Yahweh has second thoughts (Hos 11:8-11:9)

“How can I give you up?

O Ephraim!

How can I hand you over?

O Israel!

How can I make you

Like Admah?

How can I treat you

Like Zeboiim?

My heart recoils

Within me.

My compassion

Grows warm.

My compassion

Grows tender.

I will not execute

My fierce anger.

I will not again

Destroy Ephraim.

I am God!

I am not a mortal!

I am the Holy One

In your midst.

I will not come

In wrath.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, had second thoughts about the destruction of Israel. How could he give Ephraim up? How could he hand over Israel? He could not make them like Admah and Zeboiim, two of the five cities destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, chapter 19. His heart was compassionate with warm tenderness. He decided not to execute his fierce anger against Ephraim. Yahweh was God, not a mere mortal. He was the Holy One in their midst. He was not going to come in anger.

The battle of the four great kings (Gen 14:1-14:16)

“In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar.  And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim, that is, the Dead Sea area.  Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled.  In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,  and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness.  Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat, that is, Kadesh, and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar.  Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar, went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five.  Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits.  As the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.  They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who lived in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”

Who are these guys?  It is four kings against five. Apparently Chedorlaomer of Elam, perhaps a place in Persia, was the chief ruler for twelve years, when a rebellion occurred. He got his three friendly kings, Amraphel of Shinar, which may have been in Babylonia, Arioch of Ellasar, and Tidal of Goiim, and defeated the Rephaim, who were the tall warrior people, at Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim, some kind of stout warriors, at Ham, the Emim, tall warriors, at Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites, the cave dwellers of Seir. Then they turned back and subdued the Amalekites, the tent dwellers, and the Amorites, the hill people. This was an invasion from the east on the plains around the Jordan River.  Most of those defeated were considered to be large tall warriors.

The four kings then had a war with five other kings, King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is Zoar, that took place in Siddim by the Dead Sea.  This is the only mention of these five kings, who were the local leaders around this Dead Sea area.  The four kings won the battle as the defeated ones fell into the bitumen tar pits or fled.  The victors took the possessions of Lot and the land around Sodom and Gomorrah.

 “Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, the brother of Eshcol and  Aner.  These were allies of Abram.  When Abram heard that his nephew had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.  He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus.  Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his nephew Lot with his goods, and the women and the people.”

Somehow, Abram gets involved in some fighting, which seems to be out of character for him.   Here is first time that Abram is called a Hebrew.  One of the Amorites, who was an ally of Abram, went to Abram to tell him what had happened. Both Eschol and Aner had places named after them.  So Abram got 318 trained men who were born in his house, probably slaves, and went after them as far as Dan, but Dan did not exist until after the conquest of Canaan.  He then pursued them and routed them at Hobah, north of Damascus.  That was a long way to go.  He brought back his nephew Lot, all his people and all his goods.  Abram had a large household and was quite a fighter to defeat the four kings. Anyway, this is the strange story of Abram the warrior.