Elam was located to the east of the Tigris River, across from Babylonia (Elam and Babylonia were located in what is today Iraq - see Bible Places). In the time of Abraham, Chedorlaomer was a king of Elam who joined with other kings in a battle against the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah (before God incinerated them). Chedorlaomer's forces were successful, capturing and looting Sodom and Gomorrah, and taking the people of the cities into captivity - including Abraham's nephew Lot, who had chosen to live there with his wife and two daughters. Abraham's response was swift and decisive; leading 318 servants of his own household into battle, he defeated Chedorlaomer's military coalition forces and rescued Lot and his family. The incident reveals two often-unknown facts about Abraham; he was very wealthy, and, as described below, he was a courageous and brilliant battlefield commander when he had to be.
Abraham Rescues Lot
Chedorlaomer in Bible History:
"In the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim, these kings made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar. And all these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim, that is, The Salt Sea [i.e. the Dead Sea, shown in the photograph]. Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled."
"In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their Mount Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness; then they turned back and came to Enmishpat, that is, Kadesh, and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazazon-tamar."
"Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, that is, Zoar, went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim with 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 bitumen pits; and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the mountain. So the enemy took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way; they also took Lot, the son of Abram's brother, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed."
"Then one who had escaped came, and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner; these were allies of Abram. When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and routed them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus. Then he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his kinsman Lot with his goods, and the women and the people." (Genesis 14:1-16 RSV)
Fact Finder: What king of Salem (i.e. Jerusalem) did Abraham meet with after he rescued Lot?