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The Archaeology of Sodom, part 4

Updated on December 31, 2018
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Dr. David Thiessen is an educator, writer, pastor, and speaker. He has authored several books on a variety of topics including Archaeology

IV. A Word on Translation

Translating different ancient terms can be tricky, original intent and definitions can be lost over time. It can also be very subjective. Take for example the term kikkar. This is the term that Dr. Collins interprets to justify his claiming that Tall el-Hamman is Sodom. According to him the Hebrew term strictly refers to the Jordan River area near Jerusalem and Jericho and includes his excavation site (Collins, 2008, 2013).

But his is not the only interpretation that is applied to that term. It has been recorded that the term has included the whole Dead Sea boundaries, north and south (McClintock & Strong, 2000). This is a definition that may be left to one’s interpretation and accepted locations.

But, while the term literally means round or oval shape, there is no proof that the literal definition was used by Moses when he penned the term. There are plenty of examples in the Bible where the term means a plain and that definition can be applied to Genesis passages. Dr. Collins uses Nehemiah to justify his restriction of application to his northern location (Collins, 2013).

Yet there are problems with that use of Nehemiah 3:22 and 12:28. One such problem is connecting Nehemiah’s use and definition to Moses’. The two biblical authors lived several hundred years apart from each other and it stands to reason they may have different applications of the term.

There is no translational or physical evidence to make the connection. There is also no rhyme or reason why Dr. Collins should add the literal meaning when Moses may not have. It is possible that the term kikkar refers to the whole region not just the northern location.

For example, in British Columbia there is a valley called the Okanagan valley. Inside this valley are two lakes which are connected to the same river. The northern lake is called the Okanagan while the southern lake is called the Skaha.

At no time does the term Okanagan exclude the Skaha, no matter how you define the term valley. The Skaha region may not look the same as its northern neighbor, it may have different crops and foliage and so on. Also, it may be called by its own name separate from the Okanagan Valley, but it has always been part of the Okanagan Valley.

The same concept applies to the Jordan River and the southern Dead Sea region. There is no rational explanation to exclude the latter from being part of the kikkar. There is also no reason to add the literal definition to the term to restrict a geographical location.

In other words, the limiting the term kikkar to a small flat disk in the northern Dead Sea region is a subjective act, not a credible one.

© 2018 David Thiessen


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