1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2 That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3 All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, 8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; 10 And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.
I mentioned previously that we probably only hear about this war in the Bible because of how it intersected with the story of Abram. Surely there were other wars that were glossed over or left out entirely. But since we do have a record of this war, I thought it would be fitting to provide a small recap of what exactly transpired.
Lot, Abram’s nephew had gone to live in the city of Sodom, which was a vassal state to the kingdom of Elam. There were several other cities that were subservient to the kingdom of Elam as well, including Gomorrah. Eventually, several of those vassal cities decided to throw off their overlord, resulting in the ruler of Elam, King Chedorlaomer, rallying his loyal subjects and giving the rebels a sound beating. The rulers of Sodom and Gomorrah fell in battle, their cities were pillaged, and citizens that hadn’t even been involved in the fight, such as Lot and his household, were taken captive by the conquering horde.
A truth that is repeated many times throughout the Bible is that a great burden of responsibility sits upon every ruler, for the follies of a foolish king are most often paid for by his subjects. Even to this day, a wise ruler is the greatest blessing that can be given to a nation, and a foolhardy one its greatest curse.