And it came to pass, in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar,
&c.] Or Babylon, as Onkelos, where Nimrod began his kingdom, ( Genesis 10:8-10 ) . This was Nimrod himself, as the Jewish writers generally says; though more likely Ninyas the son of Ninus and Semiramis, and grandson of Nimrod; or rather some petty prince or deputy governor of Shinar, under the king of Babylon; since, though named first, he was not the principal in this war, but fought under the king of Elam, and as an ally and auxiliary of his; and it may be the kingdom of Babylon was not as yet of any great extent and power, and that all those stories told of Ninus, Semiramis, and Ninyas, are mere fables; and indeed we hear nothing in Scripture of this kingdom, and the kings of it, from this time, until the times of Merodach Baladan, the son of Baladan king of Babylon, in the reign of Hezekiah king of Judah; nor of the Assyrian kingdom, and the kings of it, until Pul king of Assyria, in the times of Menahem king of Israel; wherefore it is greatly to be questioned, whether those kingdoms rose to any considerable height until these times: though some think that Shinar here does not intend Shinar in Chaldea or Babylon, which was too far distant from Abram, but Shinar in Mesopotamia, a large city at the foot of a mountain, three days distant from Mansil, which is now, in Arabic, called Singjar, and by Ptolemy, Singara F14 Arioch king of Ellasar;
or Telassar, according to the Targum of Jonathan, a place in Mesopotamia, inhabited by the children of Eden, ( Isaiah 37:12 ) ; and Stephanus F15 makes mention of a city in Coelesyria, upon the borders of Arabia, called Ellas, of which this prince may be thought to be the governor; or rather he was king of a people called Elesari, whose country is placed by Ptolemy F16 in Arabia; and could Ninyas be thought to be Amraphel, this king would bid fair to be Ariaeus a king of Arabia, or a son of his of the same name, that was a confederate of Ninus, as Diodorus Siculus F17 relates out of Ctesias. Next follows, Chedorlaomer king of Elam;
or the Elamites, as the Vulgate Latin version, the Persians, see ( Acts 1:9 ) . This led Diodorus F18 to say, that the war Moses speaks of is what the Persians waged against the Sodomites. This seems to have been the most powerful prince at this time, to whom the five kings of Sodom had been subject for twelve years, but now had rebelled, and to subdue them again he came forth, with three other kings his allies, see ( Genesis 14:4 Genesis 14:5 ) ; but if Elam is the same with Persia, as it often signifies, or with Elymais, a part of Persia, that kingdom could not be at this time so large and potent as it has been since; or Chedorlaomer would not have stood in need of the assistance of other princes against such petty kings as those of Sodom, &c. Nor does it seem credible that he should come out of Persia, and pass through so great a part of the world as the countries of Assyria, Chaldea, Mesopotamia, Syria, and part of Arabia and of Canaan, to bring five such small towns or cities into subjection to him, as he must, as Sir Walter Raleigh F19 observes; nor could the trifle of goods, as they may be comparatively called, he carried off, be an equivalent to the expense he must be at in so long a march. It is more probable, therefore, that this was the name of some place near to the land of Canaan, built by some of the posterity of Elam, the son of Shem, and called after the name of their ancestor; or it may be a colony of the Elamites in those parts, of which this prince was their head and chief: and Tidal king of nations;
that is, either of other nations distinct from those before mentioned, so Aben Ezra; or else, as he also observes, the name of a province; or as Jarchi and Ben Melech, the name of a place called Goim, because there were gathered together many out of various nations and places, and they set a man to reign over them, whose name was Tidal; just as one of the Galilees in later times was called Galilee of the nations, for a like reason. Sir Walter Raleigh
F20 conjectures, that as there were many petty kingdoms joining to Phoenicia and Palestine, as Palmyrene, Batanea, Laodicene, Apamene, Chalcidice, Cassiotis and Celibonitis, these might be gathered together under this man. According to Eupolemus F21, an Heathen writer, these several princes were Armenians that fought with the Phoenicians, and overcame them, by whom Lot was carried captive. Josephus F23 indeed, accommodating himself to the Greek historians, and in favour of them, says that the Assyrians at this time were masters of Asia, and led out an army under four generals, and made the kings of Sodom tributary to them; and they rebelling against them, made another expedition upon them under these four kings as their generals, and conquered them: but it seems not likely that the Assyrian monarchy was so large at this time; or if it was, these live petty kings of the plain of Jordan, who had not so much ground as our Middlesex, as Sir Walter Raleigh F24 observes, and perhaps not a quarter of the people in it, would never have dared to have engaged with so powerful an adversary.
F14 Hyde Hist. Relig. Pers. c. 2. p. 46.
F15 De Urbibus.
F16 Geograph. l. 6. c. 7.
F17 Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 90.
F18 Apud Drusium in loc.
F19 History of the World, par. 1. B. 2. c. 1. sect. 13. p. 138.
F20 Ibid. sect. 11. p. 137.
F21 Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 17. p. 418.
F23 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 9.
F24 Ut supra, (History of the World, par. 1. B. 2. c. 1.) sect. 10. p. 136.