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What were Admah and Zeboiim in the Bible?

Admah and Zeboiim
Question: "What were Admah and Zeboiim in the Bible?"

Admah and Zeboiim (or Zeboyim) are two cities in the vicinity of Sodom and Gomorrah that suffered the same fate as Sodom and Gomorrah. Admah and Zeboiim are mentioned as Canaanite border cities in Genesis 10:19.

In Genesis 14:2–3 the kings of Admah and Zeboiim are mentioned as being part of an alliance that included the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah and several other kings in the vicinity. (At that time, cities often had kings.) This coalition rebelled against Kedorlaomar king of Elam and his allies who had subjugated them (Genesis 14:1.) During the conflict, Sodom was defeated, Lot and his family were taken away as prizes of war, and Abram (Abraham) came to the rescue (Genesis 14:13–16).

The cities of Admah and Zeboiim are not mentioned by name in conjunction with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but Genesis 19:28–29 indicates that more cities than just Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed: “[Abraham] 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. 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.” It is likely that Sodom and Gomorrah were simply the two largest cities in the area, but a number of smaller cities, including Admah and Zeboiim, participated in the same kind of sinful activities.

Deuteronomy 29:23 warns Israel that, if they do not follow the Lord, the land may suffer the same punishment as Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, “which the Lord overthrew in fierce anger.” This verse implies that Admah and Zeboiim were destroyed in the same manner, if not the same time, as Sodom and Gomorrah.

Finally, the cities Admah and Zeboiim are mentioned in Hosea 11:8, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim?” This verse gives us no new data about the cities, but it does emphasize that they were destroyed in judgment and that God, in His mercy, was loath to bring similar judgment on His people.

From all of the biblical data, the most logical explanation is that the cities of Admah and Zeboiim were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah and perhaps a number of other cities in the plain. Even though the historical details surrounding their destruction have been lost to us, they were clear enough in the minds of ancient Israel that these cities could serve as a warning of God’s willingness to judge when necessary.

Every historical judgment of God upon cities and nations in the past should serve to point to a greater day of judgment still to come. The only way to escape this judgment, to “flee from the coming wrath” (Luke 3:7), is to run into open arms of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who has already borne the judgment of God on behalf of all who will put their trust in Him. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Recommended Resource: Genesis - NIV Application Commentary by John Walton

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