Archaeology and Tanach by Aryeh Krischer


One of the better known events in this week’s Parashah is the destruction of Sedom and Amorah. Not too long ago archaeologists uncovered ruins they believe to be the remains of these cities. Bab edh-Dhra, thought to be Sedom, and Numiera, thought to be Amorah, were discovered southeast of the Dead Sea, consistent with the Torah’s description of their location. The first evidence of a connection between these ruins and the Biblical cities came from the buildings in the Bab edh-Dhra cemetery. A fire that began on one roof, an unlikely event unless a great deal of flaming debris was falling, consistent with the Torah’s description of the destruction, had destroyed every single roof. Furthering the evidence is a theory by geologist Frederick Clapp. Clapp postulated that bitumen (a flammable compound found south of the Dead Sea) could be forced out of a fault and into the sky by an earthquake and, with a small spark near the surface, ignite and rain fiery death on all below. As it happens, these two cities lie precisely on such a fault. Furthermore, Avraham saw smoke rising from the land, a phenomenon which would be likely in the event of bitumen spewing from the earth. While we cannot know their identities for certain, it is very likely Babe dh-Dhra and Numiera are Sedom and Amorah.

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