One of the cities of the plain, and for some time the dwelling-place of Lot, Ge 13:10-13; 14:12. Its crimes and vices were so enormous, that God destroyed it by fire from heaven, with three neighboring cities, Gomorrah, Zeboim, and Admah, which were as wicked as itself, Ge 19:1-20. The plain of Siddim in which they stood was pleasant and fruitful, like an earthy paradise; but it was first burned, and afterwards mostly overflowed by the waters of the Dead Sea or Lake of Sodom. See JORDAN, and SEA 3. The prophets, in denouncing woes upon other countries, mention the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and intimate that these places shall be desert and dried up and uninhabited, Jer 49:18; 50:40; that they shall be covered with briers and brambles, a land of salt and sulphur, where can be neither planting nor sowing, De 29:23; Am 4:11. Throughout Scripture the ruin of Sodom and Gomorrah is represented as a most signal effect of God's anger, and as a mirror in which those living at ease in sin and lust may see their own doom. The name is given in Re 11:8, to the great and corrupt city of antichrist. "Sodomites" were men addicted to the beastly lusts alluded in Ge 19; 1Ki 14:24; Ro 1:26-27.
burning; the walled, a city in the vale of Siddim (Ge 13:10; 14:1-16). The wickedness of its inhabitants brought down upon it fire from heaven, by which it was destroyed (Ge 18:16-33; 19:1-29; De 23:17). This city and its awful destruction are frequently alluded to in Scripture (De 29:23; 32:32; Isa 1:9-10; 3:9; 13:19; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46-56; Zep 2:9; Mt 10:15; Ro 9:29; 2Pe 2:6, etc.). No trace of it or of the other cities of the plain has been discovered, so complete was their destruction. Just opposite the site of Zoar, on the south-west coast of the Dead Sea, is a range of low hills, forming a mass of mineral salt called Jebel Usdum, "the hill of Sodom." It has been concluded, from this and from other considerations, that the cities of the plain stood at the southern end of the Dead Sea. Others, however, with much greater probability, contend that they stood at the northern end of the sea. [in 1897].
Illustration: Jebel Usdom and South End of the Dead Sea
Chief of the group Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela or Zoar (Ge 10:19; 13:3,10-13,18; Lu 17:29; 2Pe 2:6; Jg 1:4-7; Mr 6:11; Mt 10:15; De 29:23). (See GOMORRAH.) Palmer and Drake traversing the Negeb in a S.E. direction, as far as Mount Hor, made a detour to jebel ("mount") Madherah. At its summit and base are blocks of stone, of which the Arabs say: "a people once dwelt there, to whom travelers came seeking hospitality; but the people did to them a horrible deed, wherefore the Almighty in anger rained down stones, and destroyed them from off the face of the earth." Sodom is interpreted "burning" or else "vineyard" (Gesenius), "fortification" (Furst).
Abraham could see the smoke of the burning cities from near Hebron. The Lord over night announced to him Sodom's doom, at some spot on the way from Mamre or Hebron toward Sodom, to which he had accompanied the angels (Ge 18:16). Tradition says the spot was Caphar Berucha, from which the Dead Sea is visible through a ravine. Long ranges of hills intervene between Hebron and Sodom, but from the hill over Hebron or Mamre through a gap in the chain the whole district of the Jordan valley is visible. Lot at first pitched only towards Sodom, not until afterward did he go further south to Sodom itself (Ge 13:12; 14:12; and Ge 14:3 says expressly the vale of Siddim is the Salt Sea). This favors the S. of the Dead Sea site for Sodom, etc., which the traditional names confirm.
Sod'om Sodoma. Sod'oma
This city is first mentioned as a boundary of the Canaanites. Ge 10:19. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, but it is recorded that the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked before the Lord. Afterwards he dwelt therein, and was carried away captive when Sodom was taken by the five kings from the East. It is related that about the time when God fulfilled His promise of a son to Abraham, the cry of Sodom and their grievous sin had come up to Him, and He communicated to Abraham His intention to destroy the city; but, on the pleading of Abraham, He said He would not destroy it if there were ten righteous persons found therein; ten, however, were not found. Lot, his wife, and two daughters were rescued by two angels, and God rained down fire and brimstone on the place, and it was utterly destroyed. Though it was doubtless in the vicinity of the Salt Sea, its site cannot be identified. Ge 14:2-22; 18:16-32; 19:1-28.
Sodom is regarded in scripture as a symbol of wickedness. Isaiah calls the heads of Judah the 'rulers of Sodom.' Isa 1:10; cf. Eze 16:46-56; Re 11:8. The Lord, to show the exceeding wickedness of rejecting Him, after hearing His gracious words and seeing His mighty works, declared that it would be more tolerable in a day of judgement for Sodom than for the cities that rejected Him. Lu 10:12. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha, both as to its suddenness and completeness, is held up as a warning to sinners of coming judgements. Lu 17:29; Jude 1:7. In Ro 9:29 it is called SODOMA.
(burning), one of the most ancient cities of Syria. It is commonly mentioned in connection with Gomorrah, but also with Admah and Zeboim, and on one occasion --
... --with Bela or Zoar. Sodom was evidently the chief town in the settlement. The four are first named in the ethnological records of
as belonging to the Canaanites. The next mention of the name of Sodom,
gives more certain indication of the position of the city. Abram and Lot are standing together between Bethel and Ai, ver. 3, taking a survey of the land around and below them. Eastward of them, and absolutely at their feet, lay the "circle of Jordan." The whole circle was one great oasis --"a garden of Jehovah." ver. 10. In the midst of the garden the four cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim appear to have been situated. It is necessary to notice how absolutely the cities are identified with the district. In the subsequent account of their destruction,
... the topographical terms are employed with all the precision which is characteristic of such early times. The mention of the Jordan is conclusive as to the situation of the district, for the Jordan ceases where it enters the Dead Sea, and can have no existence south of that point. The catastrophe by which they were destroyed is described in
... as a shower of brimstone and fire from Jehovah. However we may interpret the words of the earliest narrative, one thing is certain --that the lake was not one of the agents in the catastrophe. From all these passages, though much is obscure, two things seem clear:
1. That Sodom and the rest of the cities of the plain of Jordan stood on the north of the Dead Sea;
2. That neither the cities nor the district were submerged by the lake, but that the cities were overthrown and the land spoiled, and that it may still be seen in its desolate condition. When, however, we turn to more modern views, we discover a remarkable variance from these conclusions.
1. The opinion long current that the five cities were submerged in the lake, and that their remains--walls, columns and capitals--might he still discerned below the water, hardly needs refutation after the distinct statement and the constant implication of Scripture. But,
2. A more serious departure from the terms of the ancient history is exhibited in the prevalent opinion that the cities stood at the south end of the lake. This appears to, have been the belief of Josephus and Jerome. It seems to have been universally held by the medieval historians and pilgrims, and it is adopted by modern topographers probably without exception. There are several grounds for this belief; but the main point on which Dr. Robinson rests his argument is the situation of Zoar. (a) "Lot," says he, "fled to Zoar, which was near to Sodom; and Zoar lay almost at the southern end of the present sea, probably in the month of Wady Kerak." (b) Another consideration in favor of placing the cities at the southern end of the lake is the existence of similar names in that direction. (c) A third argument, and perhaps the weightiest of the three, is the existence of the salt mountain at the south of the lake, and its tendency to split off in columnar masses presenting a rude resemblance to the human form. But it is by no means certain that salt does not exist at other spots round the lake. (d) (A fourth and yet stronger argument is drawn from the fact that Abraham saw the smoke of the burning cities from Hebron. (e) A fifth argument is found in the numerous lime-pits found at that southern end of the Dead Sea. Robinson, Schaff, Baedeker, Lieutenant Lynch and others favor this view. --ED.) It thus appears that on the situation of Sodom no satisfactory conclusion can at present be readied: On the one hand, the narrative of Genesis seems to state positively that it lay at the northern end of the Dead Sea. On the other hand, long-continued tradition and the names of the existing spots seem to pronounce with almost equal positiveness that it was at its southern end. Of the catastrophe which destroyed the city and the district of Sodom we can hardly hope ever to form a satisfactory conception. Some catastrophe there undoubtedly was but what secondary agencies, besides fire, were employed in the accomplishment of the punishment cannot be safely determined in the almost total absence of exact scientific description of the natural features of the ground round the lake. We may suppose, however, that the actual agent in the ignition and destruction of the cities had been of the nature of a tremendous thunder-storm accompanied by a discharge of meteoric stones, (and that these set on fire the bitumen with which the soil was saturated, and which was used in building the city. And it may be that this burning out of the soil caused the plain to sink below the level of the Dead Sea, and the waters to flow over it--if indeed Sodom and its sister cities are really under the water.--ED.) The miserable fate of Sodom and Gomorrah is held up as a warning in numerous passages of the Old and New Testaments.
SODOM, the capital of Pentapolis, which for some time was the residence of Lot, the nephew of Abraham. The history of its destruction is given in the book of Genesis. See ABRAHAM, See LOT, and See DEAD SEA.