The Judgment of Sodom -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 02:2 (Winter 1993)
Article: The Judgment of Sodom
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Judgment of Sodom

David J. MacLeod1

An Exposition of Genesis 19:1–29

Situated in the south of Palestine at the mouth of the Jordan River is an irregularly shaped body of water about 50 miles long and 10 miles wide. In the Old Testament it is known as the “Salt Sea” (Gen. 14:3; Num. 34:3); the Eastern Sea (i.e., east of Judea; Ezek. 47:18; Joel 2:20); and the Sea of the Arabah or Sea of the Plain (Deut. 3:17; 4:49). Josephus called it the “Lake Asphaltitis,” i.e., the “Bituminous Lake;” the Arabs call it the Sea of Lot; and Europeans know it as the Dead Sea. Surrounded by gaunt mountains, its surface is at the northern end about 1300 feet below sea level (the lowest body of water on earth, i.e., at its surface),2 and its deepest point about 1300 ft. lower.3

The name Dead Sea is supposed to have been given to the lake because of its desolate appearance and the absence of all animal and vegetable life. The waters of the lake are the most saline of any natural body of water in the world. Fully one fourth of its weight is made up of various kinds of salts. The surrounding soil is saturated with salt, sulphur, and hydrocarbons; no plants or trees grow there; no wild animals go there for food or drink; and no flocks or herds are brought to its shores.4

So weird and desolate is the scene that it was long believed that no birds would fly across its waters. Along its shore you may find the trunks and branches of trees, torn from thickets and deposited there by the Jordan. You may also find

a few water shells or dead fish, also carried there by the Jordan.5 There is often an unusual stillness about the place and a feeling of general desolation.

The southeastern waters of the Dead Sea ripple over part of the site6 where once stood the five cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela (or Zoar, cf. Gen. 14:2).You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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