The Truth of Sodom and Gomorrah
BackgroundIn Genesis Chapter 14, Sodom and Gomorrah's political situation is described during the time biblical Lot had encamped in Sodom's territory. Genesis 13:13 indicates that at that time, "the men of Sodom [were] wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." Sodom was ruled by King Bera while Gomorrah was ruled by King Birsha. Their kingship, however, was not sovereign, because the entire river Jordan plain was under Elamite rule for twelve years. The kingdom of Elam was ruled by king Chedorlaomer. [Genesis 14:1-4]
In response, Elam's king Chedorlaomer, gathered additional forces from Shinar, Ellasar and Goyim to suppress this rebellion from the cities of the plain. They waged war in the Vale of Siddim in the fourteenth year. The battle was brutal with heavy losses in the cities of the plain, with their resultant defeat. Sodom and Gomorrah were spoiled of their goods, and captives were taken, including Lot.
The tide of war turned when Lot's uncle Abram gathered an elite force that slaughtered king Chedorlaomer's forces in Hobah, north of Damascus. The success of his mission freed the cities of the plain from under Elam's rule.
JudgmentIn Genesis 18, three men came, thought by most commentators to have been angels appearing as men, to Abram (Abraham) in the plains of Mamre.
Line 4: But before they lay down, the men of the city, [even] the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
Line 5: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where [are] the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them. (NRSV: know them, NIV: can have sex with them, NJB: can have intercourse with them).
Lot refused to give his guests to the inhabitants of Sodom and, instead, offered them his two virgin daughters and to "do ye to them as [is] good in your eyes". [Gen 19:8] However, they refused this offer and threatened to do worse to Lot than they would have done to his guests, and then came near to break down the door. Lot's angelic guests rescued him and struck the men with blindness, thereby revealing to Lot that they were not ordinary men but angels, and they informed Lot of their mission to destroy the city.[Genesis 19:9-13]
Researchers who cracked the cuneiform symbols on the Planisphere tablet believe that it recorded an asteroid thought to have been more than half a mile across.
The tablet, found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal place at Nineveh in the mid-19th century, is thought to be a 700 B.C. copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky.
He referred to the asteroid as a "white stone bowl approaching" and recorded it as it "vigorously swept along."
Using computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago, scientists have pinpointed his sighting to shortly before dawn on June 29 in the year 3123 B.C.
About half the symbols on the tablet have survived and half of those refer to the asteroid. The other symbols record the positions of clouds and constellations. In the past 150 years scientists have made five unsuccessful attempts to translate the tablet.
Mark Hempsell, one of the researchers from Bristol University who cracked the tablet's code, said: "It's a wonderful piece of observation, an absolutely perfect piece of science."
Debris consisting of up to two-thirds of the asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of 400 Centigrade (752 Fahrenheit) would have been created, killing anyone in its path.
About one million sq kilometers (386,000 sq miles) would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tons of TNT exploding.The researchers say that the asteroid's impact would explain why at Köfels there is evidence of an ancient landslide 3 miles wide and a quarter of a mile thick.