PART XIV: “War, Loyalty, and Politics”
Now, Amraphal, King of Shinar, Arioch, King of Alasar, Chadarlaomar, King of Aylam, and Tidal, King of Goiim fought a war against Bara, King of Sodom, Birsha, King of Gomorrah, Shinab, King of Admah, Shaymibar, King of Ziboiim, and Bala (that is, Zoar)’s King. This group of kings had to form a joint army – a military coalition – doing so at Siddim Canyon (by a famous, grand, salty pool (in which tourists famously float) not far from Masada.
This group of kings was loyal to Chadarlaomar, as his vassals, for 12 annual units, rising up to mutiny against him just months following this. 12 months (a full annum) or so following this mutiny, Chadarlaomar and kings still loyal to him would launch a victorious attack against Riphaim in Ashtarot-Karnaim, Zuzim at Ham, Aimim at Shava-Kiriathaim, also attacking a Horitish army at that country’s Mount Sayir, and pursuing it to Ail-Paran, which is by arid, sandy wilds.
Coming back toward Ayn-Mishpat, that is to say, Kadaish, Chadarlaomar’s army was vanquishing all Amalikitish lands, as, too, Amoritish inhabitants of Hazazon-Tamar. Only following this string of military campaigns did kings from Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Ziboiim, and Bala (which is Zoar) form a joint army and go to war at Siddim Canyon against King Chadarlaomar of Aylam and his vassals (Tidal, King of Goiim; Amraphal, King of Shinar; and Arioch, King of Alasar), four kings against 5.
Marking Siddim Canyon was a mass of tar pits. During an inglorious withdrawal from military action, many troops loyal to Sodom and Gomorrah’s kings, got stuck fast falling into such pits, but surviving troops ran off to hill country. This war’s victors, though, took all kinds of booty and spoils from Sodom and Gomorrah… also taking Lot and his worldly goods (Lot, a son of Abram’s sibling, was living in Sodom). A runaway survivor of this harsh military action brought word of all this to Abram, who was living not far from a sumac orchard of an Amoritish man known as Mamray, a kinsman of Ashkol and Anair, to who Abram was a military ally. (It was known that Abram was a man proudly tracing his family way back to Ibar… thus, “Avram Ha-Ivri.” It is also said that “Ha-Ivri” may signify that Abram would adopt high – and thus unpopular – standards of moral conduct… in opposition to majority public opinion.)
Finding out about Lot’s abduction, what could Abram do but go to war… calling out his 318 troop army and pursuing Lot’s captors as far as Dan. That night, Abram and his troops would launch a daring, victorious assault, routing Lot’s captors and continuing pursuit as far as Hobah – an unknown location North of Damascus, possibly signifying “Obligation” or “Duty.” (Of Abram’s audacious campaign, a Roman swordsman, an Oxford don with classical linguistic training, or a high school Latin instructor might say: “Fortis fortuna adiuvat!”)
Abram and his army brought back all booty, including Lot and his goods, any woman who was in custody, and many additional kidnapping victims.
Following Abram’s victory against Chadarlaomar and his royal company’s joint army, Sodom’s king was first to pay a diplomatic visit to him, doing so in Shavah Canyon, known as King’s Canyon. And Malchizadak, King of Salim, brought out pita and vinous potation. Malchizadak, a sacral vicar (a high cultic functionary) of “God-Most-High,” said this to Abram by way of pastoral approbation: “May God-Most-High (all this world and its sky is his work!) grant his favor to Abram! And laudatory worship to God-Most-High, who brought you victory during this martial action!” Abraham graciously had a gift brought to Malchizadak, tithing all his goods in so doing.
Sodom’s king said to Abram: “Any booty you want is yours, but I want all your human spoils.”
But Abram said to Sodom’s king: “I lift up my hand in a worshipful vow to my Lord God most high (all this world and its sky is His work!) – thus, with insight worthy of a diplomat, co-opting Malchizadak’s liturgical formulation – that I am taking not so much as a string or a sandal strap or anything that is yours. You shall not say: ‘Abram is rich on my account.’ I took nothing but that food which was for my hungry young troops’ consumption during our mission. As for what any ally might want – Anair, Ashkol, and Mamray – that is not my affair.”