[b-hebrew] What Does "Sodom" Mean?
JimStinehart at aol.com
JimStinehart at aol.com
Tue Nov 25 14:53:11 EST 2008
1. You wrote: “First of all, I have found Gesenius an untrustworthy source
of knowledge of word meanings. The reason I went into lexicography was because
of trying to use his dictionary while reading Tanakh. Too many times his
fit the context. It's been a couple of decades since I last looked at his
dictionary, so I don't recall specific examples, but for you to base your
argument on his work puts up a red flag that you don't know what you're talking
I do not base my argument on Gesenius’ work. I specifically said that
whereas Gesenius sees “Sodom” as meaning “scorched”, no historical city would have
a name meaning “scorched”. Gesenius has missed the two more important puns
here, which tell us that rather than being a fictional city, Sodom for the
most part represents historical Beth Shan.
2. You wrote: “[A]rcheologists are coming to the conclusion that the ruins
of Sodom can be identified with those of a certain early bronze age site south
of the Dead Sea.”
There were never five rich cities south of the Dead Sea. Lot and Abraham had
come from the northeast, so they knew there were five rich cities in the
Jezreel Valley. If Lot wanted to choose soft city life, Lot would naturally
choose the sure thing: sell his flock and take early retirement in Beth Shan. It
makes no sense to think of Lot bravely and audaciously going to a place where
no one (that Lot knew) had gone before, southeast of the Dead Sea. Nor would
any invader of Canaan have the slightest interest in that area either. There
are some nice oases down there, with plenty of foliage, but there has never
been any real wealth in that part of the world. No individual seeking the soft
city life like Lot, and no invaders looking for loot and plunder like the four
attacking rulers in the “four rulers against the five” referenced at Genesis
14: 9, would have the slightest interest in a handful of oases southeast of
the Dead Sea. Rather, both Lot and those invaders would instead make a beeline
for the wealthy city of Beth Shan (that is, “Sodom”).
3. You wrote: “[G]rain can be grown where ever there is well watered good
seen wheat growing wild on hillsides. For you to claim that the Jesreel
valley was the only place where grain was grown is therefore patently ludicrous.
For you, coming from grain growing area, to make such an elementary error ....”
Yes, wheat and barley were at times grown in many different parts of Canaan.
But the one and only place where fields of grain were commonplace every year
in Canaan was the wondrous Jezreel Valley. The only place in Canaan where a
tent-dwelling pastoralist like Abraham would never be welcome is the Jezreel
Valley, which was given over to growing grain in fields, not to subsistence
living tending sheep and goats. The only cities in Canaan that were rich based on
fields of grain were the five cities of the Jezreel Valley: Sodom, Afula the
Small, Jezreel, Afula the Great, and Megiddo. Those are the five historical “
cities of the Plain”/KKR/valley. All five of those cities, and the Jezreel
Valley itself, are attested on the Thutmosis III list from the Late Bronze Age.
Everyone in greater Canaan -- including Abraham, Lot, and any potential
invader of Canaan -- knew that the finest land in all of Canaan was the Jezreel
Valley, where there were five cities that were wealthy because of all those
wondrous grain-growing fields.
“Sodom”/SDM and “fields”/&DYM sound very much alike. This close pun on the
word “fields” is letting us know that “Sodom” means Beth Shan, which the
Egyptians used to guard the valuable “fields” of grain in the immensely fertile
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