Finding Sodom and Gomorrah

Henry Ossawa Tanner: Destruction of Sodom and ...

Henry Ossawa Tanner: Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (1929) (Photo credit: freeparking :-|)

We read the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, when God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” In verses 20-22, Lot requested to go to Zoar, calling it “a little one.” In fact, the city’s name was derived from that Hebrew word meaning “small.” The five cities that are referred to as the “cities of the plain” are Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela (Bela being another name for Zoar). It has long been thought that these cities were located in the plain south of the Dead Sea.

This region contains  underground deposits of bitumen. Bitumen is a petroleum-based material that is highly concentrated with sulfur. The area was studied by geologist Frederick G. Clapp, who came there in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s. His findings led him to the theory that tremendous pressure from an earthquake could have forced bitumen out of the ground through a fault line that has been found to exist there. Any sort of spark, surface fire, or lightning could then have ignited the gas-filled mixture, which would then fall to the earth in burning masses that would indeed cause much destruction.

A clay tablet found at Ebla, Syria

A clay tablet found at Ebla, Syria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1975, cuneiform clay tablets were found in Syria at Tell Mardikh (formerly ancient Ebla), one of which was a geographical atlas. In addition to confirming the location, at least two of the cities of the plain are mentioned by name in that atlas – Sodom and Admah.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, excavations in the area of the Dead Sea revealed much more.

Though secular cynics are naturally not in full agreement with the analysis, archaeologist Dr. Bryant G. Wood and his party located city gates, and a cemetery-like building with structures that had all been burned and destroyed. They found crushed graves, towers, a temple, the water supply, and thick city walls. Dr. Wood identified the remains as Sodom and Gomorrah. Geologist Dr. Steve Austin studied the geological evidence, including the fault zone, the burn layer, and the bitumen evidence, confirming Dr. Wood’s findings. Today, the names of the locations of the two main cities of the Bible are Bab edh-Dhra, which is believed to be Sodom, and Numeira, which is believed to be Gomorrah.

For a much better account of these findings, please see these two articles at “Associates For Biblical Research”: “Sodom and Gomorrah: Is There Evidence for Their Destruction?” and “The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah“.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Genesis 19 – God Rescues Lot and Destroys Sodom

Genesis 19

Genesis 19 begins with “the two angels” coming to Sodom. Are these the two that were with the Lord when he visited Abraham in chapter 18? That seems likely. The Lord certainly would not go into the presence of such sin. Notice the depravity of the men who surround Lot’s home seeking to sexually assault the visitors. Even when stuck blind, they are still groping for the door. Lot offers his own daughters to them in an effort to appease them! This great fatherhood he is sowing will reap its reward.

Note how patient God is with Lot, granting his request to go to another city after being told to flee to the hills – and he is practically dragged out to safety before the destruction starts. The fact that nobody listened to Lot when he tried to convince them probably says as much about the kind of life he led as does the fact that he was living right in the middle of all the wickedness.

After all is done, Lot doesn’t even trust the Lord enough to remain in the city he fled to, but takes his daughters and lives in a cave.  Then they turn his sin back on him when they realize their hope of bearing children is probably gone. They get him drunk, and end up bearing his children, who explain the origin of the Moabites and the Ammonites (vv 37-38).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

___________________

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert

Genesis 18 – Abraham Intercedes for Sodom

Genesis 18

You could study Genesis 18 several times and get material for a different Bible class out of it each time. First, there are the three visitors Abraham gets, and his knowledge that the Lord has come calling. We know that one of them is the Lord, and Abraham quickly comes to realize it, but we wonder about the other two. Are they simply angelic beings that are accompanying him? Is one of them the son of God? We don’t know, and as Moses wrote this, he did not have divine instruction to elaborate. Abraham makes haste to bring them a “morsel of bread” – which ends up being a freshly killed and prepared calf, and cakes from three seahs of flour he has Sarah prepare. A seah is said to be roughly 7 quarts! Then after they ate, the Lord makes His promise again that when He returns the next year, Sarah will bear him a son, which provokes an interesting exchange.

The rest of the chapter is about God’s displeasure and plans for dealing with the wickedness at Sodom, which He shares with Abraham. Why does God tell Abraham what He is about to do? His word tells us exactly why in verses 18-19. The Lord has “chosen” him and made Him His in the deepest manner. So much so that He is going to bless all the nations of the earth through him, and He wants him and those after him to do righteousness and justice. God’s visit to His friend (for that is a big part of what Abraham is to Him) was out of His concern and desire to instruct. What God has planned for Sodom is terrible, but He cares enough to tell him first and have his people learn from it.

What follows is the famous bargaining session between Abraham; and that ends with God promising He would not destroy it if He can find 10 righteous people there. Think about how just a few righteous people in the right place can make a difference.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

___________________

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.
/Robert