Many historical accounts in the Bible have been labeled “legends” or “myths” in our day. One such event is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Did God really destroy these two cities? Or is Genesis 19 simply a story inspired by real events?
Recent headlines would have you believe the latter. One article reports that a “giant space rock” that demolished an ancient Middle Eastern city 3,600 years ago is the inspiration for the biblical account of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Researchers say the asteroid fell toward Tall el-Hammam at 48,000 mph and exploded into a fireball 2.5 miles above ground. The blast, they assert, was around “1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.”
Buildings shattered instantly. Light from the explosion blinded onlookers. Pottery melted, along with swords, spears, and mudbricks. Clothing and wood burst into flames. A massive shockwave rushed toward the city at 780 mph, ripping buildings apart and flinging debris into the valley nearby. No one survived.
Winds from that huge blast soon reached Jericho, they claim, knocking down the walls and engulfing the city in flames.
Did Tall el-Hammam’s Destruction Inspire the Account of Sodom and Gomorrah?
It’s easy to see similarities between Tall el-Hammam and Sodom. After all, they were both destroyed by fire. For that reason, the article poses the question: “Could [Genesis 19] be an ancient eyewitness account” of this asteroid’s impact?
The short answer is, no, it couldn’t. Researchers claim this asteroid struck earth around 1750 to 1650 B.C. But God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah during the time of Abraham, which was much earlier.
Plus, Tall el-Hammam was eventually rebuilt around 1000 B.C., according to secular dating models. But the Bible tells us Sodom was never occupied again after its destruction. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “‘As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,’ says the Lord, ‘No one shall remain there, nor shall a son of man dwell in it’” (Jeremiah 49:18, NKJV).
Finally, the asteroid that hit Tall el-Hammam supposedly wiped out nearby cities, too. Researchers say the asteroid was similar to the one that hit Russian in 1908, which created an explosion that flattened 830 square miles of forest.
If that kind of asteroid had hit Sodom and Gomorrah, it would’ve also wiped out the nearby town of Zoar, which is where Lot and his daughters fled to for safety. Of course, Zoar was untouched during Sodom’s destruction.
How Were Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed?
Tall el-Hammam’s asteroid caused air temperatures to rise to above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit, causing every combustible substance to burst into flames.
This isn’t was happened in Sodom. The Bible tells us that “the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven” (Genesis 19:24, ESV).
Could God have used a volcano to destroy Sodom? A barrage of tiny asteroids? Something altogether supernatural? The Bible doesn’t explain what happened exactly, but we know that “the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19:28, ESV).
Why Did God Destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?
God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sins—sexual immorality, hedonism, and total disregard for the needy. The Lord told Abraham that He had planned to judge the cities “because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave” (Genesis 18:20, ESV).
The Lord sent two angels to Sodom to rescue Lot and his family. When they arrived (appearing as men, it seems), the men of Sodom gathered around Lot’s home, demanding that he send out the visitors so they could sexually abuse them.
This is just a small picture of the evil that was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible tells us the sins going on in Sodom included rampant sexual immorality and unnatural desire (Jude 1:7) as well as pride, gluttony, and a refusal to help the poor (Ezekiel 16:49).
The way God destroyed Sodom was also a prophetic picture of how He will one day judge the entire earth. Just as God gave the people of Sodom a time to repent and avoid judgment, He gives every human being an opportunity to escape His wrath through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The only way to avoid God’s judgment and receive His everlasting life is through Jesus. Have you put your faith in Him yet? Have you committed in your heart to receive His grace, love Him, and follow Him for the rest of your life? If not, we invite you to do that today.
When evil begins to take over, it’s often a slow fade. Evil loves to hide within a culture and entice as many people as possible. As we dive deep into Genesis 18-20, you’ll learn how to spot evil infiltrating a society—and what you can do to stand in the gap through prayer and righteous living.