Kedorlaomer

KEDORLAOMER (kĕd'ŏr-lā-ō'mûr). He enters the biblical record in Gen.14.1-Gen.14.24 because of his contact with Abram and Lot. Kedorlaomer was king (Gen.14.1-Gen.14.24) of Elam, south of Media and east of Babylonia. The nation was named by Semites (Gen.10.22) but was inhabited chiefly by Indo-Europeans; later it became part of Persia, modern Iran. Kedorlaomer (kjv Chedorlaomer), with Amraphel king of Shinar (Babylonia), Arioch king of Ellasar, and Tidal king of nations (kjv) or of Goiim (asv, rsv, niv), made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela or Zoar, all near the Dead Sea, or Salt Sea. Kedorlaomer and his allies conquered the country they traversed and met the king of Sodom and his allies on the same battleground (the Valley of Siddim, or the Salt Sea) where Kedorlaomer had defeated them fourteen years earlier. The bitumen or tar pits of the region were the undoing of the local defenders. But Abram the Hebrew in a swift night raid with 318 retainers, recovered the spoil of Sodom and pursued the invaders to a point near Damascus.


CHEDORLAOMER kĕd ər lā ō’mər (כְּדָרְלָעֹ֨מֶר, Gr. Χοδολλογομορ). The king of Elam defeated by Abram (Gen 14:1-17).

Name.

The first part of the name—kudur or kutir “servant” is unquestionably Elamite and in personal names is usually followed by a divine element. In this case la’omar might then be the name of the goddess Lakamar (or Lakamal) referred to in Akkad. texts of the Agade and Old Babylonian period (Mari) and common in Middle Iranian. The name is therefore appropriate to the period c. 2000-1700 b.c.

Identification.

Chedorlaomer is named as king of Elam and leader of a coalition (Gen 14:4) with Amraphel of Shinar (Babylonia), Arioch of Ellasar, and Tidal, king of Goiim who sacked Sodom and Gomorrah when they revolted after a submission of twelve years. On their return near Damascus, Abraham and his band of retainers defeated them in a surprise night attack. Archeological evidence of an advanced civilization (Middle Bronze I) in Trans-Jordan, Negeb and Sinai at this time which collapsed suddenly authenticates the background of this event (Gen 14). The view that this represents an authentic historical document is in no way belittled by present uncertainty in the identification of Chedorlaomer or his associates. Powerful coalitions of kings marching long distances in the 2nd millennium b.c. are known from cuneiform texts. The commonest view is that which identifies Chedorlaomer with Kutir-naḥḥunti I of Elam c. 1625 b.c. (?) but this requires an unsupported equation of naḥḥundi with la’omar which is unlikely in view of the divine name given above. A more complex view, based on the so-called “Chedorlaomer” tablets in the British Museum (7th cent. b.c.) identifies a king of Elam named there KU.KU.KU.MAL. It has been suggested that the four kings represent different periods and the four “world-regions”—Babylonia (S), Elam (E), Ellasar (Assyria—N) and Goiim (W—Hatti). On this view, Genesis 14 would be an early Midrash.

Bibliography

M. C. Astour, “Political and Cosmic Symbolism in Genesis 14 and its Babylonian sources,” A. Altman ed., Biblical Motifs (1966), 65-112.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

ked-or-la-o’-mer, ked-or-la’-omer (kedhorla`omer; Chodollogomor):

1. was He the Elamite King Kudur-lahgumal?

2. Kudur-lahgumal and the Babylonians

3. The Son of Eri-Ekua

4. Durmah-ilani, Tudhul(a) and Kudur-lahmal

5. The Fate of Sinful Rulers

6. The Poetical Legend

7. Kudur-lahgumal’s Misdeeds

8. The Importance of the Series

The name of the Elamite overlord with whom Amraphel, Arioch and Tidal marched against Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain (Ge 14:1 ff). The Greek (Septuagint) form of the name is Chodollogomor, implying a different vocalization, the assimilation of "R "with "L", and the pronunciation of "`o" as "gho" (Codorlaghomer). This suggests that the Elamite form, in cuneiform, would be Kudur-lagamar, the second element being the name of a god, and the whole therefore meaning "servant of La`omer" (Lagamar), or the like. A Babylonian deity worshippeal at Dilmu, Lagamal, may be the same as the Elamite Lagamar. This name is not found in the cuneiform inscriptions, unless it be, as is possible, the fancifully-written Kudur-lah(gu)mal (or Kodorlahgomal) of three late Babylonian legends, one of which is in poetical form. Besides this Elamite ruler, two of these tablets mention also a certain Eri-Aku or Eri-Akua, son of Durmah-ilani, and one of them refers to Tudhul(a) or Tidal.

See Eri-aku, 4.

1. Was He the Elamite King Kudur-lahgumal?:

Objections have been made to the identification of Chedorlaomer with the Kudur-lah(gu)mal of these texts, some Assyriologists having flatly denied the possibility, while others expressed the opinion that, though these names were respectively those with which they have been identified, they were not the personages referred to in Ge 14, and many have refrained from expressing an opinion at all. The main reason for the identification of Kudur-lah(gu)mal(?) with Chedorlaomer is its association with the names Eri-Eaku and Tudgul(a) found on two of the documents. No clear references to the expedition against the Cities of the Plain, however, have been found in these texts.

2. Kudur-lahgumal and the Babylonians:

The longer of the two prose compositions (Brit. Mus., Sp. II, 987) refers to the bond of heaven (extended?) to the four regions, and the fame which he (Merodach?) set for (the Elamites) in Babylon, the city of (his) glory. So (?the gods), in their faithful (or everlasting) counsel, decreed to Kudur-lahgumal, king of Elam (their favor?). He came down, and (performed) what was good to them, and exercised dominion in Babylon, the city of Kar-Dunias (Babylonia). When in power, however, he acted in a way which did not please the Babylonians, for he loved the winged fowl, and favored the dog which crunched the bone. "What(?) king of Elam was there who had (ever) (shown favor to?) the shrine of E-saggil?" (E-sagila, the great temple of Belus at Babylon).

3. The Son of Eri-Ekua:

A letter from Durmah-ilani son of Eri-Ekua (?Arioch) is at this point quoted, and possibly forms the justification for the sentences which had preceded, giving, as they do, reasons for the intervention of the native ruler. The mutilation of the inscription, however, makes the sense and sequence very difficult to follow.

4. Durmah-ilani, Tudhul(a) and Kudur-lahmal:

The less perfect fragment (Sp. III, 2) contains, near the beginning, the word hammu, and if this be, as Professor F. Hommel has suggested, part of the name Hammurabi (Amraphel), it would in all probability place the identification of Kudur-lahgumal(?) with Chedorlaomer beyond a doubt. This inscription states, that Merodach, in the faithfulness of his heart, caused the ruler not supporting (the temples of Babylonia) to be slain with the sword. The name of Durmah-ilani then occurs, and it seems to be stated of him that he carried off spoil, and Babylon and the temple E-saggil were inundated. He, however, was apparently murdered by his son, and old and young (were slain) with the sword. Then came Tudhul(a) or Tidal, son of Gazza(ni?), who also carried off spoil, and again the waters devastated Babylon and E-saggil. But to all appearance Tudhul(a), in his turn, was overtaken by his fate, for "his son shattered his head with the weapon of his hands." At this point there is a reference to Elam, to the city Ahhea(?), and to the land of Rabbatum, which he (? the king of Elam) had spoiled. Whether this refers to some expedition to Palestine or not is uncertain, and probably unlikely, as the next phrase speaks of devastation inflicted in Babylonia.

5. The Fate of Sinful Rulers:

But an untoward fate overtook this ruler likewise, for Kudur-lahmal (= lahgumal), his son, pierced his heart with the steel sword of his girdle. All these references to violent deaths are apparently cited to show the dreadful end of certain kings, "lords of sin," with whom Merodach, the king of the gods, was angry.

6. The Poetical Legend:

The third text is of a poetical nature, and refers several times to "the enemy, the Elamite"--apparently Kudur-lahgu(mal). In this noteworthy inscription, which, even in its present imperfect state, contains 78 lines of wedge-written text, the destruction wrought by him is related in detail. He cast down the door (of the temple) of Istar; entered Du- mah, the place where the fates were declared (see BABEL, BABYLON), and told his warriors to take the spoil and the goods of the temple.

7. Kudur-lahgumal’s Misdeeds:

He was afraid, however, to proceed to extremities, as the god of the place "flashed like lightning, and shook the (holy) places." The last two paragraphs state that he set his face to go down to Tiamtu (the seacoast; see Chaldea), whither Ibi-Tutu, apparently the king of that district, had hastened, and founded a pseudo-capital. But the Elamite seems afterward to have taken his way north again, and after visiting Borsippa near Babylon, traversed "the road of darkness--the road to Mesku" (?Mesech). He destroyed the palace, subdued the princes, carried off the spoil of all the temples and took the goods (of the people) to Elam. At this point the text breaks off.

8. The Importance of the Series:

Where these remarkable inscriptions came from there ought to be more of the same nature, and if these be found, the mystery of Chedorlaomer and Kudur-lahgumal will probably be solved. At present it can only be said, that the names all point to the early period of the Elamite rulers called Kudurides, before the land of Tiamtu or Tamdu was settled by the Chaldeans. Evidently it was one of the heroic periods of Babylonian history, and some scribe of about 350 BC had collected together a number of texts referring to it. All three tablets were purchased (not excavated) by the British Museum, and reached that institution through the same channel. See the Journal of the Victoria Institute, 1895-96, and Professor Sayce in Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology (1906), 193 ff, 241 ff; (1907), 7 ff.