The biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, it is easy to accept for fiction. Indeed, the story of two cities, destroyed by “fire and brimstone” for the sinful behavior of their inhabitants, seems far-fetched. However, archaeologists confirmed the existence of these cities and their terrible death.
The story of Sodom and Gomorrah takes us to the early period of Jewish history. The ancestors of the Jews were semi-nomadic way of life. Their leader in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Patriarch Abraham, revered as the founding father through his son Isaac all the Jews, but through another son of Ishmael, all Arabs.
Abraham plays a prominent role as in the old Testament and in the Qur’an where the story of his life is set out, essentially, the same. If you literally interpret the biblical chronology, the events described took place around 2200 BC
Abraham was born in Ur (Sumerian Ur, now Iraq), then lived in Haran. It was then that God revealed to Abraham his fate: he was to settle in Canaan (now Palestine).
By God’s command, Abraham took his wife and his relative Lot with his family, went to Canaan. There are all together engaged in cattle-breeding. The herdsmen of Abraham and Lot’s conflict over pastures, and Abraham proposed to be divided: Lot family migrated further East (modern Jordan) to the city of Sodom.
Nowadays the area is a barren hot wasteland, but in those days there were five prosperous cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Seboim, ADMA and Zoar.
If you believe the Book of Genesis, all this was to change in one day. The Bible constantly mentions the “depravities” of the inhabitants of the cities, especially Sodom and Gomorrah.
The nature of this depravity, which is usually mistaken for a penchant for sexual perversions, is not quite clear. But among the sins of the sodomites are one of the first places occupied negostepriimen: they played roughly with the two angels whom Lot invited into his house as honored guests.
The citizens of Sodom demanded that Lot brought them outside and began to break the door but was blinded by the angels who announced the Lot that God sent them to punish the city; he shall immediately take his family and go to the mountains, in any case, not looking back.
Lot took his wife and daughters and left the city that soon turned into Smoking ruins. His wife was known to have violated the prohibition, turned to look and turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s daughters with their father, took refuge in a mountain cave; they were afraid they were the only living people in the world.
Then follows one of the colorful, but not quite decent passages that occur frequently in the texts of the old Testament. Lot’s daughters got him drunk and slept with him alternately; as a result, both conceived sons. These sons became the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites – Jordanian tribes, sworn enemies of the Israelites.
After that, we no longer hear about the Item. As for Abraham, he watched the disaster from a safe distance in southern Palestine.
How would this story nor treated, it is replete with colorful detail. The episode of Lot and his daughters is clearly a Hebrew “morality tale”, the fictional with an almost comical goal: explain the “wicked” in the literal and figurative sense, were the enemies of the Israelites.
It is not difficult to guess the origin of the idea of turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. The Dead sea is littered with pillars of salt crystal of different shapes.
Like a man column can rise to the biblical story. This area is also very rich in native sulfur, which is sometimes found in the form of small balls. This circumstance could give rise to a legend that God once brought down to earth sulfur (fire) in rain.
The analogy with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah can be found in the myths of other peoples. For example, in the Greek myth of Orpheus rescuing his wife Eurydice from Hades only if she won’t look back when you leave the Lower world; she looked back, and Orpheus lost her forever.
The story of the visit of the two angels is very similar to another story of ancient myths in the retelling of Ovid, where it talks about how the gods mercury and Jupiter, in his form of mortal, came to town in Phrygia, and was unpleasantly surprised by the unfriendly locals.
In retaliation for the bad treatment they had destroyed an entire city, sparing only the poor elderly couple, who took them to his house and fed. And the story about the city razed to the ground for the sins of its inhabitants, was very popular.
The researchers of the Bible had little to say in favor of the hypothesis of the reality of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Reverend T. K. Cheyne, Professor of Oriental studies and the interpretation of Holy Scripture at Oxford University, in an article published in “the Biblical encyclopedia” in 1903, interpreted the story of Sodom and Gomorrah as a variant of the familiar myth of a catastrophic flood, where human sins are punished with a Great flood.
In 1924 archaeological expedition led by W. F. Albright in the town of Bab El-Dahr found the remains of bronze age settlement (about 3100-2300 BC). But only in the 70-ies, archaeologists began to realize the true value open.
Even before the excavations, it became clear that the city was ruined by fire. He subsequently remained abandoned for 2 thousand years.
This is not the only Palestinian village that suffered such a fate. In 1975 archaeologists Walter Rest and Thomas Schaub found Numeri – another settlement of the early bronze age is 11 km to the South, with traces of large-scale fire.
By 1980, they presented the preliminary findings: they found the settlement was those same five cities of the plain” of Genesis.
What was the cause of the destruction of the five most prosperous cities? Are there points of contact between archaeology and religion?
The Bible says that God rained down on the city the rain of fire and brimstone. Lightning strikes are often accompanied by a sulphurous smell, and some ancient authors, including Tacitus, believed that the cause of death of cities was just lightning. Josephus mentions the “thunder arrows”, or just “lightning”.
As noted by the geologist Dorothy Vitaliano, “it is unlikely that the lightning itself could cause a fire, in the flames which killed four cities” (some have argued that sigor had survived the Holocaust).
But let’s consider another factor. Since ancient times it is known that the Dead sea area is rich in oil. In the Book of Genesis mentions “tar pits” in the valley of Siddim near Sodom, in the days of Josephus, the Dead sea, generally called Asphalt lake because floating in it, huge pieces of bitumen. Their number sharply increased after the earthquake.
Sodom and Gomorrah is actually sitting on a powder keg. In addition, they were built on a major fracture in the earth’s crust, one of the main zones of seismic activity on the planet. The earthquake, of course, can lead to a fire.
D. Vitaliano agrees with the assumptions of their predecessors: “a Powerful earthquake occurred in the valley of Siddim in about 2000 BC It was accompanied by the emissions of natural combustible gas and bitumen, zagorevskaya from the house.
If some rocks with a high content of bitumen was used in the construction of the external walls or buildings, they served as additional fuel for the fire.”
It is interesting to note that she wrote it in 1973, prior to the publication about the opening of Resta and Schaub. And recent studies have confirmed that earthquakes played a key role in the destruction of the cities.
Two eminent specialist. D. of the Negev geological survey of Israel and K. Eimeria from the Oceanographic laboratory, Woodshole (mA) devoted to the Sodom and Gomorrah the whole book.
According to them, from a geological point of view, it is possible that in the history of the dead cities preserved remnants of the folk memory of the massive seismic cataclysm at the end of the early bronze age.
The Negev and Eimeria believe that the main fuel for the fire was hydrocarbons, resulting from faults in the soil.
You should pay attention to the fact that the bitumen in this area is very rich in sulfur. Streams of hot, salty water spilling into the earthquake, could lead to the formation of lethal mixtures of flammable gases with a high content of sulfur and hydrogen sulfide.
So, the secret of Sodom and Gomorrah can be considered open? But wait to send the topic to the archive. It turned out that simultaneously with the earthquake in the area Southeast of the Dead sea occurred on abrupt climate change.
Land that once abundantly watered and fertile was suddenly dry and hot. That is why after the death of the cities, these places haven’t been settled. Severe drought continued for about 300 years, and during that time formed a barren wasteland.
Now it becomes increasingly clear that the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is just one small piece of the puzzle on a large scale. At the same time with the sharp deterioration of the climate of almost all the great urban centres of the Levant were destroyed, many in the earthquake.
In the whole of Turkey was burned and was abandoned for at least 300 cities; one of them belonged to Troy. At the same time came the decline of Greek civilization of the early bronze age.
In Egypt came to an end the era of the Old Kingdom and the great builders of the pyramids. The level of the Nile fell sharply, and in the West Sugar conquered vast areas that were once fertile.
Today, many facts indicate that natural disaster in the middle East at the end of III Millennium BC was part of a global cataclysm. Some scientists believe that the reason the collision of Earth with large meteorites and fragments of comets.
This caused a sharp increase in seismic activity and climate change due to emission of huge amounts of dust into the atmosphere. A large celestial body that fell in the area of the fracture in the earth’s crust can lead to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
This consideration returns us to the biblical description of events. What was the nature of “heavenly fire”, which, according to Genesis, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah? “Lightning” in the Chronicles of Josephus is not an ordinary lightning, as it might seem at first glance.
From two Greek words, which he describes this event (keraunos – “lightning” and bolos – “shell”), none is used in the context of the description of ordinary thunderstorms. In particular, the word keraunos was used to describe the Holy, the most deadly weapon of the God Zeus, which he used only on special occasions.
In the Hellenistic world of Zeus as the God of thunder was associated with a number of meteorite cults, and the “heavenly stones” preserved and venerated for centuries after their fall.
It may seem a stretch that Sodom and Gomorrah, located on the fault lines of the earth’s crust, and even over deposits of combustible hydrocarbons, into the bargain, and came under the impact of a meteorite.
But if a catastrophe, according to contemporaries, occurred during a meteor shower, cause and effect might switch places in the minds of people. A meteorite or a fragment of the comet fell in a different place, could cause seismic tremors, while fragments of smaller size, consumed in the atmosphere, illuminated the night sky…
Thus, repeatedly ridiculed the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, destroyed by “fire” may be a curious example of human reaction in one small corner of the world to the catastrophe of global proportions.