Genesis 14 as a Satire on Zedekiah

Genesis 14 describes an alliance of Mesopotamian and Elamite kings who, by using the King’s Highway and turning back to Palestine by way of the Dharb ‘azza, successfully campaign against an alliance of kings of the Dead Sea region which has paid tribute to them for 12 years, but rebelled on the 13th. After a battle in the Valley of Siddim (southern part of Dead Sea, which was disconnected from the main part until the 4th century BC), and a plundering of Sodom and Gomorrah (not total destruction; that would be needed for later) the kings go away, carrying off Lot, Abram’s nephew. Abram then chases the Mesopotamo-Iranian kings to Dan, then splits up his army and routs the Mesopotamo-Iranians at Hobah, north of Damascus, bringing back Lot and his possessions. He is then blessed by the priest-king Melchizedek of Salem. Abram then gives this priest-king a tenth of his riches and accepts nothing but the share that belongs to his helpers from the king of Sodom.

The moment I re-read the chapter, it instantly reminded be of another biblical incident: this one. Since Genesis 14 is obviously of a date later than 733 BC, when Tiglath Pileser conducted the first campaign from Mesopotamia against Palestine, and likely earlier than the campaign of Alexander, when campaigns from Mesopotamia became, except for a Parthian one in the 1st C BC, non-existent, it most likely dates to either the Assyrian, Babylonian, or Persian periods. Since there were no kings in Palestine except on the Coast after the Babylonian period, it seems quite likely the Genesis 14 narrative reflects pre-exilic conditions. Since the narrative mentions a king of Elam as chief of the coalition, it most likely dates after the rise of the Median empire. If this is so, then the narrative is very likely a satire on Zedekiah’s futile attempt to escape from Jerusalem to the Jordan Valley. One might also point out that both “Zedek”iah and Melchi”zedek” of Salem have the same name element “zedek”; “righteousness”. In short, the Genesis 14 narrative very likely dates to between the rise of the Median empire and that of Alexander the Great, likely on the earlier end of that range, and is inspired by the last days of the Kingdom of Judah.

Author: pithom

An atheist with an interest in the history of the ancient Near East. Author of the Against Jebel al-Lawz Wordpress blog.

One thought on “Genesis 14 as a Satire on Zedekiah”

Read the Comment Policy Before Commenting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: