Friday, August 27, 2010

Facing Kedolaomer

When the king of Sodom allied himself with four other kings and rebelled against Kedorlaomer, he was facing a formidable foe. Just the fact that they had been subject to this man's rule for twelve years says something about the strength of the opposition they were facing -- not to mention that Kedorlaomer had three other kings allied with him!

Kedorlaomer and his buddies first went out and defeated the Rephaites in Asteroth Karnaim. Years later, Deuteronomy 3:11 (NIV) speaks about how "...only Og king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaites. His bed was made of iron and was more than thirteen feet long and six feet wide...". Whether the Rephaites were practically wiped out by Kedorlaomer's efforts or by other conquests in the intervening years I am not certain, but these seem like people of very large stature. Kedorlaomer defeats the Rephaites and then goes on to attack the Zuzites in Ham. At this time I do not have any information about these people, but their association with the location of Ham (probably named after Noah's son Ham) puts them into a category of people often opposed to God's people.

Next, Kedorlaomer moves on to fight with the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim. Wikipedia redirected me to an article on the "Emim". Deuteronomy 2:9-11 (NIV), speaking of how the Moabites lived in Ar, which used to be where the Emites lived, says: "(The Emites used to live there -- a people strong and numerous, and as tall as the Anakites. Like the Anakites, they too were considered Rephaites, but the Moabites called them Emites." The Wikipedia article indicated that a famous French Medieval rabbi known as Rashi (writer of the first commentary on the Talmud) claimed that the Emim's name translated as "the dreaded ones". So you can be pretty certain that these were warriors who would be taken seriously as opponents.

After this, Kedorlaomer attacks the Horites in the hill country of Seir. Seir's ancestry is not specified beyond "Seir the Horite" (Genesis 36:20), but the verse also gives a list of Seir's sons: Lotan, Shoabal, Zibeon, Anah, Dishon, Ezer and Dishan. These were noted as Horite chiefs. (Genesis 36:21,29). So what? Well, Esau, the grandson of Abraham, took Canaanite wives. If you look at the genealogy of Genesis 36:2-3, you will see that Esau's wives' genealogies intertwine with this list of chiefs -- specifically with Anah and Zibeon. Apparently, when Esau and his brother Jacob's possessions grew too numerous, Esau moved to the hill country of Seir (Genesis 36:6-8). Esau's clan may have driven away the Horites, or perhaps first somewhat mingled with them. Genesis 36:40 lists the chiefs descended from Esau and remarks "...These were the chiefs of Edom, according to their settlements in the land they occupied." (Edom , by the way, is another way people referred to Esau.) So it sounds like Esau conquered the place. However, I Chronicles 36:20 (after listing the sons of Esau and their chiefs) goes on to speak of "...the sons of Seir the Horite, who were living in that region." Whether Esau's wives were from an earlier time of friendship with the Horites or captives from the conquest is unclear to me. Either way, they were 'women of Canaan' (Genesis 36:2) -- not associated with the people of God.

There is some question about the Horites and Hivites, as to whether they were one people or just to which peoples these names are referring. Wikipedia does a fair job of listing the observations about these peoples. Seems there are still conflicting theories. Interestingly, some Hivites seem to linger around the fringes of God's people all the way to Solomon's time, often as forced laborers.

After all these conquests, Kedolaomer and his allies turn back to En Mishpat (Kadesh) and conquer the territory of the Amalekites, as well as the Amorites who were living in Hazazon Tamar. Both were enemies of the Israelites, and the Amalekites in particular seemed to be associated with a desire to wipe out the Israelites as a nation. Again I turned to Wikipedia for interesting articles about both peoples. Some information from the Jewish Encyclopedia was also helpful. There is too much information to cover in this post. However, the further one digs into the Bible, the more interesting tidbits are unearthed. For example, the Amalekites come from Amalek, who is a grandson of Esau! More on this in the next post.

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