Ancient sources

Moab and Edom

24. Balak also Segor, now Zoara - (Ghor al-Safy)

ORIGINAL TEXTS

Bala, quae est Segor. Nunc Zoara nuncupatur, sola de quinque Sodomorum urbibus Lot precibus reservata. Imminet autem mari mortuo, et praesidium in ea positum est militum Romanorum; habitatoribus quoque propriis frequentatur. Et apud eam gignitur balsamum et poma palmarum, antiquae ubertatis indicia. Nullum autem moveat quod Segor eadem Zoara dicitur, cum idem nomen sit parvulae vel minoris, sed Segor Hebraice, Zoara Syriace nuncupatur. Bala autem interpretatur absorpta: super quo in libris Hebraicarum quaestionum plenius diximus.
(Jerome 43:9-16)
Zogora in Ieremia civitas Moabitarum. Haec est quae nunc vocatur Zoara sive Segor, una de quinque ciuitatibus Sodomorum.
(Jerome 95:1-2)
Soora urbs iuxta Sodomam quae et Segor et Zoara, de qua et supra diximus. (Jerome 151:18-19)


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Eusebius, Onomasticon 42:1-5 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 43:9-16 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Bala (Gen 14:2) 'which is Segor [Zo'ar]', today called Zoara, the only one of the five cities of the land of Sodoma which was saved by Lot's prayers. It is on the shore of the Dead Sea and a garrison of Roman soldiers is posted there, but it is also inhabited by its own citizens, and in its vicinity the balsam and the palm-tree grow, a token of its ancient fertility. No one should be troubled by the fact that the same city is called both Segor and Zoara, for it is the same word, meaning 'small' or 'minor', but Segor is the Hebrew name, and Zoara the Syriac.

Eusebius, Onomasticon 94,1-2 (ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 95:1-2 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Zogora in the Book of Jeremiah (Jer 48:34), a city of Moab: today it is called Zoara or Segor, one of the five cities of Sodoma.


Eusebius, Onomasticon 150:19-20
(ca. 295 A.D.); Jerome 151:18-19 (ca. 390 A.D.)
Soora (Gen 19:15-29), a city in the vicinity of Sodoma, which is called also Segor and Zoara, of which we spoke above.

BIBLICAL BACKGROUND

Gen 14:2.8 The campaign of the four great Kings
1 In the days of King Amraphel of Shinar, King Arioch of Ellasar, King Chedorlaomer of Elam, and King Tidal of Goiim, 2 these kings made war with King Bera of Sodom, King Birsha of Gomorrah, King Shinab of Admah, King Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). 3 All these joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Dead Sea). 4 Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and subdued the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, 6 and the Horites in the hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the edge of the wilderness; 7 then they turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and subdued all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar. 8 Then the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out, and they joined battle in the Valley of Siddim 9 with King Chedorlaomer of Elam, King Tidal of Goiim, King Amraphel of Shinar, and King Arioch of Ellasar, four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits; and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into them, and the rest fled to the hill country.

Gen 19:15-29
The desctruction of Sodom
When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Get up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be consumed in the punishment of the city." 16 But he lingered; so the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and left him outside the city. 17 When they had brought them outside, they said, "Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the Plain; flee to the hills, or else you will be consumed." 18 And Lot said to them, "Oh, no, my lords; 19 your servant has found favor with you, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life; but I cannot flee to the hills, for fear the disaster will overtake me and I die. 20 Look, that city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there - is it not a little one? - and my life will be saved!" 21 He said to him, "Very well, I grant you this favor too, and will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, escape there, for I can do nothing until you arrive there." Therefore the city was called Zoar. 23 The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar.
24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 and he overthrew those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26 But Lot's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28 and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the Plain and saw the smoke of the land going up like the smoke of a furnace.
29 So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain, God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had settled.

Deut 34:1-3
The death of Moses
Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land: Gilead as far as Dan, 2 all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, 3 the Negeb, and the Plain - that is, the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees - as far as Zoar.

2 Kings:8:21 Joram's War against Edom
Then Joram crossed over to Zair [Zoar] with all his chariots. He set out by night and attacked the Edomites and their chariot commanders who had surrounded him; but his army fled home.

Isa 15-16 Lament for Moab
15
:1 An oracle concerning Moab...on the housetops and in the squares everyone wails and melts in tears. 4 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out, their voices are heard as far as Jahaz; therefore the loins of Moab quiver; his soul trembles. 5 My heart cries out for Moab; his fugitives flee to Zoar, to Eglath-shelishiyah.

Jer 48:1.33 Oracle against Moab
1 Concerning Moab ... 33 Gladness and joy have been taken away from the fruitful land of Moab; I have stopped the wine from the wine presses; no one treads them with shouts of joy; the shouting is not the shout of joy. 34 Heshbon and Elealeh cry out; as far as Jahaz they utter their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim and Eglath-shelishiyah. For even the waters of Nimrim have become desolate.

MORE ANCIENT SOURCES

Josephus, War IV:482 (1st cent. A.D.)
The length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, where it is extended as far as Zoar, in Arabia; and its breadth is a hundred and fifty.

Josephus, Antiquities XIII:395-397 (1st cent. A.D.)
Now at this time the Jews were in possession of the following cities that had belonged to the Syrians, and Idumeans, and Phoenicians: At the seaside, Strato's Tower, Apollonia, Joppa, Jamnia, Ashdod, Gaza, Anthedon, Raphia, and Rhinocolura; 396 in the middle of the country, near to Idumea, Adora, and Marissa; near the country of Samaria, Mount Carmel, and Mount Tabor, Scythopolis, and Gadara; of the country of the Gaulonites, Seleucia, and Gabala; 397 in the country of Moab, Heshbon, and Medaba, Lemba, and Oronas, Gelithon, Zara, the valley of the Cilices, and Pella; which last they utterly destroyed, because its inhabitants would not bear to change their religious rites for those peculiar to the Jews. The Jews also possessed others of the principal cities of Syria, which had been destroyed.

Egeria, Itinerarium XII, 6-7 (381-384 A.D.)
To our left was the whole country of the Sodomites, including Zoar, the only one of the five cities which remains today. There is still something left of it, but all that is left of the others is heaps of ruins, because they were burned to ashes. We were also shown the place where Lot's wife had her memorial, as you read in the Bible. But what we saw, reverend Ladies, was not the actual pillar, but only the place where it had once been. The pillar itself, they say, has been submerged in the Dead Sea - at any rate we did not see it, and I cannot pretend we did. In fact it was the bishop there, the Bishop of the Zoar, who told us that it was now a good many years since the pillar had been visible. It used to stand near the sixth milestone from Zoar, but was now completely submerged by water. (Egeria uses the LXX and Latin name "Segor").


BYZANTINE ADMINISTRATIVE LISTS

Hierocles, Synecdemos 717:8-719:11 (7th cent. A.D.)
Province of Palaestina Tertia, 10 cities under a praeses: Petra, Augustopolis, Arindela, Charachmuba, Areo-polis, Zoara, Mampsis, Bitarous, Elusa, Salton.

Georgius Cyprius, 1043-1057 (7th cent. A.D.)
Province of Palaestina Tertia: Petra, Augustopolis, Arindela, Charachmoba, Areopolis, Mampsis, Elusa, Zoora, Salton, Berosaba (Beersheba), Aila, Pentakomia, Mampsara, Metrokomia, Salton Hieratikon.


EPISCOPAL CITY

Bishops' list
Musonius (A.D. 449, 451)
Isidorus (A.D. 518)
John (A.D. 536)


ICONOGRAPHIC PARALLELS

Notitia Dignitatum
(5th cent. A.D.)
Zoara

see also: 23. The (place) of Saint Lot -(Dayr 'Ayn Abbata)

Map Section 3 Place Discussion

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Created Saturday, December 16, 2000 at 11:58:08
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