Locating Sodom: A Critique of the Northern Proposal -- By: Bryant G. Wood
BSpade 20:3 (Summer 2007) p. 78
Locating Sodom: A Critique of the Northern Proposal
Steven Collins maintains that Tall el-Hammam, ca. 8 mi (13 km) northeast of the Dead Sea. should he identified as Sodom based on four criteria: geography, chronology, stratigraphy and architecture (2007). We will examine his arguments in each of those four areas.
Geographical Evidence for Locating Sodom
Collins begins by stating. “Sodom and Gomorrah. Admah and Zeboiim almost never appear on Bible maps” (2007: 70). and “even conservative Bible maps don’t include them (Sodom and Gomorrahl” (2007: 73). These statements arc quite inaccurate. In reviewing eight Bible atlases published since 1997 lhat cover The period of the Patriarchs, seven locate the Cities of the Plain south of the Dead Sea.1 The eighth (Team Media 1998) offers no suggestion as to their location.
An analysis of geographical indicators in Scripture places Sodom and the Cities of the Plain south of the Dead Sea. The southern border of Canaan is described in Genesis 10:19 as passing from Gaza, on the Mediterranean coast, to Gerar, identified as Tel Haror 12.4 mi (20 km) southeast of Gaza (Klenck 2002: 29), to the Cities of the Plain. Tel Haror lies west of the southern end of the Dead Sea as it existed in Abraham’s time.2 Tall el-Hammam, on the other hand, lies northeast of the Dead Sea. When the four kings of Mesopotamia fought against the kings of the Cities of the Plain, they “joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea)” (Gn 14:3). a clear reference to the southern basin of the Dead Sea which had Hooded in later times (Frumkin and Elitzur 2001: 49–50). When Ezekiel chastised Jerusalem for her wickedness, he said,
Your older sister was Samaria, who lived 10 the north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lived to the south of you with her daughters, was Sodom (Ez 16:46).
Samaria is 34 mi (55 km) north of Jerusalem and Bab edh-Dhra, the likely site of Sodom (Wood 1999: 68–69), is 40 mi (64 km) southeast of Jerusalem. Tall el-Hammam, however, is 26 mi (42 km) east-northeast of Jerusalem.
Because Lot lied to Zoar to escape the catastrophe which befell the Cities of the Plain ((in 19:21–23), the town was spared God’s judgment. From Biblical and extrabiblical references we
Segment of the Madaba mosaic m...
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