Biblical Archaeology Review 39:2, March/April 2013

Where Is Sodom?

The Case for Tall el-Hammam

By Steven Collins

I think I have found Sodom! I can already see the raised eyebrows: The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is not history; it’s just a traditional tale ...

In the Bible, Sodom is the essence of evil: “The men of Sodom were wicked” (Genesis 13:13). According to the story, Abraham’s nephew Lot was living in Sodom at the time. Two angels appearing as men were staying with Lot when the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house and demanded that Lot surrender the angels in the guise of men: “Bring them out so that we can have sex with them” (Genesis 19:5). Lot offered instead to give the mob his two virgin daughters, but the men of Sodom refused. They went to break down the door of Lot’s house, but the angels struck them with blindness so that they could not find the door.

The next morning the angels rushed Lot and his family out of town to avoid disaster; the Lord was going to take action. The angels agreed that the family could go to Zoar, where they would be safe (Genesis 19:22–23).

“Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land” (Genesis 19:24–25).

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