CHED.OR.LA.O'MER and the Three Allied Kings.
Much misapprehension has existed concerning this expedition of the four kings from the East. It has been asserted that the kings themselves were killed by Abraham and his little band, as though an army is not always described by the name of its leader. "Slaughter" is also the only word that describes warfare with the sword in which men hack each other to pieces, and the "slaughter" of the kings (Genesis 14:17) is simply the description of the defeat of some of the soldiers of the armies of those kings. Then it has been represented that Abraham and his little band of Bedouin cavalry defeated the whole imperial army. The plunder and the captives belong to the baggage train, and only the guard of that train would be involved in this attack. That the imperial army should turn back because of the night raid of a few Bedouin and the loss of a little plunder and the escape of a few prisoners is not to be thought of for a moment.
A correct understanding of the whole campaign depends upon two things; First, that we note that the biblical story is the story of the capture of Lot and his rescue by Abraham, and only incidentally an account of the military campaign. Second, understood when conceived of in the terms of geography. It came down to east side of the Jordan, subduing all as it went, to the lower end of the Dead Sea. Then it turned west into the Amalekite country into Paran, south of Judah; it then turned north again through the Amorite country until the whole rebellious province was brought again into subjection. The the Cities of the Plain thought to lay an ambush, but their resistance was overcome and Lot was taken prisoner. Now, the whole country being brought under the control of Chedorlaomer once again, the imperial army set out homeward. Abraham, apprised of his nephew's predicament, gathered together his band of servants, 318 in number, and hung on the rear of the retreating army north almost as far as Damascus. Then, in a night raid, he made off with Lot and a portion of the captured plunder and quickly got away in the darkness. The imperial army pursued its way homeward. A great stone pillar has been discovered in Moab right in the path of this campaign as it came down east of the Dead Sea. It is a mysterious foreign monument with no inscriptions to identify it. It is possible that it was set up by Chedorlaomer.