Bible Review 3:3, Fall 1987

Bible Lands

The Dead Sea—background to the Bible

By Barry J. Beitzel

Bible Review

“It was in the time of Amraphel, king of Shinar … they went to war … The kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim, which is now the Dead Sea.”

(Genesis 14:1–3)

In this hoary biblical episode four kings fight against five, including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. The area is dotted with bitumen pits. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, fleeing, fall into the pits. Lot is captured. With his 318 retainers, Abram (later called Abraham) rescues Lot and all his kinsmen and possessions.

Later, the Lord destroys Sodom and Gomorrah when ten good men can not be found in the two cities (Genesis 18:32). Fire and brimstone rain on the cities (Genesis 19:24). Forewarned, Lot and his family alone escape, except for Lot’s wife: she disobeys the instruction not to look back at Sodom and Gomorrah and is turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26).

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