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The Archaeology of Sodom

21 Sep

Preface

We are still working on the research for this article but it is important that we get it written down as we go. We are not going to do any preaching or try to explain the different terms in each of the passages of scripture. Instead we are going to look at the 3 locations that different scholars have identified as Sodom and explore them archaeologically with a Christian eye and thinking. Christians have been involved in all 3 identifications so it is not like we are taking sides.

We will use biblical verses and place them in this preface as a reference point. Not all of the verses will be used as we are not going to delve into the why the 5 cities of the plain were destroyed. God has already told us why. We are interested in why people picked these 3 sites, what archaeology says about each of them and demonstrate why 2 of them do not qualify as Sodom.

The verses are important because so many scholars either use them or allude to them in presenting and supporting their arguments.  We may address other topics as we get this paper ready but we shall see. Getting the Bible right, even when doing archaeology saves believers so much trouble and builds their credibility and reputation. We need to be honest in our archaeological work if we want people to listen to us.

Jesus never exaggerated, he never altered, he never lied and we must be careful to follow that example. We also have to be honest when presenting our facts, our theories our conclusions and so on. The Bible tells us that the unbelieving world cannot do anything against the truth, thus we must make sure that we have the truth first, including our archaeological identifications, if we want unbelievers to listen to us and take the gospel seriously.

Christians, churches, Christian organizations have been embarrassed far too often by the many searches for Noah’s ark. That is because over enthusiastic people have let their excitement lead them not God. We should not let this happen with any biblical event. It is far better to say we do not know than try to force a given site to fit the biblical narrative. And keep harping on it when the supposed evidence needs to be stretched to fit the theory. One thing we got from Bob Cornuke is that if the evidence does not fit, then the identification is off. And that applies to 2 of the 3 Sodom sites.

We know many Christians, and we used to talk to them on the old BAS forum, that are embarrassing themselves by their current selection of one site over the other 2 for Sodom. We will get to that later. Sodom and its identification is a little easier to find because of a certain verse in scripture. Unlike Noah’s ark, it still exists today

Bible verses for Sodom

The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.

Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere—this was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah—like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.

that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).

And the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah and the king of Admah and the king of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) came out; and they arrayed for battle against them in the valley of Siddim,

Now the valley of Siddim was full of tar pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and they fell into them. But those who survived fled to the hill country.

Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food supply, and departed.

And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.

Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven,

and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace.

‘All its land is brimstone and salt, a burning waste, unsown and unproductive, and no grass grows in it, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in His anger and in His wrath.’

“For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, And from the fields of Gomorrah; Their grapes are grapes of poison, Their clusters, bitter.

Unless the Lord of hosts Had left us a few survivors, We would be like Sodom, We would be like Gomorrah.

[ God Has Had Enough ] Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the instruction of our God, You people of Gomorrah.

And Babylon, the beauty of kingdoms, the glory of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

“Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.

Like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors,” says the Lord, “no one will live there, nor will a son of man reside in it.

“As when God overthrew Sodom And Gomorrah with its neighbors,” declares the Lord, “No man will live there, Nor will any son of man reside in it.

“I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the Lord.

“Therefore, as I live,” declares the Lord of hosts, The God of Israel, “Surely Moab will be like Sodom And the sons of Ammon like Gomorrah— A place possessed by nettles and salt pits, And a perpetual desolation. The remnant of My people will plunder them And the remainder of My nation will inherit them.”

Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.

And just as Isaiah foretold, “Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us a posterity, We would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”

and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire
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