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Archaeologists Find Site of Sodom

October 24, 2015

“Then the Lord said, ‘The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me.  If not, I will know.’”  (Genesis 18:20-21)

Following excavations spanning ten years, site director Steven Collins, of Trinity Southwest University of New Mexico, has concluded that he and his team have found the Biblical city of Sodom.

He has located Sodom in the southern Jordan valley about 14 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of the Dead Sea.

The sheer size of the city convinced Collins that this was probably the site of ancient Sodom.

“Tall el-Hammam seemed to match every Sodom criterion demanded by the text,” he says.  “Theorizing, on the basis of the Sodom texts, that Sodom was the largest of the Kikkar [the 25-kilometer-diameter ‘Jordan Disk’ north of the Dead Sea, also called the ‘well-watered plain’ in the Biblical text] cities east of the Jordan, I concluded that if one wanted to find Sodom, then one should look for the largest city on the eastern Kikkar that existed during the Middle Bronze Age, the time of Abraham and Lot.”  (Popular Archaeology)

Steve Collins-Sodom_Gomorrah

Dr. Steven Collins, Dean of the College of Archaeology and Biblical History at Trinity Southwest University (YouTube capture)

Archaeologists, however, are mystified as to why the city, which had massive walls, palaces, administrative buildings and flourishing farm land, lay uninhabited for over 700 years about 4,000 years ago after dominating the area for at least 3,000 years.

Of course the figure of 4,000 years (based on evidence at the site) would seem to confirm the Bible narrative of God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

While archaeologists are careful not to try to “prove” the Bible with their discoveries, the Tall el-Hammam website describes “the importance of ancient texts like the Bible that often provide an historical framework for the identification of geographical locations.  Responsible archaeology uses every possible resource to gain a window into the past.” 

Moreover, “let us not forget that Jordanian sites like Heshbon, Aroer, Dibon, Nebo, Bethany Beyond Jordan, and many others, are principally identified because of their inclusion in biblical narrative,” the site adds.

Bible Primer 1919-Sodom and Gomorrah-Lot's wife

“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”  (Genesis 19:26) (Illustration Source: Bible Primer, 1919)

In Popular Archaeology, Collins noted that the Tall el-Hammam excavation site which is adjacent to the Dead Sea has a high amount of salinity which is consistent with the Biblical account in which Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt.

A layer of ash was discovered along with signs of burning on the remains of one palace.  Pottery shards show evidence of having been exposed to extremely high temperatures.

Such evidence is usually linked with military conquest.  And after a conquest, there would be an occupation.

So military conquest cannot account for the 700 years of desolation.  Why did people stay away for such a long period?

Collins himself suggests a theory involving the explosion of a massive meteor over the city, or perhaps some other blast.  He calls it an “airburst” and notes that a similar occurrence is reported to have occurred in Mesopotamia around 2200 BC, which also disrupted that civilization.  (BIN)

Collins accounts for the claim that the city was home to a homosexual culture by explaining that the architecture suggests a link to the Aegean culture of the Minoans and Mycenaens, who were known to have practiced homosexuality as a part of their culture.

This is not the first attempt to uncover the site of the biblical Sodom and Gomorrah.

From 1847–1848, a 16-member US Navy expedition led by Lt. William Lynch examined the Dead Sea area looking for a link to the Biblical account.

Although he found no clear evidence, he was convinced that the lands around the Dead Sea were the site of the biblical “cities of the plain,” and that the entire valley itself had suffered from some cataclysmic “eruption of fire.”

This does not stop such modern day scholars as Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University from suggesting that the Bible story was concocted in later days in the kingdom of Judah, in order to explain the evidence of huge ruins of Early Bronze cities, a landmark of earlier times.  (Independent)

Abram and Lot part ways

The Biblical account of the parting of Abram and Lot contrasts the motives and actions of the two. The account essentially warns us that God does not necessarily bless those who look out for themselves at the expense of others.  (Illustration Source: Bible Primer, 1919)

The interest in this discovery seems to coincide with the Lech Lecha Torah portion (Genesis 13), which describes the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It also has special relevance as recent terrorist attacks have brought out very negative behavior on the part of the public.  An Eritrean immigrant recently mistaken for a terrorist was beaten in public by an enraged mob.

“This is strictly forbidden,” said Rabbi Ratzon Arussi, chief rabbi of the Tel Aviv suburb of Kiryat Ono.  “This is not the way of the Torah.  Even if our enemy behaves worse than an animal and is himself already dead, we are obligated to honor his body, for he was created in the image of God.”  (Israel Today)

Similarly, Tel Aviv district judge Shamai Becker ordered the police to hunt down an Israeli caught on video kicking the head of a suspected Palestine woman terrorist who had been subdued.

“We have become just like Sodom and Gomorrah,” said the judge.  “Even if it were a terrorist, it is unacceptable for Israelis to kick that person in the head when she is no longer a threat.”

The Palestinian girl was later found to be mentally ill.  (Israel Today)

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