Jun 5, 2012

Tall el-Hammam as Heshbon?

Clyde Billington, one of our members of the NEAS, challenges Dr. Collins identification that Tall el-Hammam is a candidate for Sodom. He has published an alternative argument in Artifax magazine (Spring 2012) for the location of our site of Tall el-Hammam. He claims it is Bronze Age Heshbon as Iron Age Heshbon has no Bronze Age remains since it was excavated by Andrews University and they claim it was not Sihon's Heshbon. However, it has been confirmed as the Roman city of Esbus.  However, the information shared by Professor Billington indicates that he has never been to region. Heshbon is a plateau settlement always connected with other plateau cities such as Aroer, Dibon, Madaba and Nebo up on the Hills overlooking the Jordan Valley. When Moses moved the Israelites down to the Plains of Moab “between Beth Jeshimoth and Abel Shittim” along the Jordan opposite Jericho Tall el-Hammam (Abel Shittim) was a wasteland (Numbers 21:20). Even Dr. Bryant Wood claims that Tall el-Hammam was Abel Shitim when Moses visited the area (See Kaiser, Jr., Walter C., and Duane Garrett. Archaeological Study Bible: An Illustrated Walk Through Biblical History and Culture. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006. Dr. Wood did the article for Tall el-Hammam).

The Roman mile marker now on display at Mt. Nebo destroys Billington’s argument. The Roman Mile marker states that  Livias (Tall el-Hammam) is 12 Roman miles from Eusbus (Heshbon). Even if Tall el-Hammam is Heshbon and Livias is Tall Rama (only other possibility for Livias if it is not Tall el-Hammam) these two sites are only about 1 Roman mile apart not 12 Roman miles as the Roman mile marker states. See my article on the Roman Mile Marker

Also, several facts are in error with his article. Tall el-Hammam is very well fortified and enormous compared to Clyde's description of our site.

I can appreciate that Professor Billington wishes to defend his colleague and friend Dr. Bryant Woods claim that Sodom is Bab edh-drah but the evidence is building strong for the northern location of Sodom at or near Tall el-Hammam.

Dr. Collin's enlarged article refuting Professor Billington's claims. Link to article.

Photo: this is the remains of Iron Age Heshbon up on the Plateau overlooking the Jordan Valley.

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