The Overthrow of the Cities of the Plain
by Immanuel Velikovsky
The Immanuel Velikovsky Archive
The Book of
Genesis portrays the age of the patriarchs as a time of great upheavals
in nature in which the geology of the Jordan Valley underwent some
drastic changes. The focus of these events was in the place now
occupied by the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea, according to the Genesis
account, was not yet in existence in the days of Abraham. In its
place there was a fertile plain, known as the plain of Sittim, with
five populous cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar.
When Lot arrived in the region he lifted up his eyes, and
beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere
. . . even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.
chapter of the Book of Genesis tells of a catastrophe in which these
cities were overwhelmed, overturned, and swallowed by the earth:
was risen upon the earth when . . . the Lord rained upon Sodom
and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven;
And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the
inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
. . .
got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before
the Lord; And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward
all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the
country went up as the smoke of a furnace.(2)
of this upheaval has always aroused wonder: There is clearly
something unnatural or extraordinary that is recorded, one
The great rift
of the Jordan and the Dead Sea bear witness to a tremendous upheaval.
With the end of the Tertiary period, in an event of extreme
violence . . . the entire Syrian land, from its south end to its
north end, was torn apart and the ground in between sank into the
depths. So wrote Professor M. Blanckenhorn, the explorer of
the region of the Dead Sea.(4)
In his later work he advanced the age of the rift to the pluvial,
or the beginning of the first glacial age. The origin of the Dead
Sea occurred in a great mountain movement, with collapse and
dislocation, that took place at the beginning of the pluvial, in
the first glacial period. . . . In these titanic events conditions
were created for the existence of an inner sea. (5)
A period of
dryness followed the first glacial, or pluvial period. In a new
pluvial period, the second glacial epoch, the lake reached its greatest
dimensions: the Dead Sea spread to the northern side of the present
Sea of Galilee, engulfing it together with the Jordan Valley between.
At the time, as fossil snails show, the water was not yet saline.
The rift in
which the Lake of Galilee, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea lie is the
deepest depression on any continent. The surface of the Dead Sea
is close to 400 meters below the level of the Mediterranean, and
its deepest bottom is some 320 meters lower still. The shore falls
steeply from the Judean mountains on the west; on the eastern side
of the rift rise the Moabite mountains. The walls of the chasm show
sharp broken strata that remained horizontal, which proves that
the breaking down was instantaneous.(6)
The force which caused this slide movement must have been stupendous.
The ground of the rift around the Dead Sea is covered with coagulated
lava masses, taking the form of an immense herd of giant elephants
with rough skin. These lava eruptions from fissures are ascribed
to the second interglacial period.(7)
To the south end of the Dead Sea towers a big cliff of salt called
Jebel Usdum (Mount of Sodom). It is absolutely impossible
that the salt sediment of a sea should precipitate in such a form.
(8) Only the rupture of the
ground could create this site, singular in the entire world.
of Sodom and Gomorrah took place in historical times, according
to my scheme in a catastrophe which caused also the end of the Old
Kingdom in Egypt. The geologists refer the upheaval which tore Syria
in two to the end of the Tertiary period long before human
Now the question
is legitimate: how old is the Dead Sea?
13:10. Tacitus wrote that the plain was fruitful and supported
great and populous cities. (Histories V. 7). According
to Strabo (Geography XVI. 2. 44) there were thirteen
inhabited cities in that region of which Sodom was the metropolis.
19: 23-25, 27-28.
Penrose Harland, Sodom and Gomorrah, The Biblical
Archaeologist Reader (New York, 1961), p. 61.
Blanckenhorn, Entstehung und Geschichte des Todten Meeres,
Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina-Vereins, 19 (1896),
Naturwissenschaftliche Studien am Todten Meer und im tal
(Berlin, 1912); cf. R. Freund et al., The Shear
along the Dead Sea Rift, Philosophical Transactions
of the Royal Society of London, A, Vol. 267 (1970), pp.
Entstehung und Geschichte des Todten Meeres, p.
Ibid., p. 35.
from the The
Immanuel Velikovsky Archive.
© 2012 The
Immanuel Velikovsky Archive