Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Zoara

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A titular see of Palestina Tertia. It is the ancient Bala or Segor, one of the five cities of the Pentapolis (Gen., xiv, 2, 8), which escaped the thunder and lightning for having sheltered Lot and his family (Gen., xix, 22, 30). It is mentioned by Josephus ("Ant. Jud.", XIII, xv, 4; "Bell. Jud.", IV, viii, 4); Ptolemy (V, xvi, 4); and by Eusebius and Saint Jerome in the "Onomasticon". The "Notitiae dignitatum", 72, places at Zoara, as a garrison, the resident equites sagitkarii indigenae; Stephen of Byzantium (De urbibus, s.v. Addana) speaks also of its fort, which is mentioned in a recently-discovered Byzantine edit of the fifth century (Revue biblique, 1909, 99). In a Mosaic map of Madaba, of the sixth century, it is represented in the midst of a grove of palm trees under the names of Balac or Segor, now Zoara; near the city is a sanctuary to St. Lot. Hierocles (Syneedemus) and George of Cyprus (Description of the Roman World) both mention it. Some bishops have been ascribed to Zoara; Musonius, at Ephesus (449), and at Chalcedon (451); Isidore in 518; and John in 536 (Le Quien, "Oriens christ.", III, 737-746). At the end of the fourth century one of its bishops accompanied the western pilgrim, wrongly named Silvia (Geyer, "Itinera hierosolymitana", 54). The pseudo-Antonius in the sixth century describes its monks, and extols its palm trees (op. cit., 166, 181). Owing to its tropical climate and to the waters coming down from the mountains of Moab, Zoara is a flourishing oasis where the balsam, indigo, and date trees bloom luxuriantly. During the French occupation it took the name of Palmer, or of Paumier. William of Tyre (XXII, 30) and Foulcher of Chartres (Hist. hierosol., V) have left beautiful descriptions of it, as well as the Arabian geographers, who highly praise the sweetness of its dates (Guy Le Strange, "Palestine under the Moslems", 289). It is not known when the city disappeared; it is now very difficult to find any traces of it. Search may be made in the Ghor-es-Safieh at the mouth of Wadi el-Qrahy, the ancient torrent of Zared.

NEUBAUER, La geographie du Talmud (Paris, 1868), 256 sq.; THOMSEN, Loca sancta, I (Halle, 1907), 64; ABEL, Une croisiere autour de la mer Morte (Paris, 1911), 77-82.

S. VAILHÉ