destruction of Sodom, giving plenty of time for Sodom
traditions to have moved to the south-east of the Dead Sea.
As discussed earlier, Zoar in the land of Sodom was not the
same city as Zoora in south Moab. It is not surprising that
more than one city might be called ;oar/;oora, because the
meaning of the word is ‘smallness’. 33 Any very small city
could have had this name.
We noted earlier that ;oar/Bela of the land of Sodom
does not appear to have been mentioned in Scripture after
Moses; view of the Promised Land in Deuteronomy 34: 1–3.
However, there are two references to a place called Zoar in
“; his fugitives shall flee unto ;oar” (Isaiah 15: 5).
“… from Zoar even unto Horonaim” (Jeremiah 48: 34).
Because of the geographical context of the other nearby
cities mentioned in these verses (Luhith and Horonaim in
Moab), these two references to Zoar would have to be to
this Zoora at the south-east side of the Dead Sea34–36 and
not to the Zoar of the land of Sodom north of the Dead Sea.
Bab Edh-Dhra, Numeira, Safi,
Feifa, and Khanazir
These five ancient ruins, lying along the south-eastern side of the Dead Sea in the Hashemite Kingdom
of Jordan, are currently identified by Steve Austin of
The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) and Bryant
Wood of Associates for Biblical Research (ABR) as the
sites of the cities of the plain (figure 6). 37, 38 Their reason
for choosing these cities is that they believe that ;oora/
es-Safi at the south-east end of the Dead Sea is ;oar of
the land of Sodom; therefore other ancient sites in the
vicinity must be the other four cities.
These sites do not qualify as cities of the plain under
most of the above criteria:
• They are not lying in Lot’s visibility window because
they are much too far south39
• They are not situated along the Jordan river, and
therefore are not in the plains of the Jordan
• They are not north of the Dead Sea
• They are not in Canaan (i.e. they are not on the west
side of the Jordan River)
• They are not in the right order from south to north
• Feifa (“Admah”) and Khanazir (“Zeboiim”) are not
in Ephraim’s allotment
• Safi/;oora (;oar), Bab Edh-Dhra (“Sodom”) and
Numeira (“Gomorrah”) are not in Benjamin;s
• Safi/;oora (;oar) is about 28 km from Bab Edh-Dhra, too far from Sodom.
It is most unlikely that Lot and his family would
have rushed the 28 km from Bab Edh-Dhra/;Sodom;
past Numeira/;Gomorrah; to get to Safi/;oar, while the angels
waited impatiently to start the destruction. Lot had told the
angels that “this city is near to flee unto” (Genesis 19: 20),
and it does not strike me that 28 km is ;near;. Also the rain
of sulphur fire from heaven would have had to be split into
two separate segments, because ;oar/;oora, which did not
get destroyed, was geographically situated in the middle
of the line of five cities. This split would have additional
implications if the destruction was the result of an earthquake
or other natural disaster, as some claim, rather than being a
purely supernatural event.
Proponents of these sites also have to interpret Genesis
19: 23 to say that the sun was high overhead when the
destruction started, to allow enough time for this 28 km
dash to Safi/;oar. Based on this interpretation, Austin claims
that Lot had six hours to get to Zoar from Sodom before the
destruction started. 40 However, the Septuagint (NETS) says
“The sun came out on the earth, and Lot entered into Segor
(;oar)” (Genesis 19: 23), which would appear to indicate
that the sun had just risen. Also Abraham, having gotten
up early in the morning, reached the place where he had
stood before the Lord the day before, and the destruction
was already over (Genesis 19: 27–28).
Figure 5. A reproduction of the famous sixth-century mosaic map of the Dead
Sea area is displayed in front of the Church of Saint George in Madaba, Jordan.
The actual conserved mosaic is on the floor of the church inside; the missing
parts have been damaged and lost over the years. The map is displayed with
north to the left, so that the Dead Sea lies in a horizontal direction, with the Jordan
River entering it from the left. (A. Habermehl).