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Sodom is found!

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Sodom is found!

Alexandr Loginov 

Melchizedek – king of Sodom!

The sinful town is found

He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death. (Job 12:22-23)

One of the most famous events described in the Old Testament, is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These towns were burned by the fire fallen down from the sky in order to punish people of the sinful town for there wicked wish to violate and righteous Lot (see Gen. 19:1-28). From that time peoples who revere the Bible consider Sodom as a synonym unnatural lechery which deserve the most severe punishment. So, the fate of the town is clear and it seems that verdict to be done.

The only deficiency in this legend is the deficiency the archeological corroboration. The search of Sodom was without result and it could be compared hunting for Atlantida. Many times expeditions were sent to the shore of the Dead-Sea. The town was looked from the planes, spaceships and sputniks. Special submarine was looking for it through the turbid brine of the lifeless reservoir. Every time Sodom was announced to be found. The location of its ruins is showed on different maps and charts. But nobody, neither scientist, not others could see them with there own eyes.

The solution of one of the most complicated Bible secrets as usual was on the surface and was maintained in the several lines of Genesis. “And he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him, at the vale of Shaveh (the same is the King’s Vale). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of God Most High. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God Most High, who hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him a tenth of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lifted up my hand unto Jehovah, God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread nor a shoe-latchet nor aught that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich…” (Gen. 14:16-23).

If you carefully read the fragment, you’ll see that the meet of the patriarch and king seemed to be very strange: Abraham before that raided the enemies of Sodom and was going back with spoils of war. So, he was met by the accidentally survived ruler of sinful town, obviously, to talk about the destiny of the lost property of Sodom. But then… suddenly appears the king of Salem Melchizedek. He blesses the patriarch and disappears also unexpectedly and immediately as he appeared a minute ago. Abram shares the extraction with him, but the generous gesture of patriarch goes to emptiness – there is no any word in the text about legendary king of Salem, instead of him the talk with Abraham continues… the ruler of Sodom.

The comparison of all contradictions brings us to unexpected conclusion – at the first version on the text the speech was about the only king. Abraham was really met by the ruler of Sodom, but his name was… Melchizedek! The initial version of the text gives us namely Melchizedek, who had met the patriarch in order to express the gratitude for the victory above the ravagers of his town. That was written in someone ancient text, which was used in assembling Genesis. As it included as well the story about the catastrophe of the town of inveterate sinners, the toponym was changed and instead of Sodom appears Salem. 

By tradition Salem is identified with Jerusalem and now this version is popular among the scientists. But it’s not enough convincing. According to Judith, Salem was continuing it’s existence so far several hundred years after the capture of Jerusalem by David: “Therefore they sent into all the coasts of Samaria, and the villages and to Bethoron, and Belmen, and Jericho, and to Choba, and Esora, and to the valley of Salem” (Jud. 4:4). Jerusalem is situated among the mountings and there is no plain of Salem near it. That is why in the second century B. C. there was Salem, the town, which gave it’s name to town we can’t identify with the capital of Judea.

The Gospel of John tells us about Salem and so it informs us that Salem was a real place: “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Enon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized” (3:22-24). Firstly, there was no settlement named Aenon around Jerusalem. Secondly, evangelist would not change the name of the capital of Judea without any reason.

As we see in first century B. C. Salem was mentioned as a real settlement. That brings doubt to our hypothesis that this very toponym is the idea of the Bible’s editors. What’s the matter?

The answer is in the text, which was written by Egeria, the Christian pilgrim, who traveled in Palestine by the end of the forth century (381-384 C.E.). She visited the place of the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek and gave us the very interesting indeed information about what she had seen there. “Traveling on this journey I saw on the bank of the river Jordan a very beautiful and pleasant valley abounding in vines and trees, for much excellent water was there, and in that valley there was a large village, which is now called Sedima. The village, which is situated in the middle of the level ground, has in its midst a little hill of no great size, shaped as large tombs are wont to be. There is a church on the summit and down below, around the little hill great and ancient foundations appear, while in the village itself some grave-mounds still remain. When I saw this pleasant place I asked what it was, and it was told me: "This is the city of king Melchizedek, which was called Salem, but now, through the corruption of the language, the village is called Sedima. On the top of the little hill, which is situated in the midst of the village, the building that place where Melchizedek offered pure sacrifices--that is bread and wine--to God, as it is written of him."

…When we had come down the holy priest addressed us. He was an elderly man, well taught in the Scriptures, and he had presided over the place from the time he had been a monk, to whose life many bishops--as we learned afterwards - bore great testimony, saying that he was worthy to preside over the place where holy Melchizedek - when Abraham was coming to meet him - was the first to offer pure sacrifices to God. When we had come down from the church, as I said above, the holy priest said to us: "Behold, these foundations which you see around the little hill are those of the palace of king Melchizedek. For from his time to the present day if any one wishes to build himself a house here, and so strikes on these foundations, he sometimes finds little fragments of silver and bronze. And this way which you see passing between the river Jordan and this village is the way by which holy Abraham returned to Sodom, after the slaughter of Chedorlaomer king of nations, and where holy Melchizedek, the king of Salem, met him."1 

That’s all! Inhabitants of Sodom preserved the first name of the town and remembered about it’s famous ruler Melchizedek, who had met Abraham. But, as there was a tradition to consider the meeting of the famous Bible characters being held near Salem, the visitors of the town also were told about official “toponym” of the place. Usually, in the common life, it goes without saying, everybody use true name – it’s hard to make people forget the name of their native place. And if you ask, why this legendary place doesn’t call Salem, there is a reason to answer: a long time had gone and the name of the town was distorted.

The using double toponym by inhabitants of Sedima explains us the strange mentioning of Salem in the Bible – Judith, then in Gospel of John and in Biography of Josef Flavius. Authors of the texts knew where was situated the native land of the righteous king Melchizedek, but it’s “distorted” name they found necessary to substitute into the generally accepted in the Bible, perhaps suspecting that they were hiding the town with the most bad reputation in the history of mankind.

So, even without the evidence of Egeria, only using the information of the text of the Bible we have all the necessary to revise the accepted now conception of the location of Sodom. Everybody who wanted to find, the lost town should more attentive analysis the information that contains the Bible. For example some words from Genesis: “And the border of the Canaanite was from Sidon, as thou goest toward Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, unto Lasha” (10:19). Towns at the west border of Canaan – the sea-coast of Mediterranean, - were situated far enough from each other: from Sidon to Gaza more then 200 km. Four towns – Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, according to Genesis 14:3, - should be at the bottom of the Dead Sea. Besides one of the towns – Lasha, was situated to the East from that reservoir.

So we have a very strange description of the borders: at the west the length is about several hundred kilometers, at the east – the group of the towns on the very small territory. Really, the author of the 10th chapter of Genesis marked the limits of Canaan in full connection with the laws of logic: he mentioned the most meaningful towns first, at the west, then at the border. Accordingly, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, like the west towns of Canaan should be situated at the line, the length of which is dozens kilometers. Besides, the 10th chapter of Genesis was written approximately a thousand years after catastrophe, which destroyed Sodom. If four mentioned towns were at the bottom of the Dead Sea why could they be consider border-points?

This location of Sodom we can see from another text: “And thine elder sister is Samaria, that dwelleth at thy left hand, she and her daughters; and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, is Sodom and her daughters” (Jez. 16:46). According this description, if you stay in Jerusalem and addresses to Samaria, you should turn a little-bit to North-West. Sodom was located to the right from Samaria, therefore it should be to the North-East from Jerusalem. The prophet Ezekiel was blaming these towns which had “daughters” – subordinated settlements. These towns therefore were the capitals of provinces which bordered to each other. So, the location of the province of Sodom we can determinate to the East from the line Nazareth-Shechem in the plain of Jordan, were, according to the Genesis (13:10-12) was living Lot. 

Surprisingly, the nobody before could make a conclusion which was lying on the surface about the identity of Sodom and Salem. The story by Egeria is well-known to the specialists, who study the Bible geography. Archeologists also know about the ruins of the palace of Melchizedek. But nobody at the moment didn’t prove that under the legendary toponym Salem is hiding burned town. Perhaps the cause of misfortunes in searching of Sodom was the wish to find the complete accordance to the Bible story (Gen. 14:3).

Now we can imagine what had happened with the first and real name of rejected town. The “correction” was not very large and it was not very hard to do it. One letter was changed into another: letter “dalet” ד – into letter “lamed” ל. The result was a new word – the new name of the town – Salem (םלש), which was used only one’s in the sentence about the meet of patriarch and Melchizedek. In this way was solved a problem – to hide the truth about the connection of ruler who had blessed Abraham with the symbol of worlds abomination.

But there also was and another task, - to tell how terrible could be the anger of the God, but at the same time – to hide the continuing existence of the town which was announced to be perfectly destroyed. That’s why at the text of Genesis appeared the gloss 14:3b (“which is the salt sea”). That’s why in all other cases of mentioning of the town in the Bible, its name was written in another way: the first letter “shin” ש was changed to “samech” ס. Both letters could be pronounced absolutely the same way, but the new word was written then another way and therefore was given another meaning. Sedima was given new name which was brought to all books of the Bible – Sodom.

At the first name of rejected town there was and one more letter – the forth “he” ה. This letter also was moved away, but not everywhere: look the Genesis 13:10, 18:22, 19:1 at the word “Sodom” and you’ll see it. So the name of the town had two ways of writing it. The word-name, consisting of four letters could be refereed to the most ancient tradition: it was used where Sodom is mentioned as a really exiting town (see Gen. 13:10).

Now we can to know the perfect name of Sodom. So, the place of the town was and the hole place - Shedama המדש (Strong’s Concordence Number H7709), means “fields”. Now it would be enough to look at the map. Historians knew the words of Egeria and you can find the location of ruins, named “Tell Shalem” – the hill Salem. Namely this very hill is that very “the little hill” under which there is the palace of the most mysterious ruler of the Bible. I am sure it wound be very interesting here.

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1 The pilgrimage of Egeria. M.L. McClure and C. L. Feltoe, ed. and trans. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1919. pp. 25-27