(First published in newsletter # 10 in 1995)
The location of these cities, along with the other cities of the plain, has long been the subject of speculation and search. As most people who keep up with this type of thing know, there are several prevalent theories. One is that the cities are today under the waters of the southern tip of the Dead Sea. Another is that they are located on the Jordanian shore of the Dead Sea on a plateau where 5 archaeological sites have been located. However, these 5 sites are 500 feet above the plain on a plateau, not the plain as is so specificly stated in the Bible. Also, they are far too small to have been cities- the largest was 10 acres and the next was 2 acres.
Searching for the locations of these cities was never an intention of Ron’s. But from 1978 on, Ron made many, many trips along the Israeli coast of the Dead Sea as he traveled to the various sites he worked on, and in the early 1980’s he was suddenly struck by the strange appearance of some “formations” he passed. They looked to him like city walls and buildings, only whitish in color. For many years, he did nothing about his suspicions but in 1989, I received a call from him while he was in Israel in which he told me he thought he had located the 5 sites. He described their locations and asked me to do some research into what the Bible said regarding their locations. He told me the sites were not concentrated at the southern end of the Dead Sea but instead were spread out over many, many miles,- from just below the southern tip of the Dead Sea to about 10 or so miles above the northern tip. In the past, he had just driven past and noticed 4 areas, but this trip he had driven further north, seeing if there was a 5th. There was.
Also, he and his crew had driven into one of the whitish areas and discovered something that convinced Ron that these whitish colored formations weren’t just geological. He found a spot where a road had been cut through some of the whitish material and where the fresh cut was, the freshly exposed interior of the material displayed a layering effect which swirled in such a manner as to make it obvious that these weren’t the usual geological layers.
Where Were the Sites Located?
In searching the Bible for clues to their locations, I found the verse where 4 of the cities were mentioned as forming part of the boundaries of the Canaanites:
GEN 10:19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
In viewing a map, it seemed strange that Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim would each be listed if they were all in the same general location, at the south end of the Dead Sea. It seemed logical that the cities were to be located along at least “some” distance to all be included in this Biblical description of the borders of Canaan.
Ron’s description of the location of the sites he had found were, indeed, scattered over a distance of over 50 or more miles, a concept that seemed pretty fantastic at first. Of course, I was familiar with the accepted theories that the cities were all grouped together and had never considered that this was incorrect. So I noted each location on the map, as he had described them. But it was the location of the last site, which would have been Zeboim, that I found the most incredible. He had said it was several miles above the northern end of the Dead Sea, past Jericho. I searched the Bible for any clues and found a most exciting one in 1 Samuel:
1SA 13:16 And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but THE PHILISTINES ENCAMPED IN MICHMASH. 17 And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way that leadeth to Ophrah, unto the land of Shual: 18 And another company turned the way to Bethhoron: and ANOTHER COMPANY TURNED TO THE WAY OF THE BORDER THAT LOOKETH TO THE VALLEY OF ZEBOIM TOWARD THE WILDERNESS.
Examining a map, I saw that this description of the Philistines coming out of Michmash had one company going north, one going west, and the last one heading directly east- and the one heading east to the Valley called “Zeboim” was heading to the same place that Ron found the last site! It made perfect sense that the name of the city was preserved throughout the years even though the city was long ago destroyed, just as Mt. Sodom even today still bears the name “Sodom”. Israel had displaced the Canaanites- Zeboiim was a border city of Canaan, and now it’s ashen remains were a border of Israel.