JUDGEMENT: God’s call of Love IX


Sodom was one of a group of five towns, the Pentapolis (Wisdom 10:6): Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela—also called Zoar.[Gen 19:22] The Pentapolis region is also collectively referred to as “the Cities of the Plain” [13:12] since they were all situated on the plain of the River Jordan, in an area that constituted the southern limit of the lands of the Canaanites.[10:19] Lot, a nephew of Abram (Abraham) chose to live in Sodom, because of the proximity of good grazing for his flocks.[13:5-11]

. The two angels of God proceed to Sodom and are met by Abraham’s righteous nephew Lot, who constrains the angels to lodge with him, and they eat with his family.

 But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them (NIV: can have sex with them , NJB: can have intercourse with them).”

In response, Lot refuses to give his guests to the inhabitants of Sodom, and instead offers them his two virgin daughters to “do to them whatever you like.”[Gen 19:8]NASB However, they refuse this offer, and threaten to do worse to Lot than they would have done to his guests, and press sore upon him. Lot’s angelic guests rescue him, and strike the men with blindness. They then command Lot to gather his family and leave, revealing that they were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. As they make their escape the angels command Lot and his family not to look back under any circumstance. However, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire and brimstone by God, Lot’s wife looks back longingly at the city, and becomes a pillar of salt.

The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in other places, in association with sins of omission and commission, and of the heart as well as the flesh, and is often used as an example of judgment of the wicked.

Old Testament

In Deuteronomy 29:22-24 and Deuteronomy 32:32-33 Moses warns the Jews who just fled Egypt not to end up with the afflictions and sicknesses of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Wisdom 10:6 mentions the Five Cities, including Sodom, or Pentapolis: “Wisdom rescued a righteous man when the ungodly were perishing; he escaped the fire that descended on the Five Cities.

In Isaiah 1:9-10Isaiah 3:9Isaiah 13:19-22 the prophet addresses people as from Sodom and Gomorrah, associates Sodom with shameless sinning and tells Babylon, which has been found and excavated, that it will end like Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Jeremiah 23:14Jeremiah 49:17-18Jeremiah 50:39-40 and Lamentations 4:6 the prophet associates Sodom and Gomorrah with adultery and lies, prophesies the fate of Edom, south of the Dead Sea, prophesies the fate of Babylon and uses Sodom as a comparison.

In Ezekiel 16:48-50 God compares Jerusalem to Sodom, saying “Sodom never did what you and your daughters have done.” He explains that the sin of Sodom was that “She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.” God then sent an angel to rain hell fire and brimstone down on Sodom and Gomorrah.

In Amos 4:1-11 God tells the Israelites to have warned them and treated them like Sodom and Gomorrah, still they did not repent.

In Zephaniah 2:9 the prophet tells Moab and Ammon, southeast and northeast of the Dead Sea, that they will end up like Sodom and Gomorrah.

New Testament

In Matthew 10:1-15, cf. Luke 10:1-12, Jesus declares certain cities more damnable than Sodom and Gomorrah, due to their response to Jesus’ disciples, in the light of greater grace (RSV):

“And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor’rah than for that town.”

In Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus prophesies the fate of some cities where he did some of his works (RSV):

“And you, Caper’na-um, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

In Luke 17:28-30 Jesus describes the situation at His return and uses Sodom as an example of indifference; careless living (RSV):

“Likewise as it was in the days of Lot—they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—so will it be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.”

In Romans 9:29 Paul quotes Isaiah 1:9-10 (RSV): “And as Isaiah predicted, ‘If the Lord of hosts had not left us children, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomor’rah.'”

In 2Peter 2:4-10 Peter uses the time of Sodom and Lot in his description of the time of the second coming of Jesus.

Jude 1:7 records that both Sodom and Gomorrah were “giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Revelation 11:7-8 makes an allegorical use of Sodom when it describes the places where two prophets will descend during the Apocalypse.

***Classical Jewish texts are seen by many as not stressing the homosexual aspect of the attitude of the inhabitants of Sodom as much as their cruelty and lack of hospitality to the “stranger.” The Jewish Encyclopedia  has information on the importance of hospitality to the Jewish people. The people of Sodom were seen as guilty of many other significant sins. Rabbinic writings affirm that the Sodomites also committed economic crimes, blasphemy and bloodshed. One of the worst was to give money or even gold ingots to beggars, after inscribing their names on them, and then subsequently refusing to sell them food. The unfortunate stranger would end up starving and after his death, the people who gave him the money would reclaim it.

A rabbinic tradition, described in the Mishnah, postulates that the sin of Sodom was related to property: Sodomites believed that “what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours” (Abot), which is interpreted as a lack of compassion. Another rabbinic tradition is that these two wealthy cities treated visitors in a sadistic fashion. One major crime done to strangers was almost identical to that of Procrustes in Greek mythology. This would be the story of the “bed” that guests to Sodom were forced to sleep in: if they were too short they were stretched to fit it, and if they were too tall, they were cut up.

In another incident, Eliezer, Abraham’s servant, went to visit Lot in Sodom and got in a dispute with a Sodomite over a beggar, and was hit in the forehead with a stone, making him bleed. The Sodomite demanded Eliezer pay him for the service of bloodletting, and a Sodomite judge sided with the Sodomite. Eliezer then struck the judge in the forehead with a stone and asked the judge to pay the Sodomite.

The Talmud and the book of Jasher also recount two incidents of a young girl (one involved Lot’s daughter Paltith) who gave some bread to a poor man who had entered the city. When the townspeople discovered their acts of kindness, they burned Paltith and smeared the other girl’s body with honey and hung her from the city wall until she was eaten by bees. (Sanhedrin 109a) It is this gruesome event, and her scream in particular, the Talmud concludes, that are alluded to in the verse that heralds the city’s destruction: “So  said, ‘Because the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah has become great, and because their sin has been very grave, I will descend and see….'”[Gen 18:20-21]

A modern conservative position is one that holds, “The paradigmatic instance of such aberrant behavior is found in the demand of the men of Sodom to ‘know’ the men visiting Lot, the nephew of Abraham, thus lending their name to the practice of ‘sodomy’ (homosexuality)[6]

The view of Josephus

Flavius Josephus, a RomanoJewish historian, wrote something along the lines of:

Now, about this time the Sodomites, overwhelmingly proud of their numbers and the extent of their wealth, showed themselves insolent to men and impious to the divinity, insomuch that they no more remembered the benefits that they had received from him, hated foreigners and avoided any contact with others. Indignant at this conduct, God accordingly resolved to chastise them for their arrogance, and not only to uproot their city, but to blast their land so completely that it should yield neither plant nor fruit whatsoever from that time forward.
Jewish Antiquities 1:194-195

Josephus also recounts that when angels came to Sodom to find good men they were instead greeted by rapists:

And the angels came to the city of the Sodomites…when the Sodomites beheld the young men, who were outstanding in beauty of appearance and who had been received into Lot’s house, they set about to do violence and outrage to their youthful beauty. When Lot exhorted them to be temperate and not to proceed to dishonor the strangers but to have respect for their lodging with him and said that he would offer his own daughters for their lust in place of them, if they were unable to restrain themselves, not even so were they persuaded. Therefore, God, indignant at their bold acts, struck them with blindness, so that they were unable to find the entrance into the house, and condemned the Sodomites to destruction of the whole population.
Jewish Antiquities 1:199-202

A notable difference is seen in Whiston’s classic translation, in which part of v. 194 is rendered, “they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices,”[8] while in v. 199 it reads, “they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence; and when Lot exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer any thing immodest to the strangers…”[9]

Josephus proceeds to describe says how beautiful Sodom was, and how rich the towns were in the area, in contrast with the results of its destruction.

Now this country is then so sadly burnt up, that nobody cares to come to it… It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that divine fire; and the shadows of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits, which fruits have a colour as if they were fit to be eaten: but if you pluck them with your hands, they will dissolve into smoke and ashes
The Wars of the Jews, book 4, chapter 8.

Philo of Alexandria

Philo of Alexandria (c. 20 BC to AD 50), a Jewish philosopher, theologian, and a contemporary of Jesus and Paul, comments,

The land of the Sodomites, a part of Canaan afterwards called Palestinian Syria, was brimful of innumerable iniquities, particularly such as arise from gluttony and lewdness, and multiplied and enlarged every other possible pleasure with so formidable a menace that it had at last been condemned by the Judge of All…Incapable of bearing such satiety, plunging like cattle, they threw off from their necks the law of nature and applied themselves to…forbidden forms of intercourse. Not only in their mad lust for women did they violate the marriages of their neighbors, but also men mounted males without respect for the sex nature which the active partner shares with the passive; and so when they tried to beget children they were discovered to be incapable of any but a sterile seed. Yet the discovery availed them not, so much stronger was the force of the lust which mastered them. Then, as little by little they accustomed those who were by nature men to submit to play the part of women, they saddled them with the formidable curse of a female disease. For not only did they emasculate their bodies by luxury and voluptuousness but they worked a further degeneration in their souls and, as far as in them lay, were corrupting the whole of mankind.”

Christian view

There are two prevailing views of the sin of Sodom in Christian thought. The typical conservative position is one that holds that the demand of Lot’s countrymen was referring to a militant solicitation for homosexual sex, while the opposing non-sexual view sees the destruction of Sodom as being due to in-hospitality, as illustrated by the gifts of God to Abraham for his gracious action, contrasted with consequences of the behavior of the city’s inhabitants.

 

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….

The following is a major text in regard to these conflicting opinions:

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, 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.

God continues his discourse.

The recorded history and commentaries shows that Sodom had more than one sin. They were offensive in the whole law. The Sodomites where so buried in the sins of their hearts and minds that they could not even recognize or even sense divine presence and or didn’t care.

I want to touch on the phrase in Jude 1:7-8 at this time. Please record the verses of scripture as is written. 

“Even as Sod’om and Go-mor’rha 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.  Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities.

Joyce that has been many erroneous teaching on the phrase “strange flesh.” Some have taught that the meaning of strange flesh is the men of the cities: and note cities is plural because Sod’om and Go-mor’rha were not the only practicing cities. Notice the scripture text notates “and cities about them.”