The Bible, Archaeology, and the City of Sodom

Sodom and Gomorrah Afire
by Jacob de Wet II (1680)

It has been a popular view among many people that archaeology proves the historical events of the Bible. It is said that William F. Albright, the famous American archaeologist of the twentieth century, sought to prove the historicity of the Bible by digging in Israel with a shovel on one hand and the Bible on the other.

In the last fifty years or so, the traditional conclusions of archaeologists have come under severe attack by other archaeologists who believe that the archaeological evidence does not confirm many of the historical facts found in the Bible.

However, in an article titled “Is Archaeology Proving the Bible?” published recently in Newsweek, Eric Metaxas mentions a recent discovery that archaeologists and scientists believe was the site of the ancient city of Sodom.

Below is an excerpt from the article:

In 1846-before archaeology even existed as a field-an Assyrian obelisk was discovered in what is today northern Iraq. It referred to Jehu, a ninth-century BC Hebrew king. For the first time, an archaeological find corroborated what was in the Bible, and Victorian society was electrified. But this was only the first in a torrent of similar discoveries that challenged secular claims that the Bible is a collection of made-up myths and folktales.

This trend of archaeology corroborating Biblical accounts continued so consistently that in 1959 Rabbi Dr. Nelson Glueck declared “no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference.” Since then, the evidence has kept coming.

For example, in 1961 an inscription was found bearing the name “Pilate,” the earliest known reference to this figure outside of the New Testament. In 1968, a first-century home in Capernaum was identified as that of the apostle Peter. In 1990 an ossuary was found bearing the inscription-and bones-of Caiaphas, the high priest who infamously pushed for Jesus’s execution. In 1993, a stele mentioning the “House of David” was discovered, yanking King David out of the realm of myth and into the historical record.

But just two weeks ago, the details of perhaps the most astonishing of all such finds appeared in a lengthy, peer-reviewed paper in Nature Scientific Reports. It described the cataclysmic destruction of a Middle Bronze Age city north of the Dead Sea and represented years of research and technical analysis by 21 scientists, who likely never expected to author a paper in one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals that mentioned the destruction of the Biblical city of Sodom. But in the end, the parallels proved impossible to ignore.

For starters, the archaeologist who excavated the site had been guided there by what the Bible said about Sodom. Dr. Steven Collins knew if the place existed, this site-today called Tall el-Hammam-must be it. In 2006 he began excavating. When he and his team got down to about 1650 BC-when Sodom was believed destroyed-they uncovered a five-foot layer of soot. Randomly scattered throughout this vast “destruction matrix” were bits of melted brick, burned fragments of human bones and other baffling detritus.

In his article, Metaxas describes what scientists believed destroyed the city of Sodom. According to the Bible, what destroyed the city of Sodom came from heaven, “Then the LORD rained down sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from heaven by the LORD” (Genesis 19:24).

Amazingly enough, the scientists involved in the study also agreed that what destroyed the city came from heaven. To read what came from heaven and what destroyed Sodom read the whole article in Newsweek (click here).

NOTE: For other articles on archaeology, archaeological discoveries, and how they relate to the Bible, read my post Can Archaeology Prove the Bible?.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

If you enjoyed reading this post, you will enjoy reading my books.



NOTE: Did you like this post? Do you think other people would like to read this post? Be sure to share this post on Facebook and share a link on Twitter or Tumblr so that others may enjoy reading it too!

I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you thought of this post by leaving a comment below. Be sure to like my page on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Tumblr, Facebook, and subscribe to my blog to receive each post by email.

If you are looking for other series of studies on the Old Testament, visit the Archive section and you will find many studies that deal with a variety of topics.

This entry was posted in Archaeology, Book of Genesis, Sodom and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Bible, Archaeology, and the City of Sodom

  1. Deepak Sardar says:

    This is what I was searching from last 3 days, finally got it. Really very informative, meaningful and useful article will try to implement the same.
    Good for all age groups now a days to learn such innovative and motivational.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.