Atlantis & Sodom & Gomorrah

According to Wikipedia: “Atlantis (Ancient Greek: “island of Atlas”) is a fictional island mentioned within an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges “Ancient Athens”, the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato’s ideal state in The Republic. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the known world, supposedly giving testament to the superiority of Plato’s concept of a state. The story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favor with the deities and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean.”

The destruction of Atlantis was colored by the 373 BCE destruction of Helike five years before Plato’s visit to this Bronze Age Aegean city, which was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. Five days before its destruction, the animals of the area escaped the city and columns of flame appeared. The city, then, flattened by a tsunami sank beneath the sea, an event caused by the impact of the earthquake which liquified the ground causing the city to slide into the sea.

Genesis has a similar ‘Atlantis/Helike’ story where two very prosperous, idyllic cities disappeared beneath the Great Salt Sea (aka the Dead Sea), which transformed at least one citizen into a ‘pillar’ of salt. Those cities were Sodom and Gomorrah. According to Gen 13:10:

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.).

So, the comparison of Sodom and Gomorrah to ‘the land of Egypt’ might be a clue that the LXX authors had borrowed elements of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from the Greek story of Atlantis as well as the historic destruction of the city of Helike.

According to the story, Sodom and Gomorrah, like Atlantis/Helike, were burned by a volcanic like explosion (fire and brimstone) before they were drowned by a tsunami from the Great Salt Sea. That the cities were destroyed by a tsunami is implied in the warning to Lot that he would be ‘swept away’ if he didn’t run to the mountains. This implies that the volcanic explosion caused a tsunami which overtook Lot’s wife and turned her into a pillar in the midst of the Great Salt Sea. Lot finally views the destruction from a height indicating that he ran to a mountain village, Zoar, to escape the tsunami, which receded leaving a plain still smoking (steaming) from the volcanic disaster.

According to Wiki:

“According to the 14th century travelogue The Travels Of Sir John Mandeville:

“Zoar, by the prayer of Lot, was saved and kept a great while, for it was set upon a hill; and yet sheweth thereof some part above the water, and men may see the walls when it is fair weather and clear.”

Here is the biblical description of this Atlantis/Helike type disaster in Genesis 19:

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. “

In conclusion, the Bible does have the Atlantis (Helike) story. It is interesting that the destruction of the city of Helike happened well within the living memory of the Ptolemies, who, no doubt, were familiar with Plato’s description of Atlantis as well as the historic destruction of Helike. It is certain that this information was conveyed to the LXX authors who borrowed other themes, both Greek and Egyptian, while they were composing the LXX in Alexandria.

Comments are closed.

Search The Site

Can't find what are you looking for?