Crime and Punishment in Sodom and Gomorrah

Pieter Schoubroeck, De verwoesting van Sodom en Gomorra (The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah), 16th century

In many religious circles, Sodom and Gomorrah have become watchwords for the moral panic many people feel in connection with the perceived corruption and depravity of society. The metaphor is invoked particularly by those who oppose the increasing acceptance of homosexuality, and it is not hard to see why. The story of Sodom in Genesis 19 is a vivid tale of fire-and-brimstone destruction, and same-sex attraction is frequently thought to be the main crime for which its denizens are punished. Understandably, then, this biblical passage has become a target for Christians on both side of the debate who need the Bible to express either condemnation or silence on the matter. If the biblical story of Sodom is an infallible morality tale, then interpreting it correctly is of utmost importance.

But is an unbiased theological interpretation really possible? How is it that Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and patriarch of the US’s largest Protestant denomination, can claim that Sodom and Gomorrah is all about God’s wrath over homosexuality¹, while Matthew Vines, author of God and the Gay Christian, sees no such condemnation at all in the story?²

For my part, I find all this odium theologicum tiresome and counterproductive. I have no interest in making the Bible conform to my personal convictions. However, I remain keenly interested in what it does say and what its authors believed. Is Genesis 19 a straightforward tale of sexual perversion? If not, what is the story about, and where did it come from?

Sodom and the Cities of the Plain: An Evolving Tradition

This story stands out for a number of reasons. Although the other people and events of Genesis are rarely mentioned in the Old Testament outside the Pentateuch, Sodom and Gomorrah are referred to frequently in the prophetic books — Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Amos, and Zephaniah. Upon close inspection, however, none of these passages seem to be direct allusions to Genesis 19, since they show no awareness of the story about Abraham, Lot and the angels. With the Pentateuch increasingly seen as a late work post-dating the majority of the prophetic writings, it seems likely that these vague references outside the Pentateuch preceded the creation of the tale about Lot and the angels in Sodom. (For more reasons why Genesis is likely to post-date other Sodom references, see Brodie p. 435.)

Though “Sodom and Gomorrah” are usually referred to as though they were a pair of cities, the story and its context appears to involve a plain with five cities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar. Moreover, there appears to be a chronological pattern in the biblical references to these names. Most of the earlier prophetic writings refer to either Sodom alone or to “Sodom and Gomorrah” as a pair. Hosea, a book associated with northern Israel, mentions only Admah and Zeboiim (11:8). Deuteronomy 29:23 mentions the first four cities (all but Zoar) as a group, as does Genesis 10:19. Only in Genesis 14 — often considered to be a late addition — and in later extra-biblical writings like the Wisdom of Solomon do all five cities appear by name.

Some scholars propose, then, that “Sodom and Gomorrah” and “Admah and Zeboiim” originated as separate traditions in Judah and Samaria, respectively. In most of the prophetic passages that invoke them, they seem to be paradigmatic examples of wickedness and divine punishment. Eventually, these traditions were merged, and all four names came to be associated with the desolate plains along the Dead Sea. Even later, a fifth city, Zoar, was added, and the idea of a “pentapolis” was born.

Whether any of these cities actually existed historically is difficult to say. No archaeological site has been linked to them with any certainty. Some Bible scholars assume that there must have been real places by those names that experienced some kind of ecological devastation. Others, however, posit that these cities (at least as portrayed in Genesis) are purely literary or folklore inventions. The story itself is generally seen as an aetiology to explain the ecological wasteland of the plains near the Dead Sea. It is widely noted that the story has more in common with the mythological tales of the “Primeval History” (the first eleven chapters of Genesis) than it does with the patriarchal narrative into which it has been placed.

Lot leaving Sodom, Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle

“Lot leaving Sodom”, Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle

Other Literary Parallels

In an earlier article about an allusion to Ovid’s Metamorphoses in the book of Acts, I mentioned some remarkable parallels that exist between the stories of Abraham and Lot in Genesis 18–19 and two separate but similar stories by the Roman poet Ovid — one in found in book eight of Metamorphoses, and one in book five of Fasti. Though ignored by many of commentaries and monographs that I read while researching this article, these parallels are very instructive in showing us how the story was created and what it means in a moral sense.

Both stories by Ovid (which undoubtedly have older roots) are concerned chiefly with hospitality. In each, the protagonists encounter traveling strangers and offer them food and shelter. Unbeknownst to them, the strangers are gods in disguise. As a result of the protagonists’ hospitality, they are rewarded; and in Metamorphoses, the people of the surrounding region who did not show hospitality are destroyed for their wickedness. Almost every major plot point in Genesis 18 (Abraham’s encounter with three strangers) and Genesis 19 is paralleled in these texts. Although Ovid wrote much too late to have influenced the writing of Genesis, it is very likely that both drew upon the same literary motif — conceivably even a now-lost literary work. The most obvious parallels are shown below. Ovid’s story about Hyrieus (from Fasti) is in green text, and his story about Baucis and Philemon (from Metamorphoses) is in purple.

Genesis 18–19

Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Fasti

Three divine beings (Yahweh and two angels) travelling through the countryside arrive at Abraham’s tent.

Three divine beings (Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury) travelling through the countryside arrive at the cottage of Hyrieus.

The place is distinctive for its sacred oak trees.

The place is distinctive for its sacred trees, including an oak.

The visitors’ divine identities are a secret.

The visitors’ divine identities are a secret.

Abraham, an old man, offers them hospitality.

Hyrieus, an old man, offers them hospitality.

Abraham and Sarah prepare a feast for the visitors, including a slaughtered calf.

Hyrieus prepares a feast for the visitors, including a slaughtered ox.

Yahweh reveals his identity.

Jupiter reveals his identity.

Abraham and Sarah desire a child, but Sarah is barren and old.

Hyrieus desires a child, but his wife is deceased.

Yahweh promises that Sarah will have a child.

Jupiter performs a miracle so that Hyrieus will have a child.

A set time later, Isaac is born.

Ten months later, Orion is born.

Two divine beings (angels) arrive at Sodom.

Two divine beings (Jupiter and Mercury) arrive at a region of Phrygia.

Their divine identities are a secret.

Their divine identities are a secret.

They receive hospitality and shelter only from Lot.

They receive hospitality and shelter only from Baucis and Philemon.

Lot prepares a feast for the visitors.

Baucis and Philemon prepare a feast for the visitors.

The visitors reveal their superhuman status by performing a miracle (causing blindness).

The visitors reveal their superhuman status by performing a miracle (replenishing the wine).

The visitors pronounce judgment on the rest of Sodom for its wickedness.

The visitors pronounce judgment on the rest of the region for its wickedness.

Lot and his family are granted immunity.

Baucis and Philemon are granted immunity.

Lot and his family are told to flee to the hills.

Baucis and Philemon are told to flee to a mountain.

The plain is destroyed in natural disaster (a rain of fire).

The plain is destroyed in a natural disaster (a flood).

Lot’s wife looks back to watch.

Baucis and Philemon look back to watch.

Lot’s wife undergoes metamorphosis (into a pillar of salt).

Baucis and Philemon undergo metamorphosis (into trees).

However, a section in the middle of the story (19:4–11) deviates from the plot of Ovid’s tale about Philemon and Baucis. This section constitutes a sub-plot that is nearly identical to the story of the traveling Levite and his concubine in Judges 19:

The visitors to the Sodom intend to spend the night in the square.

A Levite traveling with his concubine prepares to spend a night in the square in Gibeah.

Lot, a foreigner residing in Sodom, puts them up in his house.

A foreigner residing in Gibeah puts them up in his house.

A violent mob consisting of all the city’s men surrounds the house and demands that the visitors be handed over (“so that we might know them”).

A violent mob of the city’s men surrounds the house and demands that the visitors be handed over (“so that we might know them”).

Lot offers to hand over his virgin daughters instead.

The master of the house offers to hand over his virgin daughter and the concubine instead.

The mob refuses.

The mob refuses.

(no parallel)

The Levite’s concubine is handed over to the mob, and she is raped and killed.

It’s quite obvious that one of these passages copied from the other. Although it doesn’t matter much either way, I wonder if the author of Genesis crafted the Sodom and Gomorrah story by combining the (Hellenistic?) motif of showing hospitality to “gods in disguise” with the biblical Gibeah story and the Sodom traditions in the prophets.

Genesis 19 continues with a sub-plot about the city of Zoar that feels a little clumsy. Lot convinces the angels to spare Zoar from destruction so he can seek refuge there instead of the hills. But he leaves Zoar anyway, and goes up to the hills to live in a cave. Then we are told there is “not a man on earth” for Lot’s two daughters to procreate with (not even in Zoar?), so they get Lot drunk and rape him. The incestuous offspring that are born as a result become the eponymous ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites.

Bible scholar Thomas Römer (2011, see bibliography below) suggests that the verses about Zoar are a later insertion into the story. Without them, the story reads more naturally: Lot and his daughters escape to the hills as instructed; and with all the cities destroyed, there is no one left to marry his daughters. (I would also observe that as the story reads now, Lot’s wife looks back once they are in Zoar, which makes little sense.) Römer suggests that Zoar — a city mentioned elsewhere in the Bible with no connection to Sodom and Gomorrah — might have been a habitable oasis in an otherwise desolate region. By inserting Zoar into the story here, the redactor provided an interesting origin legend for the city as well as an aetiology for its name (meaning “little”, because Lot asks the angels to spare one “little” city).

According to the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon 10:8, all five cities were destroyed with fire. Is it possible that the author was working from a copy of Genesis in which Zoar was not spared?

Fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1860

Fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, 1860

What Was the Sin of Sodom?

Determining what the sin Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for in the Bible is a difficult task, as there are at least three stages of tradition to consider: (1) Sodom as described in the prophets, (2) Sodom as portrayed in Genesis 19, and (3) the interpretation of Genesis 19 in later biblical writings, particularly the New Testament. We may also note how other early authors understood the passage.

Sodom and Gomorrah in the Prophets

In Isaiah 1, Judah is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, whose sins are not actually described but can be inferred from the writer’s description of Jerusalem as a city of murderers and thieves who love bribes and ignore the plights of widows and orphans (vv. 21–23).

Similarly, in Jeremiah (23:14), Jerusalem is compared to Sodom and Gomorrah for “committing adultery, walking in lies, and strengthening the hands of evildoers”.

Ezekiel condemns Jerusalem as committing sins worse than those of Sodom, which he describes thusly:

This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; (16:49–50a)

Interestingly, Ezekiel predicts the restoration of Sodom a few verses later!

I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters… As for your sisters, Sodom and her daughters shall return to their former state. (16:53a, 55a)

Whatever tradition Ezekiel has in mind, it is clearly not the story of Genesis 19. However, he is very clear about the nature of Sodom’s sin, which might be described as social injustice and pride.

Taking these allusions together, it seems that Sodom and Gomorrah function as examples for whatever type of wrongdoing the biblical author is accusing Judah or Israel of. The only hint of sexual immorality is the reference to adultery in Jeremiah.

Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19

The story of Lot and the angels in Genesis 19 is clearly patterned, above all, after the motif of showing hospitality to strangers. It seems likely, then, that inhospitality is supposed to typify the wickedness for which the cities of the plain are destroyed.

The inclusion of the violent mob sub-plot complicates this somewhat. The idea that rape is involved hangs almost entirely on what is meant by the word “know” in the mob’s demand: “Bring [the men] out to us, so that we may know them” (v. 5).

It is widely assumed, not unreasonably, that this is a euphemism for sexual intercourse, as it occasionally is in other passages, and that the mob is intent on raping the two visitors. Some scholars, however, point out the use of juridical terminology in the story, and insist that a meaning of “interrogate” is more likely correct (see Morschauser 2003). And it goes without saying that such an interrogation would involve physical violence.

It makes little difference either way. The point is not at all that Sodom (and the other cities, which don’t even figure in the story) is somehow populated entirely with gay men who can’t control their urges. The author’s intent is to highlight their unjust treatment of strangers in contrast with Lot; mob violence and rape are simply an example of how out-of-hand things have gotten. As Robert S. Kawashima (see bibliography) puts it:

The entire episode centers on the theme of hospitality, the very foundation of civilization, which, one might say, begins the moment one can seek food and shelter in a stranger’s home. Lot in effect wins his family’s salvation by protecting the strangers who have come under his roof, even at grave risk to his household—arguably outdoing his uncle’s hospitality in the previous scene (Gen 18). If Lot thus maintains the sanctity of the guest-host relationship, the men of Sodom subvert it instead, seeking to rape the strangers who have entered their city’s gates. (Kawashima p. 92)

Sodom and Gomorrah in the Deuterocanon

The Wisdom of Solomon, drawing upon the Genesis account, describes the Sodomites as wicked and impious in ch. 10. In ch. 19, Egypt is compared to them for its inhospitality and abuse of the Jews.

According to 3 Maccabees, the people of Sodom were “arrogant” and notorious for their vices. For Ben Sira as well, the sin of Lot’s neighbours was pride (16.8).

Sodom and Gomorrah in the New Testament

In Luke 10:10–12, after instructing the disciples to be entirely reliant upon the hospitality offered to them during mission trips, Jesus makes a comparison between the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah and the punishment that awaits the cities that do not welcome them. The theme of punishment for inhospitality is clearly present here.

Matthew, in the passages parallel to Luke’s (10:15 and 11:20–24), is more vague about the connection between Sodom and the other cities he condemns, but he does not specify any other sin.

Jude 7, a verse often interpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality, actually draws a comparison between the Sodomites’ unnatural lust for angels and the lust of angels for human women found in 1 Enoch and Jubilees. (See this article for more on that.) 2 Peter, which generally follows the outline of Jude, omits the link between Sodom and sexual perversion.

Sodom and Gomorrah in Other Writings

Philo of Alexandria (in On Abraham) was possibly the first biblical exegete to imply that same-sex attraction was one of the sins for which Sodom was punished. However, early Christian writers (e.g. Origen and Tertullian) continued to associate Sodom with arrogance and excess. It was not until John Chrysostom (late fourth century) that Christian theologians began to replace inhospitality with homosexuality as the main sin of Sodom (see Carden, 2004, p. 154).

James Tissot, The Daughters of Lot

James Tissot, The Daughters of Lot

Conclusions

To summarize the main points made in this article:

  1. In earlier biblical traditions found in the prophets, Sodom and Gomorrah function as metaphors for wickedness and divine punishment. Two different cities, Admah and Zeboiim, perform the same function in variant tradition found in Hosea.
  2. The historical and geographical reality of these places is disputed.
  3. These four cities were eventually combined into a tetrapolis, and then with Zoar into a pentapolis.
  4. The story of Abraham, Lot, and the divine visitors (Gen 18–19) combines these earlier biblical traditions with the story of Gibeah in Judges 19 and a motif about showing hospitality toward gods in disguise that is paralleled in Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Fausti.
  5. The vices most commonly attributed to Sodom in all these traditions are inhospitality, arrogance, and excess. Homosexuality is not the focus of any biblical Sodom traditions, and it does not feature in Christian interpretation of these passages until the fourth century CE.

The presidents of major Bible seminaries are supposed to know this stuff. But when was the last time you heard a preacher compare society to Sodom and Gomorrah for failing to show hospitality to foreign immigrants?

Just One More Thing…

It has nothing to do with the analysis above, but I present this for your amusement. The biblical Sodom and Gomorrah story is invoked in a Greek pagan love spell discovered among the Magical Papyri. The person performing the spell is supposed to recite the following incantation while burning lumps of sulphur:

The heavens of heavens opened, and the angels of God descended and overturned the five cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Segor. A woman who heard the voice became a pillar of salt. You are the sulphur which God rained down on the middle of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim and Segor; you are the sulphur which served God—so also serve me in regards to her, and do not allow her to go to bed or to find sleep until she comes and fulfills the mystery rite of Aphrodite. (PGM XXXVI. 295–311)

Recommended viewing

Thomas Römer has a lecture online at Youtube where he discusses Greek influences in the Old Testament, including the story of Lot and the angels: Greek Mythology—Some Case Studies.

Footnotes

  1. See the quotation of Mohler by Peter Lumpkins, “Al Mohler, homosexuality, and continued moral confusion (part I), http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2011/07/al-mohler-homosexuality-and-moral-confusion-part-i-by-peter-lumpkins.html, downloaded May 8, 2015. See also Mohler, Ed., God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, SBTS Press, 2014.
  2. Vines, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships, Convergent Books, 2014.

Bibliography

14 thoughts on “Crime and Punishment in Sodom and Gomorrah

  1. At the risk of sounding like a prat, you’ve left out one possible source–Judges 19-21, with its strange, savage story of the Levite, his concubine, and the city of Gibeah.

    Of course, that one is a thousand-times more disquieting than the tale of the cities of the plains, so I can see why people tend to pass it by.

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    • Thanks for the comment, Space Oddity. You might have skipped a part of my article: I do indeed mention the Levite story from Judges as a major source or connection with the Lot story.🙂

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      • My apologies, I did miss that. I think for me, the tale of Gibeah is something of a “key” to the tale of Sodom–the point isn’t the “homosexuality”, it’s the portrait of a place where everything has gone wrong, and visitors aren’t safe. With the additional point of “And of course, they were hideously punished for it.”

        It’s just that in Gibeah, God doesn’t bring on the fire and brimstone, and instead of two angels, we have one seriously scuzzy Levite.

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  2. I reviewed your written speculation. Frankly, you either missed…or omitted key biblical verses that confirm undeniably the sexual immorality which was an emphatic issue of Soddom and Gommorah:
    Let’s start in Genesis where Lot is making a likely clear implication of that issue in 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.” The only thing that Lot is offering to the crowd of thugs was to have sex with his own 2 married daughters. That is obviously his effort to avoid homosexual destruction on his guests. Let us not twist this obviousness. The divine godly illustration of immorality is that very thing.
    Let us look then at the confirmations in other critical biblical verses which you have omitted that are explicit of the sexual immorality therein: Judas 1:7 “Even as Sodom and Gomorra, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”
    And then the great Apostle Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ for us Gentiles, became a footstool …a servant for giving us the Offered Gospel of Grace (believing in Jesus dying for our sins on the Cross, buried and then Resurrected for all our hope) he made very clear that homosexuality was a godly proof of immorality that totally consided with Sodom & Gomorra:

    Romans 1:24 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:”
    Romans 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”
    Romans 1:26 “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:”. (Clearly lesbian homosexuality, and he doesn’t stop there but points still more…)

    Romans 1:27 “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” ( Male homosexuality….can you now deny the clear illustration of God against this behavioral status?)
    Romans 1:28 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”
    Romans 1:29 “Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,”…….
    Unrighteous wicked fornication. There are still more. But I think this is the ultimate biblical conclusion against the Misunderstanding of Revelation 19.

    We all need to warn disbelievers of that mistake, as shared by the Apostle Peter in his last letter:

    2nd Peter 3:15 “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

    2nd Peter 3:16 “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

    2nd Peter 3:17 “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”
    2nd Peter 3:18 “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”

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    • Hi Paul, thanks for the comment.

      Before I address your points, let me reiterate that I don’t have an agenda here. I’m not trying to read any particular moral into these texts. I’m also not a theologian, so I’m not interested in mixing and matching scriptural ingredients to make doctrinal stew. I just want to know what the original authors were concerned about.

      Frankly, you either missed…or omitted key biblical verses…

      Actually, I explicitly mentioned some of the verses you claim I “omitted”, as I shall show below. The rest of these so-called omissions are not relevant to the story in Genesis 19.

      The only thing that Lot is offering to the crowd of thugs was to have sex with his own 2 married daughters. That is obviously his effort to avoid homosexual destruction on his guests.

      Again, I see no indication in the text that homosexuality itself is a concern. Lot is looking to avoid maltreatment of his guests. Taking the larger context into account, “hospitality” is the principle theme of the story.

      Furthermore, your argument fails to take into account the other cities of the plain, as well as all the women and children about to die — who have nothing to do with the incident at Lot’s house.

      Judas 1:7 ‘Even as Sodom and Gomorra, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.’

      I mentioned this already. The “strange flesh” is that of angels, and Jude’s point is to compare this incident with that of the Watchers who bedded human women in 1 Enoch and Jubilees. (The explicit reference is in Jude 6.)

      Your quotes from Romans are irrelevant to this article. I agree that Paul is apparently anti-homosexual. That has nothing to do with the Sodom and Gomorrah story.

      Your quotes from 2 Peter are equally irrelevant to this article, since they do not concern the story at hand. Though I did point out that, although much of 2 Peter is simply a re-write of Jude, it omits any reference to sexuality in its mention of Sodom and Gomorrah in 2:6.

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      • There is no Jude chapter 6. Only one chapter. Your assertion of the Sodom & Gomorrah…exclusively an Angels attack…was not…it was what they had as a prominent general immorality, of all their totalitarian homosexuality. Clearly not just attacking Angels. Note the very next verse after 7 which you didn’t acknowledge… Jude1:8 “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” This says just flesh, not strange flesh…so who is he mentioning? Humans. Defiling the flesh is that eminent illustration. And now let’s see what you omitted with 2nd Peter when you denied he alluded to the immoral homosexuality: 2nd Peter 2:10 “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.”
        And note he doesn’t site the angel fret as their unique sin either, just as Jude made clear: 2nd Peter 2:11 “Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. “.Peter is making clear that the Angels were not concerned over their having any survival risk, and mentioning it to God. And he then in the following verses …which you omit again…makes clear that it is their human sexual misconduct: speaking of the unrighteousness of the humans who are natural brute beasts that are to fall and be destroyed, he emphasizes sexual immoral conduct right at the foremost: 2nd Peter 2:14 “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:”
        Now let’s get to you short view of the Apostle Paul to us Gentiles. You admit that he opposes homosexuality. What you are failing to remember is that he is not under his own human thinking. He is the prisoner of Jesus Christ our Lord. And note whate he clarifies of his shared understandings …where it came from: Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
        Galatians 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
        Where did he get things? He makes clear: Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
        Romans 1 is from God, and he is declaring a clear application of the sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorah …and God has given Paul a prophecy that the sinful disbelievers will replicate their homosexuality. Now The Apostle of us Gentiles is the majority of Acts, and his epistles are a full half of all the New Testament. And should not be then ignored…as it seems you just did. Not at all irrelevant from your article. And not at all”nothing to do with Sodom and Gommorah”. Let us go to the Romans 1 versal connections to what he shared already of those unrighteous in Romans 1:22 “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,” Romans 1:23 “And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” Romans 1:24 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:”
        In other words immoral sexual fleshliness. Keep key attention on this following notification relating to these elements Paul warns us of: Romans 1:25 “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.”

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      • There is no Jude chapter 6. Only one chapter.

        Jude has no chapter divisions at all. That’s why when we say “Jude 6”, we mean Jude verse 6. Same with 2 and 3 John, Philemon, and Obadiah.

        You seem to be under a fundamental misunderstanding of what I’m writing about. I’m not preaching sermons or looking for biblical backing to assert moral superiority and condemn others. I’m simply interested in letting individual biblical voices speak for themselves and understand why the Bible says what it does, without theological bias.

        Your New Testament epistle quotes don’t shed any light on the story the author of Genesis 19 was trying to tell. It is understandably difficult for people whose main exposure to the Bible is in religious and devotional settings to take a step back and view the text more critically.

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  3. Giving additional credence to the idea that the Zoar story is a later addition is that Zoar’s previous name, Bela, (Genesis 14:2,8) means “destruction.” Also, if Zoar was spared simply because Lot had no faith that he could make it to the hills in time to avoid destruction, even though he didn’t initially heed the angels’ warning, this creates the interesting paradox that the disobedient Lot saved a city, while the righteous Abraham could not (Genesis 18:22 ff).

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    • Great observation, John. All Abraham’s negotiations with Yahweh himself failed to save the cities, but Lot’s last-minute request to the angels saved Zoar. You’re right, a paradox for sure.

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  4. The midrash expands on the in-hospitality of Sodom. There is one tale (with a Hellenic origin) in which visitors to Sodom were forced to lie in a bed, and if the visitor was longer than the bed their legs would be hacked shorter until they fit, whereas if the visitor was shorter than the bed their legs got stretched until they fit.

    And then there is the tale about a young woman who gave food to a stranger, and she was tied down, smeared with honey and was left to be stung to death by bees. And when Genesis 18:20-21 speaks of the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah that Yahweh heard – the story says he heard the cries of that woman.

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