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Sodom and Gomorrah are well-known biblical cities, ruined by God for evil-doing of their citizens. Also, Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in the Torah, the Old and New Testaments, and the Qur’an. All of the above-mentioned sources are historical written documents, which represent various historical events, customs and traditions of various prehistoric societies that lived on the planet in the very beginning of the human civilization. Evidence of the existence of the above-mentioned cities is accepted and incontestable because their names became synonyms of the most grievous sin in the world. According to the Bible, these two cities were destroyed by God with fire and brimstone for the sinful lifestyle of their citizens, expressed in homosexuality, bestiality, inhospitality, revelry, and other immoral behaviors. It should be noted that many contemporary historians and archaeologists claim the exact geographical location of Sodom and Gomorrah. This evidence will allow them to learn more about the life of the human civilization during that early historical period. It is worth mentioning that many different peoples lived in the so-called biblical Plain near the Dead Sea. They spoke different languages and left almost nothing that could indicate the location of Sodom and Gomorrah. Both modern scholars Bryant G. Wood, Doctor of Philosophy, a biblical archeologist and research director, and Steven Collins, Dean of College of Archeology at Trinity of Southwest University, Director of Tall el-Hamman excavations, claim the exact location of Sodom by the examples of materials found during their excavations in the biblical Plain.
Bryant G. Wood claims that the Bible is one of the most reliable historical documents proving the existence and fate of Sodom and Gomorrah. He gives evidence found during the excavationa at Bab edh-Dhra and considers it as Sodom. According to the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities of the five ones (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar) located on the Plain near the Dead Sea. It is known that Lot lived with his two daughters in a cave near Zoar. This city is situated in the south-east from the Dead Sea. The ruins of a church built in honor of Lot were discovered in 1983. Therefore, Sodom was situated in the south from the Dead Sea. After having found material evidence of the existence of the cities, Wood has managed to explain the linguistic connection between modern name of Numeira and the prehistoric name Gomorrah with the help of the specificity of the Arab language when only consonants “NMR” are articulated. At the same time, the Hebrew word “MR” (ayin) was for Gomorrah. Thus, Wood claims that Bab edh-Dhra was Sodom and Numeira was Gomorra. In addition, Wood connects the existence of bitumen pits with the future catastrophe in both cities. According to the Bible, the pits were situated in the south from the Dead Sea.
Steven Collins claims that Sodom and Gomorrah were situated in the north from the Dead Sea because the south part of the biblical area was dry, salty, and desolate. The scholar states that the northern part was the site for such flourish towns as Tall Nimrin and Tall el-Hammam. Furthermore, Collins claims that Abraham and Lot went to the north, to the region of Bethel/Ai, from Jerusalem. Then, the researcher has managed to explain the Semitic word “kkr” that means “disc”. This word was used to denote the form of the well-watered site of the Jordan.
Thus, Collins considers Tall el-Hammam as Sodom. In addition, the researcher claims that in the Middle Bronze Age and the Iron Age, people lived in the following region.
Bryant G. Wood claims that Bab edh-Dhra and Numeria existed between 3300 and 900 BC. Furthermore, both cities had rich crops of various vegetables, fruits, and cereals that were grown with the help of irrigation. Various fortifications and irrigating elements were mentioned both in the Bible and other historical sources. In addition, Wood has discovered that all buildings were ruined by fire and that many people were burnt alive. At the same time, it was not an eruption of a volcano because there was not so much ash as it was in Pompeii. Wood claims that Bab edh-Dhra existed in the Early Bronze III period and that it was destroyed in the Early Bronze IV period. Also, Wood provides the examples of some clay tablets found in Syria in1975. The names of several cities of the Plain were scribbled on these tables. On one of the tables, there was an ancient map with the first non-biblical mention of Sodom.
As Trifonov states, Sodom and Gomorrah could not be destroyed by an eruption of a volcano because any of them could not erupted in that area. Wood states that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a burning petroleum product that fell from the sky, which coincided with the description given in the Bible. According to Wood, the combustible materials erupted from the soil as a result of the earthquake and the fiery rain burnt to the ground Sodom and Gomorrah. The same fact was described in the Bible. As Wood states, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah had to be in 2070 BC. It should be noted that the scientists calculated that the destruction of Bab edh-Dhra took place in 2350 BC. Thus, the discrepancy between the Bible and Bab edh-Dhra is about 280 years. Wood explains it by the incorrect data of the contemporary archaeological periods. The data could be compared with the Archaic Period in the Egyptian history, which could be within 200 years. As Wood suggests, it could be correlated by the further archaeological research. In addition, Wood notes that the earthquake took place in late spring because grapes were harvested. Wood also found grapes during the excavations. According to the Bible, God punished Sodom and Gomorrah in late spring.
As Eugene H. Merrill states, the Patriarchs’ era was between 2100 and 1700 BC, and all statements of Steve Collins should be complied with it. Thus, Archbishop James Ussher of the Anglican Church of Ireland calculated all significant historical events depicted in the Bible. According to his findings, the exodus occurred in 1492 BC, and Abraham flourished in 1997-1822 BC. Steve Collins claims that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah took place in 1600 BC while the Bible states that it occurred in 2067 BC. Thus, Merrill has proved Steve Collins is wrong with his statement that Tall Hammam was Sodom. Moreover, Collins disregards the ages of the patriarchs, which caused the errors in the connection of the entire calculation with the biblical description. In his work, Todd Bolen criticizes the Collins’s approach to the problem. The scholar states that Collins has disregarded the Bible with his mistaken imagination of the place and the time when certain biblical events took place.
After having analyzed both articles, it becomes evident that Bryant G. Wood has discovered a geographical location that could be the former city of Sodom because the descriptions of the location in the Bible corresponded to the one described by the researcher in his article. Furthermore, Wood has compared his findings with evidence given in the Bible, which is the major documentary source of the existence of the city of Sodom. At the same time, Wood has recognized that archaeological data of time do not comply with those in the Bible. According to the scholar, there are incorrect calculations of the certain historical periods made by the modern science.
Bab edh-Dhra could be the former city of Sodom, but it is necessary to verify more attentively all facts, materials and calculations to find more evidence of it. The clay tablets are reliable source of information, but it is necessary to correct the certain historical periods with the further consideration of known historical events that took place at that time. The Bible can be considered as a reliable source of historical information; though, material evidence is of great importance.
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