What does Genesis 14:2 mean?
ESV: 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).
NIV: these kings went to war against Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).
NASB: 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).
CSB: waged war against King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, and King Shemeber of Zeboiim, as well as the king of Bela (that is, Zoar ).
NLT: fought against King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (also called Zoar).
KJV: That these 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, which is Zoar.
NKJV: that they 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).
Verse Commentary:
The early verses of Genesis 14 are the Bible's first mention of the word "war." This narrative gives us some insight into the culture which surrounded men like Abram and Lot. This culture included various city-states, some of which used the military power to control smaller, weaker groups. Compared to modern warfare, ancient armies were small, and it took a long time to march from one area to another. And so, when kings chose to rebel against each other, it took some time to resolve (Genesis 14:4–5).

Verse 1 listed four kings who became allies to go to war against another group of five kings. The five kings include Bera, king of Sodom, and Birsha, king of Gomorrah. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are often mentioned together in Scripture (Genesis 13:10. The other three were kings of Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. These five cities may have been grouped together near the southern end of the Dead Sea (or Salt Sea) in the Jordan River valley.
Verse Context:
Genesis 14:1–16 is an action-packed story of war between ancient city-states. Four kings from the east arrive to put down a rebellion by five kings from cities around the Dead Sea. After defeating them, the eastern kings loot Sodom, carrying off Abram's nephew Lot and all he owns in the process. Abram gathers his own small army, along with three Amorite allies, and gives chase. They catch the enemy in the northern reaches of Canaan, defeat them, and recapture all the plunder, including Lot.
Chapter Summary:
This short chapter is packed with action, adventure, and war. An army from the east comes to reestablish its rule over the kings of the city-states of Canaan. Five kings from the Dead Sea region rebel, are defeated, and Sodom is looted. Abram's nephew Lot is captured and taken away. Abram and his own small army chase down the eastern kings, defeating them and recapturing all that was lost. Returning home, Abram is met by a mysterious king and priest of God Most High called Melchizedek.
Chapter Context:
At first, Genesis 14 seems unrelated to the previous chapter. Four kings from the east come to wage war against the kings and people groups of Canaan, including five kings from cities around the Dead Sea. The eastern kings defeat all challengers, looting Sodom and carrying off Lot and his entire family. Now Abram reappears in the story to chase down the departing army, defeat them in a single night, and retrieve all that was lost. On the way home, he is met by a mysterious king and priest of God Most High known as Melchizedek.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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