Location of Sodom & Gomorrah
bible archaeology 471
Dr. David E Graves
In Genesis chapters 13-19 tells a big account of one of one of the most interesting tales in the Old Testament Bible- the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In short, the tribe and families of Lot and Abraham and Lot grew out of the land of Bethel. Abraham gave Lot the first opportunity to pick when it was time to depart and split up. Of all the places, Lot had to choose the city of Sodom in the Jordan Valley (Cities of the Plain) and Abraham went to Canaan.1 God knew that Sodom was evil, scripture says. God sent angels to warn Lot and inform him about the fore coming destruction of Sodom. The angel guided and instructed Lot to take his family and leave the city to Zoar. Genesis 19: 24-25 says,“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.” All of this starts the debate and dispute among archeologist and biblical scholars and archeologists in regards to the actual existence of the Cities of the Plain - Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zoar, and Zeboiim - the result and manner of their destruction, and where they were located. Scripture states and indicates the Cities of the Plain and Sodom were located near and around the Dead Sea. The issue is these scriptures are used by both northerners and southerners. The northern location theorists are in support of their findings. Many scholars believe that the cities were destroyed by s volcano or an earthquake or some other natural disaster rather than fire that fell from heaven. For lots of years, biblical scholars and archaeologists thought and believed Sodom and Gomorrah was located just south of the Dead Sea. These scholars believed the cities were covered by water after the destruction. Due to geographical shifts the water levels have decreased, allowing archaeologists to excavate the area2. As of now, this theory is not completely valid or supported by any artifacts found during excavation. Ted However, in 1973, evidence was found to support the idea of the cities being located on the southeast side of the Dead Sea.3 Proponents of a southern location for Sodom and Gomorrah focus their interest on two primary sites. Southeast of the Dead Sea, archeologists found remains at Bab edh-Dhra (Sodom) and Numeira (Gomorrah) that support the biblical account of the destruction by inhabitants from Numeira (Gomorrah) buried their death there as well. B.C. Wright dates the pottery found at Bab edh-Dhra in the period ca. 2300-1900. 4 This suggests that there were people occuping Bab edh-Dhra around 2000 B.C. However, no actual home sites and or been located or found. Examinations have revealed the area extremely fertile; producing wheat, grapes, barley, ,olives, dates, and other produce and crops.
This supports with the scripture in Genesis 13:10-11:
Lot looked out and saw that the entire Jordan Valley as far as Zoar was well watered everywhere like the Lord’s garden and the land of Egypt. This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. 11 So Lot chose the entire Jordan Valley for himself. Then Lot journeyed eastward, and they separated from each other. I would say the most convincing piece of evidence to support the position of Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira are, is in fact is Sodom and Gomorrah in regards to the methods of destruction. Frederick Clapp, a great geologist, theorized Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed by an earthquake. Clapp carries the theory and believes that an earthquake could have generated enough pressure to force the deposits of bitumen to the surface of the earth. Then as the deposits did bursts upwards into the atmosphere, a big spark created by a fire on the surface that would have then ignited the bitumen....
Bibliography: Collins, Steven. "If You Thought You Knew the Location of Sodom and Gomorrah. Think Again." The Academic Journal of Trinity Southwest University VII, no. 4 (2007).
Harland, J. Penrose. "Sodom and Gomorrah: The Location of the Cities of the Plain." The Biblical Archeology 5, no. 2 ,May 1 1942, 17-32.
Howard, Jr., David M. "Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 27, no. 4, December 1 1984: 385-400.
"Israel-a-History-of.Com." In Sodom and Gomorrah. April 4, 2013, http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html.
Morris, John D. "Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Discovered?" Acts & Facts 42, no. 4 (2013): 15. Institute for Creation Research. April 1, 2013
Raj, Gnana. "Fire from Heaven? Archeological Light on the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah ,Genesis 19:23-28." New Life Review 1 July 1 2012: 1-12.
Unknown Author, "Searching for Sodom and Gomorrah." Bar Magazine (2013). Biblical Archaeology Review Bringing the Ancient World to Life. April 4, 2013 http://www.bib-arch.org/e-features/sodom-and-gomorrah.asp#top.
Wood, Bryant G. "The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah." Associates for Biblical Research April 16 2008.
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