Biblical Sodom Unearthed?

An article in World News Daily suggests that archaeologists may have uncovered the Biblical city of Sodom.

Apparently the city was destroyed by fire and brimstone, and archaeological excavations show that all of the family tombs in the city belonged to same-sex couples who were dressed in fabulous clothing with no clashing colors. This would fit well with conservative Christian depictions of ancient Sodom, although those depictions only begin to appear much later and are viewed with suspicion by many archaeologists.

Although no pillar of salt has yet been uncovered, archaeologists have suggested that this can be explained in terms of the use of the remnants of Mrs. Lot as a condiment on food in the years following the city’s destruction.

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  • Tim

    Someone in the comments section of another blog pointed out that the phrase “turned to a pillar of salt” was actually a figure of speech used at the time. It meant that she either stood there rooted to the spot (as in, unable to move because of the emotional impact of what she saw), or that she fell down weeping. She did not literally turn into a pillar of salt.
    No one ever told me this when I was growing up!

    • James F. McGrath

      Did they point to any particular evidence for these claims, or were these merely their own surmises?

      • Tim

        I have no idea where they got the information. No references were given, but it makes way more sense than Lot’s wife literally turning into a pillar of salt!

        I also found this alternative explanation:

        And another, perhaps better explanation:

        • James F. McGrath

          Well, the story is probably aetiological, seeking to explain why the region around the Dead Sea is so barren, and probably one particularly human-like salt & mineral formation in its vicinity. The commenter you referred to may have been trying to make sense of the story as an account of an actual event, which will obviously be easier if you avoid taking certain details literally. I hope the irony of that approach won’t be lost on anyone reading this!

          • Tim

            It’s possible that’s what they were doing, or they may have just been trying to make the point that it shouldnt be taken too literally, even if we assume the event actually happened historically. It would seem that the etiological explanation might be the best one, though.

          • James Walker

            Tim was citing an explanation I gave over on the UC page and you’re spot on that the approach I take to it is one of story-telling where the narrator was not present and was trying to make sense of events as seen through the lens of legendary participants (and only SOME of the participants at that).

            Call it a character flaw, but I don’t believe in magic so I always, without fail, look for ways the stories of the Bible can be “true” (at least, true in the eyes of the narrator) without requiring supernatural explanation. 😉

          • James Walker

            the etiological take on the story works really well in that “storytelling” framework, too. making it one of the “just so” stories where the narrator gets to say “and you can still see Lot’s Wife there on the plain to this day!”

            I like it.

    • Gary

      Might as well complete Gen 19. I’d like them discover the cave where Lot and his daughters hung out afterwards. And where did they get all of that wine? The story of how the Moabites and Ammonites came about, would be rather uncomfortable if Lot’s wife was still around!

    • James Walker

      The claim came specifically from George Lamsa who held that the Masoretic Text (one of the Hebrew versions of the Jewish scripture on which the Old Testament is based) was a re-translation from Syriac/Aramaic back into Hebrew and that specifically the wording translated as “pillar of salt” l’nitziv melach came from a Syriac idiom meaning “petrified with terror”.

      Lamsa’s scholarship has been questioned and his view is certainly not mainstream.

      • Tim

        Ah, Ok; thanks for that info.