This city was situated along the SE boundary of Canaan. (Gen. 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. (Gen. 14:2, 3) This plain is believed to have been that area now submerged beneath the southern part of the Dead Sea, S of the tongue of land called the Lisan, which extends outward from the eastern shore.—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. (Gen. 13:5-13; 2 Pet. 2:7, 8) Sometime later, after a twelve-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.—Gen. 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.”—Gen. 14:13-24.
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.—Gen. 18:16, 20-33.
The city showed it deserved destruction, for a vile mob of Sodomites, including boys and old men, surrounded Lot’s house attempting to rape his angelic guests. The next day, after Lot, his wife and two daughters left the city, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by sulfur and fire. (Gen. 19:1-29; Luke 17:28, 29) Thereafter Sodom and Gomorrah became a proverbial figure of utter destruction from the hand of God Almighty (Deut. 29:23; Isa. 1:9; 13:19; Jer. 49:18; 50:40; Lam. 4:6; Amos 4:11; Zeph. 2:9; Rom. 9:29) and of extreme wickedness.—Deut. 32:32; Isa. 1:10; 3:9; Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 16:46-56; see GOMORRAH.
Jude mentions that “Sodom and Gomorrah . . . are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” This would not conflict with Jesus’ statement about a Jewish city that should reject the good news: “It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city.” Sodom and Gomorrah were everlastingly destroyed as cities, but this would not preclude a resurrection for people of those cities.—Jude 7; Matt. 10:15; compare Luke 11:32; 2 Peter 2:6.
“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.