A city on the south-east side of the Dead sea, was destined, with the other four cities, to be consumed by fire from heaven; but at the intercession of Lot it was preserved, Ge 14:2; 19:20-23,30. It was originally called Bela; but after Lot entreated the angel's permission to take refuge in it, and insisted on the smallness of this city, it had the name Zoar, which signifies small.
small, a town on the east or south-east of the Dead Sea, to which Lot and his daughters fled from Sodom (Ge 19:22-23). It was originally called Bela (Ge 14:2,8). It is referred to by the prophets Isaiah (Isa 15:5) and Jeremiah (Jer 48:34). Its ruins are still seen at the opening of the ravine of Kerak, the Kir-Moab referred to in 2Ki 3, the modern Tell esh-Shaghur.
Originally Bela; still called so when Abram first settled in Canaan (Ge 14:2,8,10). Connected with the cities of the plain, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim (Ge 13:10). The southern division of the Dead Sea (apparently of comparatively recent formation), abounding with salt, and throwing up bitumen, and its shores producing sulphur and nitre, answers to the valley of Siddim, "full of slime pits," and to the destruction of the cities by fire and brimstone, and to the turning of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt. The S. bay is probably the vale of Siddim. Scripture does not say the cities were buried in the sea, but overthrown by fire from heaven (De 29:23; Jer 49:18; 50:40; Zep 2:9; 2Pe 2:6). Josephus speaks of Sodomitis as burnt up and as adjoining the asphaltite lake (B. J., 4:8, Section 4).
All ancient testimony favors the position of the cities being at the southern end. The traditional names of Usdum, etc., the traditional site of Zoar (called by Josephus, Ant. 1:11, Section 4, Zoar of Arabia), the hill of salt traditionally made Lot's wife, all favor their site being within or around the shallow southern bay. Tristram however identifies Zoar with Zi'ara at the northern end. Jerome (ad Jos. 15, and Quaest. in Genesis 14) and Theodoret (in Genesis 19) say Zoar was swallowed up by an earthquake probably after Lot had left it. So Wisdom (Wis 10:6) says five cities were destroyed; so Josephus (B. J. 4:8, Section 4). But De 29:23 mentions only four; and Eusebius says Bela or Zoar was in his day garrisoned by Romans. It is the point to which Moab's fugitives shall flee (Isa 15:5; Jer 48:34).
Lot's view from the mountain E. of Bethel between Bethel and Ai (Ge 13:3,10; 12:8) is not to be pressed as though he could see all the plain of Jordan as far as to the S. of the Dead Sea; he saw only the northern end, but that sample assured him of the well watered character of the whole. From Pisgah or Nebo (De 34:3) Moses saw from "the plain of the valley of Jericho" southward as far as "unto Zoar"; not that Zoar was near Jericho, for Jehovah showed him "all the land of Judah and the South." It was probably on the S.E. side of the Dead Sea, as Lot's descendants, Ammon and Moab, occupied that region as their original seat. Tristram's statement that the ground of Zi'ara falls in terraces for 3,000 ft. to the Jordan valley is at variance with Lot's words, "I cannot escape to the mountain: behold this city (evidently not a place so hard to get up to as 3,000 ft. elevation) is near to flee unto, and it is a little one"; its inhabitants are so few that their sins are comparatively little, and so it may be spared. (Rashi.)
Subsequently Lot fearing Zoar was not far enough from Sodom, nor high enough to be out of danger, fled to the mountains to which the angel originally urged his flight (Ge 19:17-23,30). God's assurance "I will not overthrow this city ... for the which thou hast spoken" ought to have sufficed to assure Lot; his want of faith issued in the awful incest of the mountain cave; compare the spiritual lesson, Jer 3:23. Abulfeda spells it Zoghar. Fulcher, the crusading historian (Gesta Dei, 405), found Segor at the point of entrance to the mountains of Arabia, S. of the lake; probably in the wady Kerak, the road from the S. of the Dead Sea to the eastern highlands. Irby and Mangles found extensive ruins in the lower part of this wady, which they name Dera'ah, perhaps corrupted from Zoar.
One of the five cities of the plain in the land of Canaan, and which alone survived when they fell under the judgement of God. It was formerly called BELA. Lot fled to it when Sodom was destroyed, but feared to remain there. Ge 13:10; 14:2,8; 19:22-30; De 34:3; Isa 15:5; Jer 48:34. Identified by some with ruins at Tell esh Shaghur, 31 50' N, 35 40' E.
(smallness), one of the most ancient cities of the land of Canaan. Its original name was BELA.
It was in intimate connection with the cities of the "plain of Jordan" --Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, See also
but not Gene 10:19 In the general destruction of the cities of the plain Zoar was spared to afford shelter to Lot.
It is mentioned in the account of the death of Moses as one (of the landmarks which bounded his view from Pisgah,
and it appears to have been known in the time both of Isaiah,
These are all the notices of Zoar contained in the Bible. It was situated in the same district with the four cities already mentioned, viz. in the "plain" or "circle" of the Jordan, and the narrative of
... evidently implies that it was very near to Sodom. vs.
The definite position of Sodom is, and probably will always be, a mystery; but there can be little doubt that the plain of the Jordan was at the north side of the Dead Sea and that the cities of the plain must therefore have been situated there instead of at the southern end of the lake, as it is generally taken for granted they were. [SODOM] (But the great majority of scholars from Josephus and Eusebius to the present of the Dead Sea.)