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mixing with the bitumen, form a small be admitted in the catastrophe of the lake, where, previous to the awful vis. guilty cities, without offence to religion. itation, a fruitful valley loy. Thus Sodoin was built upon a mine of bituwould perish the cities and their pollu- men, as we know from the testimony ted inhabitants; whilst the lake would of Moses and Josephus, who speak ri main as a lasting memorial of Gud's concerning the wells of bitumen, in this power to punish as well by fire as by valley of Siddim. Lightning kindled a deluge of water. Chateaubriand, the combustible mass, and the cities however, ranges himself among the sunk in the subterraneous conflagraopponents of this theory, though he tion. M. Malte Brun ingeniously sug. seems inclined to admit that physical gesls, that Sodom and Gomorrah agencies were not excluded from the themselves might have been built of jud ment which overthrew the Penta bituminous stones, and thus have been polis. 'I cannot coincide in opinion set in flames by the fire of heaven.' with those who suppose the Dead Sta Chateaubriand. But to this we have to be the crater of a volcano. I have to oppose the opinion of Mr. Madden. seet: Vesuvius, Solfatara, Monte Nu-The face of the inountains and of the ovo, in the lake of Fusino, the peak of surrounding country has all the apthe Azores, the Mamelif, opposite to pearance of a volcanic region and havCarthage, the extinguished volcanoes of ing resided for some years at the foot Auvergne, and remarked in all of them of Vesuvins, having visited Solfaiara, the same characters, that is to say, Etna, and Stroinboli, I was tolerably mountains excavated in the form of a
conversant with volcanic productions. funnel, lava, and ashes, which exbibit. I have no hesitation in saying, that ed incontestable proofs of the agency the sea which occupies the site of Sodof fire. The Dead Sea on the contrary, om and Gomorrah, Adma, Zeboini, and is a lake of great length, curved like a Zoar, covers the crater of a volcano, bow, placed between two ranges of and that, in all probability, heaven mountains, which have no mutual co- made that mode of destruction the inherence in form, no homogeneousness strument of Divine vengeance. I must of soil. They do not meet at the two confess I foun:l neither pumice-stone, extrernities of the lake, but continue, nor genuine black lava, but the soil the one to bound the valley of Jordan, was covered with white porous and red and to run northward as far as the veined quartz, which had decidedly unLake of Tiberias; the other to stretch dergone combustion.'
To the same away to the soulli till lost in the sands effect De la Martine observes, 'It is a of Yemen. Bitumen, warm springs, Sea that seems petrified. And how and phosphoric stones are found, it is has it been formed ? Most liketrue, in the mountains of Arabia ; butly, as the Bible tells us, and as all probI met with none of these in the oppo- ability declares, it was the vast centre site chain. But then, the presence of of a chain of volcanic mountains which, hot springs, sulphur, and asphaltos, is stretching from Jerusalem 10 Mesoponot sufficient to attest the anterior ex- tamin, and from Lebanon to Idumea, istence of a volcano. With respect to burst open in a crater, at a time when the ingulphed cities, I adhere to the ac- seven cities were peopled on its plain. count given in Scripture, without sum. The cities would have been overthrown moning physics to my aid. Besides, if by the earthquake. The Jordan which we adopt the idea of Professor Mich- most probably flowed at that time aelis, and the l-arned Büsching, in his through the plain, and emptied itself Menoir of the Dead Sea, physics may l into the Red Sea, being stopped all at
once by the volcanic hillocks, rose high : dent from their situation, had been above its bed, and ingulphing itself in brought down by the rain ; their great the craters of Sodom and Gomorrah, deposit must be sought for, they say, might have formed this sea, which is in the cliff.' If then the sulphur and corrupted by the union of sulphur, salt, asphaltum be indigenous to the soil, and bitumen-the usual produc'ion of and not a relic of the material engenvolcanic eruptions. This is the fact dered miraculously for the destruction from all appearances. (Trav. p. 234.) of Sodom, it remains to inquire wheth
On the whole, we cannot but con- er the same can be said of the salt.sider the volcanic theory as the best Almost every traveller has spoken of sustained of the two. The objection of the vast quantities of salt by which not Chateaubriand that the usual phenom- only the waters of the Lake are imprey. ena of extinct volcanoes such as a cra- nated, but which also spread a kind ter, lava, ashes, &c. are wanting, is of of frost-work over the shore and enlittle weight when opposed to the coun- crust nearly every object. The origin ter testimony afforded by actual ap- of this mineral,' says Volney (Trav. v. i. pearances and immemorial tradition. p. 191), 'is easy to be discovered : for Not to advert to the consideration that on the south-west shore, are mines of abundance of such materials may have fossil salt, of which I have brought been covered by the waters of the lake; away several specimens. They are not to insist on the remark of Clarke situated in the side of the mountains (Trav. in the Holy Land, p. 372) that which extend along that border, and he noticed a mountain on its western for time in memorial, have supplied the shore resembling in form the cone of neighbouring Arabs, and even the city Vesuvius, and having also a crater up- of Jerusalem. But we have still strong. on its top, which was plainly discerni- er proof in the following account of the ble ; the physical characters of the re- Valley of Salt which the American gion exhibit the most conclusive evi-editor of Calmet places in the near vidence that strata of bituminous and cinity of this Lake. "This valley sulphureous matter, capable of explo- would seem to be either the northern sion, did formerly exist on the spot. part of the great valley El Ghor, leadDeep clefts or pits containing họt| ing south from the Dead Sea, or persprings at the bottom of which bitu- haps some smaller valley or ravine men is found, occur in the immediate opening into it near the Dead Sea. The vicinity of the Lake, while the floating whole of this region is strongly impregasphaltum which gives to the lake one nated with salt, as appears from the of the many names is collected by the report of all travellers. According to Arabs, and is not only used as pitch, Captains Irby and Mangles'a gravelly but enters into the composition of med- ravine, studded with bushes of acacia icines, and seems to have been ancient- and other shrubs, conducts (from the ly much employed in Egypt in the em- west] to the great sandy plain, at balming of bodies. The shores of the the southern end of the Dead Sea. sea, and also the neighbouring hills, On entering this plain, the travelfurnish a sort of stone or coal, which ler has on his right a continued hill, readily ignitee, and yields an intolera- composed partly of salt and partly ble stench in burning. Captains Irby of hardened, sand, running south-east and Mangles collected on the southern and north-west, till, after proceeding a coast lumps of nitre and fine sulphur, few miles, the plain opens to the south, from the size of a nutmeg up to that of bounded, at the distance of about eight a small hen's egg, which, it was evi- | miles, by a sandy cliff from sixty to
eighty feet high, which traverses the On the southern extremity of the eastvalley El Ghor like a wall, formning a ern shore, the salt is also deposited by barrier to the waters of the Lake when the evaporation of the water of the lake. at their greatest height.' On this plain, The travellers found several of the nabesides the saline appearance left by tives peeling off a sulid layer of salt, the retiring of the waters of the Lake, several inches thick, with which they the travellers noticed, lying on the loaded their asses. At another point, ground, several large fragments of also where the water, being shallow, rock-salt, which led them to exainine retires or evaporales rapidly, a considthe hill, on the right of the ravine by erable level is left, encrusted with a which they had descended to the plain, salt that is but half dried and consulidescribed above, as composed partly of dated, appearing like ice in the com: salt and partly of hardened sand. They mencement of a thaw, and giving way found the salt, in many instances, nearly ankle deep. All these appearhanging from the cliffs, in clear per- ances are surely sufficient to justify the pendicular points resembling icicles. appellation of Plain or Valley of Salt.' They observed also strata of salt of Robinson's Calmet. If then we find considerable thickness, having very lit- the very materials of this awful visitatle sand mixed with it, generally in per- tion at hand in the neighbouring hills, pendicular lines. During the rainy what shall prevent us from supposing season, the torrents apparently bring that a volcanic eruption, perhaps from down immense masses of this mineral. the identical crater, which Clarke deWas, then, this 'gravelly ravine,' the scribes, pouring down upon the guilty particular ‘Valley of Salt?' or was cities a shower of inflamed sulphur or this term applied more generally to this nitre mixed with heated salt, while the whole plain, which exhibits similar whole adjoining plain underwent a characteristics ? Straho mentions, that simultaneous overthrow in consequence to the south ward of the Dead Sea there of a bituminous explosion ? There is are towns and cities built entirely of nothing, that we can see, in this supsalt; and although, add the travel. position at variance with the really lers, such an account seems strange, miraculous character of the event-for yet when we contemplate the scene be- it was omnipotence that waked the fure us, it did not seem incredible. The sleeping subterranean fires at that parsea had thrown up at high-water mark ticular juncture-nothing but what is a quantity of wood, with which the in strict accordance with the geological travellers attempted to make a fire, in phenomena that now distinguish this order to bake some bread; but it was remarkable region. Indeed the more 80 impregnated with salt, that all their close and rigid have been the researchefforts were unavailing. The track, af- es into the physical characters of the ter leaving the sall-hill, led across the basin of the Dead Sea, the more clearbarren flats of the back-water of the ly have the results appeared to be prelake, then left partly dry by the effects cisely such as might be expected from of evaporation. They passed six drains the truth of the foregoing hypothesis. running into the sea ; some were wet, The objection stated above by Paxton, and still draining the dreary level which that the presence of sulphur and salt they intersected; others were dry. would be inconsistent with the asserted These had a strong marshy sınell, sim- primitive fertility of the plain, is obviailar to what is perceivable on most of ted at once by the remark, that by our the muddy flats in salt-water harbours, very supposition these substances were but by no means more unpleasant. I not originally found on the plain, but
in the mountains and that the water | its fertility, and submerged the ground is so largely iinpregnated with saline itself under the waters of the Jordan, and sulphureous properties is probably that the foot of man might never tread in part at least to the fact that it now it more. The destruction was como extends on either side to the base of the plete and irreparable; the country was mountains, and thus comes in contact in a manner blotted out of the map of with the materials of which they are Palestine, so fierce was the indignation, composed.-On this whole subject see so terrible the overthrow. The original Mod. Traveller, vol. i. pp. 188, 199, word (797yahaphok) is emphatic, Am. Ed.
and by being applied not to the build The Lord rained-from the Lord ings only, but to the ground on which out of heaven. This phraseology is re- they stood, would seem to imply thal markable, and has led some comment- kind of physical disruption wbich could ators to understand the words as a be caused only by an earthquake or distinct intimation of a plurality of per- volcano, or the combined action of 80118 in the Godhead, q. d. “The Lord, both, which we have above endeavourwho appeared and conversed with Lot, ed to show to be nearer the truth. Its the Son of God, rained from the Lord leading idea in such connections as the who is in visible, from the Father in present, is that of subversion, and this heaven, the destroying tempest.' But is obviously an effect additional to any it is perhaps safer to understand it as thing that would be caused by the merg a mere Hebraic idiom, equivalent to descent of a fiery shower from heaven. saying, that Jehovah rained in this The catastrophe, therefore, if our interfearful manner from himself out of pretation be admitted, was marked heaven. That is, such was the appear with the united horrors of earthquake, ance of the phenomenon. Parallel and volcano, the latter described as a modes of speech are not unusual in the conflagration from heaven, forming alsacred writers. Thus, Ex. 24. 1, 'And together such a scene as baffles conhe (the Lord) said unto Moses, Come ception, and such as the eye of man up unto the Lord,' &c. Hos. 1. 7, 'I never witnessed before. Thus were, will save them by the Lord God.' the cities of the plain, and the ground Zech. 10. 12, ‘I will strengthen them on which they stood, set forth for an in the Lord.' 1 Kings, 8. 1, "Then example to every succeeding age; and Solomon assembled the elders of Israel to that awful catastrophe the sacred and all the heads of the tribes, the chief writers often allude, in their denunciaof the fathers of the children of Israel, tions of the divine judgments against uinto king Solomon. The scope of the apostate Israel ; Deut 23. 23, "When words is probably to intimate that the the generations to come shall see that fiery shower was extraordinary and the whole land thereof is brimstone, and miraculous, altogether out of the com- salt, and burning; that it is not sown, mon course of nature, something to be nor beareth; nor any grass growetha referred to the hand of Omnipotence. thereon, (like the overthrow of Sodom
- Upon Sodom and Gomorrah. and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, And also upon the mighty cities Admah which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and Zeboim, as is evident from Deut. and in his wrath); even all nations 29. 23. Hos. 11. 5.
shall say, wherefore has the Lord done 25. Overthrow those cities, and all this unto this land ?' The prophet the plain, &c. That is, he consumed Hosea, pathetically describing the great its productions, lie destroyed its beauty, mercy of God toward the people of Is he extinguished the very principles of rael, and his unwillingness to punish
1 26 | But his wife looked back 27 | And Abraham gat up from behind him, and she became early in the morning to the place i a pillar of salt.
where mhe stood before the LORD:
them, notwithstanding their signal in- It was total. 'And he overthrew those gratitude, breaks out into the following cities, and all the plain, and all the inanimated address, in the name of the habitants of the cities, and that which Lord, Hos. 11. 8, 'How shall I give grew upon the ground.' It was an thee up, Ephraim; how shall I deliver utter ruin, and absolutely irreparable. thee, Israel ? How shall I make thee as Every habitation was overturned, every Admah, how shall I set thee as Ze- animal destroyed, every vegetable conboim ? My heart is turned within me, sumed, every soul of man, excepting and my repentings are kindled togeth- Lot and his party, involved in the dread er.' But however interesting may be disaster. Had ten righteous persons the event geologically or philosophical- been found in it, it would have been ly considered, it is practically fraught preserved for their sakes; but as the with far more important lessons. (1.) degeneracy was universal, so also was The destruction of these fated cities the destruction. What a striking de was extraordinary. It was unprece- monstration of the exceeding sinful. dented; there has been nothing like it, ness of sin, and of the direful conse either before or since. It was emphat- quences it draws after it!
What a ically destruction from the Almighty. fearful intimation of the final doom of He rained down out of heaven, in the the ungodly, when they shall be conimanner above described, fire and brim- demned to suffer the vengeance of eterstone upon their habitations, and at the nal fire! same time upturned the soil on which 26. His wife looked back from behind they stood by the agency of subter- him. This seems to imply that she ranean burnings and explosions. We was following her husband, as is the can enter experimentally into the feel- custom at this day. When men, or ings of those who are overtaken in a women, leave their house, they never fearful storm of thunder and lightning; look back, as 'it would be very unforbut who can enter into the feelings of tunate.' Should a husband have left the inhabitants of these devoted cities, any thing which his wife knows he will when the Lord himself had become require, she will not call on him to turn their enemy, when he was evidently or look back ; but will either take the fighting against them with his great article herself, or send it by another. power, and unlocking the magazines of Should a man have to look back on his vengeance for their total destruc- some great emergency, he will not then tion! The burning of Moscow by the proceed on the business he was about Russians, to prevent its being sacked to transact. When a person goes by the French, was an awful calamity; along the road, (especially in the evenbut then it was not supernaturally ing), he will take great care not to wrought; it was occasioned by human look back, 'because the evil spirits would agency, and the inhabitants might flee assuredly seize him. When they go to a place of safety. But in the de- on a journey, they will not look bestruction of Sodom and Gomorrah es-hind, though the palankeen, or bandy, cape was hopeless. Divine vengeance should be close upon them; they step closed in its victims on every side, and a little on one side, and then look at as the perdition was inevitable, so (2.) | you. Should a person have to leave