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Slime Pits of Siddim
 Blog #7
October 11, 2006

The recent discovery of oil around the Dead Sea was no surprise to me. I have told many, who have asked me, that I did not expect much oil to ever be discovered in Israel, and what little was discovered would be around the Dead Sea. Please read the article from Arutz Sheva and the excerpt from my first book, Tectonic Chaos, published in the seventies, which follows it.


I have claimed for 32 years that when oil was discovered in Israel, it would be around the Dead Sea, and made that one of my parameters for what I believe contributed to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 14:10 was one of the Scriptures that caused me to make oil one the elements that blended together to form a fiery pyroclastic mix that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as encrusting Lot’s wife.


Genesis 14:10 – And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.


Genesis 14:10 – And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain.


The “slime pits” were bitumen or asphalt pits. The words for slime pits in Genesis 14:10 are the Hebrew words “chemar beer,” and represent a pit of bitumen that extended downward into the substrata of the earth. Asphalt is a brown to black bituminous substance that is obtained as a residue in petroleum refining. A great deal of the asphalt of ancient times came from the Dead Sea, which was also called Lacus Alphatites. Asphalt is a mixture of hydrocarbons, in part oxygenated, the softer types generating toward petroleum. When exposed to the air it hardens partly by oxidation and partly by evaporation. There was once a large build-up of this petroleum based bituminous material surrounding the area of Sodom and Gomorrah, because the writer states that it was “full of slime pits.” Even today an occasional chunk of asphalt will suddenly bob up to the top as a sulfur vent erupts on the sea floor of the Dead Sea. There are, to this day, large sulfur springs that deposit heavy loads of sulfur over the Dead Sea flats in this area. Here, in the hey-day of Sodom and Gomorrah, was a great subsurface powder keg of petroleum hydrocarbons and sulfur, just waiting for a giant match to ignite them. Another compound, sodium chloride, better known as salt, has always existed in the upper surface layers of this zone as vast block formations hundreds of feet thick. So, here is the disaster, waiting for the God who formed it, to ignite it with what he put beneath the layers of salt, sulfur, and petroleum based material – thick deposits of salt immediately under the surface, petroleum hydrocarbons boiling up through cracks in the salt layers, and sulfur springs rippling into the salt zone both vertically and horizontally. All this formation needed to trigger it was a vertical thrust of the igneous magma into the crack running through the Sodom-Gomorrah area (See Birth Pang Archive Figure 27). As you can see on Figure 27, a vast molten sea of magma underlies the earth’s outer crust, and it is closer to the earth’s surface in this area than in many other parts of the world. Numerous fumaroles occasionally release hot gasses and vapors to the surface from old volcanic vents that still extend deep into the underlying magma, bearing testimony that intense heat pockets exist just below the surface.


Zoar was not resting on top of the powder keg. When Lot entered the safety zone to which God had directed him, then God pulled his tectonic trigger and completely destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. I believe that God opened his Dead Sea Fault just enough to allow the fiery magma to push up through the vents of salt layers he had long saturated with sulfur and bitumen. This touched off a tremendous chain of explosions that roared through the entire vale of Siddim. The explosions weakened the upper crust and great fiery swirls of pyroclastic materials were blasted high into the heavens. The writer describes it vividly by stating, “brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.”


But what of Lot’s wife – how did she become a “pillar of salt?” First of all, she disobeyed God, and remained in the disaster zone – “But his wife looked back from behind him.” When Lot was safely inside Zoar, his wife was still standing in the danger zone “looking back.” This tells us why she became a pillar of salt – she disobeyed God! Now, let us explore how “she became a pillar of salt.” She observed the great vents of fire that went up into the heavens from the chain reaction, but before she could clear the danger zone a blanket of of pyroclastic material from the eruption rained down on her – and yes, you guessed it – the pyroclastic material was composed of hot, liquid, pryochemical salt. She actually “BECAME a pillar of salt,” exactly as the Word of God proclaims.


This sort of thing is not unheard of – pyroclastic materials of the local area covered the residents of Pompeii in 79 A.D. – They were actually encased, in perfect body form, by pyroclastic materials of the local area called “rapilli” that were thrown into the heavens by the eruption of Vesuvius. They became pillars of rapilli rather than pillars of salt. The Italian Florelli devised a method of making casts of the former residents by pouring plaster into the rapilli shell coverings. When the material rained down from heaven the residents of Pompeii were in the danger zone. I am convinced the same thing happened to Lot’s wife. The residents of Pompeii did not become “pillars of salt” only because the upper layers of the crust in their area were not composed of salt layers.


As the sulfur and petroleum based substances continue to burn both externally and internally, a great deal of the valley mass went up in smoke. Additionally, the salt blocks fused into more compressed strata and the limestone layers gradually shrank after the initial ignition by magma. This chain of events caused a further local subsidence of the graben valley floor.

Please do not believe I am trying to “explain away” a miracle. God does as he wills with his own creation. I simple believe this is what God did. The sight that met Abraham’s view the morning after Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt, is a flawless description of a local opening of the tectonic plate along the Dead Sea Fault.


Genesis 19:26-28 – But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. [27] And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: [28] And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.


I believe God opened the Dead Sea Fault in a small local area to cause the terrifying picture Abraham witnessed in the aftermath of the cataclysm. I am convinced that God will once again open this fault in the last 1260 days of the tribulation period. But this time it will not be local – the opening will stretch from the southern tip of the Dead Sea via the land of Idumea to the northern extension of the Red Sea into the Gulf of Eilat or Aqaba (See Birth Pang Archive Figure 23). I believe the prophet Isaiah saw this happening in his vision of destruction in Idumea during the tribulation period (See latter part of Chapter 11).


Isaiah 34:9,10 – And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch. [10] It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.


February 2006 Addition to this book – Thirty years after I finished this book, archeological evidence unearthed by a team, which included Dr. John Melancon, has convinced me that Sodom and Gomorrah actually were located in Jordan on the northeastern side of the Dead Sea, rather than on the southeastern side. I was wrong about the location of Soddom and Gomorrah because I took the popular view, and did not question it. The vale of Siddim was to the northeast of the Dead Sea, not to the southeast according to recent geological discoveries. It makes no difference to the chapter you just read, because all of the same general geological features also run directly under the same area in Jordan from the southeastern side of the Dead Sea to the northeastern side. The same effect will be occurring all along the east side of the Dead Sea above the fault line from northeast of the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat).


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