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Sodom & Gomorrah

Introduction:

One reason Sodom remains an important issue is because of the work of Stephen Collins who is digging at Tell el-Hamman at present and for the past 11 years. He continuously declares that his site is where the Biblical city of Sodom stood.

I strongly disagree with him and know he Is not correct but no matter what you tell him or who tells him, he remains closed-minded to the fact that he has discovered a different city and missed Sodom by a long shot.

One of the verses Collins doesn't adequately deal with is 2 Peter 2:6, which says:

"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"(NASB)

The key word is in bold print--thereafter. Notice it does not say 'for a season' or for some other restricted amount of time, it simply leaves it open-ended meaning that the example is not going to go away. This means that what Collins has dug up is not Sodom for Tell el-Hamman is not an open-ended example. Sodom has been covered up for centuries.

I also highly doubt that the cities of the plain, especially  Sodom, were covered by the Dead Sea for the same reason presented above. W.F. Albright and others held to that theory. I think they were close but again, it is hard for Sodom to be an open-ended example if it is buried under hundreds of feet of water.

As we read the different scriptures, and they will be presented below, we see that 2 Peter is supported and that Sodom remains a visible open-ended example so all the ungodly can look and see what God does to those who do not repent of their sins.

What sins being committed by those who lived in the city of the Plain which led God to destroy them is not the focus of this piece.  It is the location of those cities which remains the priority. As in the Sinai page, only a blurb from each article will be published with reference information in order to protect and not violate the copyrights of those works.

The reader will have to do their own searching in order to read the full articles and get the points made by the authors. Stephen Collins has written extensively so his section will contain one blurb and links to several articles plus a link to his Tell el-Hamman website.

Dr. Wood has done the same so I will try to get as many links to his articles and post only one blurb. Dr. Wood has presented the best argument in opposition to Collins over the years and his work is very sound. I agree with him about the southern location for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. That area has been an exposed , open-ended example for millennia which would fit the criteria of 2 Peter.

Enjoy the articles and make up your own minds.
 

#1. Cities of the Plain-- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

<sit’-iz>, <plan>, (ˆDer”Y’h” rK”Ki [kikkar ha-yarden]): Included

Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar. The locality is first referred

to in <011310>Genesis 13:10, where it is said that Lot “lifted up his eyes, and

beheld all the Plain of the Jordan, that it was well watered every where,

before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of

Yahweh, like the land of Egypt, as thou goest unto Zoar.” The word

translated plain is [kikkar], “circle.” In this ver, and in the 11th, as well as

in <110746>1 Kings 7:46 and <400305>Matthew 3:5, we have the full phrase “circle of

the Jordan.” Elsewhere (<011312>Genesis 13:12; 19:17,29; <053403>Deuteronomy

34:3; <101823>2 Samuel 18:23) the word for “circle” is used alone with the

article. Until recently the traditional view that this circle of the Jordan was

at the south end of the Dead Sea was universally maintained. The

arguments in favor of this view are:

(1) The name of Sodom is preserved in Jebel Usdum — Usdum having

the same consonants with Sodom; moreover, the name is known to

have referred to a place in that region as early as the days of Galen

(Deuteronomy Simpl. medic. Facult., 4,19) who describes certain “salts

of Sodom” from the mountains surrounding the lake which are called

Sodom.

(2) Zoar seems to have been represented in the Middle Ages by a place

which the Crusaders called Segore, and Arabic writers Zoghar. Under the name Zughar or Sughar the place is often referred to by medieval

Arabian geographers as situated 1ø South of Jericho “at the end of the

Dead Sea” and as a station on the route between the Gulf of Akabah

and Jericho, two days’ journey from Jericho. Ptolemy (v.17,5) reckons

Zoar as belonging to Arabia Petrea. Eusebius (Onom., 261) describes

the Dead Sea as lying between Jericho and Zoar. Josephus (Ant., I, xi,

4) makes the Dead Sea extend 580 stadia “as far as Zoar of Arabia”

(Wars, IV, viii, 4). These references would locate Zoar at the base of

the mountains just Southeast of the Dead Sea, and, as it was within

easy reach of Sodom, from which Lot fled, would fix the Cities of the

Plain in that locality. Jerome (Comm. on <231505>Isaiah 15:5) says that Zoar

was in the borders of Moab
 
 

#2.  Bible Verses- NASB- Not a complete list

Genesis 10:18-20; Genesis 13, 14, 18 & 19; Deut. 29:22-24; 32: 31-33; Isaiah 1:8-11; 3:8-10; 13:18-20;

Jeremiah 23:13-15; 49: 17-19; 50: 39-41; Lam. 4: 5-7; Ez. 16: 45-59; Amos 4:10-12; Zeph. 2:8-10;

Mt. 10: 14-16; 11:22-25; Lk. 17:28-30; Rm. 9:28-30; 2 Pet. 2:4-7; Jude 4-8.
 
 

#3. Sodom & Gomorrah-- Isarael- a- History

Scripture indicates that Sodom, and the cities of the plain, were located near the Dead Sea.

Archaeologists have combed the area, and a few sites have been proposed as the remains of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Each site produced credible evidence which points to the existence of Sodom and Gomorrah, yet, none have been agreed upon unanimously. When searching for Sodom and Gomorrah, one must start with the text which provides the most details concerning the geography of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain.

The Bible provides us with the most clues as to their location. The following verses are the ones in the Bible dealing with the geography of Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore, based on Scripture, one can draw the following conclusions as to the location of the cities of the plain.

The most obvious geographical landmark mentioned is in Genesis 14. The "vale of Siddim", as stated above, refers to the broad plains of the Dead Sea. The term "salt sea"was a common name given to the Dead Sea for its high salt content. Thus, the cities are definitely located somewhere within close proximity to the Dead Sea.

In Gen. 10:19 the cities are said to form the easternmost border of Canaan, and stretch as far as Lasha. The phrasing of this passage may indicate that the cities of the plain lined the western shores of the Dead Sea from north to south, thus forming a distinct border.

Lasha has been identified with Zareth-shahar. Zareth-shahar has been identified with the ruins of Zara. Zara was excavated about three miles south of Callirhoe. This city was known in antiquity for its therapeutic waters and natural springs. Josephus makes mention of Herod bathing there. If this is the location of ancient Lasha, then it is located on the eastern banks of the Dead Sea, near the mouth of the Wadi Zerka.

http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/sodom-and-gomorrah.html
 
 

#4. The Discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah -- Dr. Bryant Wood

When the archaeological, geographical and epigraphic evidence is reviewed in detail, it is clear that the infamous cities of Sodom and Gomorrah have now been found. What is more, this evidence demonstrates that the Bible provides an accurate eyewitness account of events that occurred southeast of the Dead Sea over 4,000 years ago

Sodom and Gomorrah were two of five cities referred to in Scripture as the Cities of the Plain. From references to the "plain of the Jordan" (Gn 13:10), "the Valley of Siddim (the Salt Sea)" (Gn 14:3) and Abraham looking down to see the Cities of the Plain from the area of Hebron (Gn 19:28), it is clear that the cities were located in the vicinity of the Dead Sea. Since the mountains come close to the shore on both the east and west, the cities must have been located either north or south of the Dead Sea. Various commentators over the centuries have suggested locations both north and south (Mulder 1992: 101 102). The reference to "bitumen pits" in Genesis 14:10, however, tips the scale in favor of a southern location (Howard 1984). Bitumen (a natural petroleum product similar to asphalt) was commonly found in the shallow southern basin of the Dead Sea in antiquity. (Bilkadi 1984; 1994; Clapp 1936a: 901–902; 1936b: 341–342).

One popular theory, repeated yet today, is that the Cities of the Plain were located in the plain south of the Dead Sea and later covered by the waters of the southern basin, never to be seen again. The level of the Dead Sea has receded substantially in recent years, causing the southern basin to dry up. (2) Extensive exploration and activity in the area has produced no evidence to indicate that there were ancient sites there (Rast 1987a: 193).

It wasn't until 1973 that solid archaeological evidence for locating the Cities of the Plain was found. At that time an archaeological survey of the area southeast of the Dead Sea was conducted by Walter Rast and Thomas Schaub in conjunction with their work at Bab edh-Dhra, an Early Bronze (ca. 3300–2000 BC) site on the east side of the Lisan peninsula.(3) Rast and Schaub discovered four additional sites south of Bab edh-Dhra, which they suggested might be related to the Cities of the Plain of the Old Testament (Rast and Schaub 1974). Subsequent excavations at Numeira, 13 km (8 mi) south of Bab edh-Dhra, have verified its close affinity with Bab edh-Dhra. Follow-up work at the other three sites, Safi, Feifa and Khanazir, however, has not been as rewarding.

http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/04/16/The-Discovery-of-the-Sin-Cities-of-Sodom-and-Gomorrah.aspx

http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2008/05/06/Sodom-and-Gomorrah-Is-There-Evidence-for-Their-Destruction.aspx

http://www.galaxie.com/article/bspade20-3-04

http://www.galaxie.com/article/bsp12-1-02
 
 

#5. Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Discovered?-- John D. Morris, Ph.D.

Scripture contains several “stories” that have been ridiculed more than others. Of these, the six-day creation, the global Flood, the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ, and other spectacular works of God receive special criticism. Another mighty act of God that tends to be disbelieved is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Scoffers, both Christian and secular, have a field day with this biblical event because it not only involves God’s supernatural workings and cataclysmic acts of nature, it also represents God’s righteous judgment of sin. This is hard for people to think about, especially today when the specific sin being judged is homosexual behavior. Did the destruction of these cities really happen? Is there archaeological and geological evidence to support it? Do other ancient writings mention it? Yes, to all.

The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is a certain fact of history. The Genesis account is written in narrative form and alluded to by several other Old Testament writers. Jesus Himself obviously believed it1 and in fact was an eyewitness as the pre-incarnate Lord. Extra-biblical writings (including tablets unearthed at Ebla) mention Sodom and even give specific references to its location along the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea…

Biblical archaeologist Dr. Bryant Wood of Associates for Biblical Research located city gates, crushed graves, towers, a temple, the water supply, and thick city walls. Uninhabitable since the destruction, the remains were identified by Dr. Wood as Sodom and Gomorrah. Creation geologist Dr. Steve Austin studied the geological evidence, including the fault zone, the burn layer, the bitumen that erupted, and the city’s calamitous fall to its ruin. Together, they have confirmed the truthfulness of the Genesis account.

http://www.icr.org/article/7312/
 
 

#6.  Tell El-Hamman-- Stephen Collins

Not a few scholars, including TeHEP Director, Steven Collins, believe that the textual evidence strongly supports a northern location in what is called the "Jordan Disk," the 25-kilometer diameter circle of the Jordan Valley immediately north of the Dead Sea. [For a detailed presentation of the northern view see S. Collins and L.C. Scott, Discovering the City of Sodom (Simon & Schuster/Howard Books, 2013).] The eastern side of the Disk encompasses at least fourteen named archaeological sites (and numerous others), and many of them have Middle Bronze Age occupation… Tall el-Hammam is the largest of these. Therefore, it would be unthinkable to ignore the likelihood that Tall el-Hammam (as well as Tall Nimrin, with its MB2 destruction and ensuing 500-year occupational hiatus) may be Sodom and Admah, respectively. Sodom is likely the larger of the two, Tall el-Hammam.

Once aware of these connections, one cannot deny the level of interest that is generated in the light of these possibilities. Many scholars have also identified Tall el-Hammam as Abel-Shittim ("mourning place of acacias"), the location of the Israelite encampment before they crossed the Jordan into Canaan. It is also a distinct possibility that Tall el-Hammam incorporates at least part of the Roman city of Livias (built by Herod Antipas), the government seat of Perea, frequented by John the Baptizer, and Jesus and his disciples.

 If rigorous scholarship and responsible, objective archaeology confirm a link between Tall el-Hammam and Sodom (or between Tall Nimrin and Admah) or other possible biblical associations, then so be it. If the same approach suggests that some such connections are not warranted, then so be it. But we must not hide from the possibilities because of bias one way or the other. As A. J. Ayer's verification principle requires of any assertion, we must state clearly the criteria whereby any hypothesis can be verified and/or falsified, then follow the evidence wherever it leads. This is the strict method of science.

http://tallelhammam.com/

http://tallelhammam.com/uploads/The_Geography_of_the_Cities_of_the_Kikkar.pdf

http://tallelhammam.com/uploads/The_Location_of_Zoar.pdf

http://tallelhammam.com/uploads/Forty_Salient_Points_about_Sodom_s_Location.pdf
 
http://tallelhammam.com/uploads/Thinking_about_the_Location_of_Sodom.pdf
 
http://tallelhammam.com/Related_Publications.html
 
 

#7. Have Sodom and Gomorrah Been Found?-- BAR

In the past many scholars have regarded Sodom and Gomorrah—and the Biblical stories in which they appear—as mere legend. Now, however, two highly respected American archaeologists are about to propose that they may have found the remains of the ancient cities.

Walter E. Rast of Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana and R. Thomas Schaub of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, are excavating two sites near the eastern shore of the Dead Sea in Jordan which they believe are prime candidates for the Biblical cites destroyed because of their citizens’ wickedness.

The principal site, Bab edh-Dhra, lies less than one mile east of the Lisan, the tongue-like peninsula that protrudes into the Dead Sea on the eastern shore. Occupied during the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium B.C.), Bab edh-Dhra overlooks the Dead Sea from a height of 550 feet; it was no doubt built on a bluff for defense purposes. The site consists of a town and a giant cemetery. One scholar has estimated that the cemetery is composed of more than 20,000 tombs in which over 500,000 people were buried together with over 3 million pottery vessels. A large rectangular structure found inside the town is thought to be a temple. The archaeologists have also uncovered the remains of what they believe to have been the altar associated with the temple.

Bab edh-Dhra was discovered in 1924 during a survey of the Jordan Valley headed by young William Foxwell Albright, whose outstanding scholarly accomplishments were to dominate the world of Biblical archaeology for nearly 50 years, and M. G. Kyle who was president of Xenia Theological Seminary (later Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). The honor of actually discovering the site, however, belongs to Alexis Mallon, S.J.

Although Albright, Kyle, and Mallon all published descriptions of the potsherds they picked up at Bab edh-Dhra, the site received little archaeological attention for the next 40 years. In the mid-1960’s, however, a large quantity of Early Bronze Age pottery began appearing in the antiquities shops of Jerusalem’s Old City. Archaeological detectives traced the source of the pottery to Bab edh-Dhra: The site had obviously been discovered by local bedouin.

Prompt excavation then being necessary, the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem sent an expedition to Bab edh-Dhra in 1965 under the supervision of its director Paul W. Lapp. Lapp excavated at the site for three seasons and published preliminary reports. Before he was able to finish his work, however, he was accidently drowned while swimming off the coast of Cyprus.

Then in 1975, excavations were renewed under the direction of Rast and Schaub. They have since been joined by the Smithsonian Institution’s Donald J. Ortner, a physical anthropologist who is studying the human population groups of the Dead Sea area based on the skeletal remains found at the Bab edh-Dhra cemetery.

While surveying the area around Bab edh-Dhra, Rast and Schaub discovered the second site, Numeira, in 1973. Even without excavation, the archaeologists could see that the site had been burned. Spongy charcoal was all over the ground and could be scooped up by hand. Pottery sherds found on the site’s surface easily dated Numeira to the Early Bronze Age, the same period that Bab edh-Dhra was inhabited.

Rast and Schaub have now spent two seasons digging at Numeira, the last in 1979 with Harvard professor Michael D. Coogan acting as supervisor of the Numeira excavation. Based on these excavations, the archaeological team can now pinpoint the occupation of Numeira to a brief 100 year period between 2450 B.C. and 2350 B.C. The town was then consumed in a fiery destruction, the remains of which can still be seen on the site.

BAR 06:05 (Sep/Oct 1980). 1980 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.
 
 

#8. Are “The Cities of the Plain” Mentioned in the Ebla Tablets?-- Alfonso Archi

About five years ago, Giovanni Pettinato, the original epigrapher to the Italian Mission to Ebla, announced to the world that the Biblical Cities of the Plain (Genesis 14) were mentioned in the fabulous third-millennium B.C. cuneiform tablets found at Ebla. At the time of his announcement, Pettinato did not tell us the way in which the cities were written, nor did he give us textual references. Only recently has he done this and only for three of the five cities of the plain: Sodom, Gomorrah and Zoar.* Even now, however, he has not attempted to prove his proposed identifications. In fact, they are all wrong. Let us consider them one by one:

Sodom

According to Pettinato, Sodom corresponds to the Eblaite place name Si-da-muki. This Eblaite city is mentioned in tablet TM.76.G.524.* The text concerns the delivery of textiles. A series of towns, including Sidamu, is listed. The series is as follows: Ti-inki, ’À-šuki, Dur-URUki, Du-ma-naki, Si-da-muki, A-ḫa-da-muki, Ì-ra-arki.†

Nothing in this list or otherwise in the tablet suggests that Sidamu is to be located on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Sidamu is also mentioned in two other tablets (TM.75.G.2377 obv. Iy 8 = 2379 rev. I 5*). Again these two tablets have a list of places; this time, however, the list of places relates to the cult of dNI-dakul. Among the places mentioned is Lu-ba-anki. Lu-ba-anki should be in the area of Alalakh.† We must, therefore, look for Sidamu in northern Syria, perhaps between Ebla and the coast, but surely not on the shores of the Dead Sea.
 
Gomorrah
 
According to Pettinato, Gomorrah appears in the Ebla tablets as Ì-ma-arki. He gives two references. One reference is simply wrong. In TM.75.G.2233 (another tablet dealing with the delivery of textiles), the place mentioned is not, despite Pettinato, Ì-ma-arki, but Ì-marki. The series of place names is as follows:  Ì-marki (I.3), À-šu-muki (I.6), Ḫa-ra-anki (I.II), Sa-nap-zu-lumki (I.16).† The mention of Ḫarran shows that the cities are to be placed in the northern and eastern regions, not on the shore of the Dead Sea.

Pettinato also refers us to TM.75.G.1570 obv. 111, which does mention Ì-ma-arki. In this same tablet, however, we read as follows: 1 gu4 / en / Ì-ma-arki / 1 gu4 / Zu-ba-LUM / 1 gu4 / I-šar / 6 gu4 / en / (II 1) Kak-mi-umki, which means, “One ox: (delivery, mutum) of the king of Emar; one ox: (delivery) of ZubaLUM; one ox: (delivery) of Išar; 6 oxen: (delivery) of the king of Kakmium.” Kakmium was probably in the region of the Tigris.†

Moreover, it is clear that Ì-ma-arki is only a variant of Ì-marki. That is the writing usually employed at Ebla for Emar,† which is a city near Meskeneh, on the right bank of the Euphrates.† At Mari, in the second millennium B.C., this name is written Ì-ma-(a-)arki; at Alalakh E-ma-arki (Lev. VII), E-marki (Lev. IV).

The original writing for the Biblical place name Ămōrāh should be *imār-at.† The place name Ì-mar/Ì-ma-arki does not correspond, therefore, to the place name attested in the Bible from a linguistic viewpoint.

Zoar

According to Pettinato, Zoar should be written Za-é-arki (that is Za-’à-arki). Pettinato refers us to two texts, one concerning deliveries of textiles, and the other one deliveries, mu-túm, of silver.

In TM.75.G.1323 obv. V 15-VII 3, we find the following: Zizu of the city of Tuba; Gibar-Gubi of the city of I-NI-bu: (clothes that are) a tax of Armi to (in) Za-’à-arki; the king of I-NI-bu; the king of Iritum. The mention of Tuba and Iritum (Irrite of the second millennium) points to a geographical area northeast of Ebla.†

In TM.75.G.1586 obv. IX 2–12, we find: “30 (shekels) silver: delivery of AḪ-ra-Malik of the city of Guḫatium; 20 (shekels) silver: delivery of the city of Za’ar; 35 (shekels) silver, a textile: delivery of the city of Abšu.” This place (also the writings Absu and Abzu are attested) may perhaps be identified with Abzu near Kinza (Qadeš) (KBo I 1 obv. 42 = 2 obv. 23f. (treaty between Suppiluliuma and Šaṯtiwaza).

Again the geographical location is nowhere near the Dead Sea.

In addition to the texts mentioned by Pettinato, there are two others. One (TM.75.G.1527 rev. IV 6–11) states: TAR bar6:kù / mu-túm / Ì-na-ar / Za’a-arki / in / Ḫa-lamki, which means, “30 (shekels) silver: delivery of Inar of Za’ar for Ḫalam.” The place names which follow Ḫalam are Kakmium (IV 16) and Sanapzulum (V 3). These are certainly to be located northeast of Ebla. Ḫalam appears several times preceded by GN + in, for example in TM.75.G.2070 rev. III 1–5; 1 ma-na bar6:kù / mu-túm / Ir-i-tumki / in / Ḫa-lamki, which means, “1 mine silver: delivery of Iritum for Ḫalam.” Here Ḫalam is related with Iritum, a city near Ḫarran. Again the location precludes any identification with the Biblical cities of the plain.

One must also consider that the Hebrew writing for Zoar is ṣ˓r and ṣw˓r, and in Ebla the sign É is normally used for /h/ and /ḥ/, while /˒/ and /˓/ are expressed by the sign A.†

Accordingly, no place name referred to by Pettinato can be identified with the Biblical “Cities of the Plain.”

BAR 07:06 (Nov/Dec 1981). 1981 (H. Shanks, Ed.). Biblical Archaeology Society.
 
 

#9 Sodom- McClintock & Strong Cyclopedia

(Heb. Sedom’, dos], meaning uncertain [see below]; Sept. and New Test.

[ta>] So>doma; Josephus, So>doma, Ant. 1, 9, 1; Vulg. Sodoma), an ancient

city in the vale of Siddim, where Lot settled after his separation from

Abraham (<011312>Genesis 13:12; 14:12; 19:1). It had its own chief or “king,”

as had the other four cities of the plain (14:2, 8, 10), and was along with

them, Zoar only excepted, destroyed by fire from heaven on account of the

gross wickedness of the inhabitants; the memory of which event has been

perpetuated in a name of infamy to all generations (ch. 19). In the

following account of this remarkable place we digest the ancient and

modern information on the subject. SEE SODOMITISH SEA.

I. The Name. — The word Sedom has been interpreted to mean “burning”

(Gesenius, Thesaur. p. 939a), taking, dos] = hm;dev], and that as= hp;dev].

194

This is possible, though not at all certain, since Gesenius himself hesitates

between that interpretation and one which identifies it with a similar

Hebrew word meaning “vineyard,” and Furst (Handwb. 2, 72), with nearly

equal plausibility, connects it with an Arabic root meaning to enclose or

fortify (dds, as the base also of Siddim), a view in which Muhlau

coincides. Simonis, again (Onomast. p. 363), renders it “abundance of dew

or water,” Hiller (ibid. p. 176), “fruitful land,” and Chytraeus, “mystery.”

In fact, like most archaic names, it may, by a little ingenuity, be made to

mean almost anything. Stanley (Sin. and Pal. p. 289) notices the first of

these interpretations, and, comparing it with the “Phlegraean fields” in the

Campagna at Rome, says that “the name, if not derived from the

subsequent catastrophe, shows that the marks of fire had already passed

over the doomed valley.” Apparent “marks of fire” there are all over the

neighborhood of the Dead Sea. They have been regarded by many travelers

as tokens of conflagration and volcanic action, and in the same manner it is

quite possible that they originated the name Sedom, for they undoubtedly

abounded on the shores of the lake long before even Sodom was founded.

II. Historical Notices. — Sodom is commonly mentioned in connection

with Gomorrah, but also with 

Admah and Zeboim, and on one occasion

(<011401>Genesis 14) with Bela or Zoar. Sodom was evidently the chief town in

the settlement. Its king takes the lead, and the city is always named first in

the list, and appears to be the most important. The four are first named in

the ethnological records of <011019>Genesis 10:19 as belonging to the

Canaanites: “The border of the Canaanite was from Zidon towards Gerar

unto Azzah, towards Sedom and Amorah and Admah and Tseboim unto

Lasha.” The meaning of this appears to be that the district in the hands of

the Canaanites formed a kind of triangle — the apex at Zidon, the

southwest extremity at Gaza, the southeastern at Lasha.

The next mention of the name of Sodom (<011310>Genesis 13:10-13) gives us

more definite information as to the city. Abram and Lot are standing

together between Bethel and Ai (ver. 3), taking, as any spectator from that

spot may still do, a survey, of the land around and below them. Eastward

of them, and absolutely at their feet; lay the “circle (rK;Kæ) of Jordan,” i.e.

the ghor. It was in all its verdant glory — that glory of which the traces are

still to be seen, and which is so strangely and irresistibly attractive to a

spectator from any of the heights in the neighborhood of Bethel — watered

in the northern portion by the copious supplies of the Wady Kelt, the Ain

195

Sultan, the Ain Duk, and the other springs which gush out from the foot of

the mountains; and in the southern part by Wady Tufileh, and the abundant

brooks of the Ghor es-Safieh. These abundant waters even now support a

mass of verdure before they are lost in the light, loamy soil of the region.

But at the time when Abram and Lot beheld them, they were husbanded

and directed by irrigation, after the manner of Egypt, until the whole circle

was one great oasis — “a garden of Jehovah” (ver. 10). In the midst of the

garden the four cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim appear to

have been situated. To these cities Lot descended, and retaining his nomad

habits among the more civilized manners of the Canaanitish settlement,

“pitched his tent” by (d[i, at, not “towards”) the chief of the four. At a

later period he seems to have been living within the walls of Sodom. It is

necessary to notice how absolutely the cities are identified with the district.

In the subsequent account of their destruction (ch. 19), the topographical

terms are employed with all the precision which is characteristic of such

early times. “The Ciccar” (q.v.), the “land of the Ciccar,” “Ciccar of

Jordan,” recurs again and again both in ch. 13 and 19, and “the cities of the

Ciccar” is the almost technical designation of the towns which were

destroyed in the catastrophe related in the latter chapter.
 
 

#10 Biblical Archeology: Sodom and Gomorrah--  Rabbi Leibel Reznick

The Torah tells us the story of the rise and downfall of Sodom and Gomorrah. To the non-believer, the Biblical story seems so incredible that it must be relegated to the realm of myth and fantasy. The 20th-century German Bible critic, Theodor Noldeke asserted that "The whole story of Sodom and Gomorrah is unhistorical and comparatively late in origin." J. Maxwell Miller of Emory University boldly claims, "These narratives of Sodom and Gomorrah are purely products of the storyteller's art, which of course raises serious questions about their usefulness for historical reconstruction." John H. Hayes, a colleague of the aforementioned J. Maxwell Miller, confirms Professor Miller's belief. [1] Are the assertions of these skeptics based on facts or are they merely the distorted opinions of non-believers? Let us examine the facts of the case and see for ourselves.

There are two places in the desert area near the Dead Sea that could not be more radically different from each other. One area is a dry, harsh wilderness. All that is found there are craggy hills, land strewn with crumbled rock, coarse sand, and intense heat: daytime temperatures rise to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Rivers are few and meager. The waters of the nearby great lake are not potable: No fish live in its inhospitable waters. There are no trees to offer shade. Wayfarers are few. Snakes and scorpions are the only creatures that find comfort in this forsaken place. Desolation echoes forth from the dry river beds.

The second area is a great and thriving metropolis. Grain grows in abundance and precious raw materials are easily accessed. Its lush tree-shaded groves graciously bestow their blessings of fine fruits. The green canopy of its orchards stretch as far as the eye can see. There are no predatory animals to threaten passersby. The great metropolis and its citizenry are self sufficient; every need can be met locally. A veritable Garden of Eden, it is described in the Torah when Abraham and Lot decide to part ways: And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the Garden of the Lord (Genesis 13:10).

http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48931527.html
 
 
#11. Examining Tell el-Hamman as Sodom by Dr. David Tee
 

I. Introduction

Much has been written on Sodom and Gomorrah over the years and there still, in spite of thorough investigations by Dr. Wood and others, seems to be some controversy over the location of the cities of the plain.  This controversy is fueled by the claim by Dr. S. Collins that he has found Sodom north-east of the Dead Sea.

By the way, I got a chance to present my case ‘live and on site’ to quite a few visiting archaeological dignitaries during the season. In those instances, Tall el-Hamman, itself did most of the talking, almost defying anyone to deny her pre-eminence as the dominant bronze Age city in the region (as Sodom was the dominant Bronze Age city on the eastern Jordan disk in Genesis). After an on-site tour of Tall el-Hamman with Genesis 13: 1-12 firmly in mind, the general response…was always something like, ’Well it makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? To which I usually respond, ‘Welcome to Sodom’.1

There are a couple problems with the statements made in that quote but they will be addressed at a later time, what is important to note is that Dr. Collins has basically thrown any objectivity aside and has approached his dig with a bias that influences everything he does.  This is underscored by the 4 reports he has posted on the official website for the excavation of Tell el-Hamman and over at his University’s website.2

There is nothing mentioned in those reports that would indicate any real archaeological objectivity is in play as the focus is clearly on supporting the contentions made by Dr. Collins as he has stated he has purposefully sought out remains of cities that would meet his idea of what and where Sodom should be.3 When people do that, we know that they always find what they are looking for, whether it is actually there or not.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the claim made by Dr. Collins and his supporters that the northern location for Sodom is actually Tell el-Hamman.  This will be accomplished by first looking at the evidence he provides and applying some of his own criteria to his own work.  These criteria are as follows:

1. If anyone will bother to put his/her biases (biblical; anti-biblical; conservative; liberal; personal) aside, and approach the subject from a strictly empirical direction, you'll quickly see that my ideas about Tall el-Hamman being a (the) most-likely candidate for biblical Sodom are thoroughly reasonable,

2. based entirely on logic arising from actual evidence (textual, geographical, chronological, archaeological).

3. The principle (and only) primary historical text regarding the location of Sodom is Genesis, mainly 13:1-12 (with chapters 10 and 14 conforming).4

This paper will also look at the many problems that come with this claim and his criteria, as what is already obvious is that Dr. Collins is placing restrictions upon the location that should not be there. He does not own the city nor the biblical narrative thus this imposing of his own criteria is presumptuous at best.

What this paper will not do is become embroiled in the discussion concerning the time restraints placed upon historical sites via the Age system so readily used by archaeologists to help support their theories. The Age system is a fallible, corrupt human construct and it is unwise to place the infallible word of God under its rule.

Since God did not use the 3 Age System, or its extensions, it is highly arrogant to say that events of the past fit one era and not another, solely based upon the subjective boundaries of the system employed. It is well known that different archaeologists use different dates to define the different ages and that not all archaeologists use the same categories to divide the historical events in question.

All dating systems are fallible and are more prone to error because the modern archaeologist is looking back over 4,000 years of history made vulnerable to the many different destructive forces that left their stamp on the area.  Thus to rest one’s argument upon such a corrupt system is not smart, though references to these periods will be used, they are not germane to the article as they are just too easily manipulated to fit the theory.

Basically what will be used are Dr. Collins’ own words and the words of his supporters, brought to us via articles and discussions as they are the most revealing of his position:

Collins believes that the extensive and well fortified Middle Bronze Age city (c.2000-1550 B.C.) represents the Sodom known to Abraham and Lot…5

And,

Of course, for quite awhile now I have put forth the idea that Tall el-Hamman is likely the site of biblical Sodom. That it is in the right place, according to Biblical geography, is impossible to question on the basis of even a cursory textual analysis of Gen. 13:1-12 but what about the factors of ‘right time’ and ‘right stuff’ necessary to reasonably nail down such an identification? Well, after TeHEP Season One about a year ago, we stated that the archaeology of the site was leaning quite suggestively in the direction of a pretty straight-forward biblical chronology for Sodom.6

We shall see if Dr. Collins’ use of the buzz words were correct and that the evidence holds up to his claim.  Or if all he has said is pure bias talking because it is using more wishful thinking and not archaeological analysis that motivates his work.  The third movie in the Indian Jones series stated that ‘archaeology is about fact not truth’7 but if we do not have the truth then we do not have anything and everyone has wasted all their time.

This paper is about truth for that is what Jesus said we are to know and that the Holy Spirit will guide us to thus ‘fact’ needs to line up with ‘truth’ or it is of no value. We shall see if the claims and ‘evidence’ for Tell el-Hamman are fact or truth.

II. Their Evidence

In his 2008 report posted at both the official website for the Tell el-Hamman project and His University’s Dr. Collins had this to say:

As is now widely known, it was also realized coming into the excavation that Tall el-Hamman was a reasonable candidate for Biblical Sodom based on a detailed analysis of the relevant biblical materials regarding the chronology and location of the city. Extensive research along with data from three seasons of excavation is now leading many scholars to seriously consider this theory on its evidential merits.8

One must ask (and it has been asked often in many discussions with Dr. Collins and his supporters) what evidence? Discovering this evidence for the justification of Tell el-Hamman for being the Biblical Sodom has been a task worthy of some of the greatest private detectives in history. Dr. Collins and his troupe are not forthcoming very freely when approached to disclose what they have discovered at this site that supports their claim that this tell is actually Sodom.

What follows is a brief look at what evidence for the claim that can be gleaned from the many different sources in public publication. These pieces of evidence are in no particular order and will be offset by a comparison to the southern location’s evidence to keep perspective on the issue at hand.

1. Non-occupation: at Tell el-Hamman Dr. Collins says that the ‘evidence suggests that it was not occupied for over five centuries following its destruction.’9 Which means that Tell el-Hamman was re-populated at a later date. Whereas the southern location was permanently abandoned after a brief settlement after the destruction10

2. Fortification: Dr. Collins reports that Tel el-Hamman was a heavily fortified city11 but so was Bab edh-dhra12

3. Evidence of burning: In one article the author states almost in passing, that there ‘was some evidence of severe burning’.13 Yet not only was evidence for burning found for Bab edh-Drha but it was found to have burned from ‘the outside in.’14 (a side note, Dr. graves reports in one article that ‘..At Numeira (possible Gomorrah) a pit was dug which cut through a seven foot thick layer of dark ash and at Feifa, much the same evidence of destruction by fire could be found)

4. Mud brick structures: one huge mud brick structure has been found at Tell el-Hamman15 while many for Babe dh-Dhra were discovered.16

5. Pottery: Has been found at Tel el-Haman17 and at babe dh-Drha18.

So far no physical evidence has been found at Tell el-Hamman that sets it apart from the southern location candidate and nothing has been found to definitively state that Tell el-Hamman is Sodom. In checking the official website for the excavation project under the button titled ‘discoveries’ all the reader is treated to is the announcement, ‘coming soon’.19 This is it, after four years, now five, of hard work.  All Dr. Collins and company can produce are two words which are meant to induce hope that something has been discovered, but if one reads all the reports, as I have, this coming soon sign is false hope.

The architecture described by Dr. Collins in his article, The Architecture of Sodom, does not present anything that would place Tell el-Hamman as the leading candidate as all that is described is normal components for any city of Abraham’s time20

This sparse production of physical evidence is enough to doubt the claim made by Dr. Collins and his supporters as it seems like they are acting in desperation not from the ‘actual evidence’ Dr. Collins made as a criteria to challenge his claim. This lack leads us into the next section and the problems that come with the claim made.

III. The Problems with the Claim

In researching this paper many inconsistencies arose that have set the northern location theory under a cloud of suspicion and to prove this true we will follow Dr. Collins’ criteria of restricting the argument to the passages found in Genesis and a few found in other books.

1. Separation: Dr. Collins has stated Genesis 13 places the separation of the two men at Bethel and Ai, an area supposedly with a commanding view over the northern Jordan plain and so on.21 Yet the text does not say that, it says that he pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai but it does not specify the exact location where the two men stood when they made their decision and parted company.

It is clear that Dr. Collins knows little about ranching as one does not put his herds in the same spot nor do they place them in front of the house, especially if there is no pasture land available. Cattle and sheep require good grass to feed upon and good water to drink and before they ruin an area they have to be moved to new land. This is a continuous process so Abraham and Lot could be anywhere at this time when they decide to separate. The passage does not give a specific location for them.

2. Observation: Dr. Collins argues that the passage claims Lot saw only the northern ‘disk’ area north of the Dead Sea,22 yet again that is not so. The passage clearly states he saw all of the land not just a portion of it. It is interesting to note that Dr. Collins can, without being present, determine what they saw or declare the size of the land that was viewed.

The word ‘all’ means ‘all’ not a portion of it and this phrase is repeated in Chapter 19:28 which states: ‘Then he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain.’ Keil & Delitzsch in their commentary support this as they say ‘the entire plain was judged’’23

3. Status: Dr. Collins then comments that Sodom was ‘the only major B.A. urban center mentioned in the Bible located on the eastern Jordan disk and that Tall el-Hamman is the only major B.A. urban center on the eastern Jordan disk.’24

The problem for Dr. Collins and friends is that the Bible does not put Sodom on the eastern Jordan disk, in fact none of the passages cited by Dr. Collins and supporters do so. This location is assumed because of the generality of the text and because Dr. Collins desperately wants to have his theory proven true.

Another blow to this idea is that the Bible never states that Sodom was a major urban center. We do not know how large it was or how much of a role it played, except for its sin, in local and national affairs. To say it was the ‘dominate urban center’ would take a lot more physical evidence than has been unearthed and clear textual support from ancient documents  but to suggest that the ‘mere size of the tall’ is an indication of dominance25 is vastly misleading as Tell el-Hamman houses many cities not just one and they all contribute to the size.

This is a clear reading into the text what is not there as is the following:

The primary indicator here is the fact that Sodom was a fortified city. Not only did it have a city wall and gate, but it was also sizable enough to warrant a city administration replete with a system of judges. And it was cosmopolitan enough to allow a nomadic habiru herder/caravaner like Lot to integrate into its society and become a judge or city official.26

All of that is completely assumed as there is no textual or physical evidence to suggest such things were reality.

4. Destruction: Gary Byers writes in his article, Tell el-Hamman: A personal perspective that:

Either way, archaeological evidence does indicate at least two destructions of this city during the Iron Age- either by earthquake or enemy.27

This creates a very large problem for the northern location as though there were two destructions at Sodom; they took place in the time of Abraham and were 20 years apart approx.27, not 200 or more, approx... Every passage of scripture throughout the Bible referring to Sodom and Gomorrah only refer to the major destruction, save for Genesis 14 which records the first one. There is no more reference to destruction happening to Sodom after Abraham’s time. How could there be, it was utterly destroyed.

5. Historical Names:  Returning to Gary Byers article, he mentions that ancient Biblical names ‘can be seen reflected in the modern Arabic names, and since both were Biblical sites, both would be appropriate for the pilgrim’s map.’28. But why is he using two names that have nothing to do with Sodom and Gomorrah? If Tell el-Hamman were Sodom or even Gomorrah one would think that the modern Arabic names for the area would reflect the Biblical sites as stated by Gary Byers.

Yet there are modern Arabic names in use for ancient Sodom but unfortunately for Mr. Byers and Dr. Collins, they are in use at the south end of the Dead Sea:

The site of the present Dead Sea Works, a large operation for the extraction of Dead Sea minerals, is called "Sdom" (סדום) according to its traditional Arab name, Khirbet as-sudūm (see above Historicity). Nearby is unique Mount Sodom (הר סדום), in Arabic, consisting mainly of salt. In the Plain of Sdom (מישור סדום) to the south there are a few springs and two small agricultural villages.29

One would have to ask why the modern names are in use so far away from the actual Sodom, if that city was located in the northern end of the Dead Sea. It makes much more sense to use them where Sodom actually was, in the south.

6. Chronology: In one article, Dr. Collins attempts to deal with the problem of chronology and argues that Dr. Wood ‘assumes a long sojourn in Egypt because he needs to push the date of Abraham’s entrance into Canaan as far back as possible to preserve some hope of identifying Babe dh-Dhra and Numeria as Sodom and Gomorrah.’31

Unfortunately for Dr. Collins, his argument can be turned around and made against him. He needs a short sojourn to preserve Tell el-Hamman as Sodom. He states that Paul basically agrees with him:

Even the apostle Paul in Galatians 3:17 supports a short Egyptian sojourn by affirming that from “the promises....spoken to Abraham” to the giving of the Mosaic Law, the total elapsed time was 430 years—again, 215 years in Canaan (Abraham to Jacob) and 215 years in Egypt (Jacob to Moses).32

Yet the passage in question suggests no such thing as it reads:

‘ What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with his promise.’ (Gal. 3:17).

There is no allusion to a short sojourn nor that the time frame refers to 215 of those years was spent in Canaan prior to Jacob’s movement south.

In fact, we read in Exodus 12: 40-1 that the 430 years refer to the exact amount of time the Israelites spent in the land of Egypt. The passage reads:

‘Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. At the end of the 430 ears to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.

That leaves no doubt that the sojourn was long and Dr. Wood is correct and not making a desperate attempt to preserve the identification of Babe dh-Dhra as Sodom. Dr. Collins also forgets or ignores that Exodus 19:1ff provides us with the exact time the law was given to the Israelites, it reads:

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt- on the very day- they came to the desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

The law was given 3 months after the Israelites left Egypt and we know it was given at Sinai, long before they Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Chronology does not support Dr. Collins’ theory and he resorts to rewriting scripture, as evidenced by his adding in words to the Genesis references to the ‘plain’ and other places which allows him to say that Tell el-Hamman fits the Biblical description. It is clear that Dr. Collins manipulates much to show biblical support for his theory when it has none.

7. Arguing from Silence: In one of his papers, Dr. Collins resorts to arguing from silence to build his case. I quote in part:

The Bible does not say Sodom and Gomorrah were located anywhere near the southern end of the Dead Sea... The biblical record does not say all evidence of their existence was wiped

from the face of the earth so that the same locale would never be inhabited again…Third, the biblical text does say the pervasive fire was so comprehensive over the target area

that no human beings in the region could have survived the blast. The Bible does not say the fire was so hot that it entirely consumed bodies, buildings, and personal belongings…Fourth, the Bible does say the new growth (such as sprouts, shoots, and buds) of the vegetation in the region was burned. The biblical account does not say the entire floral assemblage of the area was obliterated so that it could not at least recover somewhat through the course of time… Fifth, the biblical story does say that all the inhabitants of the Cities of the Plain were killed…The Bible does not say the area became permanently uninhabitable33

Yet the Biblical passage does say all of that as it reads:

Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of the heavens. So he overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities and what grew upon the ground. Gen. 19:24, 25)

What is clear is Dr. Collins has a problem with the word ‘all’ and wants to find some excuse to justify his locating Sodom in the far north when nothing supports that idea. To carry on with his logic, the Bible does not say that Sodom was located in the northern/eastern ‘kikkar’ either, which means to say Sodom fits the Biblical record is misleading and using silence to locate a lost city.

8. Ancient Textual Record: He also rejects many ancient writings and in a discussion at the BAS forum he made the following statement:

I must emphasize that the only geo-criteria that can legitimately enter into the discussion are those in Genesis. This is so because Genesis is the only ancient text that deals with the subject! Any sources later than the Iron Age must be considered with skepticism, and certainly should not be trusted at any point of departure from the Genesis geography. Josephus and the Byzantine pilgrims weren't always stellar biblical geographers34

And this sentiment is further supported by one of his more vocal supporters, Dr. Graves, who in the same discussion but 3 pages later had this to say:

You make my point exactly.  Why can we rely on these early writers as though infallible, Josephus is no more reliable at times than these early pilgrims? He is 2000-1600 BC years removed from the actual historical events of Sodom's destruction. 35

Yet those ancient writers had access to far more ancient texts than either Drs. Collins or Graves, had a better knowledge of the events described as well as the geography and other details and had a better knowledge of the application of the surrounding languages of the time.  It is quite ridiculous to state that the ancient writers need to be dismissed because they are approx. 2,000 years later than the events they describe, especially when the charge comes from those who are over 4,000 years removed, have access to fewer documents, and analyze evidence that has had a further 2,000 years of destructive forces thrust upon them.

Such dismissal only provides evidence that Dr. Collins and his supporters will not consider any written material that disagrees with them, (this is more evident in a point coming up), and whose bias influences their judgment. They have never considered Tell –el-Hamman as anything other than Sodom and this is one of their major un-doings as it displays a refusal to be objective, at least attempt to be objective, and very closed-minded.

9. Restoration: If the previous eight points were not enough to call into question the identification of Tell el-Hamman as Sodom, then this point, and the following one, are the ones that expose the faulty identification and manipulation of the texts to fit the theory and avoid the truth.

In most of the resources written by Dr. Collins and his supporters, it is clearly mentioned that the site was re-occupied approx. 500 years after the destruction.36 But we will quote from Gary Byers again;

Tall el-Hamman is rich with remains from almost every period…After destruction of the M.B.A. city; the whole site appears to have no city wall or permanent occupation for 500-700 years. During this same period, all of the cities on the eastern Jordan plain appear to have the same hiatus in settlement. That was also the time when the Israelites passed through this area…Yet occupation at Tall el-Hamman continued after the Iron age. 37

The problem is that this short ‘hiatus’ does not fit the Biblical timeline as all the scriptures from Deuteronomy on up to The Book of Revelation, including the words of Jesus himself, indicate that Sodom and Gomorrah were never inhabited again.38 This is a span of approx. 2,000 years and sinks the site of Tell –el Hamman completely. There was no re-population of the destroyed land.

To say otherwise would devalue God’s judgment and say that what he destroys permanently is not destroyed permanently and we should have the garden of Eden visible to us today. To diminish God’s judgment is not smart and a very dangerous thing to do as Zephaniah is quite clear that the destruction was not temporary:

Therefore, as surely as I live, declares the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, surely Moab will become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah- a place of weeds and salt pits, a wasteland forever. (2:9)

This fits with what the Bible tells us of the area of Sodom in Moses’ time:It describes the place as a wasteland…39

Yet a wasteland is not desirable nor is it good for livestock and also in the time of Moses we find this request made by the Reubenites and the Gadites in Numbers 32:1ff

The Reubenites and the Gadites, who had very large herds and flocks, saw that the land of Jazar and Gilead were suitable for livestock...came to Moses…and said… If we have found favor in your eyes, they said, let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan.’

In the time of Moses how can the same land be a wasteland and suitable for livestock at the same time? It can’t and the area asked for by the tribes of Reuben and Gad is the same land where we find Tell el-Hamman. The dictionary has this to say about land that is waste:

2. Desolate; uncultivated; a waste country; a waste howling wilderness. Deut. 32.

3. Destitute; stripped; lands laid waste.

4. Superfluous; lost for want of occupiers.

—And strangled with her waste fertility.     Milton.

5. Worthless; that which is rejected, or used only for mean purposes; waste wood.

6. That of which no account is taken, or of which no value is found; 40

Clearly such land is not desirable nor would be asked for to maintain herds. This description disqualifies Tell el-Hamman from being a candidate for Sodom but if this isn’t enough there is the next point which sinks the northern location completely.

10. Academic/Intellectual/Spiritual Dishonesty: With all of these problems concerning the northern location theory one still has to ask why.  Why did Dr. Collins limit the geographical description to the first 12 verses of Genesis 13?

1. The principle (and only) primary historical text regarding the location of Sodom is Genesis, mainly 13:1-12 (with chapters 10 and 14 conforming).

It is well known that Dr. Collins dismisses anything and anyone who disagrees with him but no one would have thought he would dismiss God as well when He decided to be contrary to Dr. Collins’ theory.  Not only is it intellectual and academic dishonesty but it is also spiritual dishonesty as well.

It is very clear that Dr. Collins is manipulating the text to fit his agenda as Genesis 13: 1-12 do not give the location of Sodom nor is it the primary or only historical text that refers to that city’s location.

He completely ignores and omits the very verse which gives the actual geographical marker to locate Sodom and the other cities. It is a verse not mentioned in any of his writings or conversations that I have been privy and it is found in verse 18 of chapter 13 and it reads:

Then Abram moved his tent and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron ad built an alter there to the Lord.

There is not a map which locates Hebron or Mamre in the north in full view of Tell el-Hamman. They two cities are always located in the southern part of Israel, across the southern part of the Dead Sea from the southern location of Sodom.  Abram had a great view of the destruction and could see all of the plain (19:28).

There is no hermeneutical, translational game that can be played with the passage. It is quite clear and exposes all of the arguments of Dr. Collins and his supporters as frivolous and wrong. What is worse is that according to Dr. Collins, he has read everything on the topic:

There is nothing that you can throw at me that I have not analyzed already in detail. And please don't quote the Bible to me on the point, as I have already done an extremely detailed analysis of every word of it relevant to this discussion. You obviously have not read my papers on the subject.41I have read almost all of his papers and his reports, yet he does not mention Genesis 13:18 anywhere.

Nor does he refer to Fausset’s Bible dictionary, the section titled Sodom, which discusses this move further south by Abraham or the book ‘East of Jordan’ by Burton Macdonald, published in 2000 which also discusses the move south by Abraham.** Why is that?  Clearly his theory is ruined by that one passage of scripture so why does he hide the fact and restrict all location discussion to the first 12 verses whereby upon discovery his reputation and all his work is placed under a cloud of suspicion, no longer trustworthy or academic?

Even if he discovers something biblical at Tell el-Hamman, it is suspect and cannot be accepted for the character of the archaeologist has been sullied and it dirties everything that he has done, is doing and will do. He has falsified his research by the sin of omission and it is with a heavy heart one has to reveal this fact. His boasting is his downfall as he said the following words early in a discussion over at the B.A.S. forum:

One must also understand that all attempts to locate Sodom beyond the clear (primary) geography of Genesis 13:1-12 are doomed to failure.42

Yet it is not doomed to failure because the precise geographical marker for Sodom is found in verse 18. What does the man have to gain in order to omit something as vital as this? We may never know but it is an error that is too huge to ignore. The problems that come with the northern location theory are insurmountable and solution relies upon manipulation of ancient texts, physical evidence and sadly, the Biblical passages.

IV. Conclusion

As has been shown, there is nothing to support the Northern Location theory yet Dr. Collins still holds to the idea and won’t let go as the following demonstrates:

A note on the criteria for Sodom: Tall el-Hamman is, far and away, the only fit out there. It’s in the right place, in the right time frame, and has all the right stuff. It fits all the individual OT geographical criteria for Sodom…If T. Hamman isn’t Sodom, then one could question the veracity of the texts pointing to its location.43

No we would not question the ‘veracity of the texts’ but the person doing the interpreting of them. But Dr. Collins dies by his words as Tell el-Hamman is not in the right place, fits very few OT geographical criteria and possibly is in the right time frame.  On clear examination of the texts available, everything points to the southern location at Babe dh-Dhra not Tell el-Hamman and it is only the manipulation of the texts that allows for the consideration of the northern location.

Dr. Collins ignores everything that disagrees with him including scripture and far better scholars because they do not tell him what he wants to hear. He also ignores Burton MacDonald who says:

On the basis of this text [13:18], Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of the plain appear to be located around the southern segment of the Dead Sea.44

And when, after going through the ancient texts, he says;

For example, when the Israelites encamped in the plains of Moab…that is, in the area across from Jericho northeast of the Dead Sea, there is no mention of Sodom, Gomorrah or any other cities of the Plain. Thus they would seem to be located elsewhere…Clearly, extra-biblical texts are almost unanimous in placing Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela (Zoar) south or south-east of the Dead Sea.45

But this is a common theme with Dr. Collins as he is blinded by his obsession with creating a new Sodom out of nothing. In the B.A.S. discussions he constantly dismisses people, usually without good reason or actual proof and when called upon to present something substantial, he remains mute and often absent from the forum.

If Tell el-Hamman were Sodom, he would have ample physical evidence to provide and we would all hear about it quite quickly but we all know that the real evidence is at Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira and it has been well documented by Dr. Wood and others before him. (see Dr. Wood’s paper, The discovery of the Sin Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, for more details.)

The main problem is that people turn to the art of ‘interpretation’ to make their points and this is clearly seen by the Northern location supporters and Dr. Collins.  Interpretation is subjective and leads one to existentialism where it allows a person to reject any contrary point for little or no reason at all. ‘Interpretation’ is not a scriptural tool or command; it is not of God as it leads to confusion and away from the truth and God is truth and not the author of confusion.

Too often people think they are in charge of what God has written in His word and that they get to determine what it says and when. They are not, God is and it is His Holy Spirit, not men like Dr. Collins or secular experts, who lead humble people to the truth. Interpretation allows people to pick and choose what they want to accept or reject and that is not of God either.

There is nothing that justifies the continual identification of Tell el-Hamman as Sodom, and the problems outlined above, that come with his work, prove that he is not listening to anyone but himself and he has no intention of listening to anyone who disagrees with him. We have seen where he will commit academic, translational and intellectual dishonesty to pursue his agenda though the cost to do so is far greater than the gain.

He cannot overcome that sin of omission, nor can Tell el-Hamman, and it is just final evidence for how far off track Dr. Collins and supporters have gone in their quest to re-write the Bible and Biblical history. The passage Gen. 13:18 was mentioned to Dr. Collins and his supporters in the discussion over at B.A.S. and it is no surprise to find that He, and they, all ignored it and went right on touting that the geographical marker is found in the first 12 verses of chapter 13.46

Everything that Dr. Collins and his northern location supporters do is based upon desperation and they charge others with the crimes they commit in order to make their theory work. They need to use subjectivity or else they cannot convince others of their claim simply because there is no real evidence to support it and they cannot produce one shred of ‘actual evidence’, promised years ago by Dr. Collins, that demonstrates that they are correct.

He and his supporters stoop to every imaginable trick to garner support from unwary and unconvinced people and it shows in their translational, historical, archaeological and evidential dishonesty The northern location theory is wrong as it builds its argument upon the sand not the rock .

**(Not just him but also his supporters do the exact same thing—avoid mentioning Abraham’s move south prior to the destruction)

***endnotes presented upon request
 
#12. A Response to Dr. Collins’ 40 Salient Points by Dr. David Tee

Introduction

This paper is going to focus on Dr. Collins’ argument that Tell el-Hamman meets 40 requirements needed to be identified as Sodom.  These ‘salient’ points are found in his 2007 article, Forty Salient Points on the Geography of the cities of the Kikkar, and unless otherwise footnoted, all quotes will be from that article.

To begin, one must first look at the attitude behind his writings and we find that attitude right in the first page of his article and will be exampled by three quotes.

1. At this juncture, I have been studying the subject of Sodom’s location for nearly 7 years…I have analyzed the definitive text on Sodom’s location (Gen.13: 1-12 {see my other article Tee:2010 for a response to this}) in extreme detail. I have investigated the chronological issues with rigor, I believe, second to none. I have read virtually every piece of literature from every period available on the subject. I have discussed/argued every conceivable point in the discussion with many of the world’s leading scholars…who are capable of interacting meaningfully on the issues involved.

It continues and each sentence is started with the word ‘I’ and so in his mind this discussion is all about him, not Sodom, God or the truth. It is about what he thinks and he alone, according to him, gets to decide what is meaningful, what is definitive and so on.  Unfortunately for Dr. Collins, such study and interaction does not mean he is correct, has not been deceived, or led astray or that he has not made a mistake or mistakes somewhere along the line during his course of study and discussion.

He also forgets that the Bible tells us that a ‘persons own testimony is not true’ 

2. By this point in the process, it is safe to say that I have heard every conceivable argument for every Sodom candidate and have dealt squarely and scientifically with every question and objection raised with regard to the identification of Tall el-Hamman as biblical Sodom. While I am always open to further discussion, I think it is fair to suggest, to the objective observer, that the weight of the evidence in favor of Tall el-Hamman being Sodom s overwhelms every idea to the contrary that the issue should be laid finally to rest.

Having been a participant in discussions with Dr. Collins and having read a few of his other ones, it is safe to say he does not deal ‘squarely and scientifically with every question and objection.’ In fact, he rarely uses any scientific argument or evidence to support his points and basically bullies and dismisses anyone who dares disagree with him.{see the forums at Bib-arch.com).

In fact, though he promised in one discussion to present ‘actual evidence’ to support his claim, he never did and in reading his reports on his excavation at Tell el-Hamman, there is none to present. He hides in subjectivity to make his case. (Tee: 2010).

He also ignores the fact that Dr. Wood, and others, have documented compelling actual evidence for the Bab edh-Dhra area in his article on the discovery of the sin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. (Wood: 1999). In my own research, all real evidence points to the southern-eastern location not Tell el-Hamman. (Tee: 2010)

3. The ‘southern Sodom view’ has had its day, but that day is drawing to a close, whether its advocates want to admit to it or not…I do appreciate the scholarship regarding the subject of Sodom’s location provided by the many scholars who have dealt with issue. They did the best they could with the evidence available to them. Based on that paucity of evidence, they had no choice but t bend and stretch the Sodom story beyond its contextual limits in order to accommodate sites like Bab edh-Dhra and Numeria

Having read some of those reports, and in doing my own research, one can only conclude that Dr. Collins is actually describing his own work here and not the scholarship of those who hold to the ‘southern’ location view. (See Tee: 2010 for a more detailed examination on this point)

The southern view is not dead and as said earlier, all actual evidence points to Bab edh-Dhra as Sodom or Gomorrah not Tell el-Hamman. What we shall see here is the scholastic and academic dishonesty of Dr. Collins, as he tries to shout down his opponents in hopes of convincing people because he is making the most noise.

There is no evidence to support Tell el-Hamman as Sodom and any claim is actually based upon eisogetic infusion of reasons and not based upon actual fact. The major downfall of Dr. Collins and his claim is his arrogance, which is highly visible in those quotes and throughout all of his papers. He thinks because he has done the leg work, that he is 100% correct and everyone should disregard their own reasoning and listen to him.

It just doesn’t work that way and we shall see through an annotated analysis of his 40 points why he is wrong and that he is completely biased and dishonest in his work. Maybe it is his jealousy of more accepted scholars or that he is obsessed with Tell el-Hamman being Sodom that he takes this attitude, one does not know but it is wrong and exposes the fraudulent work of Dr. Collins . We see evidence of this fraudulent work in the following statement made by Dr. Collins:

One final detail that you should consider as you move through this list: Not a single ‘southern Sodom advocate’ has ever produced a detailed analysis of Genesis 13:1-12 in support of that position. Never. The reason? It is simple: Genesis 13:1-12 is the plague that drains the life from the southern view. It always has been. It always will.

We do not need to produce a ‘detailed analysis’ of Gen. 13: 1-12 because we know it does not provide the definitive clues to Sodom’s location. To claim such, one has to read into the passage a lot of information that is not there plus we accept verse 18 as part of the description of the location for Sodom whereas Dr. Collins does not (Tee: 2010). Genesis 13: 1-12 is not ‘the plague which drains the life ‘ out of the southern view simply because it contains no geographical marker for the location of Sodom.

To say otherwise, like Dr. Collins does, is to again read into the passage clues that simply do not exist. It is academically and scholastically irresponsible and dishonest on the part of Dr. Collins to make such a claim in the quote provided. It shows his obsession with his theory and Tell el-Hamman and removes any claim of objectivity or scientific work.

I say annotated because it is impossible to deal individually with each point and most of his ’40 salient points’ are redundant and can be grouped together for easier discussion and they will be grouped together to avoid the same redundancy presented by Dr. Collins.

The methodology used to distinguish the separate issues will be as follows: I will sub headline with the word ‘Points’ followed by the number of points addressed in that section, then provide a quote  in smaller font from Dr. Collins’ paper, then follow it up with a rebuttal in larger font.

Rebuttal

Points 1 &2:  “Story tellers and writers in the ancient Near East did not invent fictitious geographies but used what was known from personal experience…Whether or not ancient stories…are factual or fictitious, they were layered over real world geography and topography…”

If this over-generalization is so, and it is safe to say that Dr. Collins has not read all the myths, stories and legends that were produced for over 4,000 years prior to the time of Christ, then we can expect to find a buried island in the Atlantic with the remains of the city of Atlantis. Plato being an ancient writer obviously had to use ‘real world geography and topography’ to write his story, according to Dr. Collins’ logic.

Even if true, there is nothing in the Biblical passages that places Sodom in a specific location and one needs to remind Dr. Collins that the ‘real world geography and topography’ supports the southern eastern location because the ancient names for Sodom and Gomorrah and their Arabic derivatives are in the Bab edh-Dhra area and not Tell el-Hamman’s.

In any case, this is not evidence for the location of Sodom nor is it an important point for it is too generic to be of any use for locating the city. It is far too subjective as well and could support any location in the Near East.

Points 3-5: “The writer of the Sodom tales…likely had personal knowledge of the geography he utilized…Genesis 13:1-12 is the only narrative passage among the Sodom tales marking out the location of the Cities of the Plain by employing geographical data points and directions…The Genesis passage in question contains both specific and approximate geographical quantities.”

The Biblical writer did not need to have personal knowledge of the location of Sodom for he was guided by the Holy Spirit not his own understanding thus it is not a requirement that he know of the location of the destroyed cities. Plus such knowledge does not prove that he wrote the exact locations in the passages pertaining to Sodom and Gomorrah.

The passage Dr. Collins uses as the definitive work for Sodom’s location does not locate Sodom at all. In fact it does not state where Sodom is in any verse, it is pure reading into the passage to say that Sodom is located near bethel or across the Jordan River. No such geographical points or directions have been given and it is a misreading of the passage to say otherwise.

Of course, in point #5 Dr. Collins has to go outside of his ‘definitive’ passage to find other general geographical points to help his cause because the passage he has picked to anchor his argument upon just does not do what he wants: provide a specific location for Sodom. There is absolutely none given and eisogesis is not truth nor fact let alone scientific.

Points 6-8: “Outside of the O.T. among the Semitic cognates and Egyptian , kikkar/kikkar/kakkaru/kerker is never used as a geographical referent…kikkar in OT Hebrew likewise refers to a talent of metal or circular loaf of bread…The thirteen geographical uses of kikkar, found exclusively in the OT,  ten of which are in the Sodom tales, denote the disk shaped southern Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea.”

He is not building a strong case for his argument here as he demonstrates that the use of the Hebrew word is more towards money and bread than a geographical spot and it would be a waste of time here to discuss the application of the word ‘kikkar’ to only a portion of the Jordan valley when the passage states that ‘all of the plain was viewed’ (13: 9 & 10). That discussion can be saved for other scholastic works. Suffice it to say it is a subjective application.

We disagree with Dr. Collins use of the words ‘north of the Dead Sea’ because the passage in question does not limit the area viewed to that specific geographical restriction. In fact, verse 9 of chapter 13 uses the word ‘whole’ and verse 10 says ‘all’ thus to include the words ‘north of the Dead Sea’ is fudging the details and being highly dishonest.

We were not privy to that viewing thus we cannot say, and Dr. Collins certainly cannot say, that the view was limited to the Tell el-Hamman region. That is a biased and unscientific conclusion that cannot be supported by the facts or the evidence. Especially when in verse 18 of chapter 13 tells us that Abraham moved to the Hebron/Mamre area and that when he viewed the land after the destruction, the words ‘toward all the land of the plain…’ (Gen. 19:28) are used. Thus if Abraham could see all of the plain including the Tell el-Hamman region from Hebron/Mamre, then he and Lot could see all of the plain, including the Bab edh-Dhra area from Bethel/Ai.

He cannot have it both ways. Given the fact that Tell el-Hamman is located 8 kms. north of the Dead Sea and 12 kms. East of the Jordan River.1 That is extraordinary eye-sight on the part of Abraham if Tell el-Hamman and surrounding area was the portion of the plain in question. It is more likely that Abraham viewed the region surrounding and including Bab edh-Dhra.

Points 9 & 10: “The kikkar of the Jordan is confined to the area north of the Dead Sea because (a) hayarden never refers to anything other than the fresh water system of the Jordan River proper and the valley through which it flows and (b) hayarden is never

extended to include any part of the Valley of Siddim…Thus the kikkar of the Jordan can only refer to the disk-shaped alluvial plain north of the Dead Sea…”

There are many problems with this idea. First, one needs to wonder what Dr. Collins’ definition of ‘proper’ and ‘valley’ when he uses it with the Jordan River. It is a well known fact that lakes are included in a river valley thus the Dead Sea would be considered part of the Jordan River valley, all of it. (The Okanagan River Valley is evidence of this). Is Dr. Collins hedging and restricting the dimensions because the real one does not fit his theory and he needs to find more subjective evidence to support his claim? Hard to tell.

Second, in doing some light research, the word ‘hayerden’’s use is not restricted to the land between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. In fact it extends north of the Sea of Galilee  and originates in the Hula Basin2, so to accept Dr. Collins’ manipulative conclusion would be wrong and further research is needed on what the word ‘hayerden’ really applies to in that country.

By Dr. Collins’ logic, we must then include the Sea of Galilee and the Hula basin as part of the ‘kikkar’ of the Jordan, extending further the surmised location of Sodom in the northern location theory and the eye-sight of both Abraham and Lot.

Upon further research, the word ‘hayarden’ is associated with the different names of the Jordan Rift and not attributed to fresh water supplies:

The Jordan Rift, a local geographical term, is part of the Syrian-African Rift Valley and was referred to by several names in the Bible: the Jordan Wilderness (˒Arebat Hayarden), the Jordan Plain (Kikkar Hayarden), the Jordan Districts (Gelilot Hayarden), and the Pride of the Jordan (Ge˒on Hayarden). It appears that each of these names referred to a different specific geographical location and to different economic and settlement functions. (Har El: 1978:41:2)

One can one surmise how Dr. Collins made the connection to the fresh water system of the Jordan River from geographical locations. This in and of itself is not evidence for the location of Sodom nor the restriction of that city to the northern region and much more study is needed here to see what has been done by Dr. Collins for him to make the his claim quoted above.

Point 11: “The western Jordan Disk, the location of Jericho and little else, has reasonable perennial water resources plus the Jordan River…”

This is an argument from modern geography not ancient and is very misleading. One cannot take modern geography, ignore the destruction by God, and say that Bab edh-Dhra is disqualified because it is not a well watered plain today. That is again manipulating the evidence to fit one’s theory. One has to take into account the ancient geography and then factor in the results of the destruction before drawing any conclusions.

A researcher cannot just haphazardly say the land was restored because there is no Biblical evidence to support such a conclusion. In fact the Bible states that the Sodom area remained a waste land forever (Zeph. 2:9). Thus to say that the modern area is well watered so it must be the area for Sodom is just wrong and not honestly using all the facts.

Points 12-16: The text suggests that Lot viewed with his ‘unaided’ physical eyes the entire Jordan Disk from the area east of Bethel /Ai…Lot traveled eastward from Bethel/Ai, pitching his tent toward Sodom, one of the cities of the Eastern Jordan Disk…Sodom was one of the cities of the Plain. No city south of the mouth of hayarden would have been considered as belonging to the Jordan Disk…As the Yahwist mentally works his way through the geography of the passage, the Cities of the Kikkar are perceived to have existed on the eastern Jordan Disk, north of the Dead Sea…The story teller calculated or assumed that Sodom was the largest urban center on the eastern Jordan Disk.”

The text suggests no such thing and Dr. Collins uses a very restricted and literal interpretation of the words ‘and Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered…’ The word ‘all’ does not indicate a portion nor does it indicate only the Jordan disk, it indicates all of the valley. Dr. Collins’ restriction is un-provable as no specifics are given for the dimensions of the viewing, save for the word ‘all’. It is irresponsible to and un-academic to claim one knows what was viewed when one was not present at the time.

Then to say that Tell el-Hamman is Sodom or a candidate for Sodom based upon the few words ‘Lot journeyed, started out, headed east’ is leading people astray from the facts. We do not know the exact route taken by Lot, for all we know he had to start east then take another road south towards Sodom. The passage does not say that Lot remained in an easterly direction nor went due east.

Also, the passage, picked by Dr. Collins as the definitive geographical description for the location of Sodom, does not say that Lot crossed the Jordan River. Remember, he was an owner of livestock and if Dr. Collins had any knowledge of herding livestock he would realize that the current of the Jordan river is too swift for animal crossings. (New World Encyclopedia. See also Byers:2007). Ranchers pick slow, safe areas of a river to use to move their livestock across because loss of an animal or animals means a loss of revenue and Lot must have been a shrewd rancher for he, like Abraham, accrued a large herd and he would not want to lose any animals in a crossing through a swift current. He would choose another way to go.

The passage does not indicate that Lot went to the Tell el-Hamman region, in fact it is pure reading into the passage to say that he did. As for Dr. Collins’ contention that ‘no city south of the mouth of  the ‘hayerden’ would be considered part of the Jordan Disk, he forgets that traditionally, ‘the circle of the Jordan was at the south end of the Dead Sea and this idea was universally maintained’. (ISBE).

To suddenly change the location of the Jordan disk without actual evidence is wrong, dishonest and unscholarly. We know that the southern identification for the Jordan Disk is more credible because, once again, the ancient names or Arabic derivatives are in use in the southern Dead Sea region and not in the northern area. There is no point in using the ancient names in the south if Sodom was actually located in the north, it makes no sense and shows that Dr. Collins will dismiss all reasonable evidence simply because it disagrees with him.

As for the Yahwist ‘perceiving the cities of the plain are on the northern Jordan Disk’ that is just not supported by the facts or any biblical passage. The doublets do not place the cities in the north but a north-south direction which means they could be located at Bab edh-Dhra and Numeria as well as at Tell el-Hamman, except that no other city at Tell el-Hamman has been identified as Gomorrah or any other city of the plain thus to say otherwise is stretching the evidence to fit one’s theory.

The idea that the biblical writer ‘assumed that Sodom was the largest urban center of the plain’ is just ridiculous because sole mentioning of a city does not indicate size but that the account is focusing on events happening at that city. There is no reason to mention Gomorrah or any other city for Lot was living within Sodom’s boundaries and that is where the encounter with the angels took place. (Genesis 19)

Then to use things reasons like it is listed first or that its king was the spokesman for all the others is again ignoring the fact that certain names going first are more natural even if they are smaller than other cities used in the list and we do not know if the King of Sodom was the spokesman for all the rest of the kings, we are just privy to one conversation and the passage doesn’t say that he spoke on behalf of all the other kings. It simply records that he spoke of his own desires, so Dr. Collins is really stretching the textual accounts to make his theory work.

Points 17-20, 24- 31,33: “The story of Abram and Lot, minimally, has its roots in the Bronze Age…Biblical dating places Abram, Lot and the Sodom tales squarely in the Middle Bronze Age…Given a Middle Bronze Age date for Abram, archaeologically and geographically speaking, the largest fortified bronze Age urban center on the eastern Jordan Disk would be a ‘most likely’ candidate for biblical Sodom…An occupational hiatus of several centuries after a fiery MBA destruction would make that identification irresistible…Given a MBA date for Abram, Tall el-Hamman satisfies every Sodom criterion embedded in Genesis 13: 1- 12…”

Not all of the points are represented by the above quotes simply because of space demands and that they are really not salient points and not worth discussing. The problem we have here that scholars and archaeologists are applying a once modern (19th century) fallible human construct to the infallible word of God and making claims that the Bible does not make and saying things the Bible does not say.

The Bible does not place Abram, Lot and Sodom in the Bronze Age, especially the MBA period, that is complete fabrication. Biblical dating does not place Abram and company in the MBA period. Such is done by human opinion, which is not supported by any Biblical data or passage, and it is a matter for the category of subjectivism. Simply because we have no artifacts from that time period that we can say relate to Abraham and Sodom and because the Bible does not name the Pharaoh Abram encountered.

God does not use a modern dating system for his placing of ancient events in human history and to do so would be careless and misleading. The modern system was designed out of random grouping of artifacts that were not dated properly and by a man who had no idea exactly where those artifacts used placed on a chronological timeline. (Bibarch:2009)

To say that the destruction of Sodom took place in the Middle Bronze Age and not the Early Bronze period is taking advantage of a system full of corruption and ambiguities, then to stake one’s argument upon such a grey, fallible area is not being honest but manipulating the current systems to ensure one’s theory has support. (See Tee:2009 for more discussion on this issue).

Then how can Dr. Collins claim that the ‘largest fortified urban center…’ be a candidate for Sodom when the biblical text does not say that it was the largest, or that it was on the eastern Jordan Disk? In a close examination of the passage he chose as the definitive geographical location marker, no such description is given to Sodom. All it says about the city is that ‘Lot pitched his tents even as far as Sodom’ (v. 12). There is no more description of the city, its size, fortifications, etc., other than Lot was found in the gate and he took the men to his house. (19:1, 3). We do not know anything more about the city than that

Now we come to the famous ‘hiatus’ that Dr. Collins and his supporters love to talk about. He claims that there was a period of about 500 years where the land was unoccupied (Collins:2007-10) but the Bible, as mentioned earlier, states that the destroyed area was never restored. This alone sinks Tell el-Hamman as being a candidate for biblical Sodom and no further discussion is needed on this point. (See Tee:2010 for a fuller discussion of this issue).

Tell el-Hamman does not satisfy all of the supposed criterion for being biblical Sodom, in spite of what Dr. Collins claims simply because the so-called evidence and salient points do not provide any concrete or actual evidence to support the claim. All that is used to substantiate the identification is subjective areas of the archaeological field and a misuse of scripture.

Points 21 & 22: In Genesis 10, the mention of actual, known cities…strongly suggests that Sodom…, in the same context , were also real cities…Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim were known by the writer of Genesis 10 to mark the eastern extent of the Canaanite clans…

The first part of that quote doesn’t mean anything. If they were mentioned in the Bible and included in the subsequent narratives then Sodom, et al, would be real cities. Such a point does not provide any proof that those 5 cities were in the northern region of the Dead Sea.

The second part of that quote shows how desperate Dr. Collins is as though those cities marked the eastern border, the Biblical text does not put them on the Jordan Disk at the northern end of the Dead Sea. They could be, and were, placed on the southern eastern border. Genesis 10 does not indicate nor state that those cities were north and it is highly un-academic to claim it does. Given that the southern eastern region still contain the ancient names and Arabic derivatives for those cities, it is more credible to suggest that they were originally located in the Bab edh-Dhra area than at Tell el-Hamman.

It takes a big stretch of the evidence to place them in the northern region of the Dead Sea.

Points 34-40: The Yahwist penned his stories about the cities of the Jordan kikkar while ruins, more ancient still, dotted the eastern Jordan disk, readily visible and well known to anyone living in or near that region…Had the author of Genesis 13: 1- 12 thought that the southern Dead Sea sites like Bab edh-Dhra and Numeria were Sodom and Gomorrah, his clearly written geography would have been constructed to incorporate the specificity of that

location.; it does not, by any stretch of the imagination…For sake of argument, one is forced to admit that a face-value reading of the biblical text places the patriarchal period in the Middle Bronze Age…

Again, only a minute number of points are represented here because they are not salient or germane points to discuss and just rehash what has already been said by Dr. Collins. Simply put, it is academically dishonest to restrict the definitive geographical marker to the first 12 verses of Genesis 13 and then attack the Bab edh-Dhra location because v. 18 adds more information for the geographical location for Sodom. Abram moved to the Hebron area which is far closer to Bab edh-Dhra than Tell el-Hamman. (See Tee:2010 for a fuller discussion of this issue)

Thus, the writer did add more’ specificity’ to Sodom’s location; he placed it in the southern region, where the ancient names still support his passage. As for the ancient ruins and how well they are known, it is good to know that Dr. Collins can read long dead minds and know exactly what people knew or didn’t know. Such are not germane to the issue of the geographical location of Sodom and have no bearing upon the passage or its writing.

No one is ‘forced to admit’ anything. A face-value reading does not place the patriarchal period in the Middle Bronze Age, it places it no where except in the time of Abram and Lot, whenever that was. God is not specific to the exact time nor should we be and it is dangerous to have the Bible say anything it does not.

In his 40th point Dr. Collins draws this conclusion:

Given the fact that the Yahwist’s geography unequivocally places the Cities of the Kikkar north of the Dead Sea and east of the Jordan River, one must conclude …they are layered over the physical geography of the eastern Jordan Disc where multiple bronze Age ruins provided his readers with eloquent physical testimony of the destruction of a bygone civilization.

To come to that conclusion Dr. Collins then commits the very crimes he accuses the southern location supporters of committing. There is no actual evidence to support the northern location theory, it is all manipulation of grey area textual work and of the scripture passages that refer to Sodom itself.

Dr. Collins presents no actual evidence to support his claim, and ignores the fact that Tell el-Hamman is not even close to the area that uses the ancient names for Sodom and their Arabic derivatives. It is clear that Dr. Collins cares little for facts and only wants to see his theory be accepted by his peers but unfortunately for him, we see his errors and his academic dishonesty in handling the ancient texts and evidence.

Tell el-Hamman died as a candidate for Sodom the moment Dr. Collins and company said the site was restored. Why? Because that claim disagrees with God’s word and last I looked Dr. Collins was not infallible nor does he trump God. The only way for Tel El-Hamman to be identified as Sodom is through manipulation, eisogesis and confusion, all such methods are not of God as is his arrogant attitude plus his dismissal of all ancient and modern writers who disagree with him shows he is not looking for the truth or achieving something for the glory of God but seeking his own desires without God’s help

Dr. Collins may have studied this issue for 10 years and may have read nearly all of the articles written on the topic but that does not make him right or the last word on the location of Sodom. It just means he is biased, not objective and not honest in his handling of the information he studied. His 40 points do not even begin to support his claim but expose the great lengths he will go to support his theory and those lengths are not honorable nor scholarly.

All the actual evidence supports Bab edh-Dhra and region. The condition of the land around those ruins support the Biblical record and identification for that being the place of the destruction of the sin cities. One cannot look at the Biblical passage and selectively see ‘well watered’ then look at the modern landscape and say- ‘that is where Sodom is because it is well watered’. One has to look at what God said and see that the northern Jordan disk does not qualify as Sodom for it is not a ‘wasteland forever’ as God said in Zeph.

God has the final word on the matter not Dr. Collins, and Dr. Collins work, writing and excavating, is a prime example of someone who is not listening to God and leading people away from the truth under the guise of being a Christian. Sadly, he is leading many away from the truth and God and that is wrong and destroys his claims and reputation.