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ELLASAR (ĕl-lā’sar, Heb. ’ellāsār). One of the city-states whose king, Arioch (Eri-aku), invaded Palestine in the time of Abraham (Gen.14.1, Gen.14.9). It is the ancient Babylonian Larsa (with the last three letters transposed in Heb.), modern Senkereh, SE of Babylon, between Erech and Ur. At first independent, it became subject to Hammurabi (Amraphel of Gen.14.1, Gen.14.9) or to his successor. Ellasar was at this period a city of a high degree of civilization, a center of sun-god worship, with a temple tower (ziggurat) called “House of Light,” which was a seat of mathematical, astronomical, and other learning. Ruins of city walls and of houses remain. Thus the four kings with whom Abraham fought (Gen.14.13-Gen.14.16) were no petty chieftains, but sovereigns of flourishing and cultured cities, from one of which Abraham himself had recently emigrated.

ELLASAR ĕl’ ə sär (אֶלָּסָ֑ר, meaning uncertain). Arioch, king of Ellasar, was one of the allies of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, in his raid on the Jordan valley in the time of Abraham (Gen 14:1). Earlier scholars considered the identifications of these kings as reasonably firm with Arioch being identified with Eri-Aku, king of Larsa. Further studies have weakened this confidence. In the case of Arioch, “Eri-Aku” is now read as “Warad-Sin,” and the phonetic differences between “Larsa” and Ellasar” are given more weight. Ilanzura, between Carchemish and Haran in northern Syria, has been suggested recently, but the only positive argument for this suggestion is the phonetic similarity between the two names. At present, the identification of Larsa remains uncertain.


D. J. Wiseman, “Ellasar,” NBD (1967).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)


1. The Name and Its Etymology:

The city over which Arioch (Eri-Aku) and other Babylonian kings ruled (Ge 14:1). The Semitic-Babylonians form of its name is (al) Larsa, "the city Larsa," a form which implies that the Hebrew has interchanged r and s, and transposed the final vowel. Its Sumerian name is given as Ararwa, apparently for Arauruwa, "light-abode," which, in fact, is the meaning of the ideographic group with which it is written. The ruins of this ancient site are now known as Senqara, and lie on the East bank of the Euphrates, about midway between Warka (Erech) and Muqayyar (Ur of the Chaldees). In addition to the name Larsa, it seems also to have been called Aste azaga "the holy (bright, pure) seat" (or throne), and both its names were apparently due to its having been one of the great Babylonian centers of sun-god worship.

2. Its Holy Places:

Like most of the principal cities of Babylonia, it had a great temple-tower, called E-dur-an-ki, "house of the bond of heaven and earth." The temple of the city bore the same name as that at Sippar, i.e. E-babbar, "House of Light," where the sun-god Samas was worshipped. This temple was restored by Ur-Engur, Hammurabi (Amraphel), Burna-burias, Nebuchadrezzar and Nabonidus. Among the tablets found on this site by Loftus was that which gives measures of length and square and cube roots, pointing to the place as one of the great centers of Babylonian learning. Besides the remains of these temples, there are traces of the walls, and the remains of houses of the citizens. The city was at first governed by its own kings, but became a part of the Babylonian empire some time after the reign of Hammurabi.


Loftus, Chaldea and Susiana; Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies?; Zehnpfund, Babylonien in seinen wichtigsten Ruinenstatten, 53- 54.