For the first week of December 2019 my travels take me to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with a group connected with Shepherds Theological Seminary and The West Institute. As we visit various sites of significance for biblical studies, I will post a few pictures and a brief description. Many biblical sites exist in Jordan, but many have only been partly excavated and some have yet to be excavated. We set our primary purpose on putting the biblical descriptions front and center — the first evidence to be considered. What the Bible says trumps any attempts to ignore its testimony with regard to the identifications and dating of these sites.
Tel Hamman appears best identified as the biblical site of Abel-Shittim (“Acacia Grove”). The top of the tel sits at 425 feet below sea level in the Jordan Rift west of Amman, Jordan and east of Jericho (on the other side of the Jordan River). Here the Israelites, having completed 40 years in the wilderness between Egypt and the plains of Moab, began to commit idolatry and enter into the sinful practices of nearby Baal Peor (Numbers 25:1–15; cf. Joshua 3:1). Recent attempts to identify the site with Sodom ignore the clear biblical description of its location. Genesis 10:19 places it east of Gaza (which is located far south of the northern end of the Dead Sea). Jeremiah 49:18 reveals that no one would live in Sodom again — contrast that with a long history of habitation at Tel el-Hamman after the Middle Bronze on into the Iron Age. This is where Israel camped on the Plain of Moab before crossing the Jordan. This where Israel resided while Balak hired Balaam of Peor to curse them (Numbers 24:1–25). Tel el-Hamman is a short distance away from Baal Peor which overlooks it and where the Israelites committed idolatry and cultic prostitution (Numbers 25:1–4).
Beth-Jeshimoth sits just west of Tel el-Hamman (Numbers 33:49; see Joshua 12:3; 13:20; Ezekiel 25:9).