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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 133

It was during Abraham's residence in Hebron that the Western Land was raided by a confederacy of Babylonian and Elamite battle lords. The Biblical narrative which deals with this episode is of particular interest and has long engaged the attention of European scholars:

"And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel (Hammurabi) king of Shinar (Sumer), Arioch (Eri-aku or Warad-Sin) king of Ellasar (Larsa), Chedor-laomer (Kudur-Mabug) king of Elam, and Tidal (Tudhula) king of nations; that these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedor-laomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled."[276] Apparently the Elamites had conquered part of Syria after entering southern Babylonia.

Chedor-laomer and his allies routed the Rephaims, the Zuzims, the Emims, the Horites and others, and having sacked Sodom and Gomorrah, carried away Lot and "his goods". On hearing of this disaster, Abraham collected a force of three hundred and eighteen men, all of whom were no doubt accustomed to guerrilla warfare, and delivered a night attack on the tail of the victorious army which was withdrawing through the area afterwards allotted to the Hebrew tribe of Dan. The surprise was complete; Abraham "smote" the enemy and "pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people."[277]

The identification of Hammurabi with Amraphel is now generally accepted. At first the guttural "h", which gives the English rendering "Khammurabi", presented a serious difficulty, but in time the form "Ammurapi" which appears on a tablet became known, and the conclusion was reached that the softer "h" sound was used and not the guttural. The "l" in the Biblical Amraphel has suggested "Ammurapi-ilu", "Hammurabi, the god", but it has been argued, on the other hand, that the change may have been due to western habitual phonetic conditions, or perhaps the slight alteration of an alphabetical sign. Chedor-laomer, identified with Kudur-Mabug, may have had several local names. One of his sons, either Warad-Sin or Rim-Sin, but probably the former, had his name Semitized as Eri-Aku, and this variant appears in inscriptions. "Tidal, king of nations", has not been identified. The suggestion that he was "King of the Gutium" remains in the realm of suggestion. Two late tablets have fragmentary inscriptions which read like legends with some historical basis. One mentions Kudur-lahmal (?Chedor-laomer) and the other gives the form "Kudur-lahgumal", and calls him "King of the land of Elam". Eri-Eaku (?Eri-aku) and Tudhula (?Tidal) are also mentioned. Attacks had been delivered on Babylon, and the city and its great temple E-sagila were flooded. It is asserted that the Elamites "exercised sovereignty in Babylon" for a period. These interesting tablets have been published by Professor Pinches.


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