[b-hebrew] Sodom

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jun 4 10:53:07 EDT 2008

Avi Wollman:
You wrote:  “And where did Abraham stand and see what God was doing to Siddom?
 1.  Abraham witnesses the after-effects of the destruction of the city of 
Sodom in the northern Jordan River Valley when Abraham is at the top of Mt. 
Jebel et-Tawil, between Beth-el and Hai.  That was where Lot had had a panoramic 
view of the Jordan River Valley:
“And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain [KKR] of the Jordan, 
that it was well watered every where….”  Genesis 13: 10
As Professor R. Christopher Heard puts it at p. 173 of “Dynamics of 
Diselection”, Lot was “mesmerized by the beauty of the Jordan River valley”.
Abraham had first called the name “YHWH” at that mountain east of Beth-el.  
Genesis 12: 8  Then, on the top of Mt. Jebel et-Tawil just east of Beth-el, 
after Lot has departed for the Jordan River Valley, Abraham stands before YHWH 
on that mountain and receives wonderful divine promises of progeny and land.  
Genesis 13: 14-17
So it is no surprise that Abraham hurries back to the top of Mt. Jebel 
et-Tawil to see the destruction of Sodom:
“And Abraham got up early in the morning [in the Hebron Valley, and went up] 
to the place where he had stood before the LORD [YHWH].  And he looked out 
toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the Plain/KKR [“flatland”
], and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke of a furnace.
”  Genesis 19:  27-28
>From Mt. Jebel et-Tawil, one can see the Jordan River snaking its beautiful 
way toward the Dead Sea.  On a clear day, one can even see Mt. Hermon in the 
far distance.  One cannot literally see the buildings of Sodom/Beth Shan, but 
one could certainly see a huge cloud of smoke rising over Sodom/Beth Shan.  If 
the wind was blowing hard from the north, the wind would blow this cloud of 
smoke south down the Jordan River toward the Dead Sea.  The valley would funnel 
the smoke in the direction of where Abraham was standing on Mt. Jebel et-Tawil.
Abraham could not literally see the Jezreel Valley/Valley of Fields from Mt. 
Jebel et-Tawil.  But looking just to the left of Sodom/Beth Shan, Abraham 
could see faint traces of smoke rising up.  As such, Abraham would know that the 
whole of the Jezreel Valley was burning.  Gomorrah/Megiddo on the west, and 
Sodom/Beth Shan on the east, were destroyed by fire.  All the fields between 
them, that is, the Valley of Fields/Jezreel Valley, were destroyed as well:
“And he looked out toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the 
Plain [KKR], and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the land went up as the smoke 
of a furnace.”  Genesis 19: 28
That’s not just the KKR of the Jordan/the Jordan River Valley.  That is also 
the KKR of Jezreel-Megiddo/the Jezreel Valley/the Valley of Fields/the Megiddo 
Plain.  All the “flatland” in the interior of Canaan, the KKR -- namely the 
Jordan River Valley and the Jezreel Valley/Valley of Fields as well -- is 
ablaze.  Thus the fields of the other three cities of the Jezreel Valley/Valley of 
Fields were also destroyed:  (1) Aful/Afula the Great/Admah;  (2) Afula the 
Little/A-P-R + sr/“Zoar”/“Little”;  and (3) Zeboiim/Jezreel.
2.  The destruction of Sodom is closely based on the historical destruction 
of Qatna.  In the well-documented secular history of the mid-14th century BCE, 
Qatna, like Sodom, was one of five cities that leagued against the dreaded 
Hittites and were defeated by four attacking rulers, including the Hittite ruler (
“four kings against the five”).  Like Sodom, Qatna was burned to the ground 
and never reinhabited.
Chapter 14 of Genesis is warning that unless Canaan and Egypt stand united 
against the dreaded Hittites, then next year Beth Shan/Sodom in particular, and 
northern Canaan in general, may suffer the same awful fate that Qatna 
historically suffered last year:  permanent destruction by fire.
The composition of chapter 14 of Genesis in the mid-14th century BCE fully 
accomplished its intended goal.  The people of Canaan and Egypt did in fact, at 
the 11th hour and for a short period of time, put up a united front against 
their common enemy, the Hittites, which persuaded the Hittites not to invade 
Canaan proper.  So historically the cities of the Jezreel Valley never got “an 
offer they could not refuse” from the dreaded Hittites (who did take over all of 
Syria during that time period, plus the northern half of Lebanon, thanks in 
part to the historical “iniquity of the Amorites” at Genesis 15: 16 in selling 
out northern Lebanon and the west coast of Syria to the Hittites), and Beth 
Shan/Sodom was never burnt to the ground.  The composition of chapter 14 of 
Genesis was one important reason why Beth Shan/Sodom historically never suffered 
Qatna’s awful fate of a fiery and permanent total destruction, and why the 
first Hebrews were not wiped out in the Late Bronze Age by the dreaded Hittite 
military machine. 
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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