[b-hebrew] What Does "Sodom" Mean?

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Wed Nov 26 16:49:57 EST 2008

You wrote:  “In Genesis 18 we have the narrative of Abraham standing before 
YHWH in a place near Hebron called the Oaks of Mamre, overlooking the place 
 Sodom was situated. The next day the narrative has him returning to that
 place to see what happened to Sodom. Context indicates that the two times
 were at the same place, with no need for Abraham to hike back to Bethel.”
1.  Absolutely nothing can be seen from the city of Hebron.
2.  The “Oaks of Mamre” cannot be near the city of Hebron.  Oak trees need 
at least 15 inches of rain a year.  The city of Hebron only gets 10-12 inches 
of rain a year.  If you want to see magnificent groves of oak trees, you need 
to go up north to the Aijalon Valley (the Patriarchs’ “Hebron”), where the low 
hills surrounding the valley are famous for their magnificent oak trees.  The 
Aijalon Valley, so unlike the city of Hebron area, gets over 15 inches of 
rain annually. 
3.  No place near the city of Hebron affords a view of the southeast coast of 
the Dead Sea.  No way.  It’s geographically impossible.
4.  Genesis 13: 18 explicitly states that the Oaks of Mamre are “in” Hebron:
“And Abram moved his tent, and came and dwelt by the terebinths of Mamre, 
which are in Hebron….”
Note the presence of the preposition “bet/B”, which means “in”.  Your claim 
that the Oaks of Mamre were located at some distance from the Patriarchs’ “
Hebron” is in direct contradiction of what Genesis 13: 18 explicitly says.
5.  Both chapter 13 of Genesis, and eye witness reports, make it absolutely 
clear that on a mountaintop east of Beth-el, one can see the Jordan River and 
Mt. Hermon in the distance.  That was the view that led Lot to choose the soft 
city life at Sodom/Beth Shan.  Lot could not literally see Sodom/Beth Shan, 
but Lot and Abraham had come right by Sodom/Beth Shan in coming into Canaan from 
Harran, and Lot knew that the M$QH (the fertile fields of the Jezreel Valley) 
and Sodom/Beth Shan were south of Mt. Hermon, with that famous mountain being 
visible from Beth-el.
So it makes all the logical sense in the world for Abraham to go back to 
Beth-el to witness the spectacular destruction of Sodom/Beth Shan.  A huge cloud 
of smoke rose from destroyed Sodom/Beth Shan.  Abraham could literally see that 
cloud of smoke in the far distance rising above where Abraham knew Sodom/Beth 
Shan was located.
6.  Because it was morning when Sodom was destroyed, as we previously 
discussed, that is the most likely time for there to be high winds in Canaan. “These 
[strong] storms appear [in Israel] only from October-May and are most frequent 
during the cold season.  The diurnal course is characterized by a 
strengthening in the morning hours….”  
_http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2168854_ (http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2168854)   “The prevailing 
wind in Israel is from the NW….”  (From “Air Pollution Control in Israel 
During the First and Second Century”, by 

Y. Mamane.)
And although the prevailing winds in Canaan were normally from the northwest, 
the Bible is well aware of a cold north wind in the winters:  “Awake, O north 
wind….”  Song of Songs: 4: 16  “The north wind bringeth forth rain, and a 
backbiting tongue an angry countenance.” Proverbs 25: 23
So we see the “perfect storm” here.  The cold north wind blows the smoke 
from Sodom/Beth Shan south down the Jordan River Valley toward Beth-el.  Abraham, 
having gotten up early, made the 17½–mile trip from the Aijalon Valley (the 
Patriarchs’ “Hebron”) to Beth-el by donkey in under 4 hours, arriving at 
Beth-el at the ideal time (prior to mid-morning) to see the maximum effect of the 
just-completed fiery destruction of Sodom/Beth Shan.
7.  If we stick with actual geography, we will see that the Patriarchal 
narratives have pinpoint accuracy as to all matters, including the local geography 
of Canaan.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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