Editor Moses Added Vital Geographical Clues for the Genesis Flood and Sodom

Image result for destruction sodom


 Damien F. Mackey


Moses, traditionally considered to have substantially authored the Pentateuch, was only the editor in the case of the Book of Genesis, which comprises a series of ancient family histories of the Patriarchs who pre-dated Moses. Hence the JEDP theorists were right about the use of various sources for the compilation of the Book of Genesis, but they were generally clueless about the nature and age of these sources.

 Now, certain geographical indicators that Moses added to these patriarchal histories, whilst     

fully respecting their content and structure, serve to elucidate for us some contentious issues concerning the geography of the ancient world, including the pre-Flood world and Sodom. 




The marvellous observation by P. J. Wiseman, that the Book of Genesis structurally consists of the following eleven toledôt (‘family histories’) divisions:

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. (Genesis 2:4)

  1. This is the book of the generations of Adam. (Genesis 5:1)
  2. These are the generations of Noah. (Genesis 6:9)
  3. These are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 10:1)
  4. These are the generations of Shem. (Genesis 11:10)
  5. These are the generations of Terah. (Genesis 11:27)
  6. These are the generations of Ishmael. (Genesis 25:12)
  7. These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son. (Genesis 25:19)
  8. These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). (Genesis 36:1)
  9. These are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in the hill country of Seir. (Genesis 36:9)
  10. These are the generations of Jacob. (Genesis 37:2)

is the one that I have accepted as being the most plausible explanation of it, indeed, the very key to the book’s structure. And it is so simple that even a child could understand it. For an account of the toledôt theory,and the editorial part played by Moses with regard to Genesis, see for example my:

 Tracing the Hand of Moses in Genesis


and Part Two:


The JEDP theory, on the other hand, is complex, confusing and unreal. T. Brodie has written, in Genesis as Dialogue: “Thus the conclusion begins to dawn: like a confusing myth, the JEDP theory has created an unreal world”. (https://books.google.com.au/books?id=2slFA-c). Hence I have found myself much


Preferring P. J. Wiseman to [the] un-wise JEDP


Now, those toledôt that will be of interest in this particular article are the ones numbered above as 1, 2 and 3 (for the location of the Edenic Paradise and the Flood) and 7 (for the location of Sodom).


  1. Eden and its Rivers


None of these models, however … properly takes heed of the biblical information,

especially the geographical indicators supplied by editor Moses.


As we are going to learn, there is a vital geographical connection between the location of Eden and the extent of Noah’s Flood.

Various models have been proposed for the Flood.

Many, notably Creationists, believe that it was a global event, and that it had wiped out all trace of previous civilisations. A tabula rasa effect.

Others would have the Flood as being only local, usually confined to a part of Mesopotamia. A unique contribution to the debate was that by the Australian, Wallace Johnson, formerly an Evolutionist who turned Creationist. Wallace, whilst accepting the notion of a global Flood, still allowed for a pre- and post-Flood archaeology. This was interesting, but quite unrealistic.

None of these models, however, according to my own estimate, properly takes heed of the biblical information, especially the geographical pointers supplied by editor Moses.

What do these tell us?


Paradise (Genesis 2)


After the first toledôt: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created” (Genesis 2:4), we arrive at the toledôt of Adam, concluding with: “This is the book of the generations of Adam” (Genesis 5:1). This toledôt quite appropriately, as being that of Adam, involves the description of Eden, or Paradise, and its Garden, beginning with (vv. 8-9):

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Next, occurs mention of Eden’s ancient river (v. 10): “A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches”. This is a most basic statement, one perhaps befitting first man, Adam. Immediately following it, however, is a more precise and detailed statement, which I think must have been added much later by Moses. And, indeed, Professor A. Yahuda (The Language of the Pentateuch in its Relation to Egyptian, Oxford, 1933)saw clearly, as have others, that this description was a scribal addition to the ancient Genesis document:

The whole passage 2:10-14 though belonging to the story itself has so far the character of a gloss in that it does not refer to Paradise itself, but to the relation of the four rivers to this one river of Paradise. Indeed, many critics have already a clear inkling that by this passage the flow of the narrative is interrupted and that accordingly it must have been inserted here from another version [sic] of the Paradise story; but in spite of all this it is connected by them with Paradise itself and they assume that the four rivers belong to Paradise ….

So far we have learned that the Garden of Eden was geographically located so as to benefit from a pristine river, one that would proceed on from there to become four rivers – presumably the rivers from which the whole land of Eden would be irrigated. Such, according to the Bible, is the primitive geography and hydrography of Adam’s time.

But so what, critics would say, since neither Adam, nor Paradise, ever existed.

The Creationists, for their part, whilst agreeing with this basic Genesis scenario, would argue that none of this is now traceable owing to the totally erasing effects of the global Flood. But these now have to contend with Moses, who will add to the primitive narrative some more precise and recognisable details.

Whilst professor Yahuda had considered the “gloss” to embrace vv. 10-14, I would suggest instead vv. 11-14, which read, regarding those four branches:

The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold.(The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.)The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

This is more like it: “Havilah” land of gold and gemstone, “Cush”, “Tigris”, “Ashur”, “Euphrates”. We know much more about these.

Oh, but, say the Creationists, these cannot be the actual Tigris and Euphrates, and locations of the same names, of post-diluvian times. The latter they say – and they have said this to me – are duplicated names of the antediluvian ones – like when old world colonisers, such as the British, frequently replicated names (such as “Armidale”, “Newcastle”), but now in Australia.

Ironically, however, those Bible-believing Creationists are, in this case, employing an argument that is not consistent with the biblical data. Moses is, as I am now going to argue, telling us something quite different – that the four antediluvian rivers of Genesis 2:10/11-14 are the very same ones as those he knew in his postdiluvian age, many centuries after Adam.  To demonstrate this, as I have demonstrated it before, I shall need to move on now into Genesis 14, to the history of Abram (Abraham) as recorded in our toledôt No. 7, Ishmael’s: “These are the generations of Ishmael” (Genesis 25:12).

2. Location of Sodom (Pentapolis)

Moses, having led the Israelites (archaeologically = the Middle Bronze I people) in Exodus out of Twelfth Dynasty Egypt,

Moses – May be Staring Revisionists Right in the Face


and right to the edge of the Promised Land, had – at some point in time – added his geographical notes to the ancient documents of his forefathers for the sake of his people who would shortly come to occupy much of this land. Moses himself well knew the region, as he had already spent 40 years with the Midianites in the southern Paran desert:

                             True Mount Sinai in the Paran Desert                             


And Moses had, even prior to that, successfully led Egyptian armies into at least the Sinai and southern Palestinian regions. So Moses, whilst carefully preserving the original patriarchal histories, had also up-dated these, as editors do. For example, he provided new names in cases where older ones had since been replaced.

And, in so doing, Moses has allowed for us to know exactly where Sodom was located.

Genesis 14 apparently was in particular need of an update. Hence we are advised by Moses:

Bela (that is, Zoar) (vv. 2, 8);

Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea) (v. 3);

En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh) (v. 7);

Hobah (that is, north of Damascus) (v. 15);

Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley) (v. 17).

And what has all this to do with Sodom?

Well it is to the fertile valley region of the Valley of Siddim (v. 3), where Sodom was located, that Lot had chosen to dwell (Genesis 13:10-11): “ 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 Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east”. According to (http://www.keyway.ca/htm2002/20020708.htm): “Lot chose to live in the Valley of Siddim because it was then “well watered everywhere like the garden of The Lord” …”. By the time of the Exodus, though, we find, the Valley of Siddim, shockingly, had virtually ceased to be. Moses tells the Israelites that it was now “the Salt Sea” (the Dead Sea), a most desolate region – sometimes described as the ‘entrance to Hell’.

It is thus a far cry from the fertile Valley of Siddim that had so attracted Lot.

Since the original account (14:3) had been written at around the time of Abraham, a dire and fiery cataclysm had totally defaced the primeval Valley of Siddim in whose place now stood the eerie, sinking, and stinking (one of its actual names) Sea. אֶל-עֵמֶק, הַשִּׂדִּים:  הוּא, יָם הַמֶּלַח ))On biblical evidence, therefore – and thanks to the added information supplied by Moses – we can probably say with great certitude that Sodom must now lie at the bottom of the Dead Sea. There came to light some fascinating news about this very issue back in 2010 (http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/141132#.VWUY2k3GN9A):

Russia and Jordan have signed an agreement to search the bottom of the Dead Sea for the remains of the Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Arabic news media reported over the weekend.


According to the Jordanian, Israel recently sent a submarine down into the Dead Sea in an attempt to explore the bottom of the sea, but discovered that the objects in the NASA photos were on the Jordanian side of the sea. Jordan prevented the Israelis from searching over the border, and now Jordan is seeking to discover what it believes are the remains of the cities by itself.

[End of quote]

I believe that they are at least looking in the right place, if they can ever agree to co-operate.

Perhaps Moses, when providing this particular annotation, about “the Dead Sea”, did not want his people blundering into the region hoping to find, as according to the out-dated (in this case) patriarchal geography, a beautiful fertile valley.

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

Genesis 19:


19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house.They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind himand said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here,13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry[a] his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

16 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,[b] please!19 Your[c] servant has found favor in your[d] eyes, and you[e] 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.[f])

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.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

3. Connecting 1. and 2.


If we believe in biblical consistency, and in the Bible’s interpreting itself, then the methodology used by Moses here, in Genesis 14, of providing a newer name to connect the same location to its ancient name, becomes the key also to the methodology of Genesis 2.


The “Hu” (הוּא) Factor

The very same Hebrew word,



that we find used in each of those editorial clarifications in Genesis 14, and translated as (“that is, …) – {it can also be rendered as (“which is”), or (“the same is”)} – is the word that we also find the consistent Moses had using in the case of that geographical gloss in 2:11-14:

v. 11 Pishon, that is:פִּישׁוֹן–הוּא

v. 13 Gihon, the same is: גִּיחוֹן—הוּא

v. 14 Tigris (or Hiddekel), that is: חִדֶּקֶל, הוּא

v. 14 that is, the Euphrates (or Perath): הוּא פְרָת

Clearly Moses was connecting the four rivers, still known in his day, to their ancient counterparts (no doubt their courses had changed to some extent) at the time of Adam. He left us in no doubt about this by stating that one of the ‘Adamic’ rivers (un-named in Adam’s toledôt), the “Tigris”, ran by “Ashur” (or Assur), meaning either Assyria or the city of Ashur. Another, the Gihon, encompassed Cush (or Nubia), a land well known to Egypt which had conquered Cush at the time of (and legend says by) Moses.

These rivers were still healthy and flowing more than a millennium after Moses, at the time of Sirach (C2nd century BC?), who now includes the Jordan:

Sirach 24:25 The Law overflows with Wisdom like the Pishon River, like the Tigris at fruit-picking time.

Sirach 24:26 The Law brims over with understanding like the Euphrates, like the Jordan at harvest time.

Sirach 24:27 It sparkles with teachings like the Nile, like the Gihon at grape-picking time.

And they are still known to this very day!

What all of this means is that, contrary to the view of the Creationists, the Garden of Eden was raised on, to use the words Dr. Carol A. Hill, “a modern landscape”.

She has, in her paper on this subject, dealt a telling blow to global floodism (http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2000/PSCF3-00Hill.html  emphasis added):

The Garden of Eden:
A Modern Landscape

In this paper, I try to apply the findings of modern geology to Gen. 2:10-14. I deduce from the evidence that the four rivers of Eden–the Pishon, the Gihon, the Hiddekel, and the Euphrates–were real rivers which existed on a modern landscape before Noah’s flood. The now-dry Wadi al Batin was probably the Pishon River, the Gihon was probably the Karun River, and the Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates Rivers flowed in approximately the same courses as they occupy today. The confluence of these four rivers was located at the head of the Persian Gulf, but a Gulf that may have been inland from where it is today. The spring which “rises up” in Eden could have been supplied by the Dammam Formation, the principal aquifer of the region. Oil-drilling in southern Iraq confirms that six miles of sedimentary rock exist below the biblical site for the Garden of Eden. This same sedimentary rock is the source of bitumen at Hit, a site which may have supplied Noah with pitch for constructing the ark. The question is asked: How could pre-flood Eden have been located over six miles of sedimentary rock supposedly formed during Noah’s flood?  


[End of quote]

I believe that Dr. Hill is entirely correct in what she has written here regarding modern geology, the sedimentary rock and how this affects Flood models, and also the fact that “the Hiddekel (Tigris) and Euphrates Rivers flowed in approximately the same courses as they occupy today”. Her location of the Gihon river away from Cush (Nubia) to Persia, and identified as “the Karun River”, is not the direction that I would be going, however. See my:

The Location of Paradise (Genesis 2:10-2:14)



Extent of the Noachic Flood


According to 2 Peter 3:6:

“Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished”.

And that, for me, determines the extent of the Flood, “the world that then was”.

What world then was?

It was obviously the world of Noah’s time, toledôt 3: “These are the generations of Noah” (Genesis 6:9). That “world” was still basically the same one as the antediluvian world described a mere four chapters earlier, in Genesis 2, a world enframed by the four rivers. Since that is what I believe that the Bible is telling us, I must therefore reject, as un-biblical, those various Flood models to which I had referred earlier:

whether global – Moses and Dr. Hill combined spell death to this view;

or localised (e.g. to Mesopotamia) – that is too limited for the riverine world of Genesis;

or Wallace Johnson’s unorthodox version – an impossible combination.

For my model, which I hope combines both the biblical evidence and common sense, see:

Just How ‘Global’ Was The Great Flood? (Genesis 6-9). Part One.


and Part Two:


This version allows for a Noachic Flood that was much vaster than one located purely in, say, Mesopotamia, as well as being able to accommodate a real pre- and post-Flood archaeology, the validity of which Creationist Wal Johnson had perceived.


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