Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Sky is Falling (on Sedom)!!!

Is it possible that an ancient tablet, currently in the British Museum, is actually a copy of what Avraham Avinu recorded the morning that Sedom was annihilated? Tablet K8538 is a clay tablet that many have referred to as "The Planisphere". It is clearly depicting some astronomical event that occurred many years ago as it contains a snapshot of the sky at a specific moment in time.

Although the tablet dates back to 700 B.C.E., the author of its cryptic message, clearly, was copying from an older text. The positions of the stars clearly show a date that is much older than the one attributed to the age of the tablet itself. If so, then one can conclude that the author was actually copying from a much earlier text.

Why would someone have bothered to copy some archaic and senseless picture of a night sky? Rather, it seems that this specific event must have been known and recorded over and over and the event recorded must have been something fantastic. With this in hand, one can appreciate some of the theories that have come about.

The tablet shows stars, planets and something streaking across the sky. Many have suggested that this must be a comet of some sort. It is clear that the observer was coming close to daytime based on the timing that can be seen from the celestial objects. There is also a plume of smoke that was drawn on one edge of the tablet.

The actual night in question and the exact year is subject to dispute. This mainly comes about because of the poor condition of the tablet and the inability to decipher all of the objects on the tablet. However, two scientists, Alan Bond and Mark Hempsell, have proposed that this observer saw a meteor entering the atmosphere. They suggest that he was located in the Middle East and, based on the trajectory of the object streaking across the sky, he saw a meteor that eventually impacted at Koefels in the Austrian Alps. This impact caused a massive plume of smoke that would have made its way all the way back to the Middle East.

This plume would have caused mass destruction and it was burning hot. It is fascinating, because it appears that Kofels has an impact crater that could match this exact scenario. I must concede, Bond and Hempsell place this event at a much earlier date than Avraham Avinu's lifetime (actually it would be in Enosh's lifetime, perhaps, the "flood" of his time since it came from the direction of the sea), but it is of note that the date is hotly contested. Also, with this event happening within biblical times and within the vicinity where the biblical events were recording, one would think that such a massive and destructive event would be recorded somewhere in the Torah.

The pesukim (Bereishis 19:27-28) record Avraham Avinu rising at dawn and watching toward the direction of Sedom and witnessing a pillar of smoke arising from that area. It is fascinating that the Torah records that aspect of the event and that Avraham Avinu would care to watch. Perhaps, he recorded it in order to have a document to share with others to convince them not to sin like those of Sedom. This may have become a famous document and been copied from generation to generation. Perhaps, this tablet is actually a copy of the original done by Avraham Avinu.


Anonymous said...

What's your shtikel with the korban ha'omer and s'dom?

-Dovy R., Houston

Ari S. said...

Long time since I have heard from you. Why don't you give me a call or an email with your contact info so I can send it. I don't think that shtikle belongs on this blog. You left me a message (like a year ago) about the ra'ah shtikle, but the phone number did not come out well so I couldn't get in touch.