[b-hebrew] Fuel for smelting furnaces
leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Jan 28 05:49:58 EST 2010
I'm not at all sure that the writer of the story had anything like "natural
causes" in mind. God rained sulfur and fire on them. His messengers were
capable of blinding the Sodomites (and would-be sodomizers?) and when Lot's
wife looked back she turned into a pillar of salt. Sometimes miracles are
just that. If you believe in them, then that's that. If you don't, then they
are a literary device, which is not necessarily based on any reality.
Deut. 29:22 describes Sodom and co. as a land burnt by sulfur and salt, but
I have a feeling that the description there is the outcome of God's
"overturning", the way the land is in the author's time, not the method by
which it got that way.
From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of K Randolph
Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2010 9:27 AM
Subject: [b-hebrew] Fuel for smelting furnaces
As I was thinking about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that they
apparently were destroyed by a rain of bitumen forced out by an earthquake.
Then the smoke rose up like the smoke of a smelting furnace. That sentence
got me thinking.
In Northern Europe, where my ancestors came from, there were plenty of trees
to burn, first into charcoal, then in the forge. While charcoal produces
some smoke, anyone who has used it for picnics knows it's not that bad. Coal
also isn't very smoky, not in a forge. Therefore, ancient smelting furnaces
in southern Judea and down into the Negev probably used a different fuel.
What was it? Was it bitumen? Another petroleum product? Is there evidence
from other languages or archaeology? Other than that one statement that
sounds like the burning of crude oil, I know of nothing in Hebrew that can
answer that question.
Just curious. I wouldn't be surprised if no one knows.
Karl W. Randolph.
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