CICCAR sĭk’ är (כִּכַּ֣ר, meaning a round, circle, or oval used esp. of districts, loafs and weights). Rendered “plain” (KJV) or “valley” (RSV) of the Jordan (
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Used of the circle of the Jordan (
sit’-iz, plan, (kikkar ha-yarden): Included Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Zoar. The locality is first referred to in
(1) The name of Sodom is preserved in Jebel Usdum--Usdum having the same consonants with Sodom; moreover, the name is known to have referred to a place in that region as early as the days of Galen (De Simpl. medic. Facult., 4,19) who describes certain "salts of Sodom" from the mountains surrounding the lake which are called Sodom.
(2) Zoar seems to have been represented in the
On the other hand, it is maintained that the "kikkar of the Jordan" lay North of the Dead Sea for the following reasons:
(1) That is the region which is visible from the heights of Bethel whence Abraham and Lot looked down upon it (
(2) Zoar was said to be in range of Moses’ vision from the top of Pisgah (
(4) It is argued that the region at the south end of the Dead Sea could not be described "as the garden of the Lord," etc. Neither, for that matter, could the region around the north end be so described in its present condition. But, on the other hand, the region South of the sea is by no means as devoid of vegetation as is sometimes represented, while there are convincing arguments to prove that formerly it was much more extensive and fertile than now. To the fertility of this area there is no more capable witness than Professor Hull, though he is an ardent advocate of the location of these cities at the north end of the lake. This appears both in his original diary, and in his more mature and condensed account contained in his article on the Dead Sea in Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes), where he writes, "When, in December, 1883. the writer found himself standing on the edge of the terrace overlooking the Ghor, he beheld at his feet a wide plain stretching away northward toward the margin of the Dead Sea, and to a large extent green with vegetation and thickets of small trees. To the right in an open space were seen several large Bedouin camps, from which the shouts of wild men, the barking of dogs, and the bellowing of camels ascended. Numerous flocks of black goats and white sheep were being tended by women in long blue cloaks; and on the party of travelers being observed, groups of merry children came tripping up toward the path accompanied by a few of the elders, and, ranging themselves in a line, courteously returned salutations. Here the Arabs remain enjoying the warmth, of the plain till the increasing heat of the summer’s sun calls them away to their high pasture grounds on the table-land of Edom and Moab. At a short distance farther toward the shore of the lake is the village of Es-Safieh, inhabited by a tribe of fellahin called the Ghawarneh, who by means of irrigation from the Wady el-Hessi cultivate with success fields of wheat, maize, dhurah, indigo and cotton, while they rear herds of camels and flocks of sheep and goats. On the produce of these fields the Arabs largely depend for their supplies of food and raiment, which they obtain by a kind of rude, often compulsory, barter."
Authorities favoring the south end of the Dead Sea: Dillmann, Genesis, 111 f; Robinson, BRP2, II, 187:ff; G. A. Smith, Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, 505 ff; Baedeker-Socin, Palestine, III, 146; Buhl, Buhl, Geographic des alten Palastina, 117, 271, 274; see also especially Samuel Wolcott, "Site of Sodom," Bibliotheca Sacra, XXV, 112-51. Favoring the north end: Sir George Grove in various articles in Smith, Dictionary of the Bible; Canon Tristram, Land of Moab, 330 ff; Selah Merrill, East of the Jordan, 232-39; W. M. Thomson, The Land and the Book.
George Frederick Wright