On the world population in times of forefathers
The war among 9 kings is spoken about in Chapter 11, the Book of Genesis:
תורה, ספר בראשית
יד,א וַיְהִי בִּימֵי אַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ שִׁנְעָר אַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם יד,ב עָשׂוּ מִלְחָמָה אֶת בֶּרַע מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וְאֶת בִּרְשַׁע מֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה שִׁנְאָב מֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וְשֶׁמְאֵבֶר מֶלֶךְ צְבֹיִים וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִיא צֹעַר יד,ג כָּל אֵלֶּה חָבְרוּ אֶל עֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים הוּא יָם הַמֶּלַח יד,ד שְׁתֵּים עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה עָבְדוּ אֶת כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר וּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה מָרָדוּ יד,ה וּבְאַרְבַּע עֶשְׂרֵה שָׁנָה בָּא כְדָרְלָעֹמֶר וְהַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת רְפָאִים בְּעַשְׁתְּרֹת קַרְנַיִם וְאֶת הַזּוּזִים בְּהָם וְאֵת הָאֵימִים בְּשָׁוֵה קִרְיָתָיִם יד,ו וְאֶת הַחֹרִי בְּהַרְרָם שֵׂעִיר עַד אֵיל פָּארָן אֲשֶׁר עַל הַמִּדְבָּר יד,ז וַיָּשֻׁבוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל עֵין מִשְׁפָּט הִוא קָדֵשׁ וַיַּכּוּ אֶת כָּל שְׂדֵה הָעֲמָלֵקִי וְגַם אֶת הָאֱמֹרִי הַיֹּשֵׁב בְּחַצְצֹן תָּמָר יד,ח וַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וּמֶלֶךְ עֲמֹרָה וּמֶלֶךְ אַדְמָה וּמֶלֶךְ צְבֹיִים וּמֶלֶךְ בֶּלַע הִוא צֹעַר וַיַּעַרְכוּ אִתָּם מִלְחָמָה בְּעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים יד,ט אֵת כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר מֶלֶךְ עֵילָם וְתִדְעָל מֶלֶךְ גּוֹיִם וְאַמְרָפֶל מֶלֶךְ שִׁנְעָר וְאַרְיוֹךְ מֶלֶךְ אֶלָּסָר אַרְבָּעָה מְלָכִים אֶת הַחֲמִשָּׁה יד,י וְעֵמֶק הַשִּׂדִּים בֶּאֱרֹת בֶּאֱרֹת חֵמָר וַיָּנֻסוּ מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה וַיִּפְּלוּ שָׁמָּה וְהַנִּשְׁאָרִים הֶרָה נָּסוּ יד,יא וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת כָּל רְכֻשׁ סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה וְאֶת כָּל אָכְלָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ יד,יב וַיִּקְחוּ אֶת לוֹט וְאֶת רְכֻשׁוֹ בֶּן אֲחִי אַבְרָם וַיֵּלֵכוּ וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב בִּסְדֹם יד,יג וַיָּבֹא הַפָּלִיט וַיַּגֵּד לְאַבְרָם הָעִבְרִי וְהוּא שֹׁכֵן בְּאֵלֹנֵי מַמְרֵא הָאֱמֹרִי אֲחִי אֶשְׁכֹּל וַאֲחִי עָנֵר וְהֵם בַּעֲלֵי בְרִית אַבְרָם יד,יד וַיִּשְׁמַע אַבְרָם כִּי נִשְׁבָּה אָחִיו וַיָּרֶק אֶת חֲנִיכָיו יְלִידֵי בֵיתוֹ שְׁמֹנָה עָשָׂר וּשְׁלֹשׁ מֵאוֹת וַיִּרְדֹּף עַד דָּן יד,טו וַיֵּחָלֵק עֲלֵיהֶם לַיְלָה הוּא וַעֲבָדָיו וַיַּכֵּם וַיִּרְדְּפֵם עַד חוֹבָה אֲשֶׁר מִשְּׂמֹאל לְדַמָּשֶׂק יד,טז וַיָּשֶׁב אֵת כָּל הָרְכֻשׁ וְגַם אֶת לוֹט אָחִיו וּרְכֻשׁוֹ הֵשִׁיב וְגַם אֶת הַנָּשִׁים וְאֶת הָעָם יד,יז וַיֵּצֵא מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם לִקְרָאתוֹ אַחֲרֵי שׁוּבוֹ מֵהַכּוֹת אֶת כְּדָרְלָעֹמֶר וְאֶת הַמְּלָכִים אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ אֶל עֵמֶק שָׁוֵה הוּא עֵמֶק הַמֶּלֶךְ יד,יח וּמַלְכִּי צֶדֶק מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם הוֹצִיא לֶחֶם וָיָיִן וְהוּא כֹהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן יד,יט וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ וַיֹּאמַר בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ יד,כ וּבָרוּךְ אֵל עֶלְיוֹן אֲשֶׁר מִגֵּן צָרֶיךָ בְּיָדֶךָ וַיִּתֶּן לוֹ מַעֲשֵׂר מִכֹּל יד,כא וַיֹּאמֶר מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם אֶל אַבְרָם תֶּן לִי הַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהָרְכֻשׁ קַח לָךְ יד,כב וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָם אֶל מֶלֶךְ סְדֹם הֲרִמֹתִי יָדִי אֶל יְהוָה אֵל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ יד,כג אִם מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ נַעַל וְאִם אֶקַּח מִכָּל אֲשֶׁר לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת אַבְרָם יד,כד בִּלְעָדַי רַק אֲשֶׁר אָכְלוּ הַנְּעָרִים וְחֵלֶק הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הָלְכוּ אִתִּי עָנֵר אֶשְׁכֹּל וּמַמְרֵא הֵם יִקְחוּ חֶלְקָם
Torah, Book 1 Genesis
14,1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, 14,2 that they 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 the same is Zoar. 14,3 All these came as allies unto the vale of Siddim the same is the Salt Sea. 14,4 Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 14,5 And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 14,6 and the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Eyal Paran, which is by the wilderness. 14,7 And they turned back, and came to Ein Mishpat the same is Kadesh and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazazon Tamar. 14,8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela the same is Zoar; and they set the battle in array against them in the vale of Siddim; 14,9 against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings against the five. 14,10 Now the vale of Siddim was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell there, and they that remained fled to the mountain. 14,11 And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 14,12 And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 14,13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew now he dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner; and these were confederate with Abram. 14,14 And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan. 14,15 And he divided himself against them by night, he and his servants, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the north of Damascus. 14,16 And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. 14,17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh the same is the King’s Vale. 14,18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of God the Most High. 14,19 And he blessed him, and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth; 14,20 and blessed be God the Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.’ And he gave him a tenth of all. 14,21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram: ‘Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.’ 14,22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom: ‘I have lifted up my hand unto the LORD, God Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, 14,23 that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say: I have made Abram rich; 14,24 save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, let them take their portion.’
This chapter of Torah is the real mine of geographic names of that time: Shinar, Ellasar, Elam, Goiim, Sodom, Amora (Gomorrah), Admah, Zeboiim, Bela (which is the same as Zoar), the vale of Siddim (which is the same as the Salt Sea, i.e. the Dead Sea), Ashteroth-karnaim, Ham [ham], Shaveh-kiriathaim, mount Seir, Eyal Paran, Ein Mishpat (which is the same as Kadesh), Hazazon Tamar, Dan, Hobah, Damascus, the vale of Shaveh (which is the same as the King’s Vale), Salem – altogether 22 names.
The exact information about the location of the land of Shinar is presented in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 11. The city of Babylon is in the land of Shinar:
תורה, ספר בראשית
יא,א וַיְהִי כָל הָאָרֶץ שָׂפָה אֶחָת וּדְבָרִים אֲחָדִים יא,ב וַיְהִי בְּנָסְעָם מִקֶּדֶם וַיִּמְצְאוּ בִקְעָה בְּאֶרֶץ שִׁנְעָר וַיֵּשְׁבוּ שָׁם יא,ג וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל רֵעֵהוּ הָבָה נִלְבְּנָה לְבֵנִים וְנִשְׂרְפָה לִשְׂרֵפָה וַתְּהִי לָהֶם הַלְּבֵנָה לְאָבֶן וְהַחֵמָר הָיָה לָהֶם לַחֹמֶר יא,ד וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָבָה נִבְנֶה לָּנוּ עִיר וּמִגְדָּל וְרֹאשׁוֹ בַשָּׁמַיִם וְנַעֲשֶׂה לָּנוּ שֵׁם פֶּן נָפוּץ עַל פְּנֵי כָל הָאָרֶץ יא,ה וַיֵּרֶד יְהוָה לִרְאֹת אֶת הָעִיר וְאֶת הַמִּגְדָּל אֲשֶׁר בָּנוּ בְּנֵי הָאָדָם יא,ו וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה הֵן עַם אֶחָד וְשָׂפָה אַחַת לְכֻלָּם וְזֶה הַחִלָּם לַעֲשׂוֹת וְעַתָּה לֹא יִבָּצֵר מֵהֶם כֹּל אֲשֶׁר יָזְמוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת יא,ז הָבָה נֵרְדָה וְנָבְלָה שָׁם שְׂפָתָם אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִשְׁמְעוּ אִישׁ שְׂפַת רֵעֵהוּ יא,ח וַיָּפֶץ יְהוָה אֹתָם מִשָּׁם עַל פְּנֵי כָל הָאָרֶץ וַיַּחְדְּלוּ לִבְנֹת הָעִיר יא,ט עַל כֵּן קָרָא שְׁמָהּ בָּבֶל כִּי שָׁם בָּלַל יְהוָה שְׂפַת כָּל הָאָרֶץ וּמִשָּׁם הֱפִיצָם יְהוָה עַל פְּנֵי כָּל הָאָרֶץ
Torah, Book 1 Genesis
11,1 And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. 11,2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 11,3 And they said one to another: ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 11,4 And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ 11,5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 11,6 And the LORD said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. 11,7 Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ 11,8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city. 11,9 Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
About the etymology of the word “Babylon”:
The word Babylon came to English from Greek Βαβυλών [babilon] and originated from the Hebrew word בבל [bavel].
The word בבל [bavel] was derived from the root בלבל [bilbel] = mixed, confused, confounded, bewildered.
This is the list of 6 places from the above-mentioned list, the location of which we know for sure at present: the city of Babylon, the Dead Sea, Mount Seir a.k.a. Edom, Desert of Paran, the city of Dan, the city of Damascus.
The distance from Babylon to Paran via Damascus is about 1,200 km. Even nowadays it is not a short distance. The armed conflict described in Chapter 14 of the Book of Genesis embraced almost the whole territory of the Fertile Crescent, for this reason it can be truly considered The Very First World War. As is clear from the above quotation, 9 kings participated in the conflict: 4 kings against the 5. Afterwards, Abram and his 318 trained men joined the combat and won. The suggestion here is that the total number of fighters participating in a conflict was about 1,000.
Aner, Eshkol and Mamre were involved in the event organized by Abram. They were said to be Abram’s allies, which means their forces could have been commensurate with those of Abram. Therefore, even if we suppose that the total number of fighters available to Abram amounted, for instance, to 1,000, then, the overall number of combatants taking part in the conflict could come up to 3,000.
So few people lived then in the world!
Abraham appeared stronger than all the kings, who took part in the Very First World War. But the episode of his meeting with Abimelech made clear that Abraham was afraid of Abimelech.
The Conclusion: Abimelech was the dominant military power of that period of time – see the article “Who are you, Pharaoh?”
P.S. Abraham was afraid of Abimelech and this eventually led to the Binding of Isaac – see the article “The Fear of Isaac”.
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