Sodom, Gomorrah, & Lot
Now we have another Old Testament tale which everyone knows—or, at least, thinks they do. At heart, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about morality, and the layman’s version is incredibly simple:
Sodom and Gomorrah were cities where evil thrived, so God smote them. Of the two cities, the sole man of virtue, Lot, was allowed to escape with his wife and daughters. Disobeying The Lord’s commandment to leave without looking back, Lot’s wife glanced over her shoulder at the celestial explosion, and for her impiety was turned into a pillar of salt.
Again, that’s what most people know of Sodom and Gomorrah, and this encapsulated version does the story little justice, indeed. As with every other story we’ve delved into so far, delving into this little slice of Genesis reveals a whole host of unsavory details which most religious scholars tend to gloss over.
Perhaps because dwelling on them for too long could cause them to doubt the actual “godliness” of their One True God, Jehovah.
The tale begins rather oddly with Abraham—formerly, Abram—lounging in a tent on the plains of Mam’re. The Lord appeared before Abraham, along with three men. Abraham begged The Lord to stay with him, and offered the three men all of the hospitality he could muster; water to wash their feet, the shade of a nearby tree, and cakes baked by Sarah—formerly, Sarai—herself. The three men accepted Abraham’s offer, and he rushed out to accommodate them, also scaring up some milk, butter, and a dressed calf for them to eat (Genesis 18:1-18:8).
The “men” are never described, incidentally, and might possibly be angels of The Lord.
Speaking of the three men, they inquired about Sarah, and Abraham replied that she was in her tent (Genesis 18:9). Jehovah then spoke up and repeated His claim that Sarah would bear a child (Genesis 18:10). The text reminds us that Abraham and Sarah are old (ancient by modern standards), and that “it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women,” meaning, of course, that she’s well past menopause (Genesis 18:11). Sarah also heard God’s proclamation, and “laughed within herself, saying, after I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also (Genesis 18:12)?”
Jehovah, not really known for His sense of humor, repeated His edict that Sarah would bear a child (Genesis 18:13-18:14). Fearful, Sarah denied laughing, but God didn’t buy it (Genesis 18:15).
Then the three men stood up, looked toward Sodom (heretofore never mentioned in Genesis), and Abraham accompanied them to help prepare for their journey (Genesis 18:16).
What happens next is the odd part. God seemed to vacillate on whether or not He should tell Abraham what His intentions were (Genesis 18:17). Being God, I’m not sure why He would be indecisive. Abraham, after all, was just a mortal…
In any case, Jehovah—perhaps speaking to the men in Abraham’s company—continued His musings, saying that Abraham would become a great and blessed nation (Genesis 18:18), that the progeny of Abraham, like Abraham himself, would keep the way of The Lord, and that He intended to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to investigate their great sin (Genesis 18:19-18:21).
As with Sodom, this is the first mention of Gomorrah in Genesis.
The men turned to leave, but Abraham drew near, asking The Lord if He intended to destroy the righteous along with the wicked (Genesis 18:22-18:23). Abraham, showing incredible moxie, offered God the proposition of finding fifty righteous men in the twin cities of evil; would He destroy them, too (Genesis 18:24)? Because that wouldn’t be right (Genesis 18:25).
Jehovah’s reply was essentially, “Of course, not,” (Genesis 18:26), and thus began a back-and-forth negotiation of souls as Abraham brought the theoretical total of righteous men down to forty-five, then forty, then thirty-five, and so on, with God finally promising not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if He found but ten virtuous men there (Genesis 18:27-18:32).
Why Abraham seems rather more concerned with morality here than the supposedly all-loving Jehovah, or why the wrathful Creator allows Abraham such impertinence, is anybody’s guess. The Lord, however, left Abraham to do His business, and Abraham—somewhat proudly, one must assume—returned unto his tent (Genesis 18:33).
The first stop was Sodom. But God didn’t go there Himself. Instead, He sent two angels to survey the wickedness of the land. Lot was conveniently at the gate (Genesis 19:1), and invited them to seek shelter in his abode (Genesis 19:2). At first, the angels balked, but finally accepted Lot’s insistent hospitality (Genesis 19:3).
Curiously, Genesis 19:3 also describes the angels partaking of a feast of unleavened bread which Lot prepared for them. One would think that the angels, being Heavenly hosts, would have no need to eat…
So. Here we have the first element which isn’t widely known:
Jehovah didn’t just blow up Sodom and Gomorrah; He sent his henchmen there first. And though it’s not uncommon to find people who do know that Biblical tidbit, only people who’ve actually read the entire chapter know all the unsavory parts of this story.
Such as what happened next.
Before the angels even had time to lay down—again, why would angels need to rest?—the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s abode (Genesis 19:4). And, pray, what did those Sodomites want?
Genesis 19:5, And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
Of course, “know” in the biblical sense means, “have sex with.”
And that’s a rather important part of the story which most people don’t know. The men of Sodom were so wicked, so vile, that they wanted to fornicate with God’s angelic messengers.
Now, remember; we’re talking about morality here. Morals. Right and wrong. What would you or I or anyone do in this situation? Probably not what Lot chose to do. Lot chose to go outside (Genesis 19:6), face the mob, and address them with these “virtuous” words:
Genesis 19:7, I pray you brethren, do not so wickedly.
Genesis 19:8, Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Nice that Lot was willing to sacrifice his virginal daughters to the crowd of nymphomaniacs surrounding his house. Another great example of how biblical women are treated under the watchful eye of Jehovah.
As generous as Lot’s offer was, the crowd wanted no part of it, and proceeded to press upon him (Genesis 19:9). But the angels stepped in an rescued Lot, pulling him back inside (Genesis 19:10). Then the angels smote the men outside with blindness so that they could only search in vain for Lot’s door (Genesis 19:11).
Now, at this point, I can’t help but wonder that, if those angels had the power to strike men blind, weren’t they also powerful enough to have stopped the crowd without cruelly taking their sight? I mean, again, we are talking about angels, after all.
Aren’t they supposed to be the embodiment of mercy and compassion?
Then again, they were supposedly created by Jehovah; who, as we’ve seen, isn’t so big on either of those qualities.
Once the crowd had been taken care of, the angels asked Lot if he had any extended family in the area. If so, they said, he really should gather them up and vacate the city of Sodom. Because it was about to be destroyed (Genesis 19:12-19:13).
Taking heed, Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law. Not his daughters, mind you, but the men who married them (Genesis 19:14).
Another not-so-subtle reminder of how important women were back then.
The next morning, the angels hastened Lot and his family out of Sodom, telling him to escape to the mountains, and admonishing him not to look back at the destruction (Genesis 19:15-19:17). Apparently, Lot was the only man of virtue to be found in either city, so Jehovah had decided to at least save him and his kin.
Lot, however, had other ideas, and argued against going into the mountains (Genesis 19:18-19:19). Instead, the put-upon man wanted to seek refuge in a small, nearby city (Genesis 19:20). The Lord readily agreed to Lot’s plan, and ushered him off to the city known as Zo’ar so that He could begin His business of wiping out Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:21-19:22).
Thus, no sooner than Lot had entered Zo’ar (Genesis 19:23), this happened:
Genesis 19:24, Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.
Genesis 19:25, And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
Again, here we have a situation similar to the Great Flood. Were there no children in Sodom and Gomorrah? No women? Were both cities really filled with nothing but slavering, homosexual men? Considering that Lot had a wife and two daughters, I think it’s safe to assume that there were indeed other families there, too. Perhaps the patriarchs of those families, not being so righteous as Lot, had their sins visited upon their wives and children regardless…
But what about the animals? Were they not blameless?
Then again, with all of the rampant animal sacrifice throughout The Old Testament, I suppose that the lives of mere animals weren’t worth much to a God who demanded their slaughter in His name, anyway. And was it really necessary for a “loving” God to destroy all the plants and trees and “that which grew upon the ground?”
Of course, Lot’s poor wife—who isn’t important enough to be named, apparently—couldn’t resist the urge to look back, and was indeed turned into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26)…
And left that way.
Even though God has thus far performed far greater miracles, He doesn’t restore Lot’s wife back to him. Interesting, eh?
I think the message is very clear:
Do not ever, ever, question The Lord or disobey His commands.
The next morning, Abraham rose and looked toward the smoking plain of where Sodom and Gomorrah once stood (Genesis 19:27-19:28). The text doesn’t describe how Abraham felt as he took in the smoldering sight, but it does seem to imply that God only saved Lot because of the promise He’d made to His favorite, circumcised, son:
Genesis 19:29, And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.
Of course, being a mere (though ancient) mortal, Abraham had absolutely no way of knowing that anyone—much less Lot and his family—had been saved from the holy storm. So I seriously doubt if the man who was “destined to become a father of great nations” was in any way comforted.
And now we come to the part of this story which seems the most obscure to religious laymen. That is, only those who’ve read this entire chapter of Genesis have any idea about it. It’s also the part which most religious zealots either skim over or try to forget about completely.
Can’t imagine why:
For reasons not explained, Lot—who originally refused to live in the mountains and preferred Zo’ar—becomes fearful of living in Zo’ar and decides to go live on a mountain. Lot also takes his precious daughters (who are also never named) with him (Genesis 19:30).
Before long, Lot’s eldest daughter bemoaned to his youngest that there was no man about to impregnate them (Genesis 19:31), so they devised a plan. Said plan was to make their father drunk with wine, then lay with him in order to preserve his seed (Genesis 19:32). So, on consecutive nights, each sister in turn performed the astounding feat of getting their father so drunk that he cannot remember having intercourse with them, yet is still able to perform sexually (Genesis 19:33-19:35).
Think about that for a moment…
Then ponder this, keeping in mind that it’s straight out of The Holy Bible:
Genesis 19:36, Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
Okay, so let’s get things straight here. God outright destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the perversity of the people within those cities. And, yet, God’s perfectly fine with Lot’s daughters deceiving him in that fashion, and having sex with him.
The so-called “perversity” of Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t described in any graphic detail, but it’s safe to assume that it was mostly sexual in nature. In fact, it probably all boiled down to homosexuality. Observe the fact that the men of Sodom wanted to “know” the angels, who were also described as “men.” And, of course, the word sodomy is derived from the root word: Sodom. The primary definition of sodomy is “anal intercourse”—a prominent sexual act amongst homosexual men—but it can also mean “sex from behind,” or the “doggy-style position.”
Thus, the message in The Book of Genesis, Chapter 19, is that homosexuality and/or sodomy is much worse than incest.
This proposition leads me to a rather poignant question. Since, in all modern first-world societies, incest is generally considered worse than homosexuality or sodomy between two consenting adults, I cannot help but ask:
Us, or God?
If God truly created us in His image, and His word truly is Law, then why have we, His children, changed and evolved so much in the last two thousand years?
Finally, as another reminder of how misogynistic the men who wrote—and the men who later transcribed, edited, and assembled The Bible—truly were, let it be known that, even though the names of Lot’s daughters weren’t important enough to mention, the names of their male children absolutely were:
Genesis 19:37, And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
Genesis 19:38, And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-am-mi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
So…we know Lot, Moab, and Ben-am-mi. But we don’t know the name of the hapless woman whom Jehovah turned into a pillar of salt, nor the names of the poor young ladies who seemingly had no choice but to deceive their own father into impregnating them.
And so it goes with The Holy Bible; the eternal word of God.
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