Many people are familiar with the account in the biblical Book of Genesis about the two sin-filled cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their cataclysmic destruction.
Yet many in this modern, scientific age struggle — or outright refuse — to accept that the cities ever really existed, much less that God wiped them out with fire from heaven.
After all, to believe Genesis would be to accept that God is real, the Bible is true, and that God really does bring judgment against individuals, cities, and even whole nations if they stubbornly reject God and flagrantly disobey His commands.
In other words, if Sodom and Gomorrah really existed and really were destroyed by God raining down fire and brimstone from heaven — especially because the people proudly embraced homosexuality and utterly rejected God’s design of heterosexual marriage, among many other sins — then that would mean that God really has a set of rules for mankind to live by and that there are serious consequences for rejecting Him.
But last week — and again this week — on THE ROSENBERG REPORT, I sat down for an exclusive interview with Dr. Steven Collins, the archaeologist who claims that he and his team have actually uncovered the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Kingdom of Jordan.
If he is right, Collins is responsible for the most dramatic — and controversial — archaeological find of the 21st century.
So, is he right?
As Collins explained in the interview, he first rejected the notion that Sodom and Gomorrah are fictional, mythical cities that were made up by ancient writers.
Because, he said, even ancient writers who made up stories never made up fictional geography. They also placed their stories in real geographical settings.
Second, Collins said that the wealth and size of Sodom as described in the Bible meant that Sodom would have been one of the largest and most influential and powerful cities of its time. And thus hard to make up to ancient audiences who knew the history and the geography of the region well.
Third, Collins noted that the apocalyptic destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah ought to be verifiable, if the cities really existed.
So, Collins told me, he simply followed all the location clues laid out in Genesis and boom — he uncovered the biggest Bronze Age city in the entire Middle East, a city that comports with the Biblical account of Sodom in every respect, including its sudden and cataclysmic annihilation.
“There's so much specific information about the location of these cities that you would practically have to be blind and illiterate not to be able to find the location of Sodom because there are at least 25 known pieces of geography that you can triangulate between to take you to the city of Sodom. It's not difficult,” stressed Collins, author of “Discovering the City of Sodom.”
Almost a century before Collins launched his exploration in 2001, famed archaeologist William F. Albright set out to explore the southeastern end of the Dead Sea in 1924 in hopes of finding Sodom and Gomorrah.
Albright’s theory was that rising sea waters covered the location of the city’s ruins.
Nothing was ever found on the sea bottom, yet over the years, other archaeologists followed Albright’s assumption and identified an area called Bab edh-Dhra as Sodom.
However, Collins insisted to me that there is nothing in Genesis that would locate Sodom in the southern Dead Sea region.
In fact, the main problem with Albright's theory, he told me, is that it simply doesn’t fit with the facts laid out in Genesis 13.
“Here's the problem with Albright's location of Sodom. He never, ever provides an exegesis of Genesis Chapter 13, which is the verbal map to get to the city of Sodom.…He just basically shot off the top of his head,” said Collins.
Why would anyone put a city in an area that could get flooded? I asked. And why would anyone build a large city along the Dead Sea — known as the Salt Sea in the Bible — rather than alongside the Jordan River with its massive supply of fresh water?
Exactly, said Collins, you wouldn’t.
For that reason and many other clues in the scriptures, Collins decided to focus his research around the Jordan River Valley, about eight miles north of the Dead Sea.
Another clue the Bible gives regarding the location of Sodom, he told me, is the description of the meeting between Abraham and Lot before they parted ways.
“The proper question to ask in the location of Sodom is, ‘Where was Lot standing when he lifted up his eyes and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well-watered?’ It was Bethel and AI,” Collins explained.
From that point, Lot would have not been able to see the southern end of the Dead Sea. That fact is ignored by archaeologists supporting Albright’s Southern Sodom theory.
All this led Collins and his team to dig in a site called Tall el-Hammam, with the permission of — and under the supervision of — the Kingdom of Jordan.
And what did they find?
A massive series of cities, including the biggest and wealthiest city of the Bronze Age in the entire region.
What’s more, they found a massive metropolitan city that was completely wiped out in a sudden firestorm and then uninhabited for the next 700 years.
In my next column, I’ll explain more of this dramatic and fascinating story.
To watch last week’s episode of THE ROSENBERG REPORT on TBN — with Part One of my exclusive interview with Collins — go to www.RosenbergReport.TV.
Tomorrow night, don’t miss Part Two.
THE ROSENBERG REPORT airs Thursday nights at 9 p.m. EST — and Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. EST — on the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
To learn more about the show — and watch past shows — go to https://rosenbergreport.tv/.
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Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.