Chedorlaomer (also spelled Kedorlaomer) was a king who was a contemporary of Abraham and Lot. Chedorlaomer is mentioned in Genesis 14:9 as the king of Elam, which was an ancient civilization in the region that is now Iran. Elam was also called Susiana, a name associated with its capital, Susa, the location of the palace of King Ahasuerus, a later king of that same region (Esther 1:2).
In biblical accounts, Chedorlaomer was a fierce and formidable king. He had formed an alliance with a group of other kings (Genesis 14:1–3), and it appears he was their leader (verse 4). After some time, some of those kings rebelled against Chedorlaomer, but he was still able to go to war and defeat the Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, and Horites; he also conquered the people who lived in the future land of the Amalekites and Amorites (verses 6–7). At that point, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and a few other regional kings went out to fight against Chedorlaomer’s coalition (verse 9); they were apparently unable to withstand Chedorlaomer’s armies, and, as they fled to the hills, some of them fell into the “bitumen pits” or tar pits in the Valley of Siddim (verse 10). Chedorlaomer was clearly an able general and a shrewd, clever enemy. As he raided Sodom and Gomorrah, he “carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom” (verse 12).
One of Lot’s company escaped and ran to tell Abram of Lot’s plight. In response, Abram took 318 of his own men and gave chase. Abram and his men caught up with Chedorlaomer and the other kings at Dan (Genesis 14:14). “During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them. . . . He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people” (verses 15–16). How did Abram accomplish this, with only 318 men, against several kings and their armies led by Chedorlaomer, who was fierce and mighty in battle? The answer appears in verse 20. Melchizedek, the king and priest of Salem, indicated that it was “God Most High” who had delivered Abram’s enemies into his hand.
In the book of Hebrews, Melchizedek is revealed as a type of Jesus Christ. His name, Melchizedek, means “king of righteousness,” and his title “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Of Melchizedek, the writer of Hebrews says, “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:3). The arrival of Melchizedek just after the defeat of Chedorlaomer was a sign to Abram that God was his salvation and his protection, and the same is true for the followers of Jesus Christ today.