Welcome to Calvary Albuquerque.
We pursue the God who is passionately pursuing a lost world. We do this with one another through worship, by the Word, to the world.
Well, Sodom. How many are-- just I'm interested in this-- how many of you have been following the Sodom updates that we've been doing here at Calvary Chapel? Now, wait a minute, don't jump the gun. Since season 1 in 2005 and 2006, how many of you have seen-- started with this way back then? OK. Now how many have we picked up since then? OK. Good.
Well, we always have a good group of folks who have seen the updates on Sodom before, a huge number. How many of you have never seen an update on the excavation of Sodom that we've done? See? Look at that. That's maybe more than the other. So that's good. So I'm excited about that, new folks who've never seen it. And as a result, I'm going to include some of everything from day one. We just finished season 12. Can you believe that?
I was, well, a whole lot younger when we started this thing, and it just keeps getting worse every year. The time keeps marching on. Boy, I tell you what, wish we could slow it down, but it is what it is. And we have a younger generation, thankfully, of archaeologists coming up behind us who can continue this thing forward, continue the discoveries that demonstrate the historical authenticity of the Bible.
Really, the bottom line is that. That's what it's all about for us. It's not just digging in the dirt. That's a lot of fun. It's not just discovering buildings and artifacts from the ancient biblical world. That's a lot of fun. But ultimately, the bottom line is the Bible is real. It's real.
If it were not real, if these stories were not true, then we couldn't be doing what we're doing in the dirt, because we wouldn't be finding what we're finding, everything that we're finding at Tall el-Hammam, at Sodom-- it has some-- it has some other names, too, and we're going to go over all of those tonight-- all of the places and people who have been there. And by the way, that's virtually every Bible character.
We have fun trying to think of Bible characters who were not in or around this location. So everybody passed by very close to our dig site or right on the dig site at some time in their life. So it's very exciting from that point of view.
But it was the Bible itself that brought us to the site of Sodom. Now, I'm going to cover that so you can just get a feel for what that looks like. But without the Bible, this magnificent civilization, and it really is a tremendous civilization, would never have been discovered to this day.
Now, I'm going to show you some very recent Bible atlas, well, really not Bible atlas, but scholarly atlases that still don't show anything on the piece of real estate that we're excavating. It's kind of shocking. But they're learning, slowly but surely, that they can trust the biblical text, at least for the geography. And That's a good place to start, so let's start there.
By the way, I am going to be signing some books over at Parchments. Couple of things you need to know. One is keep up with us on the web site. It is being rebuilt right now. We're real excited about that. It's not quite done. But when it is-- I think there's a some version of it up. But digsodom.com-- it is tallelhammam.com, but nobody can remember that. So digsodom's easier, digsodom.com, and that's the way to remember that.
And then the other thing is, if you want to get on the email update lists-- we send those out every couple of weeks during the year. But during the dig, we send it out every single day, and we show photos of what's being excavated that day, talk about it, and sort of follow the excavation day by day. You can text digsodom, one word, to 22828. Follow the instructions, put in your email address, and you'll get on that list to follow what we do.
I'll be signing some of these books over in Parchments afterward. If you'd like to purchase one, we'll sign it. By the way, they give you a great discount over there. And we'll be glad to sign that to you.
I also want you to visit the TSU Museum of Archeology. I had the-- this is a little advertising time here. How many of you-- and it's going to be a lot of you, I know-- have never yet been to the TSU Museum of Archeology? Put them up. Why? You need to come. Why do you need to come? Because it is absolutely the coolest place to be for studying the Bible. It's the best Bible teaching place that I know of.
And here are a few little pictures of it. You can see our timeline. It's 4 feet high and 76 feet long. It incorporates all of biblical and ancient Near Eastern history, and it wraps around the museum. There are three video screens in the museum spooling dig footage from the dig, from the excavation of Sodom, which is a lot of fun.
Cases-- these are artifacts, a case full of artifacts from the time of Moses and Joshua. And by the way, every artifact in the museum is tied to the biblical text. So you can see what's happening with a particular artifact. You can better understand a verse in the Bible, a passage in the Bible, because of the object that it mentions. You can actually physically see the actual ancient object.
And so they're like-- it's like a little time machine, take you back in time. People love to come and look at artifacts going back thousands of years. The kids love it. You can see that these folks don't have their gloves on, but that's OK. We glove everybody up that comes in the museum if we can catch them because it keeps their fingerprints off the glass and their nose prints. Yeah.
And even the New Testament era. These are lamps from the time of Jesus. And of course, when Jesus says, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet"-- no, David said that. When Jesus said, don't take your lamp and hide it under a bushel, don't take it and put it under a basket, take it out, put it up on the lampstand, this is what he was talking about.
In fact, the ones in the bottom right corner, these are Jewish lamps. The ones in the upper left are Roman lamps. The Jewish lamps are very plain, very unadorned, undecorated. And this is what Jesus was talking about.
So by the way, we have our hands-on artifacts. These are real thousands-of-years-old artifacts that you can actually hold in your hand, look at up close like this, feel it, touch it, take you back to the time of Jesus. That's what it's all about.
So that when you read that passage, when Jesus talks about a lamp you know exactly what he was looking at. You can see with your physical eyes what he saw with his physical eyes exactly when he made that statement. See? It puts the past and the present together. So I love the museum.
We have docents in the museum. There's Ruben with a-- what is that? It's an ancient softball, right? No, it's a slingstone. It's a slingstone like David took out Goliath with. So we have slingstones. We have lamps. We have weapons. Yeah.
All the young men, the boys, love the weapons. They love the story of the judge Ehud plunging his 1-cubit sword into the belly of fat Eglon and losing his sword inside the belly fat of King Eglon. It's great stuff. The girls don't like that so much. But they're great stories.
This is a sickle sword from the time of--
Joshua-- oh, it says that.
Cheaters. This is what a sword looked like in the time of Joshua. They weren't straight and pointed. They were curved and looked like sickles, only they're sharp on the outside. That's why the Bible says, very authentically, "They smote them with the edge"-- singular, edge, "of the sword."
Say, well, so what? That shows the historical authenticity and accuracy of scripture. Well, how so? Because if you go to the Iron Age, the sword becomes straight, two-edged, double-edged, and pointed. So you could-- a thrusting sword, so you could literally thrust that into a body.
But not this sword. Swords prior to the time of King Solomon, King David, look like this. You aren't going to poke this into anybody. Give him a-- give him a bruise, but you're not going to puncture flesh with this sword.
This sword is for this, like that, that, to take big swathes out of arms and necks and legs. OK? And it's a single edge. It's a single edge. "To smite with the edge"-- singular, "of the sword" is an idiom describing battle with this weapon, this one.
So how does it authenticate the accuracy of the biblical record? Simply like this. This sword became extinct in favor of the straight, two-edged sword after the time of Joshua. In fact, sometime during the time of the Judges, the Book of Judges, this sword became extinct. It's gone, replaced by the one that we always think of when we think of a sword.
Guess what also disappears from the biblical record midway through the Book of Judges? The phrase-- when this sword becomes extinct, this phrase-- "to smite with the edge of the sword"-- is never used again in the Bible. It became extinct. The idiom tied to the sword became extinct authentically exactly when the sword became extinct. The Bible does not have anachronisms. It was written by eyewitnesses or near eyewitnesses of the events.
And this is just one little thing. Come to the museum, over 500 artifacts tied to the biblical record. And not only that, but bring a group. Bring your Bible study group, your Connect Group. Come get a presentation on the biblical world with ancient artifacts. And anyway, that's the advertisement.
Now, settling down on Sodom. We titled tonight's presentation Postcards From the Kikkar. Now, some of you know, who are familiar with the Sodom excavation, know what the Kikkar is. Some of you do not. You will know before we get finished tonight what that is.
Now, the Kikkar is important because it's the key to locating Sodom. But let's start from the beginning. I'm going to do a quick run through, and I do mean run. Because once I start pressing the buttons we're going to go really fast through this, and you won't catch a lot of it. But some of it you'll lock into, and we'll try to make it as clear as possible.
Why is the Sodom excavation so important? It's important for a number of reasons, for at least three reasons. Reason one, most scholars, historically and in the 20th and certainly in the 21st century, do not believe that Sodom and Gomorrah and the Cities of the Plain ever existed at all. They do not believe that they existed, period. Mythical cities, they say, never existed, only in the imagination of the Bible writer.
Second, scholars who do believe that the Cities of the Plain may have been real always put them in the southern Dead Sea area, at the south end of the Dead Sea, which, by the way, there is nothing in the south end of the Dead Sea to connect with the time of Abraham at all, which reinforces the doubts of the skeptics.
So the speculation, the erroneous speculation, about the location of Sodom by Bible scholars in the 20th century reinforced the doubts of the skeptics, because there's nothing in the Dead Sea area south of the Dead Sea, or in the area of the southern end of the Dead Sea, that would connect with the time of Abraham. So skeptics say, see, see? There's nothing there.
All right, third thing. If a legitimate-- very important, that word "legitimate"-- a legitimate, scientifically rigorous investigation into the location of the Cities of the Plain could be launched, completed, an excavation could be done to confirm the existence of these cities, this would be a huge confirmation of the Bible's authenticity.
And we've done it. We've done it. Now, the big help there was the Bible itself. As you'll see, it's sort of a no-brainer. You read the Bible. You follow the map, and you go where you want to go. That's pretty much how it was-- 1, 2, 3, A, B, C, simple. And we found it.
But there are still today, even with all the publication, with all of the presentations and the scholarly publications, and all of that that we've done over the last 12 years, there are still "minimalists," like my friend Dr. William Dever from University of Arizona, emeritus professor of archeology, who says to me every time I see him, are you still looking for those mythical cities? And I always say, excavating them, I am.
But he's famous for the statement, which he aimed against me, "No responsible scholar goes out with a trowel in one hand and the Bible in the other." I'm just cantankerous, and this makes me kind of angry, right?
Here's my response. "No responsible scholar goes out in that part of the world without a Bible in one hand and a trowel in the other." Because if you don't, you will not know where you are, because the Bible is still the best historical geography we have of the ancient world, period, with no peer. OK? All right.
So if people want to go blindly digging around the ancient Near East, be my guest. But you won't know what you have when you think you find it without the Bible. That's the book that tells us where we are.
How do you find an ancient city? This is for any ancient city. You got to be in the right place that the text tells you, where the text tells you it is. The right place, the right time, the right stuff. Some of you have heard this presentation so many times you have it memorized. The right place is just simply the geography. Let's go over it really quick.
Genesis chapter 13 verses 1 through 12, very important. Why? Because it's the only passage in the Bible that gives us the map to Sodom. This is the map. It's verbal. It's written down, but it's the map. The directions are very, very clear, and here they are.
"Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev. Lot went with him. From the Negev, he went from place to place till he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai. Lot looked up, saw the whole plain of the Jordan was well-watered, like the garden of Yahweh, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, set out toward the east. Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom."
There it is. Now, what's in the map? Well, one word is very important. This is the word that's translated "plain." it's translated that way 10 times in the Book of Genesis, and it's the word "kikkar." I mentioned it earlier. Here it is, kikkar. What it means is a circle, a disk, a ring, all right? Very important.
It's used 68 times in the Bible. 55 of those, it simply means a talent of metal, a circular, flat ingot of metal, gold, silver, whatever it is. Remember, Solomon collected 666 talents of gold a year and so on. That's a lot. A talent weighs about 119 pounds. That's a lot of gold. Or a circular flat loaf of bread. Don't have to explain that in New Mexico.
So New Jersey, Florida, you're going to have to explain it, but not here. We know that. So it basically means a talent or a tortilla. And here's the tortilla, the Kikkar, the disk of the Jordan. You see, the Jordan River comes down narrowly from the north into the Dead Sea, but it widens out into a broad circular plain.
It looks even more circular from the ground. You get on it, you do a 360, you can see the green ring around the perimeter of it. Because this is where Jericho is and the agricultural land on one side and Sodom, the agricultural land on the other. It's a disk. The ring, the disk, is very important. The Jordan River comes down. It overflows its banks, and this is a very fertile area.
The Bible says the Jordan River empties into the mouth of the Jordan at the bay of the Dead Sea below Pisgah. Well, there's Pisgah. Mount Nebo and Mount Pisgah, same basic mountain. And it's all in the north into the Dead Sea. So we have to get that geography right.
It "was well-watered," according to Genesis 13, "like the garden of Yahweh," springs and a river running through it. Well, what runs right down the middle of the Kikkar of the Jordan? The Jordan, OK, right down the center.
And it's watered like Egypt. How is Egypt watered? Overflows its banks annually. They plant behind the receding waters in the newly deposited silt. That drives Nilotic civilization for 3,000 years. It also drives the civilization in the southern Dead Sea Valley, the same hydrological system, of course.
The Jordan is not as big as the Nile. It's sort of a Nile in miniature. But Moses collates this whole story together in the Book of Genesis. Where is he from? Ah, Egypt. So when he sees this, oh, it's just like home. It's just like Egypt. It works the same way. He recognize it-- he recognizes it, and he looks at it carefully and writes about it in that way.
Here's Jericho on the west side of the river. On the other side of the river, we have all of these springs represented by stars. This is the region's best-watered agriscape. How do we know that? Because when all the other civilizations in the area, in Israel and Jordan, collapsed in certain periods because of drought, the cities in this area flourished. It's amazing how they prospered. And so Sodom was a very, very good place to be as far as that's concerned.
He also said Lot could see the entire circle or disk of the Jordan, the Kikkar, from Bethel and Ai. In fact, you could see it, because here's Bethel and Ai. Oh, here's Bab edh-Dhra. That's the traditional sites of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Here's Bethel and Ai. We excavated there for six years. We know what you can see. You can't see that. You can't see the southern end of the Dead Sea. But you can see the Kikkar north of the Dead Sea. You can see that. And if you get close to the edge, you can actually see the Jericho below you. You see the entire Kikkar.
The Bible also says in that passage in Genesis 13 that Lot traveled where? Eastward. He didn't take a right-hand turn. He didn't go anywhere else. He traveled eastward from Bethel and Ai. And that's easy to plot. Here's Bethel and Ai. That's east. And he pitches his tent on the Kikkar as far as Sodom.
So in a nutshell, that's how it works. Lot goes that direction. Sodom can only be there on the eastern part. By the way, why does it have to be up away from the river like Jericho? Because of the flooding, right? It floods. You can't build close to the river. So it has to be up on the edge. So our map reflects that.
It cannot be in the Dead Sea Valley. That's dead water. It's a different system. It's spoken of differently in scripture. You have the Dead Sea, Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea. And then you have [? hajardin, ?] the descent of the fresh water of the Jordan River, the living water.
And of course, that's often been used spiritually, isn't it, how our lives are-- fresh, running, flowing of the Holy Spirit, right, the fresh water. But then some people are like dead seas. Something running in, nothing running out. Yeah.
All right, right time. Place is easy to establish from scripture. The right time, the chronology of the Cities of the Plain, we can make quick work out of this. Abraham belongs to what we call the Middle Bronze Age, and here it is. The Early Bronze Age is there. The Middle Bronze Age is there. Abraham and Lot belong to the Middle Bronze Age. All scholars agree on that.
But Genesis 10 talks about Sodom and Gomorrah as well, and that takes us back to the earliest time of urbanization, the building of the first great fortified cities, according to that passage. We know when that is. It's Early Bronze 1 and 2. So we have to have that.
So Sodom has to span all of that time frame. And so if we're going to get the right time frame for Sodom, we need the Early, Intermediate, and Middle Bronze Age, and that's the right time frame for Sodom. So if we go to the right place and we excavate but we don't find that, we don't find this chronology in the excavation, then we haven't found Sodom. OK?
So the chronology is a very important issue. Once you build a city and you have literally hundreds of tons of pottery-- because everything's made out of pottery, they bury in it, they eat off of it, they do everything with pottery-- it doesn't go away. Fire from the sky just makes it better, just kind of fires it up. Doesn't go away. So it's got to be there. It doesn't go-- it doesn't disappear. So it will be there when we excavate.
Now, look at all these. These are the ancient trade routes. I love this map, because, well, number one, we walked every one of these roads. You can walk for-- by the way, finding an ancient roadway from one city to another is a piece of cake.
How do we know? Because you go to one place and you know where the other place is, and you just take the most obvious-- you take the best, easiest walk from point A to point B. That's your ancient route. OK? It's easy.
Well, here they are. You take the easiest route, and there you go. And you can go to all of these cities all around the area. And how many sites are there on the eastern Kikkar meeting the Kikkar cities criteria in the Book of Genesis? Well, there's a great big one at the intersection, and there are lots of others too. Look at them. They have names.
By the way, these were never known until we started excavating. Well, they were known in a few reports and surveys, but not much was ever written on them. But look, whole cluster of cities, towns, and villages, a great civilization. In fact, the greatest continuously occupied civilization in the Southern Levant went undetected until we took the biblical text seriously and went there and found it.
And they have names. We even got to name some of them for finding them first. And the big one on the block is Tall el-Hammam, and that's the one we're excavating. By the way, why did we pick that one as opposed to all those other ones to excavate? Because it's the big one. Why would you pick a little one?
Sodom is the biggest city, right? It's always mentioned first. It's mentioned by itself. The city-- the King of Sodom is the only one that has a voice in the story. It's the big one. So you pick the big one, and that has to be Sodom.
Here she is. By the way, I say she because God says she. In Ezekiel 16, God calls her she, Sodom, and her sister Jerusalem, Samaria. Area And so here she is. She's a pretty girl. And she has all of the strata, look at that, the Early and Intermediate and Middle Bronze Age, everything you need. So there she is archaeologically. Right place, right time.
And then right stuff. The Bible says very clearly that Lot sat in the gateway of Sodom, 19:1 Genesis. What does that mean? It's a fortified city. Now, you might, but not too many people would build a gate without a wall, right?
Maybe, I don't know. But you build a gate because it's a way to get inside the fortifications. So this is a fortified city. And here is Gary Byers and I, one of my assistant directors, standing on top of the very early city wall from Genesis chapter 10. And here's my bride, Danette, and I standing atop the defensive rampart from the Middle Bronze Age, from the time of Abraham, on the upper city.
And then the-- this takes you-- hearkens back several years, because we closed out this part of the excavation about four years ago. But this is the southern defenses. And I love this, because look at the Early Bronze Age-- that's the Genesis 10 fortifications. There's the fortifications in the time of Abraham, re-utilizing, reincorporating all of that from the earlier periods, entries into the towers. Magnificent place to excavate.
This is Dr. Leen Ritmeyer's reconstruction of the exterior of the Middle Bronze city gate from the time of Abraham. And you can see by the scale of the individual he's drawn inside the gate-- and by the way, do you see that little column right in the middle of the entrance? You see it?
I see heads.
See it? Who does that? You turn the lights off and run into the gate.
Who puts a column right smack in the middle of the central axis of the entry? Well, the Canaanites don't. The Assyrians don't, and the Egyptians don't. Nobody else in the region does, but the Minoans do on Crete. Thus the beginnings of our Cretan or Minoan connection to the culture of Sodom, which gives us a great deal of insight into the sexual behavior of the city, if you want to study that.
Now, here's our excavation of the gate. By the way, that's the raw excavation of the Middle Bronze Age level. We got down below it. But here's the way it renders up, and then it gets an isometric-- or it gets a top drawing and then an isometric.
And then I mentioned the Minoan-- by the way, that Minoan architecture, no other gates have pillared halls. You have a column hall. Nobody has that in that part of the world, except in Crete. Interesting.
Here's the recent cutaway isometric of this gate, beautifully done by Dr. Ritmeyer. And here's the city of Sodom in the time of Abraham, as we estimate it to be, a beautiful upper city and a lower city. By the way, the city of Sodom was continuously occupied without military defeat for over 3,000 years before God said enough. Is God patient or what? Yes. All right.
I just show this because-- what is that? Do you recognize it?
What is it? It's cloth. This is scale armor, a tunic with scale armor discovered at Sodom from the Middle Bronze Age. It's cool. I love it, little things like this. It's about this big, but you can still see the weave of the cloth.
Here are some of the excavation, just to give you an idea what it looks like when you're getting down and you're getting deep. The stuff at the very, very bottom is from the Middle Bronze Age, from the time of Abraham.
Then let's just quickly go over the terms of destruction. How was Sodom destroyed? We now think we know. Clearly, the science is building on this. We have some publications ready to go on it, but they can't be released until the analysis team from seven different universities across America tell us it can be.
Scientists are nervous about anything getting upstaged or-- they want to make sure that it's all original stuff so it gets into the best scientific journals. And so once it's out, it's going to be very difficult for the liberals on that day.
But it's coming. That day is coming. If you go on any of these roads, you go to Late Bronze Age cities all around. Why is that important? Because if Sodom was destroyed in the time of Abraham in the Middle Bronze Age, then there wouldn't be any Late Bronze Age, right?
How many Late Bronze Age sites in this area? All around the area there's Late Bronze Age sites. How many Late Bronze Age sites there? None. Why? I think we know. They were all destroyed. That civilization was snuffed out in an instant toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age.
Here's an archaeological fact that our excavation has brought out. The Bronze Age civilization on the eastern Jordan Disk, the Kikkar, with Tall el-Hammam, or Sodom, as its cultural center, flourished continuously for over 2,500 years as a city.
Another fact. This same civilization came to an abrupt end toward the end of the Middle Bronze Age, and that area remained without cities, towns, and villages for the next 600 or 700 years. Now, those are archaeological facts.
What's the operative question that rises from those two facts? Here it is. Why did the best-watered agricultural land in the region remain without cities and towns for those 600 to 700 years following the Middle Bronze 2 destruction? The water didn't go away.
You know what went away? We now know and have some good evidence that the entire-- not only were the cities virtually blown off their foundations, but the agricultural fields lost their A soil layer. The soil layer was stripped from the area by the catastrophic event that destroyed the civilization. Took 600 to 700 years for it to recoup. All right.
Well, there's the Middle Bronze Age stratum, and right on top of it is the Iron Age stratum. But look at that. That's a full meter, meter and a half of destruction debris. This was in season 1 or 2, I think season 2. This was the first time we had seen it. And now we have found it everywhere. Everywhere across the 62 acres inside the city wall, we find this massive, ugly destruction layer.
Down at the bottom of that destruction layer under the Iron Age city that was built there-- I'm going to talk about the Iron Age city in a bit-- we found a storage jar sherd, large storage jar about that big, piece of it, the shoulder of it, and the exterior is melted into glass.
All these little areas of black is carbon separation. Calcium separation in the areas of red. What's interesting about this is that that's the pottery sherd-- and by the way, we have others now. And you can see them where?
In the museum, very good. And that's the pottery sherd. That's trinitite from ground zero of the first atomic bomb explosion. It's identical material. In other words, the heat index of the destruction of Sodom was on a par, or actually exceeded, that of a nuclear explosion. All right?
Don't run out of here as people have done and put on the internet or Facebook, Dr. Collins said that Sodom was destroyed by a nuclear bomb.
Spare me the ridicule of my colleagues, on that note anyway. Don't go do that. Here's desert glass found at [INAUDIBLE]. This is a-- I won't go into it. This is a tri-lithology. This has three lithologies to it, three different kinds of stone mashed, pulled up, melted, and mashed together and falling back down. It's about that big, if you can see. Very hot temperatures in order to melt this. This is called desert glass. This is impact glass.
Here's the Middle Bronze Age city. This is the living area, the domestic quarter. In the domestic quarter, we found skeletal-- human bone scatter. It appears that people were literally heated up and blown apart, or vaporized, most of them.
A toy wheel, a bead, bits and pieces of their lives, a beautiful carinated bowl from the Middle Bronze Age, a piriform juglet all from that era, jewelry, scarabs from the same period showing that they had contact with Egypt of that time. This is the ash all around the plaza, on the plaza black ash of the destruction.
We call this destruction now the 3.7 thousand year Before Present, BP, event. And here it is. What's interesting about it, we know the directionality of it. It came, just like the Bible said, "from Yahweh out of the heavens," came from the sky.
Now, in that part of-- in that part of the city, there's little or no mud brick. The mud brick is literally seemingly blown off its stone foundations. Find the big stone foundations, mud brick basically gone.
But there's a 100-foot-high part of the rampart, the protective system that supports the upper city, and behind that massive earthen rampart we find a lot of mud brick remaining, 10, 12, 15 courses of mud brick remaining on some of the Middle Bronze buildings.
In other words, what has happened is that there's a directionality to the blast that literally blows the foundations off the more exposed lower city and preserves some of the mud brick behind the great ramparts of the upper city. So there's a directionality to it.
Now, look at this. Do you see this big rock at the bottom, the big one? Do you see the-- do you see those meter sticks? Those meter sticks, they're like this. That's a meter, OK, like that. It's not the big fish tale, like that. That stone is over a meter. It's almost a half a meter thick. It weighs over 400 pounds. You see the left side of it's very smooth, curved and smooth.
Do you know what that is? It's a colossal metate, the grinding stone. It used to be on a platform, used to be on a pedestal. It's called a saddle quern, Q-U-E-R-N. And you sit over the top of it. You just sit on it. It's like a saddle. See there's a little cutout. You can see it. You go straddle over it, and you put your grain on it and your grinding stone, and you do this. You grind the grain on top of it. It's like a big saddle, a saddle quern.
This saddle quern was blown off-- 400-plus pounds-- was blown off its foundation and turned up on its edge. The grain hit the floor, scattered, continuing in that northeasterly direction. The pottery from hundreds of vessels were broken into small chunks and scattered in the same direction across the floor and smashed against that wall you see to the left.
This is down inside behind the protective rampart, and the directionality is still pulling everything in a northeasterly direction from the southwest entry of this object from the sky. Very powerful stuff.
Well, here it is. This is my-- just shows you where it came from. There it is. Let's watch it again. It's going to come from the southwest. Boom. How long did it take to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? [SNAPS FINGERS] Like that. That's all. Instantly destroyed an entire civilization.
Now, quickly, what happens when scholars or Bible students, anybody, what happens when you ignore the biblical text, particularly in the case of this Kikkar geography we've been talking about? This is a page-- I'm going to show you three maps from The Sacred Bridge. By the way, the 2015 version of it-- I have 2006 version here-- the 2015 version of these maps in this book is the same. OK? They haven't updated it yet. They will, but not yet.
Now look at this. East side of the Jordan River opposite Jericho-- blank. Nothing on it. Nothing on it. Look at this one. Let's take it to the Intermediate Bronze Age, the time just before Abraham. Look at this. Nothing, except a little town that we now know as one of Sodom's satellites. Look at this-- nothing. The Middle Bronze Age-- blank.
My goodness. [? Look, ?] that's how it should look. Look at all the cities and towns. That's how it should look. Doesn't look that way yet. This is how stubborn and how difficult it is to get archaeological discovery into the literature that people actually use.
So man, weren't you tired of doing this after 12 years? No. Because the work is not finished yet until people-- liberal, conservative, otherwise-- see the reality of what is there that the biblical text reveals, not only in the text, but in the ground. Until they see it, we will keep pressing.
But here's what we say to them. If in the past archaeologists had paid attention to the Sodom stories, they would have found this most important civilization in the Southern Levant. It's not just a little thing. It's the biggest, most-- Sodom is the largest, continuously occupied city in the Bronze Age in the Southern Levant.
Not understanding Sodom and the civilization around it is like trying to explain California without Los Angeles or France without Paris. In other words, they're completely misunderstanding and misreading the history of the Holy Land without getting this right.
How do you get it right? Well, they didn't follow the Bible, and they didn't discover the cities. We did, and we did. It is there. And all credit goes to the Bible, of course. Just a little bit from some of the excavation.
Now, in the last 10 minutes here, we are going to really roll fast, because I want to bring you up to date, all right? So here we go. Couple of years ago, we got Beth-jeshimoth. Now, that's crazy. Why Beth-jeshimoth?
Just a little snippet here, very important. Moses and the Israelites "camped on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. There on the plains of Moab they camped along the Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-Shittim." Numbers 33.
Now, here we are. Everybody recognizes-- all scholars recognize Tall el-Hammam as Abel-Shittim, or the location of Abel-Shittim. There was no city there during the time of Moses. It's just a big hulking ruin. But that's where Moses went.
And by the way, as you look around this photograph-- look at this photo. What's around the city? Flat. So if you're a military man, where are you going to put your command camp and your camp? You're going to get up high.
The lower city, as you can see out there in the distance, the lower city is 100 feet below the surrounding terrain, and the upper city is 100 feet above that. So it's way up. That's where you go. That's why scholars have always said that's where the Israelites went. It's opposite Jericho. It's exactly the opposite of Jericho on the east side.
Now, look at this. There's Jericho. That was Moses' command camp. There's no doubt about it. That's the Levitical encampment on the lower city. Nice, big, flat, 500-meter-across, flat platform, that's where the Levitical encampment is. And the Israelites just camp, then, wherever they could around it.
By the way, they're surrounded on both sides by two rivers. So this whole encampment is surrounded by two rivers. They have plenty of water. They can hang out as long as they want. They're there many, many months, as much as a year or more, and this is where they camped.
And here it is from the top. There's Moses' command encampment, the Israelite-Levitical encampment, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant sitting right there. By the way, you know what's underneath that? The pagan temple of Sodom. I always think, isn't that just like God to stick his holy presence right on ground zero of evil?
You know what ground zero of evil is spiritually? Your heart. The heart of man is on evil continually. But when we receive Jesus, Holy Spirit gets stuck on ground zero. That's why he grieves. When we see him, he grieves, because he can't leave. If you can't leave, you grieve. All right.
Wow. The Israelites camp around. So who hung around Tall el-Hammam? Not just Abraham and Lot. Bera, King of Sodom. But later, a few hundred years later, Moses, Joshua, Aaron, all the folks of Israel, there they are at the site right on top of it.
Now, Beth-jeshimoth, this was interesting. This came out of the clear blue. This caught me by surprise, because we found no other Late Bronze Age stuff from the time of Moses and Joshua anywhere on this whole 62-acre city. And we excavated every sector of it, or at least in every sector.
But we found a freestanding building. It's just a tariff house. It's a freestanding building right on that little spot on top of the upper city And here it is. Boy, you can see it. Look at this. I love reading excavation. Look at these balks and the locus tags from the excavation. Look at this.
See that line? I'm going to back it up. Look at that. You know what that-- you know what's below that line? The destruction of Sodom. You know what's above that line? This Late Bronze building. And you can see the destruction of it, all there. It's a big pile of ruins.
But there's no settlement. It's just a government building out in the middle of nowhere. And if you built a government building-- how do we know it's a government building? Because it's small and overbuilt and I guarantee you overbudget.
OK? It's got huge timbers. It's got the fanciest pottery. It's got beautiful tables and chairs. It's got all the accouterments. It's got lots of storage because they can't farm there yet. There's no fields. But they have a building.
Well, what's the building for? To collect the customs of the tariff off the trade routes that cross at the base of the site. You have to cross from one side of the Jordan to the other, so the fords of the Jordan. This is where you cross. This is this building. And if you-- and there's one of the timbers, carbonized timbers. Here's a pot.
You see the leg of that chair? I'm not going to tell you Moses sat in that chair. But if I were Moses, I wouldn't have destroyed the building when I came upon this site. I would have chased the inhabitants off, and I'd have occupied the building as my headquarters for the time until I left. Thank you, General Patton.
I mean, that's what you do, right? You move in. You occupy, and then maybe you burn it down on the way out. Moses-- I can imagine that Moses sat on a chair like this inside that room and wrote the Book of Deuteronomy. I mean, it's chill bumps excavating that kind of stuff. Maybe it didn't happen, but I think it did. And so there you go.
Now, how do we know it's a tariff house, customs house? Scale pans, bronze scale pans. For what? For weighing out money. You're out in the middle of nowhere collecting money. All right. Tariff house, customs house.
And-- well, let me just back up to that, whoop. I'm going to back up to Beth-jeshimoth. What does that mean? The House of the Desolation. If you built a customs house, a tariff house, on the top of a hulking pile of ruins, wouldn't you maybe call it the House of the Desolation? Well, that's what everybody passing by would call it. Oh, the House of the Desolation.
There it is. Well, Beth-jeshimoth. So the Israelites camp from Beth-jeshimoth on the top of Tall el-Hammam at the customs house, the command camp, to Abel-Shittim, the lower city along the Jordan. And there they are. All right.
In closing, oh, we're in great shape. We got five. We didn't know this till this season. We suspected it, but now we got a-- we got a big view of it this year. I call this Solomon builds a store-city on the strategic side of ancient Sodom. Site's topography is the same. Sodom was built there because of its strategic location and because of the local natural resources.
Every city built there after that-- the next city was built 700 years later in the time of King Solomon. Why did he come back and build on the top of that same hill? Because of the same reasons-- defensibility, agricultural land, which had now recuperated, and water, the three-legged stool. You got to have those three things. Take any one of those away, you don't have a city. It falls. All right?
Solomon built store-cities all over his 12 administrative districts. We think we have the big one in the Gilead district on the east side of the Jordan within sight of-- signal fire sight of Jerusalem. And we discovered it this season. This is Group-1. This is the first group that showed up at the site this year just a few months ago.
And here's what we excavated. Leen Ritmeyer's top drawing of the brown-- you see the brown building? We excavated out this brown building. Now, we were hoping it was going to be the Middle Bronze Age palace. It turned out not to be. We really struggled with this for weeks. If you followed the updates, we really, really worked on this, because the pottery just wasn't clear.
But finally, it did clarify, as it always does. And what we wind up with here is a very large storage facility and a palace next door. Look at this. Here's the elevation of it-- palace to the left, storerooms, and then a house a little bit to the east of that. Magnificent structures. We're actually bringing an adobe and mud plaster team from New Mexico next season to help do the reconstruction on this. It's going to be real cool-- the New Mexico-Sodom connection.
And here it is. You can see it, how it hooks up with the city gate there on the top of this drawing. And wonderful, wonderful stuff that we're seeing from this season's excavations. It was frustrating for me, so I had to make lemonade out of the lemon. Irony just kind of lemonaded me. I want the Bronze Age.
But anyway, let's get off that. Now, just in closing, last couple of minutes here, why does the discovery and excavation of Sodom matter? Why does it matter? Here's why. European Christianity was a vital force for world evangelism from 1850 through 1900. I mean, they evangelized the world. They were going everywhere. Missionaries were being sent out from all the European countries and England all over the world.
By 1945, within one generation, Europe was declared post-Christian by historians. In one generation, Europe went from being a vital Christian powerhouse to being declared culturally post-Christian, in one generation.
That was because liberal German higher criticism, which said that Moses didn't write the Pentateuch, had all kinds of reasons to say the Bible is not credible, Bible was not really history, it was pious fiction, it undermined the confidence in the historicity of the Bible.
Why? Because all the colleges and seminaries were teaching the priests and the clerics, the clergymen, that the Bible wasn't really true, and it started eating away at the fabric and the foundation of European Christianity.
And we are really close to that. We may now be in the post-Christian era in America. I fear that we are. I hope that we're not. Maybe we're just teetering on the edge, and I hope we can be pulled back.
But how is that possible? Well, one thing is that biblical archeology is the most powerful means of demonstrating the historicity of the Bible. I mean, it is the powerhouse that says, this is it. This proves it. This demonstrates it. This is consistent with the biblical record.
And this is how I think we have to carry it to the next generation. We have to give them powerful reasons to read the Bible and to commit their lives to the God of the Bible. If we don't do this, then America is doomed.
The Tall el-Hammam Excavation Project represents the cutting edge of biblical archeology. We fight for it. We work at it. We haven't taken a season off in 12 years. Every other excavation we know about digs a year, takes off a year or two, digs another year. We stay after it year after year after year. Why? Because it's important work. It needs to be done. The voice needs to be heard.
If you had a once in history, not once in a lifetime, once in history opportunity to prove the historical reliability of the Bible, would you take that opportunity? Would you take it? Two ways you can take it. Give money to the excavation. Keep up with us, pray for us, and give money to support it.
Or do yourself a favor and us, take a great vacation and come excavate with us. It's deductible.
It's tax deductible. So come and do that with us, and we invite you to do that. Your involvement with TeHEP may, in fact, impact the way the next generation approaches and uses the Bible. That's what's at stake here. The Bible and the trowel, as I always say, work remarkably well together. So let's keep them together. God bless you. Thank you.
Let's pray. Let's stand together. Father, great and mighty and gracious God, we love you. And we thank you in the name of Jesus for all that you've done for us, the salvation through the cross, the power of your Word, and the power of your Holy Spirit.
Bless this congregation. Bless each person as a missionary to those around them. Go with us and guide us. Strengthen us every moment with your powerful presence. And it is in the name of that presence of Jesus that we pray. Amen.
What binds us together is devotion to worshipping our heavenly Father, dedication to studying His Word, and determination to proclaim our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.
For more teachings from Calvary Albuquerque and Skip Heitzig, visit calvaryabq.org.