Since You’re God You can make anything happen. What’s up with Sodom and Gomorrah?
The Bible doesn’t say that God, or the angels, told Abraham His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet, somehow he knew what was to happen, and he was scared for Lot because he lived there.
“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
…Peradventure there shall be forty found there…I will not do it for forty’s sake…Peradventure there shall thirty be found there…I will not do it, if I find thirty there…Peradventure there shall be twenty…I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake…Peradventure ten shall be found there…I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. [vv. 29-32]
And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place” (Gen 18:23-33).
“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men, which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 1
And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.
And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door” (Gen 19:1-11).
1 Aside from Lot and his family, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were lecherous, perverted, and homosexual. Being that way is bad enough, but wanting to have sex with God’s angels is horrendous.
Sodom and Gomorrah was a wretched place, filled of homosexuals, having the desire to sleep with the same sex is not a sin, but the act is. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t want tochange, if they had wanted to all they would’ve had to do was ask God for help.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).
God will not permit homosexuals into heaven.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake, which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:7-8).
Sodom and Gomorrah Explained
The ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah have been discovered southeast of the Dead Sea. The modern names are Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sodom, and Numeira, thought to be Gomorrah. Both places were destroyed at the same time by an enormous conflagration. The destruction debris was about three feet thick. What broght about this awful calamity? Startling discoveries in the cemetery at Bab edh-Dhra revealed the cause. Archaeologists found that buildings used to bury the dead were burned by a fire that started on the roof.
What would cause every structure in the cemetery to be destroyed in this way? The answer to the mystery is found in the Bible. “Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens” (Gens 19:24). The only conceivable explanation for this unique discovery in the annals of archaeology is that burning debris fell on the buildings from the air. But how could such a thing happen?
There is ample evidence of subterranean deposits of a petroleum-based substance called bitumen, similar to asphalt, in the region south of the Dead Sea. Such material normally contains a high percentage of sulfur. It has been postulated by geologist Frederick Clapp that pressure from an earthquake could have caused the bitumen deposits to be forced out of the earth through a fault line. As it gushed out of the earth it could have been ignited by a spark or surface fire. It would then fall to earth as a burning, fiery mass.
It was only after Clapp formulated this theory that Sodom and Gomorrah were found. It turns out that the sites are located exactly on a fault line along the eastern side of a plain south of the Dead Sea, so Clapp’s theory is entirely plausible. There is some evidence for this scenario from the Bible itself. Abraham viewed the destruction from a vantage point west of the Dead Sea.
The Bible records what Abraham saw: “He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace” (Genesis 19:28). Dense smoke suggests smoke from a petroleum-based fire. Smoke rising like smoke from a furnace indicates a forced draft, such as would be expected from subterranean deposits being forced out of the ground under pressure.
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah became an example in the Bible of how God judges sin. “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before Me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 16:49-50).
Biblical scholars have long been divided about where exactly around the Dead Sea the cities were located. Most traditional theories place the cities at the southern end of the Dead Sea, in and around the well-watered and fertile plains and valleys south of the Lisan peninsula. At the southern end of this region, the Bible and other sources, including the first-century A.D. historian Josephus and the sixth-century A.D. Madaba Map, locate Zoar, one of the cities of the plain and the place to which Lot and his daughters fled following the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 19:22-23).
Finding no clear archaeological evidence for Sodom and Gomorrah in the vicnity of Zoar, however, W.F. Albright and others conjectured that the remaining cities of the plain lay submerged beneath the shallow waters of the Dead Sea’s southern basin. They argued that during the time of Abraham, when the level of the Dead Sea was possibly much lower, the entire southern basin would have been a lush valley watered by rivers flowing down from the highlands of Moab.
By the late 1970s, when the level of the Dead Sea had begun to drop considerably due to industrial exploitation and damming projects, archaeologists had an unprecedented opportunity to search the now mostly dry southern basin for remains of the lost cities. But not a shred was found; there was no evidence that the cities had been submerged beneath the salt sea.
While exploring the high fertile banks along the southeastern shore of the Dead Sea, however, the same archaeological expedition discovered the ruins of four towns that had been inhabited during the Early Bronze Age (3300-2000 B.C.).
Some scholars, though certainly not all, date the origins of the stories of Abraham and Lot to the end of this period. The expedition, headed by archaeologists Thomas Schaub Walter Rast excavated two of the largest sites in the plain (as noted above) – Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira – and discovered that both had been thriving Bronze Age cities that were destroyed at almost exactly the same time, about 2350 B.C. Rast proposed that the Biblical story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah originated from ancient traditions surrounding the near-simultaneous demise of these once-prosperous twin cities.
Although many have adopted Rast’s view of the southern provenance of the Sodom and Gomorrah tradition, others have proposed that the Bible actually locates the fabled cities at the northern end of the Dead Sea. The most vocal proponent of the northern theory is Dr. Steven Collins of Trinity Southwest University, who argues that Lot’s apportioned territory and all the “cities of the plain” (Genesis 13:8-13) should be located in the broad circular plain where the Jordan River meets the Dead Sea.
First, according to Collins, Genesis 13 places the separation scene between Abraham and Lot somewhere around Ai and Bethel, an area that has commanding views over the northern Dead Sea and southern Jordan valley, not the southern Dead Sea region.
Second, the passage describes Lot’s territory as the “circular” or “disc-shaped” plain of the Jordan; a term which Collins argues refers specifically to the broad alluvial plain of the southern Jordan valley just north of the Dead Sea.
As far back as the first-century A.D. historianJosephus, visitors to the Dead Sea have hypothesized about the nature of the catastrophe that “overthrew” the cities of the plain under a shower of brimstone and fire. For some, the explanation was a powerful flood that inundated the much shallower and then-dry southern basin of the Dead Sea. For others, the destruction was wrought by an ancient volcano that has become hidden and dormant in the centuries since. Some have even postulated that God’s fury was unleashed by a fiery ancient asteroid over a half-mile in diameter that destroyed everything in its path.
But the explanation that provides the most likely historical and geological context for the legendary destruction is a massive earthquake. The Dead Sea, part of the enormous geological fault line known as the Great Rift Valley, has been the epicenter of powerful earthquakes for countless millennia. Indeed, geologist Amos Frumkin believes that an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter Scale gave rise to both the Sodom and Gomorrah tradition as well as the story surrounding the Mt. Sedom salt pillar (known as Lot’s Wife) some 4,000 years ago. Other scholars have proposed that the earthquake caused the narrow isthmus between the northern and southern Dead Sea basins to give way, which in turn flooded the southern “Valley of Siddim” and inundated the wicked cities and all their inhabitants.
Matching the earthquake theory to the Biblical conflagration, however, has required additional explanation. Most have proposed that the earthquake caused the natural sulfur and bitumen deposits of the Dead Sea area to erupt to the
surface, thereby releasing large quantities of natural gas into the air. When exposed to fire – perhaps created by a lightning strike from above – the gas could have ignited and turned the entire plain into a huge furnace, consuming everything and everyone that could not escape.
What is more, Collins believes he has located theactual site of Biblical Sodom on a high bank overlooking the valley. The site, Tell el-Hammam, is one of the largest mounds in the plain and supported almost continuous occupation from the Chalcolithic to the Byzantine period.
Although the site has substantial Early Bronze Age remains (as at Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira), Collins believes that the extensive and well-fortified Middle Bronze Age city (c. 2000-1550 B.C.) represents the Sodom known to Lot and Abraham, Biblical figures that he and many others believe should be dated to the first half of the second millennium B.C.
In one area of the Middle Bronze Age city, Collins located a massive destruction layer over three feet thick. Could this layer be the archaeological residue of God’s infamous judgment on Sodom?
But whether one locates Sodom and Gomorrah south or north of the Dead Sea, there is plenty of reason to suspect that the Biblical tradition surrounding the doomed cities of the plain was more than just fanciful legend. As suggested by Amos Frumkin in his May/June 2009 article on the salt pillar known as Lot’s Wife, the Sodom story told in the Bible likely represents an ancient memory of a single catastrophic event that affected the cities and peoples of the Dead Sea region nearly 4,000 years ago.
The final destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is vividly described:
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all of the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground (Gen 19:24-25).
If the Biblical story does reflect a genuine historical memory of an ancient disaster in the Dead Sea region, what natural disaster would have brought about such a calamitous retelling?