Genesis Chapter 14 is introduces some good examples showing how the Bible has undergone certain revisions throughout history.
This is also a good opportunity to introduce a technical term that you most likely are not familiar with unless you’ve attended a seminary.
The word I’m talking about is “redacted” and it basically means “edited”.
The simple truth is that the Bible you are holding in your hands is NOT the original Scriptures.
The Torah has gone through many revisions over the ages.
Actually, if you think about it, the mere translation of a document is by its very nature a redaction.
One common reason for a redaction is that the name of a given geographical location has since changed from when the event connected to that area occurred.
Let’s take a look at some redactions in this chapter.
Verse 3: “all the latter joined forces at the Valley of Siddim, now the Dead Sea.”
So this is a redaction right here (the part I have bolded).
Actually, throughout history this verse has undergone two redactions.
When this event first happened, the area in question was only known as the Valley of Siddim, so the reference to the Dead Sea was not in the earliest Scriptures.
However, as time went by, the Siddim Valley became flooded and no longer ceased to exist.
That area instead came to be known as the Salt Sea. So the Bible copiers or editors at that time used the term the Salt Sea.
However, as more time passed on, the term Salt Sea fell into disuse and became known as the Dead Sea resulting in the verse we have in our Bibles today.
Here is another much more obvious example.
Verse 14: “When Abram heard that his kinsmen had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers, born into his household , numbering three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”
They went as far as the region of “Dan”???!!!
This should strike you as being strange.
Dan was named after one of the tribes of Israel.
In other words, Dan was one of the sons of Jacob and Jacob was an eventual grandson of Abraham.
Dan won’t be born until about another 600 years until after this event occurred.
So this is an obvious redaction with the editor using a place name that would be familiar to the readers in his time.
Let’s look at one more.
Verse 1: Now when Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellesar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim…
Anybody with a basic working knowledge of Hebrew would know that goiim is not the name of a country but means the Gentile nations.
However, since the separation of Jew and Gentile had not yet occurred, at this time Goiim just meant any nation like how we would use the word nations today.
So here the redactor is just telling us that King Tidal was the ruler of some nation or nations.
Probably because it was very common knowledge at the time, the writer did not see the need to specify the country name that King Tidal ruled over.
However, we know today that King Tidal is a Hittite name.
In today’s terms, he would have been a ruler over Western Turkey and Syria.