The Elamites are the most curious group of people in the entire Bible. They first appear in the Book of Genesis where they are the sovereign kings over the vassal-states of the cities of the plain.

At this time Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam and Tidal king of Golim went to waragainst Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bella (that is, Zoar). (Genesis 14:1-2)

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). (Genesis 14:17)

They also appear in Isaiah 21.

A dire vision has been shown to me: The traitor betrays, the looter takes loot. Elam, attack! Media, lay siege! I will bring to an end all the groaning she caused.

Then they appear again in the Book of Acts, as still having a speaking and living language.

Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues! (Acts 2:8-11)

Who are they? How did they come to become so powerful to control five wealthy cities in the Dead Sea valley?

  • Interesting question. How do you know that Genesis 14:17 refers to Elamites? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 30, 2018 at 2:29
  • The Elamites are the most curious group of people in the entire Bible. - And what exactly is it that sparks their elevated curiosity ? :-)
    – Lucian
    Oct 1, 2018 at 14:07
  • 1
    A reasonable summary is found in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elam
    – user25930
    Oct 9, 2018 at 7:38

2 Answers 2


The Book of Acts and the Elamites

Who are they?

One of the five sons of Shem from whom descended “families, according to their tongues, in their lands, according to their nations.” (Ge 10:22, 31; 1Ch 1:17) The names of Elam’s sons are not specified; his name, however, designates both a people and a region on the SE border of Mesopotamia. (Source)

How did they come to become so powerful to control five wealthy cities in the Dead Sea valley?

Secular history confirms that in the early part of the second millennium B.C.E. there was such a period of Elamite dominance in the Mesopotamian region. An Elamite official named Kudur-Mabuk who successfully occupied the prominent city of Larsa (along the Euphrates north of Ur) appointed his son Warad-Sin as king there. Noteworthy is the fact that Warad-Sin and Rim-Sin (Warad-Sin’s brother who succeeded him as king) are both Semitic names, further substantiating a Semitic element in Elam. (Source)

Additional information can be found in the article "Elam No.1" in Insight on the Scriptures.


Acts 2:

5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites;

Acts 2 is not talking about Elam as a nation but only about Jews who spoke the Elamite language in Jerusalem.



The Elamites are so called, from Elam the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22 and these, according to Josephus (e), were the founders of the Persians, or from whom they sprung; and so we find Elam and Media, and the kings of Elam, and the kings of the Medes, mentioned together in Scripture, Isaiah 21:2. And certain it is, that Elam was at least a part of the empire of Persia, in Daniel's time; for Shushan, where the kings of Persia then kept their palace, was in the province of Elam, Daniel 8:2 and it is evident, that hither the Jews were carried captive, Isaiah 11:11. So that there might be some remaining in those parts, that were their descendants; and from hence also were people brought by Asnapper, into the cities of Samaria, to supply the room of those who were carried captive, and are called Elamites, Ezra 4:9 And that there were Elamite Jews
now these Parthian, Median, and Elamite Jews were such who descended from the captives of the ten tribes, carried away by Shalmaneser king of Assyria, whom he placed in Halah and Habor, and in the cities of the Medes, 2 Kings 17:6. But besides these, there were also at Jerusalem, at this time

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