MemberMay 23, 2021 at 6:23 am
“Unknown” on the BiblePlaces blog comments thread, whoever s/he is, has some excellent information and reasoning. How’s this comment re the bitumen/asphalt? This is also the “pitch” that Moses’ mother used to waterproof his reed basket. Widely traded across the ANE in all eras. As with all the miracles of the exodus, YHWH uses what is to hand to effect His purposes. No need to go looking for meteoric explanations. Sodom was sitting on a powder keg. I should post this comment about bitumen also on the Pillar of Cloud and Fire thread, but have probably provoked enough people already 😉
Genesis 14:1-12 confirms this by giving three key details about the valley of Siddim: it was large enough to have a battle in, it was full of slime-pits (literally “Bitumen Wells”) that you could fall into, and it became the Salt Sea later. Strabo called the Dead Sea “Lacus Asphaltites” or Lake of Asphalt. Chunks of asphalt have been found floating in the Dead Sea numerous times in modern history, sometimes weighing more than a ton. This asphalt is 99% pure according to Dr. Arie Nissenbaum. So pure the Romans and Egyptians were known to mine or trade for it. The Asphalt Wells spoken of in Genesis are almost certainly underwater today, but were on the surface of the ground in Sodom’s time.
For more on the asphalt, see BBC’s episode Ancient Apocalypse 4: Sodom and Gommorah beginning at 29 minutes and featuring a picture at 34 minutes.