A city situated along the SE boundary of Canaan. (Ge 10:19; 13:12) Often mentioned along with Gomorrah, Sodom seems to have been the most prominent of five cities, all of which were apparently located at the Low Plain of Siddim. (Ge 14:2, 3) Many scholars believe that the original sites of Sodom and the other “cities of the District” now lie submerged beneath the waters of the Dead Sea, though some others recently have claimed that the ruins of the cities may be identified with sites along wadis to the E and SE of the Dead Sea.—Ge 13:12; see SALT SEA.
When Abraham and Lot decided to move farther apart, to avoid disputes among their herdsmen, Lot went eastward into the well-watered District of the Jordan and pitched his tent near Sodom. There he found that “the men of Sodom were bad and were gross sinners against Jehovah,” much to Lot’s distress. (Ge 13:5-13; 2Pe 2:7, 8) Sometime later, after a 12-year subjection to Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, the inhabitants of Sodom and the other four cities rebelled. In the following year, Chedorlaomer and his allies defeated Bera, the king of Sodom, and his confederates. Besides seizing possessions and foodstuffs, the victors took Lot and others captive.—Ge 14:1-12.
Abraham’s forces overtook Chedorlaomer and recovered the captives and booty, including Lot and his household. The king of Sodom insisted that Abraham keep the recovered material goods, but Abraham refused, lest Bera should say, “It was I who made Abram rich.”—Ge 14:13-24.
Everlasting Destruction. Sodom, however, persisted in a course in defiance of Jehovah, becoming known for such immoral practices as homosexuality. “The cry of complaint about Sodom and Gomorrah,” Jehovah declared, “yes, it is loud, and their sin, yes, it is very heavy.” God therefore sent his angels to destroy Sodom, with the assurance to Abraham that if ten righteous persons could be found in the place, the whole city would be spared.—Ge 18:16, 20-33.
The city showed it deserved destruction, for a vile mob of residents of Sodom, including boys and old men, surrounded Lot’s house, attempting to rape his angelic guests. The next day, after Lot, along with his wife and two daughters, left the city, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by sulfur and fire. (Ge 19:1-29; Lu 17:28, 29) Thereafter Sodom and Gomorrah became a proverbial figure of utter destruction from God Almighty (De 29:23; Isa 1:9; 13:19; Jer 49:18; 50:40; La 4:6; Am 4:11; Zep 2:9; Ro 9:29) and of extreme wickedness.—De 32:32; Isa 1:10; 3:9; Jer 23:14; Eze 16:46-56; see GOMORRAH.
Concerning a Jewish city that would reject the good news, Jesus said: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” (Mt 10:15; 11:23, 24) Of course, Jude 7 says that Sodom and Gomorrah “are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” So Jesus’ statement evidently was simply making use of hyperbole to emphasize how unlikely it was that people from certain first-century Jewish cities would repent even on Judgment Day.
“In a Spiritual Sense.” Revelation 11:3, 8 says that the corpses of God’s “two witnesses” lay in the broad way of the great city ‘called in a spiritual sense Sodom and Egypt.’ Isaiah’s prophecy (1:8-10) likens Zion or Jerusalem to Sodom and calls her rulers “dictators of Sodom.” However, about 96 C.E. when John was given the Revelation vision of events to occur in the future, the typical city of Jerusalem had been destroyed long before, in 70 C.E. The reference therefore must be to a “great city” or organization, an antitypical Jerusalem, pictured by unfaithful Jerusalem of old.