In this article we will not get as academic as the previous one. We will use common knowledge only to mke a point about why the location of Tall- El-Hamman is not the biblical Sodom. Long-term readers will know that we have dealt on this subject before. They will also know that we used to have conversations with the lead archaeologist about this site and Sodom on the now defunk Biblical Archaeology Society’s forum.
We also have had many discussions with that archaeologist’s then assistants. So we are not talking behind their back. They are all welcome to post a rebutable here if they so choose. Dr. Stephen Collins is the lead archaeologist on the Tall El-Hamman site and has for the past 11-12 years publicly stated that the sight is Sodom. He bases his identification on several passages of scripture but one of the main ones is quoted below:
10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
The Holy Bible: King James Version. (2009). (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version., Ge 13:10–13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
We do not want to get mired down in a debate over the Hebrew word ‘kikkar’, suffice it to say that Dr. Collins limits the application of that term to fit his theory. What we are going to focus on first, are the words in bold. ‘Lot journeyed east’. Other translations say ‘and set out towards the east'(NIV). Why is there is attention given to these few word. Simply because they say a lot more than what Dr. Collins admits to. Dr. Collins has said that these words mean that Lot did not stray from his easterly travels but if you look at them you will know that is not so.
Again you ask why? Because the terms ‘journey’ & ‘set out towards’ do not limit Lot’s actions to only a direct easterly route. He is allowed options in his travels as he heads towards the east. Of course, the size of the Jordan valley plays a role in his decision. The valley covers a lot more territory than what Dr. Collins grants it. But to undertand why the Bible says Lot settled near Sodom, we need to study turn to history and study the historical cattle drives that took place in the early American West.
Lot was a rancher. He had livestock to care for and if you study history and the cattle drives you will know that ranchers are not in the business of losing their cattle or sheep or horses. They do not just come to a spot in a river and cross it no matterhow fast and treacherous the river is.That would not be an intelligent decision. History tells us that the cattle barons had their men find safe passage across the river before letting them take the animals over to the other side. This could mean that the cowboys would have to lead the herd miles north or miles south before they found a suitable crossing.
In the case of Lot, we see he headed south as he finally pitched his tents near Sodom. All historical maps and records place Sodom to the southern end of the Dead Sea, not in the north near Jerusalem. History also tells us this because many of the Arabic names for locations are put exactly at or near the historical site. There is a mountain called Sodom near the southern location for that city. It is not near Tall el-Hamman.
Getting back to the Jordan River, we know little about how slow or fast the river flowed in Abraham’s time but estimates put the river as a lot deeper, rougher than today. Part of the reason for this is that there were fewer States and people using the Jordan as their source of drinking water then as compared to now. So while Lot journeyed east, he most likely had to change course to find a safe crossing point for his livestock and family.
Since the Bible says he went towards Sodom, then we know he went south and did not stay on a direct easterly path.History again helps us with biblical passages that do not seem to present clear information on locations of cities.They do, we just have to know where to look to get the right information. Can you imagine how thick the Bible would be if God had written every passage giving us every minute detail about the travels of biblical figures? It would be so thick,no one would pick it up or take the time to read it.
With a little historical study we can see that God provided us with all the information we need to get the right locations or facts. The biblical characters knew the same information as the old westand modernn cattle barons. Historical studies show us that the ancient people knew what we know. They were not void of common sense, information on how to ranch or conduct a business.
.We get a better picture of the people of the past when we study history correctly.We can also see where people like Dr. Collins are wrong and why they are making the mistakes they are making. He may be a Christian archaeologist but Christians error too. This information enables us to avoid erroneous identifications and other theories about the Bible.