555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

84. What Secular Evidence Have We of the Fate of Lot's Wife?

The pillar which is mentioned in the story concerning the fate of Lot's wife, in Genesis 19, is referred to by a number of writers. Josephus (in Antiquities I, II, 4) wrote that it still remained in his day, and he had seen iti. e., the peculiar formation of crumbling, crystalline rock associated by tradition with the event. Clemens Romanus, Irenaeus and Benjamin of Tudela also wrote of the strange formation as visible in their day, but later writers stated that it had ceased to exist. It is related that, by a singular coincidence, Lieutenant Lynch, who led an American exploring party around the Dead Sea, found on the southwestern shore, at a place called by the Arabs Usdum, a pillar some forty feet high, composed of salt crystals, capped with carbonate of lime, which he assumed to have been detached by the action of the winter rains upon the rock-salt hills. Professor Palmer claims in one of his books to have seen this same formation, which the Arabs, in their usual manner, had connected with the Bible story, although it is not at all certain that the locality is identical with that indicated in Genesis. Several commentators hold that the geological character of the rocks and the prevalence of salt crystals justify the conclusion that the Bible passage might be interpreted to mean "like a pillar of salt," and that the body of Lot's wife "had become fixed for a time to the soil by saline or bituminous incrustations."