IV d – Battle of Siddim Vale

The next night the story of Abram was continued by another sage. The fire burned brightly as the initiates listened intently with their spines straight and legs crossed.

“Abram now returned to Canaan with the wealth extorted from Pharaoh, making him exceedingly rich in slaves, livestock and gold. By similar means, his nephew Lot had likewise gained much wealth during his travels. In fact their combined herds were so great, they could no longer dwell in the same region. Arguments arose between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot.

“One day when the sun was high, tempers ran short. That day, Abram stood on a great plain outside his tent arguing with his nephew. Infuriated, his nephew railed, ‘Abram you cannot remain here with your herds, they are too large! There is not enough water for all our herds. If we do not part ways, there will be war and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will join with me against you.’

“Abram listened patiently. Realizing the disadvantage of his position as an outsider imposing on an established people, he replied, ‘Let there be no strife between us or our herdsmen for are we not brothers of the pure blood? We have no need to argue, you are of my people and there is plenty of land. I will leave this place with my herds. I leave the decision to you. Choose the land you want and whatever you choice, I will take that which remains. You choose the East and I will go West or if you move West, I will take my herds East; is that not a fair agreement?’

The sage paused for a moment to survey the small group of initiates surrounding the fire pit. “Listen closely to the following words” he admonished the initiates. “As the story is told in the Mikdash, ‘Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord in the land of Egypt.’

“In these words lie the key to the location of Aten’s Garden as well as the key to the problem that will lead to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Previous stories have established the Lord’s extortion scheme that provides Abram with large herds that, of course, require copious amounts of water to sustain. We now find that Lot knew the land and thus knew the plain of Jordan was well watered like Aten’s garden in the Egyptian delta. Understandably, Lot chooses the land to the east where there is ample water for his herds. As we will soon note, Lot was part of Bera’s army that returned to Sodom after being defeated.

“Lot had already made his choice by establishing residency for himself and his family in Gomorrah’s twin city, Sodom. To this very day, major water wells are located in the center of our villages and communities. It was no different then with Sodom, Gomorrah, or other watering holes of desert regions. Thus, Abram was forced to move his herds to the almost waterless western regions. With the sun beating down unmercifully on Abram and his caravan, it would not be long before his herds would begin to suffer and die from thirst. But we are putting the cart before the donkey, so we now return to an earlier time that explains how this situation developed.

“One evening as Abram and his family moved towards an oasis, a man on a magnificent horse rode up to the caravan. Once again Abram, beheld a figure representing kohanim authority approaching. Abram quickly stopped his caravan with thoughts towards entreating the approaching authority. He had his servants set up a small canopy away from the caravan so they might speak privately. A servant then prepared strong drink for the two on a small fire. Shaded from the sun, the two men took their place upon a carpet under the canopy and sipped their strong drinks made from the milk and blood of Abram’s goats.

‘To what destination are you traveling?’ asked the authority.

‘I travel to parts unknown for I cannot keep my heard in Lot’s region as there is not enough water to sustain our combined herds.’

“The authority sat quietly sipping his drink. Then speaking in a low, even, tone so he would not be overheard he said, ‘Abram we have said that you are the chosen representative of our bloodline. Know now we plan on taking the watered land where Lot grazes his herd.’

“Abram cried out, ‘But what then of my nephew Lot, is he not one of our blood?’

“Again the authority spoke in a low tone, ‘Lot has never been willing to treat with us as you have done. He is not with us, therefore he is considered to be against us and our cause. He dwells among an alien, unclean people, whose herds are large and consume much water of that region. By our Lord’s grace, Lot waters his herds, yet he pays no tribute to our authority. As your nephew sees no need or purpose in bowing to our authority, we consider his land and the land of the people among whom he dwells fair game to serve our greater purpose.’

“Then in even a lower tone, the authority continued, ‘Abram, know that a war now approaches. This will be a war among the major powers in this region. From this war we will shift the regional power by weakening the combatants. This will make their land, resources and wealth available to serve our own needs and those of our followers. Fear not, soon you will have ample water for your herds.’

“Hearing this, Abram spilled a bit of his drink in the lap of his robe. Recovering, he asked, ‘For what reason might a war come to this region? Who among these people have done so wrong that they should be attacked?’

“The authority leaned forward from his position on the carpet looking intently at Abram, ‘Listen carefully Abram, hear the words I am about to say. There is no right or wrong, there is no good or evil, there is only desire and in that desire is the force that drives this world in which we live. War is not about who is right or wrong, but who must submit that we may excel in our desires. We will create the reason for war and we will guide its outcome. As our chosen representative of this region you will benefit greatly from this conflict.

‘And what are these desires?’ asked Abram.

‘We desire that the people we choose from among our blood should rule and prosper upon this land. We desire the elect among us to fully command those whom we have chosen to prevail over all others. We desire that those over whom we command pay us fair tribute and praise our efforts in their behalf. This is our will, and therefore the only reason necessary for such actions. Know this well Abram for your fate depends upon our will.’

“Now it came to pass there was a great king called Chedorlaomer who was king of Elam. Chedorlaomer was a king of kings, as great in stature as Nimrod had once been in his day. As with Nimrod, the kohanim once again saw this great king, ruler of other regional kings, as a threat to their authority, therefore they plotted against him. To this end, they called on four lesser kings serving Chedorlaomer, asking them to meet secretly in a marshy valley called Siddim.

“The four kings answered the authority’s call favorably, agreeing to meet in the valley. So their presence might be kept secret, these kings disguised themselves by dressing in the plain robes of herdsmen. As they assembled at the appointed time and place, a representative of the authority stood among them. These men were Bera, king of Sodom, Birsha, king of Gomorrah, Shinab, king of Admah and Shemeber, king of Zeboiim. The authority addressed them saying, ‘Is not Chedorlaomer and his alliances with the kings of Shinar and Ellasar a threat to you? Does not this king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, demand fealty from you? Does not his demand dilute your power over your own kingdoms?

“The four kings spoke among themselves, the first among them saying, ‘As the authority said, we are kings, kings have no need to serve another! Are we not kings in our own right, why should we serve one who is no greater than ourselves?’

“The second replied, ‘This is so, we are the kings of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, we have no need to serve anyone!’

“Now the third king entered the conversation saying, ‘Have you forgotten Chedorlaomer was a king while we were still callow youths? It was his gentle influence and grace that fostered the reign over our kingdoms, yet you speak of war against this great king? Do we not owe a debt of gratitude to Chedorlaomer for the wealth and power he has provided for us?’

“The authority spoke again, ‘By your nature, you four are kings, Chedorlaomer provided nothing more than an outlet for what was always in your nature and natural birthright. You are the chief bakers among your people! It is your effort that oversaw the gathering and threshing of the wheat that you then made into the royal flour of power. It was that power that formed and baked the cultural loaves that presently sustain your kingdoms. Chedorlaomer provided little more than the heat used to bake your kingdoms’ bread.’

“Now a fourth king spoke, ‘The authority is correct, we would have been kings no matter the benefits gained from Chedorlaomer’s leadership. Had he not been there to accommodate our needs, then it would have been another, for we are men of destiny, appointed by the gods to reign over other men! Chedorlaomer’s time is past, he reigns poorly; the people grumble under his authority. Therefore, by our nature as righteous kings, we are commissioned to deliver our people from this oppressor! Let us discuss the matter no further, instead let us make plans to help our people free themselves from Chedorlaomer’s oppressive rule; let us plan for war against this Tidal king of nations!’

“Still, Chedorlaomer had other kings who supported him, those being Ampraphel king of Shinar and Arioch king of Ellasar, who both stood with him. So the four rebel kings bided their time until they felt they might amass sufficient power to oppose Chedorlaomer.

“Time passed. The four rebel kings increasingly chafed under Chedorlaomer’s rule, but still they feared his power and his strong alliances. On occasion, an authority of the pure blood would visit the four individually, inflaming their passions about what was termed ‘groveling servitude’ to an undeserving king, thus carefully sowing the seeds of a future rebellion.

“Finally, in the thirteenth year, those carefully nurtured seeds of carrion blossomed and the four kings rose up in rebellion against Chedorlaomer. A great battle ensued in the valley of marshy slime called Siddim; but as the battle began to unfold, things went badly for the four traitorous kings inveigled into rebellion by the authority. As the rebel forces began losing, they fled the battle. As they fled, they took contingents of soldiers and began marauding those regions through which they made their escape. Among the marauders were Bera’s army and among the soldiers pillaging the region of its wealth, was Abram’s nephew Lot.

“As the final outcome of the battle became apparent, a lesser kohein came to Abram’s camp to report, ‘In their escape from Chedorlaomer’s wrath, your brother’s son has been taken captive by the rebel kings! But the rebel armies have been depleted and are now in a vastly weakened state. If you act now with a contingent of fresh men, you can defeat what remains of their forces and recover your kin, but you must strike during their weakest moment. They have been in battle for days and now deplete their strength even further by pillaging and rampaging as they take flight. They will soon become exhausted from these efforts. When they make camp, they will sleep and their sleep, will be like the sleep of their slain comrades. Their sentries will be exhausted and dazed. Midnight is the time you must plan for your attack.’

“Abram immediately gathered his tribesmen into a combat force and marched towards the fleeing army. It was well into the dead of night when Abram caught the rebel king’s soldiers encamped in the mountains. By the firelight from the armies many campfires, the authority could see Abram’s men make their flanking movement, stealing into the enemy’s camp to take them by complete surprise. The battle was halfhearted as Bera’s men were depleted from battle, pillaging and rampaging. As predicted, the exhausted and demoralized soldiers had lost much of their will to fight and for this reason, many soldiers willingly surrendered without raising their swords.

“By morning Abram’s tribesmen had defeated the rebel king’s demoralized forces. After his victory, Abram took the spoils pillaged by the rebel armies, including their slaves, thereby mightily increasing his wealth and power. As Abram returned home, he stationed trumpeters and drummers along the way to announce his victory. Marching across the desert a grand party, with banners flying, descended from the mountains upon Abram’s victorious forces. The party was in fact a royal procession consisting of many men. The soldiers wore polished breast plates that shown in the sun like many mirrors and held polished swords and spears forth in a salute.

“Most impressive however was the figure leading the procession. This man was dressed in the finest silken robes and wearing a headpiece made of gold and silver set with precious gems. He sat astride a magnificent white stallion bedecked with gold and silver tackle. Abram had never seen such finery, even among the kings he had encountered. Abram instantly recognized this man as YHVH himself. Beside the impressive figure rode a plainly dressed individual whose face was hidden by a hooded robe.

“As the party approached, an advanced messenger trumpeted their arrival with a ram’s horn we know as the ‘shofar’ before crying out, ‘Ho Abram! We salute your victory over the rebel kings!’

“The figure on the white stallion dismounted. Striding over to Abram he embraced him. Then, holding Abram at arms length, he continued. ‘I am Melchizedek, Lord of the pure blood. I have come to honor you, to bless your victory with bread and wine. Let us make camp here and celebrate your victory with a feast!’

“The two parties made camp and as promised, Melchizedek solemnly blessed Abram’s victory with a ceremonial offering of bread and wine. However, before the ceremonies began, Melchizedek’s hooded accomplice took Abram aside to speak in confidence, ‘Abram, listen well to my words, Melchizedek represents our central authority; he is King of Salem, leader of leaders, king of kings, the Lord of Lords. As such, he has bestowed a great honor upon you by making this pilgrimage in person to celebrate your victory. Know that it was because of our intrigue, these kings went to war. From our intelligence, we knew the outcome of the war. We knew the four rebel kings would not prevail against Chedorlaomer.

“Likewise we knew because of this war, these four kings would be in a weakened state, ripe for conquest and plundering. All this was due to planning by the great mind of Melchizedek! Know that you owe our authority a great debt and thanks for what Melchizedek has provided. I do not command you now, but I will say this, you would be wise indeed to make a great sacrifice of the wealth you have taken.’

‘Tell me then what I am to do.’

‘First, take the very finest of the plunder from your victory and tithe ten percent in tribute to Melchizedek, but know that the kings you have defeated are still with some power and therefore will remain an enemy, but if you return what you have taken from them, they will hold themselves in gratitude to you for your show of mercy. Such an act will thereby ingratiate them to our authority. Make this offering in our name and your future gain will be far greater than any of the wealth you have taken in plunder from this battle.’

“Abram soon returned to meet Bera with this commission. Bera looked at Abram in astonishment and exclaimed, ‘Why have you returned, what is it you want from us!?”

“Abram replied, “I want for nothing but to know that I will not be remembered as the man who enriched himself at the expense of four great kings. So now I ask of you, what is it you want? What would you desire if that desire could be met?’

“Blinking in disbelief, Bera proclaimed, ‘You have defeated me in battle and taken my wealth, why would you now ask this of me? Is this some form of trickery?’

“Abram replied, ‘There is no deception in my words. I am simply not a cruel man and have no desire to see further suffering. You are a great king and you have shown your people kindness; I now return that kindness. Therefore I return the spoils I have taken, excepting those things that have already been consumed by my men.’

“Bera now joyfully embraced Abram, ‘You are truly a man of great vision and mercy, for only such a man as you could possibly understand the pain I have suffered. I will not forget your benevolence, you have made a friend for life!’

“As the two men parted, Bera rejoiced over the return of his kingdom and his subjects even as Abram cunningly advanced his own power with this new alliance.”

The sage’s voice trailed off into a silence that formed an envelope around the initiates for some time. Finally he spoke again, “Study and review what you have heard carefully, for this is a complex story with many lessons to impart. The story is one of subversion, duplicity and the use of base human natures to further one’s own greedy ends. It demonstrates how one can gain power and resources by inflaming man’s passions and appealing to their sense of arrogant pride. Herein is the first and only overt appearance of the kohein gadol, who is presented as YHVH. Melchizedek’s claim to this title is made obvious by the description of him as the “King of Salem” meaning the “King of Heaven”. Who else but God can be described as the King of Heaven? This clearly defines Melchizedek as the “Lord God” YHVH who guides the thoughts and actions of his people. The description is reinforced by Melchizedek blessing Abram’s victory with bread and wine for these are the sacrificial tributes provided to YHVH. The offering of these sacrificial tributes by Melchizedek signifies a great honor or “blessing” has been personally bestowed upon Abram by the Lord God.

“Chief among the lessons in this story is the value of advanced information about one’s enemies. During a conflict, if one knows the thoughts and preparatory actions of others, one can turn that knowledge to their advantage. Thus, advanced intelligence of an enemy is critical to a smaller weaker force attempting to overcome a larger, stronger enemy. Second to this advanced knowledge, is the ability to use such information to divide one’s enemies, for such division is fundamental in preventing an enemy from advancing their power over one’s own. Yet a third lesson is found in the manipulation of man’s base nature, in this case greed, to advance an ulterior motive. Notice the authority’s unspoken, yet deceptive subversion of the power held by these kings. By fomenting rebellion among the allied powers, the authority weakened the overall strength of Chedorlaomer’s forces. This was in fact the real purpose of Melchizedek’s strategy, for the combined strength of nine nations once again was perceived to present dangerous opposition to kohanim rule.

“As with Nimrod’s Babel, the kohanim once again greatly feared the potential force of unified opposition. Once again they used duplicity and subversion to weaken a much stronger opponent. Furthermore, they formed an alliance with an enemy they will soon attack. Had the battle of Siddim not occurred, Chedorlaomer would have obviously come to the aid of Bera when Sodom came under attack by “Lord God” Melchizedek’s smaller, weaker forces. Thus Melchizedek used Chedorlaomer’s own strength to weaken and divide his opponent before mounting his own attack on Sodom. Bera, of course would not expect duplicity from a supposed ally who returned his kingship. The lesson then is the strategic use of seemly kind acts of benevolence and mercy for advancing one’s power. For those with Melchizedek’s vision to see past the moment, what might seem like a loss in the short run can bring much greater reward over time. Thus one should realize that a small sacrifice in the present, can later be developed into a much larger return.”

Night after night the stories continued. The young initiates marveled at the meanings they found in these stories. Each night was a practical lesson in obtaining power and wealth from others by the lowest, criminal means of lying, subterfuge, extortion and deception. These were lessons of man’s base natures and desires that could be applied for the advancement by those who understood their true meanings. The initiates well understood these were secret lessons imparted verbally only to initiates of the Mikdash, for if they became known as such to outsiders, then all would soon know of the avarice and duplicity of those who held this knowledge.

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