Five cities, like agitated siblings, marred the lush plains of the Jordan in the southern regions of the land of Canaan. Admah and Zeboiim, two twin brothers competing for recognition, but always falling short of their bigger brother and sister. Sodom, the eldest, and Gomorrah, the sister city in a constant angst for supremacy of the northern plains. Their constant bickering fell to the background only when they formed a reluctant alliance to defeat outside threats or throw off the shackles of Edamite rule. And finally, tiny Bela, an afterthought, maybe a mistake, clung to the edge of the plain where the mountain cliffs encroached. It boasted of no great stories and its king only followed in the shadow of King Bera of Sodom.
Sodom welcomed travellers the way a scorpion welcomes a tarantula into its den. Walking the road to Sodom, one saw a steep earthen burm, thirty feet high, wrapping its coils around a cowering huddle of buildings. A small ziggarat rose in the distance, moving skyward in carefully cut steps. The road led through a simple wooden gate, across a gap in the burm, and cut through the city to the prominent temple. This central avenue, the only road wide enough for a merchant cart, was the central artery from which footpaths spread through the city into dirtier and darker neighborhoods.
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