the Bible

I’ll add that link to the sidebar – it’s pretty handy.

15 During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus.
16 He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people.

318 men really doesn’t seem very many to defeat 4 kings. Of course “king” is really a self-proclaimed title in these cases and translates roughly to “petty despot that’s managed to obtain a position of power within a city, at least until somebody deposes them”.

17 After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,
19 and he blessed Abram, saying, Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
20 And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

An early example of extortion from the church. You won so god was on your side. Give us some money for that. Of course had they lost Melchizedek would have been saying the exact same thing to the other side. Win-win for him really.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.
22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath
23 that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’
24 I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me— to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.

Not really sure why Abram is being so arsey about this, after all Lot’s living over that way. OK, so we’ve heard Sodom is full of sinners but there’s been no mention of any oath.

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