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siddim Summary and Overview

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siddim in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(field, plain), The vale of, a place named only in one passage of Genesis-- #Ge 14:3,8,10| It was one of that class of valleys which the Hebrews designated by the word emek. This term appears to have been assigned to a broad, flattish tract, sometimes of considerable width, enclosed on each side by a definite range of hills. It has so far a suitable spot for the combat between the four and five kings, ver. 8; but it contained a multitude of bitumen-pits sufficient materially to affect the issue of the battle. In this valley the kings of the five allied cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Bela seem to, have awaited the approach of the invaders. It is therefore probable that it was in the neighborhood of the "plain or circle of Jordan" in which those cities stood. If we could venture, as some have done, to interpret the latter clause of ver. 3 "which is near," or "which is at, or by, the Salt Sea," then we might agree with Dr. Robinson and others in identifying the valley of Siddim with the enclosed plain which intervenes between the south end of the lake and the range of heights which terminate the Ghor and commence the Wady Arabah. But the original of the passage seems to imply that the Salt Sea covers the actual space formerly occupied by the vale of Siddim. [SEA, THE SALT]

siddim in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

SID'DIM , THE VALE OF. The name is variously interpreted. Furst and Stanley render it "the valley of the open" or "well-cultivated fields;" Gesenius and Kalisch, as "a valley filled with rocks and pits" or a "plain cut up by stony channels;" Conder renders it "the valley of cliffs;" others as "the valley of gypsum." The place is mentioned in Scripture only in connection with the battle between Chedorlaomer and the five confederated kings of Sodom and the adjacent cities. The vale is said to have been full of slime-pits. Gen 14:3-10. The "slime" means bitumen, which abounds in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, and especially at the southern extremity. The site of the vale of Siddim is connected with that of the destroyed cities of the plain. The theory has long prevailed that these cities were at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, and were submerged in it. In that event the southern part of the Dead Sea, below the Lisan Peninsula, is taken as their site, and this would correspond with the vale of Siddim; and thus it is indicated upon many maps. Many scholars, however, are now of the opinion that the cities were not at the south end of the sea, but probably at the north end, and hence that the vale of Siddim must be found in that region also. The sea is not of recent origin, as the theory of the submergence of those cities would indicate, but the lake is only the remains of a larger and more ancient sea. Dr. Merrill, who favors the northern sites for the lost cities, describes a series of singular pits extending across the Shittim plain, which local tradition declares are very old and were used for military purposes. For a more full treatment of these disputed sites see Sodom, Salt Sea, and Zoar.

siddim in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Genesis 14:3; Genesis 14:8; Genesis 14:10. Gesenius from the Arabic explains "a plain (emek) cut up by stony channels, which render it difficult of transit." emek means "a broad flat tract between hills", a suitable battle field for the four kings against five. It had many bitumen pits. Onkelos, Aquila, and Rashi make Siddim plural of sadeh, "a plain." So Stanley "the valley of (cultivated) fields." Aben Ezra derives Siddim from sid, "lime," bitumen being used for lime (Genesis 14:3). The words "which is the Salt Sea" imply that the Dead Sea in part now covers (probably at its Siddim end which is shallow and with shores incrusted with salt and bitumen) the vale of Siddim. The plain is in part enclosed between the southern end of the lake and the heights which terminate the Ghor and commence the wady Arabah. In the drains of the Sabkhah are Gesenius' impassable channels. The form of the plain agrees with the idea of an emek. The Imperial Bible Dictionary makes Siddim a Hamitic word occurring in Egyptian monuments, the Shet-ta-n or: land of Sheth," part of the Rephaim who possessed that part of Israel.