[b-hebrew] Sodom

Avi Wollman avi.wollman at gmail.com
Wed Jun 4 03:20:43 EDT 2008


And were did Abraham stand and see what God was doing to Siddom ?

Avi Wollman

On Tue, Jun 3, 2008 at 4:59 PM,  <JimStinehart at aol.com> wrote:
>
> "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:
> _http://www.gemsinisrael.com/e_article000002629.htm_
> (http://www.gemsinisrael.com/e_article000002629.htm)
>
> 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
> Megiddo).
>
> (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
> sound).
>
> 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
> Dead Sea.
>
> 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.
>
> Jim Stinehart
> Evanston, Illinois
>
>
>
>
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Avi Wollman
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