Ashes, Brimstone, Salt, & Burning

All “the Cities of the Plain” were situated on very fertile land nearby the Dead Sea (Gen. 13:12, 19:25, 29). Therefore, they developed into strong and prosperous Kingdoms. The food was plentiful. The people were idle. Generally, no one was slavishly preoccupied with hard labor. In their prosperity, they became proud, selfish, curious, and mad (Ezek. 16:49-50). The Kings formed an alliance and competed for notoriety and fame (Gen. 14:1-4, 23). Naturally, in the process of time, the people in the surrounding region were attracted to the rich lifestyle of these Kingdoms, which then caused their societies to grow in population.

Cemeteries of several million graves are reported to be in the region, with many of them having been dug up over time by looters.


The Cities of the Plain were walled, fortified, and gated. Sinners felt a sense of peace and security in their walls. Somehow, even Lot was eventually absorbed into the walls of Sodom! This is not the kind of place where a righteous man should be residing (Ps. 1:1-3, 26:3-5; 2 Cor. 6:17-18).

Of course, Lot would like to think that he was making a difference in Sodom. He would tell you that he was making a good impact upon society (Gen. 19:1, 9). Clearly, Lot didn’t see the futility of his efforts. Nor did he realize that he and his family were in grave danger! Society there was governed by hedonistic pleasure and lawless recreation, and Lot wasn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon. He had already given his two daughters in marriage to Sodomites (Gen. 19:14)! Lot wasn’t changing Sodom. In reality, Sodom was changing Lot! This much is clear in the testimony of Scripture.

Lot was outrageously corrupt in his convictions. His moral compass was broken. The unholy City that deceived him err long defiled him! No decent father would give his newly betrothed virgin daughters to a raging mob of lustful Sodomites, while saying to them, “do ye to them as is good in your eyes” (Gen. 19:8). This kind of thinking comes from the toxic influence of bad company. “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Cor. 15:33).

First, Sodom attracted Lot. Then, Sodom corrupted Lot. Meanwhile, Sodom enchanted Lot’s wife and perverted Lot’s daughters. The man lost everything in the end! Lot’s wife died and his daughters got him drunk and raped him (Gen. 19:31-38). Lot’s misery didn’t end there! The incestuous grandchildren that would be born from this nightmare scenario were cursed (Gen. 19:37-38).

Think about it! It all began with one look towards Sodom and Gomorrah. The attraction was strong. The appeal was alluring. The Edenic scenery and the promise of prosperity was enough for Lot to willingly suffer the gross immorality of the people, even though they “vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Pet. 2:7-9).

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the Garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.” - Gen. 13:10

Amazingly, the natural habitat of this area was comparable to the Garden of Eden. However, the narrator of Genesis emphasized that this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 13:10). Something unique about this fire vanquished the Cities and permanently altered the land so that it continues to this day as a wasteland of ashes. Under inspiration, the Apostle Peter emphasized that the Edenic Garden was turned into ashesand by this he meant that it was doomed to remain as ashes forever (2 Pet. 2:6; Isa. 13:19-22). As a Jew, and a native-born Israeli, the Apostle Peter would have had ample opportunity to personally visit the site in question to see it for himself. The same could be said of his contemporaries in the 1st Century.

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;” - 2 Peter 2:6

A Jewish historian of the 1st Century, Flavius Josephus by name, personally visited the plains nearby the Dead Sea and reported that the ashes were still there in heaps resembling the shadows of great cities. This was a well-known fact among the Jewish people. Josephus said, “…and in fact vestiges of the divine fire and faint traces of five cities are still visible.” Also, concerning Lot’s wife, Josephus boldly declared: “I have seen this pillar which remains to this day.” This is a noteworthy testimony by a credible historian. Nevertheless, we can know for sure, purely from Holy Scripture, that the fire and brimstone turned the Cities of the Plain into an uninhabitable wasteland.

And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:” - Deut. 29:23

Still to this day it impossible for anything green to grow in the Cities of the Plain. The scenes of this wasteland have been broadcasted online by archaeologists and investigators for decades. You can see it for yourself! Normally, when great fires reduce cities and lands into ashes, this contributes to the fertility of the soil for years to come. In fact, a farming technique was named after this phenomenon called “slash-and-burn”. Farmers know that they need to give their lands rest to replenish the nutrients of the soil. The ashes produced by normal fires are rich in the nutrients needed for fertilization.

The slash-and-burn farming technique leaves a layer of ash that
fertilizes the farmland for years to come.


Normally, ash promotes the regrowth of trees and vegetation. Obviously, this wasn’t the case for Sodom & Gomorrah. Otherwise, the Edenic region of the Cities of the Plain would have regrown into even greater gardens. Literally, the ash of fire and brimstone prevents the regrowth of anything in the soil. Not even grass can grow in this soil! A chemical reaction takes place that changes the composition of the ash turning it into salt (CaSO4).

Remember Lot’s wife? She wasn’t the only one who turned into salt on that dreadful day judgment (Gen. 19:26, Lk. 17:32). The Cities of the Plain were turned into the same thing! Of course, we are not talking about Sodium Chloride, commonly known as Table Salt (NaCl). The salt in this case is Calcium Sulfate (CaSO4). This is what Moses was referring to in Deuteronomy 29:23 when he spoke of the brimstone, and salt, and burningthat filled the terrain of the Cities around the Dead Sea.


This may seem illogical to someone who doesn’t understand chemistry. According to Dr. Moses David, “Burning sulfur will react with most materials turning them into sulfate salts.”. Partly, this is due to the extremely hot fire that is produced by burning brimstone (Deut. 29:24). Sulfur burns with a blue colored flame that can reach temperatures approaching 1600 °C. The color of fire changes with the increase of heat as follows: red (525-100 °C), orange (1100-1200 °C), white (1300-1500 °C), & blue (1400-1650 °C).

To put things in perspective, organic material burns and vaporizes at 600-650 °C. The crust of the earth melts at 1200 °C. The hotter it gets, the more things will burn, melt, and dissolve, and as a result more chemical reactions will take place.


Technically, the ash of something is the residue of matter that is left behind after a fire has fully consumed a combustible object. This ash normally appears as a gray powdery residue, but certain kinds of fire can produce a higher degree of heat that changes the constitution of the ash. Normal ash that is produced by wood, for example, has an elemental composition of Carbon, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, & Sodium. A scientific analysis of the ashes that are produced by fire and brimstone will help us understand the wisdom of Holy Scripture.

“Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plain were made up of buildings which were constructed from limestone. Limestone is a considered to be a rock. Normally, a rock doesn’t burn to produce ash. Organic materials such as wood burn in the presence of air to produce carbon dioxide, converting the carbon in the wood to carbon dioxide, leaving behind any inorganic material that is present in the wood as ash, which is primarily comprised of silica, calcium oxide, magnesia, and a lesser amount of other oxides. Limestone is calcium carbonate which when exposed to burning sulfur gas will react with the products of sulfur combustion, sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide.

First, the high temperature of sulfur combustion will result in calcination of the limestone, converting it to calcium oxide and carbon dioxide gas. At high temperatures, calcium oxide reacts with the oxides of sulfur (sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide) to produce calcium sulfate, which is the residue left behind in the combustion process. The ash left behind in the combustion of limestone is therefore calcium sulfate, which is a salt.” – Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering

The ashes left over from Sodom & Gomorrah are cursed! When this doomed landscape turned into a hellscape, the fervent heat of the fire made it impossible for anything to be sown or reaped in the land. Moses made this clear in Deuteronomy 29:23. Not even green grass could grow in this place! God made this place an example of eternal destruction. This is what Zephaniah called “a perpetual desolation” (Zeph. 2:9). The damage done wasn’t meant to be temporary.

“Plant life is not possible in the brimstone & salt terrains because of the destruction of organic residues by the fire that is produced by burning brimstone. Because of the high temperatures of sulfur combustion, all organic material will be converted into carbon dioxide gas and water vapor. Nitrogen containing organic matter will likewise be converted to NO2, and NO3 gases by the high temperatures of sulfur combustion. Furthermore, the desiccant properties of the salt capture any water that would otherwise be used by plant life.

Calcium sulfate will absorb water in its solid form without actually dissolving in the water up to a point. This water is the water of hydration. The solid is not dissolved in water yet at this point. The solid remains as a solid, but it has moisture in it. There are different forms of calcium sulfate as follows: (1) Anhydrous calcium sulfate CaSO4, (2) Calcium sulfate dihydrate, of Gypsum CaSO4.2H20, and (3) Calcium sulfate pentahydrate CaSO4.5H2O. Because every molecule of calcium sulfate can take up to five molecules of water in its solid form, it is very prone to suck up water into itself, thus it is called a desiccant.– Dr. Moses David, PhD in Chemical Engineering

This was God’s plan all along. For millennia, men have gone and looked upon the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah, and upon seeing it they began to ask questions, like, “Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? What meaneth the heat of this great anger?” (Deut. 29:24). Nearly 4,000 years have passed, and the divine message of this terrible destruction is still being broadcasted to all nations! The eternal doom of this fire is evident in the landscape. Moreover, El-esh-oklah isn’t finished! In the Last Days we will consider it perfectly.

“And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.” - Isa. 13:19-22

History will repeat itself. Humanity will grow proud, curious, and perverse through the wine of fornication in Babylon. Cities will be overrun with immorality. A staggering number of Sodomites will arise and parade themselves in the streets once again! Even so, let the reader understand, one fiery divine judgment is passedbut another one is still yet to come. The examples of history will be eclipsed in futurity! It is then that the fervent heat of fiery indignation will be revealed to the whole world (2 Pet. 3:10-12, Heb. 10:27). This is the End of the World. It is in this context that our Lord gave an ominous warning: “Remember Lot’s wife. (Lk. 17:32).