Friday, October 23, 2009

Sodom and Gomorrah

Well I was looking at the picture I posted previously, concerning "the Story of Lot's wife".. and I noticed what looked like a man's face in the dirt, it really looked like he died, standing up as "fire and brimstone" burned him alive and preserved his remains... well it looked that way.. (see the close-up below)

the head seems a little large right?

So I decided to do some research, and came upon something pretty amazing. My last post about archeological evidence to support the Bible, was actually my first post, regarding "King Solomon's gates" and their excavations. This post, is in regard to the possible excavations of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as the three other cities... all of which are described in the Bible as "the five cities of the plain"..

The following notes are very interesting:

In the early part of the 20th century, the entire Biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah was doubted by many academicians. Not merely the part of the story of the supernatural destruction, but also any possible rule over the area by the Mesopotamians to the east.

However, in the early 1920s, Dr. Nelson Glueck discovered evidence of an ancient route between Mesopotamia and the Dead Sea area.

In the 1960s, a large cemetery was discovered near Bāb edh-Dhrāʻ.

Current estimates of the number of bodies occupying that cemetery is about a half million!

Between 1973 and 1979, four more "cities" to the south of Bāb edh-Dhrāʻ were found. Their Arabic names are Numeira, Safi, Feifa, and Khanazir.

As noted above, the cemetery of Bāb edh-Dhrāʻ is reported to contain the remains of 500,000 individuals. The cemetery in Safi seems to hold the same number of corpses, another 500,000. The grounds of Feifa hold another 500,000. The cemeteries of Numeria and Khanazir have yet to be located; however, the known number of burials in this relatively small area of the Dead Sea Desert -- 1,500,000 bodies -- indicates that this was once a thriving, heavily populated area.

(notes from Genesis 23, after Abraham's wife Sarah dies in Canaan, at Hebron, Abraham purchases a field and cave to bury his dead, indicating burial sites in the area, he is also noted as having many offspring, indicating large burial grounds.)

Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
GEN 23:19

Paleoenthnobotanists found in Bab edh-Dhra traces of wheat, barley, dates, plums, peaches, grapes, figs, pistachio nuts, almonds, olives, pine nuts, lentils, chick peas, pumpkin, flax seed, and watermelon. It was a gourmand's delight. The healthy diet manifested itself in the physique of the inhabitants: skeletal remains indicate that a height of 5'9"-6'4" was quite normal. This is a rather tall figure for such an ancient culture.

(This would explain why the heads in the pictures look so large...)

Numeira was excavated for two seasons and the foundations of a few homes were uncovered. Perhaps the most interesting find was the remains of a winery with 4000-year-old whole grapes were still there, preserved by the arid desert climate. In latter years Moses referred to the vineyards of Sodom, For their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter.
DEUT 32:32

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire - from the Lord out of heaven.
GEN 19:24

Upon excavation, it was discovered that, the entire areas of Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira are covered with a spongy ash. These two cities show clear signs of utter destruction. The layer of ash ranges from 4-20 inches in depth.

In fact, Josephus refers to the Dead Sea as Lake Asphaltites. It is of interest to note that Josephus writes that the Lake Asphaltites was formed as a result of the devastation that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Bitumen/asphalt is a naturally occurring, highly flammable substance found in the Dead Sea area.

Parallel to these five cities is fault line where two large plates of earth are exerting great pressure on each other. This tectonic feature has caused a number of earthquakes in the region. The pressure can also force subterranean matter, such as magma, or, in this case, bitumen into the air. Geologists suggest that, (when the time came for the destruction of Sodom), the earth spewed forth flammable hydrocarbons high into the atmosphere. These were ignited by lightning (funny, I just did a post a few days ago about lightning) or some other natural source and the flaming debris fell back to earth.

The Evidence

The Bible refers to a metropolis of five cities in the Dead Sea area, complete with kings.
GEN 14:1
Five, and only five ancient cities, have been found in the Dead Sea area.

Ancient Jewish Scripture refers to a conquest by the Mesopotamians.
The artifacts found in the Dead Sea area show a Mesopotamian influence.

The Bible describes the area as a thriving population.
The enormous number of burials in the large cemeteries attests to a great population.

The Bible describes the area as an agricultural wonderland.
(GEN 13:10 amd GEN 19:25)
The great diversity of agricultural products found in the ruins verify the lush produce enjoyed by the area's inhabitants.

In the Bible, there was a war in the area (GEN 14) and then ultimate destruction (GEN 19).
Devastation levels found in Numeira (Sodom) show results of a war and then years later, destruction by fire, and are consistent with the Bible's assertion.

The Bible attributes the destruction of the cities to a fiery storm that rained down from above.
Thick layers of burnt material covering the remains of the cities in the area support this claim.

You can read the full artcile here:

this section added on October 24, 2009

So then last night, I started thinking, if Numeira is the real Sodom, then what does the current Mount Sodom (Mount Sedom) have to do with this, since the original picture of skeletal remains I posted at the very top of this post, is from today's location of Mount Sodom, and then there's skeletal remains at Bāb edh-Dhrāʻ and Numeira as well.....

and then it clicked!

If Josephus states that the Dead Sea was formed as a result of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, then that means it didn't exist before the destruction, which would make the entire area a flat plain. There was no sea between Numeira (Sodom), Mount Sedom or even between Hebron (Mamre, Canaan) and Sodom.

Modern day Safi is possibly the city of Zoar, where Lot begged the angels to allow him to escape to before the destruction. It was close enough to Sodom and Gomorrah, that looking back just as they reached safety, caused Lot's wife to be cast into a pillar of salt (on Mount Sedom) on the other side of the newly formed Dead Sea (but south-west of where Abraham was in the mountains)

So looking at the map below, imagine there is no Dead Sea, just land, connecting all these cities.

Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities - and also the vegetation in the land.
GEN 19:25

Excavators found remains of alot of vegetation, but nothing grows there now because the area is uninhabitable due to heat, sulphur and acidic waters.

But Lot's wife looked back and she became a pillar of salt
GEN 19:26

Also of interest, when the angel found Lot, he was in Sodom (GEN 14:12), not Gomorrah, and they told him to flee to the mountains, which were west to Mamre (Hebron)

The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre.
GEN 18:1

By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land
GEN 19:23

Early the next morning Abraham got up AND RETURNED to the place where he had stood before the Lord (that is, Hebron). He looked DOWN (from the mountains?) toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward the land of the plain, and he saw a dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. 
GEN 19:27

Remember Abraham and Lot were not together, and when Lot said,

"But I can't flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I'll die."
GEN 19:19

if you look at the map, to get to where Abraham was, in the mountains, Lot would have had the newly forming Dead Sea at his heels, so instead they allowed him to go south to Zoar.

sources -
Bāb edh-Dhrāʻ
excavations in the cemetery
directed by Paul W. Lapp (1965-67)
written by Paul W. Lapp, R. Thomas Schaub, Walter E. Rast

Map of Israel

Sodom and Gomorrah and Biblical Archeology