[b-hebrew] Sodom

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Jun 4 16:35:27 EDT 2008

Rev. Bryant J. Williams III:
You wrote:  “If Abraham is in Hebron (Genesis 18:1, Oaks of Mamre), which is 
about the half-way point of the Dead Sea, and since this area is about 
2700-3000 feet
 above sea level, it would have a very good view of the area of Sodom, 
 Zoar, etc. near the Zered River at the Southeast corner of the Dead Sea. This
 area was well-watered at one time; at least until the destruction of the 
 of the Plain and burial under the south end of the Dead Sea. There would be 
 need to go to up to near Bethel to see to the South-Southeast, when it is 
 much easier to look to the Southeast from the Hebron plateau area.”
1.  The modern city of Hebron is just west of the center of the central 
mountains in southern Canaan.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no view east 
from Hebron;  the mountains and hills cut off all view of the Dead Sea.
2.  Abraham sojourned in the valley of Hebron.  Genesis 37: 14  Even if 
Abraham’s Hebron is at the same geographical locale as the high altitude modern 
city of Hebron, there is no view from a valley.
3.  There is no indication in chapters 17 and 18 of Genesis that Abraham is 
on a mountain, or otherwise has a good view of anything, when YHWH visits 
Abraham.  Genesis 18: 1 refers to “the terebinths of Mamre;  he was sitting at the 
entrance of the tent”, when three divine figures appear to Abraham.  Abraham 
would not have pitched his tent on a mountain.  Abraham is living in a valley, 
the Valley of Hebron, with no good view.  While at Hebron, Abraham stands 
before YHWH in the valley, where Abraham’s tent is.  Abraham’s meetings with YHWH 
at Hebron are not associated with having a good view.  By sharp contrast, 
when Abraham stands before YHWH on the mountaintop between Beth-el and Hai, 
Abraham and Lot have a spectacular view -- of the Jordan River Valley, not of the 
southern part of the Dead Sea.
4.  The logical interpretation of Genesis 19: 27 is that Abraham went back to 
the mountaintop between Beth-el and Hai, where Abraham had stood before YHWH 
on that mountaintop, and where Abraham and Lot had had that spectacular, 
panoramic view of the Jordan River Valley:
“And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he had stood 
before the LORD [YHWH].”
The text does not say that Abraham merely stepped outside his tent door in 
the valley of Hebron and looked at Sodom.  No, Abraham has to get up early in 
the morning and hurry off to a mountaintop to be able to see YHWH.  The only 
mountaintop where Abraham stood before YHWH was at Mt. Jebel et-Tawil, between 
Beth-el and Hai.
(I myself see Abraham’s valley of Hebron as being located much closer to 
Beth-el than is the modern city of Hebron.  But the key here is where Abraham 
would have had a good view.)
Remember, Lot has a good view of the Jordan River Valley on the mountaintop 
near Beth-el, and Lot goes off to Sodom in the Jordan River Valley.  It is 
eminently logical that years later, when Abraham wants to view the destruction of 
Sodom, Abraham would go back to that same mountaintop, where Abraham had stood 
before YHWH, for that same panoramic view.
5.  Please note that on a mountaintop near Bethel, where Lot makes the fatal 
decision to go to Sodom, it is impossible to see the southern part of the Dead 
Sea.  To repeat two key eyewitness reports that I posted on a different 
thread earlier:
(a)  Here’s an eyewitness report from 1891:
"...what can there be seen is the northern end of the Dead Sea, the Jordan 
Valley, and the river running like a blue thread through the green plain. The 
hills of Engedi shut out completely all view of the southern end of the sea; but 
as I before said, the northern end, where the Jordan runs in, and about two 
or three miles of the sea, can be seen. I have wandered all over the Bethel 
hills and tested this question." ("The Bible and Modern Discoveries" by Henry A. 
Harper, a Member of the Palestine Exploration Fund Society, 1891.)”
Please note the key phrase:  “The hills of Engedi shut out completely all 
view of the southern end of the [Dead S]ea”.
(b)  And here’s a current eyewitness report:
“Bethel.  … I live ten miles north of Jerusalem in the Judean hills….Today’
s Beit El is a town of orthodox Jews with its own mayor and municipal council 
situated in the heart of the Binyamin region, just to the east of Arab 
Ramallah. Its Pisgat Ya'acov (“Jacob’s Heights”, named after the patriarch Jacob) 
neighborhood has a hilltop observatory with a commanding view -- as far east as 
the mountains of Jordan, as far west as Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea, 
south to Jerusalem, and on clear days, as far [north] as Mount Hermon in the 
Golan Heights. It has a higher elevation than Jerusalem and summer nights are 
cool. Occasionally, we have snow in winter.”
“Yedidya Atlas is a commentator for Arutz 7 and a long time resident of Beit 
6.  Chapters 13 and 19 of Genesis are logically linked to each other.  In 
chapter 13 of Genesis, Lot sees the Jordan River Valley, north of the Dead Sea, 
and Lot decides to move to Sodom.  Abraham stands before YHWH on that 
mountaintop, and Abraham gets great divine promises of progeny and land.  Then in 
chapter 19 of Genesis, Abraham logically goes back to that very same mountaintop, 
near Bethel, to witness the destruction of Sodom.
7.  So I see Abraham as going back to that mountaintop between Beth-el and 
Hai, north of Jerusalem, and looking down upon the Jordan River Valley.  That 
may be the most spectacular view in all of Canaan.  It is a perfect place to 
witness the destruction of Sodom in the far distance.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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