Zoar & The City of Zoar

Wow!  What you did to Adam & Eve and to Cain does not compare.  These cities didn’t exist in the days of Moses, Jesus and Josephus.

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father” (Gen 19:30-32).

Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by him.

“And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.

And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day” (Gen 19:37-38).

Molech was the ancient Ammonite fire god.

As early as 1450 BC, as they wandered in the wilderness, Israel was worshiping Moloch, even before they entered the land of Canaan.

For that reason, God and Moses prohibited Israel from worshiping Moloch in Leviticus 18:21 and 20:2, 3, 4, 5.

The Ammonites didn’t walk with God, they were idolatrous and offered human sacrifices to their idol Molech.

The Moabites were polytheists (belief in more than one god) and they also probably offered human sacrifices to their gods, such as Chamos and Ashtar.

Yet, God didn’t destroy them even though they were against Him, simply because not all of the Moabites or Ammonites were evil.

God does not destroy people because of things others do.

Ruth, who you’ll read about later was a Moabite and an ancestor of King David who was an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

God knows that we’re not perfect, but as long as we trust Him and do our honest best not to sin He’ll always be with us and protect us.  He knows where our heart is (Rom 7:15-25 & 8:1).

Abraham was not perfect, but God wouldn’t allow anyone to harm him, as you’ll see?

The City of Zoar

Zoara, the biblical Zoar, previously called Bela was one of the five (Pentapolis) cities of the plain of Jordan in Genesis, which escaped the “brimstone and fire” that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

Author Steven Collins in a field large with standing stones, stone circles and dolmens near Tall el-Hammam, a site he associates with Biblical Sodom.

It is mentioned by Josephus; Ptolemy (V, xvi, 4); and by Eusebius and Saint Jerome in the Onomasticon.

In the Bible

Zoara-, meaning “small” or “insignificance” in Hebrew, (a “little one” as Lot called it,) was a city east of Jordan in the vale of Siddim, which later became the Dead Sea.

Archaeology

Prior to the major archeological excavations in the 1980s and 1990s that took place in Zoara, scholars proposed that several sites in the area of Khirbet Sheikh ‘Isa and al-Naq’ offered further evidence of Zoara’s location and history.

Further information regarding Zoara in different historical epochs were obtained through the descriptions of Arabian geographers, suggesting that Zoara served as an important station in the Akkabah-to-Jericho trade route, and through Eusebius’s statement that the Dead Sea was situated between Zoar and Jericho.

Researchers who have studied ancient texts portray Zoara as a town erected in the middle of a flourishing oasis, watered by rivers flowing down from the high Moab Mountains in the east.

The sweet dates that grew abundantly on the palm trees surrounding Zoara are also mentioned in some historical texts.

The cave where Lot and his two daughters dwelt in has been recently discovered in the barren hills overlooking Safi, along with ruins of a small Byzantine church with mosaic floors and burial chambers.

At the base of the hill is Lot’s Museum, “The Lowest Museum on Earth” where about 400 archaeological finds from the area and across the Jordan Valley, representing history from 8000BC, are exhibited.

Several excavation surveys have been conducted in this area in the years 1986-1996. Ruins of a basilical church that were discovered in the site of Deir ‘Ain ‘Abata (“monastery at the Abata Spring” in Arabic), were identified as the Sanctuary of Agios (Saint) Lot.

An adjacent cave is ascribed as the location where Lot and his daughters took refuge during the overthrow of Sodom.

About 300 engraved funerary steles in the Khirbet Sheikh ‘Isa area in Ghor al-Safy were found in 1995.

Most gravestones were inscribed in Greek and thus attributed to Christian burials, while several stones were inscribed in Aramaic, suggesting that they belong to Jewish burials.

These gravestones were therefore traced back to the 4th to 5th centuries A.D., when Zoara was an important Jewish center.

Ancient World’s Largest Cemetery Identified at Biblical Zoar (Ancient Zoora)

At the southeastern end of the Dead Sea, nestled between the salt-encrusted shores of the sea and the dark, foreboding slopes of the Trans Jordanian highlands, lies Biblical Zoar (ancient Zoora or Zoara).

Amid the barren wilderness of Biblical Zoar (ancient Zoora) southeast of the Dead Sea, thousands of ancient burials, some more than 4,500 years old, have been discovered, making it perhaps the ancient world’s largest cemetery.

The ancient burials of Zoora shed light on the panoply of cultures and religions that lived here from the Early Bronze Age to the end of the Byzantine period.

The earliest ancient burials discovered by Politis at Zoar (Zoora) date to the Early Bronze Age I-II (c. 3100–2600 B.C.). These cist tombs were built during the heyday of the region’s two largest sites, Bab edh-Dhra and Numeira, considered by some to be the ruins of the ill-fated cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Some 2,500 years later, the site of Khirbet Qazone, about 15 miles north of Zoar, was used as an extensive burial ground during the period of the Nabatean kingdom.

Here more than 5,000 ancient burials from the 1st century B.C. to the 4 century A.D. have been identified.

Around the same time, Jewish families were also moving into the region of Zoar (Zoora) and purchasing date orchards and farms.

Scores of later Jewish tombstones found at Zoar (Zoora) attest to the Jewish community’s continued presence in the region throughout late antiquity.

During the Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries A.D.), Zoar (Zoora) became the center of a thriving Christian community.

Local Christians built an impressive monastery to commemorate the cave where they believed Lot and his daughters had found refuge during the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The town was even the site of a major Christian bishopric. As such, it is no surprise that hundreds of ancient burials and Greek-inscribed Christian tombstones have been found at Byzantine Zoora.

While some of these ancient burials from Zoar (Zoora) have survived largely intact, most have been robbed and destroyed by looters.

Fortunately, Politis has managed to record many of the undisturbed ancient burials and salvage more than 400 of the Greek and Aramaic tombstones that have been looted from Zoar (Zoora), the ancient world’s largest cemetery.