Recently, after leaving a bathhouse in San Francisco through the rear door, my mind somehow wandered to the existence of Sodom and Gomorrah. Well, first it wandered to a hot dog stand, and then back to Sodom and Gomorrah.
While a handful of rogue scholars believe these two cities existed somewhere in the state of Georgia, most believe the cities existed on the banks of the Dead Sea in the Middle East.
Purportedly, Sodom and Gomorrah were immoral cities comprised of evil people who lacked compassion for strangers and travelers, committed crimes as heinous as murder, and dabbled in homosexuality. It’s because of their reputations that we have the words sodomy and rump-ranger in our vocabulary today.
According to the religious tomes of the day, God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and he did so in a massive pyrotechnic display, leveling both cites in a matter of minutes. But did it really happen, and was God really responsible?
During the Bronze Age, the area surrounding the Dead Sea was rich and luxurious, much like a shampoo commercial, and was abundant in asphalt, a substance that was very important to the Bronze Age world. Sodom and Gomorrah were thought to exist somewhere between Israel and Jordan, very near the Dead Sea and modern archaeologists have found evidence that many ancient cities occupied this very area.
I believe that the Bible and Torah are accurate in their descriptions of what happened, but let’s remember these manuscripts are thousands of years old, and written by men who had no knowledge of geology or science, so “God” was the answer to everything they didn’t comprehend.
So is there a modern day theory for the destruction? Yes.
The Dead Sea is located in a tectonically active region, where earthquakes are a frequent occurrence. The entire area sits on ground filled with such things as oil, methane gas, and sulfur.
One of the current “destruction” theories suggests that a large earthquake rocked the area, causing the ground with its unique structure to actually liquefy, causing landslides to sweep everything to the bottom of the sea.
This same earthquake would have caused fissures in the ground resulting in the release of huge amounts of methane gas, which could have easily been ignited by any of the open air fire pits that were kept burning 24 hours-a-day in each of the cities.
The resulting fires and explosions could have hastened the demise of the cities, as well as hurled tons of sulfur (aka brimstone) into the air and the surrounding areas.
This theory would certainly support the ancient writings, and at the same time nullify the whole “God rained down fire and brimstone on the cities of evil” thing.
On the other hand, maybe the earthquake thing was just God’s way of making the whole incident look like “an accident” thus giving him plausible deniability.