Sodom and Gomorrah
If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination;
they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them. — Leviticus 20:13
Because of the common interpretation of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the word "sodomy" has made it into our lexicon synonymous with anal intercourse. This article explains the misconceptions upon which Sodom and Gomorrah got associated with homosexuality.
Statistically, male homosexuality constitutes no more than two percent of the male population in the United States. Arguably, San Francisco is the gay capital of the world, composed of 40% male homosexuals. It doesn't make sense that Sodom had a majority of male homosexuals, if any; especially, considering the conservative cultures of those times.
For this reason, it is not convincing that the men of Sodom had intentions of sodomizing Lot's guests. The misinterpretation comes about when the Sodomites wanted "to know" Lot's guests. Sometimes this can imply sex, but in context, they were rightly suspicious that the guests were spies.
Other passages in the OT describe them as sinful for worshipping other gods. If we accept sodomy was practiced, it was for religious reasons and not the primary reason Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. The last part of this article discusses cult prostitution which was practiced in the Canaanite religions; the inhabitants were not Hebrew.
Lot was a friend and a nephew of Abraham. When Abraham left Chaldea for the Promised Land, Lot went with him. On the way, both men became so wealthy with livestock that the land couldn't support both of them. So they had to separate in order to avoid tension and remain friends. Abraham went to Canaan and Lot went to the city of Sodom in the Jordan Valley.
Yahweh heard news of the grave sins in the Jordan Valley, so he sent two angels to investigate. When the angels arrived at Sodom, Lot was at the entrance of the city to greet them. At Lot's urging, the angels stayed at his house. They weren't there for long when the men of Sodom demanded Lot to send out his guests so they can know them. Lot pleaded to accept his two virgin daughters instead. This only angered the crowd even more. When they barged their way into his house, the angels stopped them by blinding them.
The angels told Lot to take his family and leave the city the next morning because they were sent to destroy it. When Lot told the two men who were engaged to marry his daughters, they stayed because they thought he was joking. The next morning when the sun was about to rise and Lot was delaying; the angels took him, his wife and daughters safely out of the city. The angels warned not to look back or they will be destroyed.
When the sun rose, Lot, his wife and daughters were safe in the small city of Zoar in the valley. Then fire and brimstone rained from heaven. As the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and all the other cities in the valley were being destroyed, Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.
When it was all over, Lot didn't feel it was safe to remain in Zoar, so they moved to a cave in the highlands. Now Lot's virgin daughters lost their mother and their husbands to be, and men would no longer want them. So they hatched a plan to have children by their father. For two nights in a row, they got their father drunk and had sex with him. Their two sons became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites.
Symbology: Except for Zoar, none of the cities of the valley were spared because valleys symbolize darkness and subsequently evil. The city might have been spared because it was too small to have enough wicked men to merit destruction. The men get blamed for sinning but the women and children were destroyed too.
Fire and brimstone symbolize the sun's rays. Lot's sons-in-law were destroyed because they didn't have faith. Lot's wife turned into a pillar of salt because it is a sin to look back into darkness. In biblespeak, pillars symbolize phallic symbols. A phallus of salt symbolizes barrenness. As way of showing contempt for the Moabites and Ammonites, the Jewish writers had their namesakes conceived in incest. The cave in which the acts took place symbolizes evil.
Astrology: The life of Abraham follows the solar cycle according to the zodiac. At this time the sun is in Gemini and Cancer. The two angels are represented by the Gemini Twins. Sodom and Gomorrah are represented by the constellation Hydra which crosses the equator dividing it in two. When the sun rises in Cancer, the constellation disappears. Its rays symbolize fire and brimstone, which obliterates the two cities.
Gemini plays a second role along with Orion and the Pleiades. The Pleiades look like a cluster of grapes. Orion's arm is outstretched as if reaching for grapes which symbolize wine. The Gemini twins stand above Orion as if they could be seen to lie on top of him when having sex.
Parallel myth: Orpheus was the son of a Muse and a Thracian prince. Muses were gods renowned for their artistic talent and the Thracians were the most musical of the people of Greece. Orpheus had a gift for playing music that only the gods alone could excel. When he met and wooed Eurydice, the maiden he loved, she could not resist the power of his song. They married, but their joy was brief. Directly after the wedding, Eurydice was walking in a meadow when a viper stung her and she died. Orpheus could not endure his grief, so he set to journey into the underworld to find her and bring her back.
The sound of his lyre charmed the denizens of Hades to stillness. The ruler of Hades could not resist the spell of his voice nor refuse him anything. He summoned Eurydice to go with Orpheus. But there was one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him, until they reached the upper world. So they passed the doors of Hades and went up and up to the path out of darkness. The urge to look back to assure himself she was there overcame him when he stepped into daylight. But it was too soon; she was still in the cavern. He tried to grab her but it happened too quickly. He tried to rush down after her, but the gods would not let him enter a second time while he was alive.
Geography: At the southern tip of the Dead Sea, the air has a mixture of sulfurous smell and oppressive heat. It is the lowest place on land where nothing grows on its salt flats except for asparagus-like salt columns. This was the Bible storytellers' way of explaining the area.
Lot was the nephew of Abraham.
When Yahweh told Abraham to go to the Promised Land, Lot went with him.
1"Go from your
country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.
2And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.
3I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."
4 (Gen. 12:1-4)
There was strife between Abraham's herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen. The land could not support both of them.
7 (Gen. 13:5-7)
So Abraham told Lot, "We are kinsmen. So there is no strife between us, we should separate."
9 (Gen. 13:8-9)
Lot departed for Sodom in the Jordan Valley, and Gomorrah and Abraham went to Canaan.
12 (Gen. 13:10-12)
After they separated, Yahweh said to Abraham, "The men of Sodom are great sinners."
14 "Lift up your eyes, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; (Gen. 13:13-14)
Because he has heard of their grave sins, Yahweh decides to go down to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if it is true.
20 "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah
is great and their sin is very grave,
21I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry which has come to me; and if not, I will know."
22 (Gen. 18:20-22)
In this exchange between Abraham and Yahweh, Abraham wanted to know if Yahweh would destroy the righteous along with the wicked. He managed to bargain Yahweh down to ten righteous men, as enough to save a city from destruction.
26 "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
28 32"For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
33 (Gen. 18:23-33)
Therefore Sodom was destroyed because Abraham failed to find ten righteous men.
Sodom and Gomorrah-Gen 19
When two angels came to Sodom in the evening, Lot met them at the gate.
Lot asked them to spend the night at his house. The angels wanted to spend the night in the street.
2"No; we will spend the night in the street."
But Lot was insistent, so they entered his house and he made them a feast.
No sooner were they ready to bed down for the night, when the men of Sodom surrounded the house. —The phrase "all the people" leaves open the possibility that the crowd included women.
They called to Lot, "Send out your two guests so we may know them. —The phrase "know them" could be a biblical euphemism for sex. Or it could suggest the crowd was suspicious of the two strangers. Were they friend or foe?
Lot pleaded. "Please do not act so wickedly." —The crowd was obviously angry because of their suspicions about the strangers. This doesn't necessarily mean they were sexually frustrated.
"I have two daughters who are virgins. Do what you want to them instead." —Could the righteous Lot be so callous to offer his daughters to be killed or gang raped? Was he offering an olive branch to assuage the people? Or was he hiding the intentions of the strangers.
This only increased their anger. So they went to break down the door. —The underlined sentence tells us the crowd's motives. They refused to let Lot judge for them, the motives of the strangers.
They pushed Lot back into the house and shut the door.
Then the angels struck the intruders with blindness. —The crowd would have had no chance of harming angels with these powers.
Then the angels told Lot to take his family out of the city.
12"Have you any one else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or any one you have in the city, bring them out of the place;
Because the outcry against the Sodomites has been great, Yahweh sent them to destroy the city.
13for we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it."
So Lot told his sons-in-law, who were engaged to marry his daughters, "Get out of here, for Yahweh is about to destroy the city." But his sons-in-law thought he was jesting.
The next morning, the angels urged Lot to take his wife and two daughters, before the city is consumed.
15"Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city."
When Lot lingered, the angels seized him, his wife and two daughters, and brought them out of the city.
When they were safely outside the city, the angels told them to flee for the hills and do not look back, lest they be consumed.
17"Flee for your life; do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley; flee to the hills, lest you be consumed."
But Lot pleaded. The hills are too far away; he might not make it in time. If it is okay with the angels, can he find safety in a little city nearby?
The angels granted him this favor. If he goes to the city of Zoar, he will be spared.
21 "Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will
not overthrow the city of which you have spoken.
22Make haste, escape there; for I can do nothing till you arrive there."
When the sun rose and Lot was in Zoar, Yahweh rained brimstone and fire from heaven. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities in the valley, and their inhabitants and crops were all destroyed.
When Lot's wife looked back, she was turned into a pillar of salt.
The next morning, Abraham returned to the hill where he stood before Yahweh. He saw the valley where Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities, laid in smoke and ruins.
Yahweh remembered Abraham and destroyed the cities where Lot lived.
Lot left Zoar and went into the hills with his two daughters. Now he was afraid to live in Zoar, so he and his daughters dwelt in a cave.
The oldest daughter said to the younger, "Our father is old and men don't want us anymore."
Let's get him drunk with wine and have sex with him, so we may preserve our offspring through him.
After they got him too drunk to be aware of their presence, the oldest had sex with him.
They planned to do it again on the second night.
The second daughter had sex with him.
Both daughters had a child by their father.
The oldest daughter named her son Moab. He became the namesake of the Moabites.
The second daughter named her son Benammi. He was the namesake of the Ammonites.
The word "homosexuality" is a fairly new term. So we would not expect to find it in the Bible. This collection of passages comes from a computerized search of whatever I could find on the nature of Sodom's sins. The passages in this group complain about Sodom's religious sins, but nothing about male-on-male sexual sins.
God will vindicate his people when he sees that their power is gone. Where are their gods to protect them, they who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Both were taboos.
38 (Deut. 32:32-38)
Leviticus tells us that the fat is the Lord's. Neither fat nor blood shall be eaten.
1617 (Lev. 3:16-17)
Drink offerings were reserved for the Lord, a second violated taboo.
God was offended by their vain offerings. His soul hated their new moons and appointed feasts.
14 (Isaiah 1:9-14)
The prophets of Jerusalem have become like Sodom. —Nobody would accuse the prophets of Jerusalem of homosexuality, adultery maybe, but not sex with another male.
The Sodomites were wealthy but did not aid the poor and needy. They did abominable things.
50 (Ezek. 16:48-50)
They were ungodly; they did lawless deeds. Lot was distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked. —The word "licentiousness" is ambiguous. Strong's Concordance quotes the Greek phrase as aselgeia anastrophe, meaning filthy conversation. Lot was distressed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.
6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made
them an example to those who were to be ungodly;
7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the wicked
8(for by what that righteous man saw and heard as he lived among them, he was vexed in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds), (2 Peter 2:6-8)
The correct translation can be found in the King James Version.
7And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (2 Peter 2:7 KJV)
I've used Sex and the Bible by Gerald Larue as a reference for this section.
Canaanite religion was centered in fertility and reproduction. Male and female prostitutes belonged to the temple cult and participated in rites designed to stimulate divine help in increasing fertility in the soil and in the flocks and herds. Whether or not homosexual acts were involved cannot be known for sure. There can be little doubt that the Hebrews borrowed the concept of cult prostitution from the Canaanites.
Deuteronomic law parallels female-cult-prostitution with whore and male-cult-prostitution with dog. The words qedeshah and qadesh are derived from the root meaning, "to be holy" (q-d-h) and refers to persons engaged in the service of a deity.
1718 (Deut. 23:17-18)
In the King James Version we see the roots of where sodomy got associated with homosexuality. The terms "whore" and "sodomite" are used in place of cult prostitution. The modern translations are more accurate.
17(Deut. 23:17-18 KJV)
These next three passages illustrate female and male cult prostitution. The strong denunciations make it clear that it was not part of traditional Hebrew worship.
1. When Moses found men of Israel playing "harlot with the daughters of Moab," he had them killed. Baal of Peor was a Canaanite god.
5 (Num. 25:1-5)
2. King Asa abolished male-cult-prostitution.
12 (1 Kings 15:11-12)
3. King Jehoshaphat exterminated male-cult-prostitutes from the land.
46 (1 Kings 22:45-46)
The only passage connecting Sodom and Gomorrah with anal sex is Jude 7. Christian sources associate it with homosexuality.
They acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust.
7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 7)
The King James is more specific with "fornication and going after strange flesh."
7Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, 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. (Jude 7 KJV)
Within the New Testament, the term arsenakoitai is used to refer to sodomites and means "those who enter the buttocks."
10immoral persons, sodomites, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, (1 Tim. 1:10)
Paul supported Jewish scripture in asserting gays and lesbians will not inherit the kingdom of God.
27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. (Rom. 1:27)
9Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do
not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts,
10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor. 6:9)
Sodom and Gomorrah were Canaanite settlements that practiced cult prostitution consistent with their fertility religions. The men of Sodom were rightly suspicious of the two spies that Yahweh had sent. They became violently angry at Lot for protecting them. They were not destroyed for reasons of homosexuality. The story grew into an object lesson to condemn homosexuals.
Killer Laws There were many laws punishable by death.