14:2 king of Sodom. These five “cities of the plain,” listed in this verse–Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim and Zoar–were formerly thought by critics to be fictional. However, the Ebla tablets found in northern Syria beginning in 1964 contain numerous names of cities mentioned in Genesis, including these five, listed the same as in this verse. They antedate the time of Abraham, who probably passed through Ebla on his migration from Haran to Canaan.
14:3 Siddim. “Siddim” meant “cultivated fields,” and the vale of Siddim at this time was extremely fertile, supporting the five cities of the plain. The reference to “the salt sea” was probably a later editorial insertion by Moses. At the time of Abram, what is now the Dead Sea was still a freshwater remnant of the great Flood, and the whole region was “well watered every where” (Genesis 13:10). The exact location of Sodom and her four sister cities is uncertain, although most authorities believe their remains are now submerged beneath the waters of the shallow southern arm of the Dead Sea. There is also the possibility that the actual cities were located on higher elevations overlooking five ephemeral streams (“wadis”) emptying into the lake, with the inhabitants working the fields below during the daytime, then living in the cooler heights above at night.