ASV notes on Genesis 14:8-12

At the time when Lot lived in the valley area of Sodom and Gomorrah and Abraham lived in Hebron the mountain area south of the now known Jerusalem. There were four kings of Mesopotamia, the today land of Iraq, of which Chedorlaomer of Elam was the most powerful, the other three were Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar (the huge plain on where the tower of Babel was built) and Arioch the king of Ellasar. 

In the valley area where Lot lived and had his flocks there were 5 kings ruling there, the king of Sodom, where Lot had a house, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela in the south end of the salt sea (the dead sea). These five kings had been beaten in battle by those four kings in the east 13 years ago, and had for those 13 years payed tribute to the four kings of Mesopotamia.

But now in the fourteenth year, the five kings rebelled and didn’t pay the tribute anymore. Then the four kings with their armies came all the way from the east, the same route as Abraham took when he came from Ur in the Chaldeans and went to Haran and then to Canaan. This was not just around the corner, but a long way for those four armies to travel, and they came to conquer, they were angry and didn’t just want their tribute, but wanted to destroy and take captive all the people in the area. 

The five kings that ruled in the valley area of Jordan lost the battle and those who survived fled to the hill country where Abraham stayed with his friends and animals. The four kings of the east took all the possessions and people they could find, also Lot and his family. But taking Lot and his family was a huge mistake. The four kings could have gotten away with it, if they had left Lot in peace. But by taking Lot they brought God into play.