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The 20th-century German Bible critic, Theodor Noldeke asserted that "The whole story of Sodom and Gomorrah is unhistorical and comparatively late in origin." J.
 This bolsters the Biblical connection between the Dead Sea area and Mesopotamia.
A veritable Garden of Eden, it is described in the Torah when Abraham and Lot decide to part ways: And Lot lifted up his eyes, and saw the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the Garden of the Lord (Genesis ).
In fact, as incredible as it may seem, the two places are one and the same. The very names of these two cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, are associated with sin and debauchery. The first description of the desolate territory is the area once inhabited by the wealthy, aristocratic Sodomites as it appears today.
Let us examine the facts of the case and see for ourselves. Snakes and scorpions are the only creatures that find comfort in this forsaken place. The second area is a great and thriving metropolis.
There are two places in the desert area near the Dead Sea that could not be more radically different from each other. All that is found there are craggy hills, land strewn with crumbled rock, coarse sand, and intense heat: daytime temperatures rise to 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The waters of the nearby great lake are not potable: No fish live in its inhospitable waters. Grain grows in abundance and precious raw materials are easily accessed.
(A shaft-tomb is a vertical hole, about 3 feet in diameter, dug into the rocky ground to a depth of approximately 6 feet.) At the bottom of each shaft were 1-5 horizontal shallow shafts, each containing between 1-6 bodies.
In addition, there were a number of mud-brick buildings, charnel houses that are repositories for bones or bodies of the dead.
The second description is the way it appeared earlier, at its Patriarchal Era zenith as depicted in the Talmud and the Midrash (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 109a, Midrash Rabah Leviticus 5:2, Midrash Rabah Numbers .) Sodom and Gomorrah were part of a metropolis assumed to have been located on the eastern bank of the Dead Sea consisting of five cities, each with its own king.
There was (1) Bera, king of Sodom, (2) Birsha, king of Gomorrah, (3) Shinab, king of Admad, (4) Shember, king of Zeboiim, and (5) the king of Bela, which is also called Zoar (Genesis 14:8).
These factors caused even those normally sympathetic to the Biblical narrative, such as William Foxwell Albright, to doubt the story. Nelson Glueck discovered evidence of an ancient route between Mesopotamia and the Dead Sea area.
Traces of the actual route, which had been covered by the desert storms, were uncovered.
According to the Torah, with the help of the patriarch Abraham, the cities gained their independence, though their independence was only short-lived.