JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Jun 3 09:59:27 EDT 2008
“All these came as allies unto the vale of Siddim [Valley of Fields] -- the
same is [that extends to?] the Salt Sea. …Now the vale of Siddim [Valley of
Fields] was full of slime pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and
they fell there, and they that remained fled to the mountain [or hill country].”
Genesis 14: 3, 10
1. The phrase “the Valley of Fields” at Genesis 14: 3 fits the fertile
Jezreel Valley perfectly, with its mile after mile of luxurious fields. Such
phrase does not fit the Dead Sea at all, or any area near the Dead Sea, since the
Dead Sea area never had any substantial number of fertile fields.
2. The reference to “the Salt Sea” [sea the salt] is ambiguous. There are
two Salt Seas bordering Canaan: the Mediterranean Sea on the west, and the
Dead Sea on the east. Because of such ambiguity, the Dead Sea is frequently
referenced in the Bible as being “the Eastern Sea”, that is, the eastern Salt
Sea. Ezekiel 47: 18; Joel 2: 20; Zechariah 14: 8. Thus whether “the Salt Sea”
at Genesis 14: 3 means the Mediterranean Sea, as opposed to the Dead Sea,
must depend on the context (discussed below).
3. The phrase “slime pits” at Genesis 14: 10 is probably as ambiguous in
Hebrew [bet-aleph-resh-tav bet-aleph-resh-tav het-mem-resh] as it is in this
translation. Note that it would be easy for a fleeing ruler to get bogged down,
literally, in the Jezreel Valley:
“The Jezreel Valley…is an area rich in natural springs. … Until the early
1920s…, the Jezreel Valley had many swamps.” “Gems in Israel” at:
4. Sodom most likely is referring to Beth Shan, which simultaneously (a) is
located in the flatland (KKR) of the Jordan River Valley, and (b) is also
located in the flatland (KKR) of the Jezreel Valley (including the Plain of
(i) KKR, which is referenced three times at Genesis 13: 10-12, suggests “
flatland”. KKR (which can also, in later books of the Bible, apply to a coin or
a flap of bread) means something that is either “flat” or “round”. There is
nothing “round” about the long, narrow Jordan River or Jordan River Valley.
But the bottom of the Jordan River Valley is very “flat”, especially
compared to the surrounding hill country. Beth Shan is one of only two famous cities
that is located at the bottom of the “flatland” of the Jordan River Valley.
Moreover, extending the “flatland” analysis, of all the cities in the Jordan
River Valley, only Beth Shan is not surrounded by hill country. To the west
of Beth Shan is the flatland (KKR) of the Jezreel Valley and the Megiddo
Plain. So Beth Shan is the flatland (KKR) city of Canaan par excellence.
(ii) Although Sodom is located along the Jordan River, it is not clear that
the other “cities of the plain” are located along the Jordan River. In fact,
Beth Shan and Jericho are the only two prominent cities that are located in
the flatland at the bottom of the Jordan River Valley. If Sodom is Beth Shan,
then the “cities of the plain” may be the cities from Beth Shan straight west
to Megiddo: on the Megiddo Plain (in the Jezreel Valley).
(iii) Sodom has a gate. Genesis 19: 1 Beth Shan was one of only a handful
of walled cities in the Late Bronze Age. The walls of Jericho had been
destroyed in the mid-16th century BCE. No city in the flatland (KKR) of the Jordan
River Valley had a gate in the Late Bronze Age except Beth Shan.
(iv) The beginning of the words “Bera…of Sodom” at Genesis 14: 2 features a
B (Bera) + an S-type sound (Sodom), which may imply Beth (B) Shan (S-type
5. For attacking rulers coming from the north, the logical place to attack
would be the rich, fertile Jezreel Valley, from Megiddo to Beth Shan. No
rational attacking rulers from the north would waste their time at the desolate
6. The “cities of the plain” may mean Beth Shan, Megiddo, Afula, Jezreel,
and one small town in the Jezreel Valley. Although the names are not close
matches, nevertheless there is some vague similarity in the (disguised) names:
(i) B + S-type sound = Beth Shan = Bera of Sodom; (ii) “Birsha” of Gomorrah
recalls historical “Biridiya”, the historical leader of Megiddo in the Amarna
Letters; (iii) “Admah” is a little like “Afula”; (iv) the most prominent
sound in “Zeboiim” and “Jezreel” is somewhat similar (though one is a ssade
and the other is a zayin); and (v) “Zoar” just means a “small” village (per
the explicit pun at Genesis 19: 20, 22).
We know that Sodom is located along the Jordan River, as Lot is mesmerized by
the Jordan River Valley (Genesis 13: 10), Lot goes east from Beth-el to get
to the Jordan River Valley (Genesis 13: 11), and then Lot encamps near Sodom
(Genesis 13: 12). But it is not clear that Gomorrah is located along the Jordan
River. Nor is it clear that the other cities of the plain are located along
the Jordan River. The word KKR naturally implies two places in the interior
of Canaan that are not hill country: the “flatland” along the Jordan River,
and the “flatland” of the Jezreel Valley between Beth Shan and Megiddo. Thus
the cities of the plain/KKR may be the cities of the “flatland”/KKR of the
Jezreel Valley, with only Sodom/Beth Shan also being located in the “flatland”
at the bottom of the Jordan River Valley.
7. Chapter 14 of Genesis makes logical sense if (i) the “Valley of
Fields/Valley of Siddim” is the Jezreel Valley, (ii) the “slime pits” in the Valley of
Fields are the swamps of the Jezreel Valley, (iii) the “Salt Sea” is the
Mediterranean Sea (not the Dead Sea), (iv) “Sodom” is Beth Shan, and (v) the “
cities of the plain”/“cities of the KKR” are the cities in the flatland (KKR)
of the Jezreel Valley/Megiddo Plain, with only Sodom/Beth Shan also being
located in the flatland (KKR) of the Jordan River Valley.
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