What is the…
Valley of Siddim

also known as: Vale of Siddim

Meaning: valley of the broad plains

This is the site of a great ancient battle involving 9 kings at the time of Abraham and Lot. Cities of the Jordan River plain revolted against the rule of Mesopotamian kings.

The “Valley of Siddim” refers to the great valley surrounding “the Salt Sea” (Genesis 14:3) between Engedi and the cities of the plain, at the south end of the Dead Sea (aka the Dead Sea, “sea of the Arabah” Deuteronomy 3:17).

This place was “full of tarpits” (RKJV: “bitumen pits”).

Here Chedorlaomer and the confederate kings overthrew the kings of Sodom and the cities of the plain.

Kings of the Battle of Siddim

  1. King Amraphel of Shinar
  2. King Arioch of Ellasar
  3. King of Bela
  4. King Bera
  5. King Birsha
  6. King Chedorlaomer of Elam
  7. King Shinab
  8. King Shemeber
  9. King Tidal

Genesis 14 explains the basics of what happened.

And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim [or nations], 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 (that is, Zoar).

All these kings came as allies to the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea). For twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, and the Zuzim in Ham, and the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim,and the Horites on their Mount Seir, as far as El-paran, which is by the wilderness.

Then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and conquered all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, who lived in Hazazon-tamar.

And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they lined up for battle against them in the Valley of Siddim, against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five.

Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country.

Then they took all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed. They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed, for he was living in Sodom.

Then a survivor came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was residing by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and they were allies with Abram.

When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, numbering 318, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

Then he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus.

He brought back all the possessions, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the other people. —Genesis 14:1-16 NASB

Because of the great wickedness of the people of this area, God afterward “overthrew those cities, and all the surrounding area, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground” and the smoke of their destruction “ascended like the smoke of a furnace [literally: kiln].” (Genesis 19:24-28), and was visible from Mamre, where Abraham dwelt.

Note: Some contend that the “cities of the plain” were somewhere at the north of the Dead Sea. (See Sodom.)

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Article Version: August 25, 2021