Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Sodom, a slightly different perspective

Possible location of Sodom (modern Tell el-Hammam). Plains of Jordan circled in red. Geographically similar to California Central Valley although much smaller. Sodom location identified by sunburst symbol.
Location zoomed in. Location is at the eastern tip of a finger of fertile land. The road (potentially ancient trade route) leads to the northern rim of the plains of Madaba.

One of the intriguing things about the Bible is that you can read it several times over the course of your life and see vastly different messages in it. Outside of a few, immutable foundations of faith, there is no one "right" way to interpret the Bible.

The following discussion of the account of the destruction of Sodom will bother some people but I ask you to bear with me. 


Three men (angels) passed by Abram's camp in mid-morning. Abram insists that they stay with him for mid-day meal. He kills a calf and shows them extreme hospitality. It is very likely that Abram offered hospitality because he knew what fate would befall the men if they went into Sodom. The angels promise that his wife, Sarah, will have a child.

God then tells Abram that he intends to destroy Sodom because of the "grave" sins they commit. Abram's nephew, Lot, lives in Sodom. Abram is able to argue with God and get Him to agree to not destroy Sodom if 10 men (likely to be households) of virtue can be found.

Genesis Chapter 19 (New American Bible Translation)
1 The two angels reached Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to greet them; and bowing down with his face to the ground,
2 he said, “Please, my lords, come aside into your servant’s house for the night, and bathe your feet; you can get up early to continue your journey.” But they replied, “No, we will pass the night in the town square.” (Joe comments: If the two angels/men were traders they would go to the town square to gather price information. What commodities are abundant locally. What was needed)
3 He urged them so strongly, however, that they turned aside to his place and entered his house. He prepared a banquet for them, baking unleavened bread, and they dined. (Obviously, Lot knew what the townsmen did to foreigners and traders)
4 Before they went to bed, the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old—all the people to the last man—surrounded the house. (Key point implied in this sentence is that women and children are not "people", only men have rights. Also, so much for finding ten households of virtue.)
5 They called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have sexual relations with them.” (Translates to..."we are going to rape them". Rape is a crime of power and dominance. As the "catcher", the two strangers would be turned into "women" and would therefor not be human and have no rights)
6 Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, (By shutting the door, he was telling the crowd that what was inside the house was off limits)
7 he said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not do this wicked thing! 
8 I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But do not do anything to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” (Yeah, he offers his virgin daughters and claims sanctity of the home for the travelers, Like I said, women and children were not considered human and didn't have any rights)
9 They replied, “Stand back! This man,” they said, “came here as a resident alien, and now he dares to give orders! We will treat you worse than them!” With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door. (This sentence confirms that the impending rape is about dominance and power and not about satisfying sexual urges. Otherwise they would have accepted Lot's offer of his virgin daughters. So the sins of every man other than those of Lot's household were sins against hospitality and sins against the sanctity of the home. Their sins were much bigger than two men doing the wild-thang)
10 But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; (Divine intervention. They did that through a closed door)
11 they struck the men at the entrance of the house, small and great, with such a blinding light that they were utterly unable to find the doorway. (Note to self: Some angels pack flash-bang grenades)
12 Then the guests said to Lot: “Who else belongs to you here? Sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, all who belong to you in the city—take them away from this place!
13 We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the LORD against those here is so great that the LORD has sent us to destroy it. (General Christian belief is that all sin is an abomination to God. For example, all sex outside of marriage is a sin. Roman Catholic theology holds that there are Mortal sins (potentially causing death to the soul) and Venal
Venial sins (which injure but do not necessarily kill the soul). It is possible that this distinction evolved when the RC Church served as both religious and civil authority with the Mortal/Venial distinction similar to Felony/Misdemeanors.
14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters. “Come on, leave this place,” he told them; “the LORD is about to destroy the city.” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “Come on! Take your wife with you and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.”
16 When he hesitated, the men, because of the LORD’s compassion for him, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. (I guess the sons-in-law stayed in Sodom)
17 As soon as they had brought them outside, they said: “Flee for your life! Do not look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Flee to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.” (To the north or east)
18 “Oh, no, my lords!” Lot replied to them.
19 “You have already shown favor to your servant, doing me the great kindness of saving my life. But I cannot flee to the hills, or the disaster will overtake and kill me. (That is, he will be recognized as being from the Plains of Jordan and the hill people will extract retribution for the lack of hospitality that was shown to travelers from the hills when they went to the plains)
20 Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It is only a small place. Let me flee there—is it not a small place?—to save my life.” 
21 “Well, then,” he replied, “I grant you this favor too. I will not overthrow the town you have mentioned.
22 Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” That is why the town is called Zoar.
23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot arrived in Zoar,
24 and the LORD rained down sulfur upon Sodom and Gomorrah, fire from the LORD out of heaven. (About when the women would be stoking the fires for breakfast and most of the men would be inside their dwellings)
25 He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. (I am not going to speculate regarding physical manifestations that resemble the description only to note that sediment filled bowls like the San Bernadino valley have an amplifying effect on ground tremors)
26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.
27 The next morning Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the LORD.
28 As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw smoke over the land rising like the smoke from a kiln.
29 When God destroyed the cities of the Plain, he remembered Abraham and sent Lot away from the upheaval that occurred when God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.

One perspective

Most "sins" are behaviors that diminish, degrade or destroy human lives.

"Trade" was an emerging technology in the late-Stone age and early-Bronze age. Salt, metals, gems, knappable rock, hides, spear shafts, cordage, glue, tools, spices, medicines, animals-on-the-hoof and so on were being traded from valley-to-valley and from highlands-to-lowlands.

A commodity that we take for granted, salt, is the difference between being able to successfully colonizing a hot, salt-free zone and having all of the colonists perish.

One potential hypothesis is that the entire plains area had adopted the Mad-Max, Prison-rape culture and that had killed trade. Yes, they were sinning against ancient, desert-culture of hospitality (and the juxtaposition of the Abram-Sarah story suggests the overarching message of this sequence is about hospitality more than a particular manifestation of inhospitable behavior) The raping of travelers was just one part of that. But the crime against humanity was that they were destroying the break-through technology of trade and degrading the lives of everybody who would benefit from it.

Parallels to today

One side of the political spectrum seems to be mimicking the sins of Sodom in the sense that they are dehumanizing all who disagree with them. They are taking away our voice. They are trying to take away our means to self-defense. They strip us (mostly men) of our authority to parent. They promote no-knock raids and red-flag laws that violate the sanctity of our homes. They dehumanize us in every way they can find.

Further, the policies of that side of the political spectrum create the same Mad-Max, Prison-rape culture seen in Sodom. Our cities are no longer fit for trade and commerce. Outsiders are routinely attacked out of principle. And I don't even need to bring up "Pride" to state my case.

I read the first installment of this franchise. This story does not end well.


  1. So, Lot offered up his VIRGIN daughters to be raped and abused if only they would leave the visitors alone.

    Lot was a piece of human garbage.

    1. That is exactly what he did.

      Judged by the standards of his day, children were property like a cloak or a blanket and there was no moral burden attached to loaning them out.

      Judging by today's standards, you are correct. But Lot had no way of knowing what the standards would be some 4000 years in the future.

      I think it is appropriate to judge Lot by the rule-set he was working under rather than demanding that he conform to a rule-set from some slice-in-time from the hazy future.

    2. You should understand, the hospitality of strangers was so important that it must be protected at all costs.

      Consider the story of the survival of Marcus Luttrell. The man found Marcus, took him into his home, dressed his wounds, and nourished him.
      When the Taliban came, the man said he will not give up his guest. The Taliban honored that tradition and left.

    3. There was a story coming out of Afghanistan where a troop of US soldiers walked into a village to meet with a Mullah and have tea with him the officer in charge sat down with a bunch of the locals and were talking through translators and enjoying tea. An unidentified insurgent Taliban was there sitting next to the officer and pulled out a hatchet and struck the officer on the bare head. (As custom was to remove your helmet for tea). The boys shot the Taliban, and the officer was grievously injured. Shame was brought to the village and more so to the Mullah who offered the safety of his home. So, some traditions are still with us.

  2. The whole church accepting and affirming the globohomo lifestyle is another sign of the great falling away . I say love them and welcome them if they are repentant but do not allow them to serve in a capacity to children or youth . Just as an adulterer or drunkard should be welcome in Gawds house but not to serve as a deacon or elder . Let not many of you be teachers Paul said because judgement is stricter upon them .

    1. James 3:1 says something that is almost identical.

  3. You know your town is a bad one, when future generations use it's name to describe a particular vile and illegal behavior. That is until the Sodomites come and take over where you live and normalize unnatural behaviors. The shame of it is something that no amount of legislation will ever be able to stop. Scorched earth policy tends to make for stories that last a long time.

    1. Scorched earth is something that the current Left fully understands. I don't think those on the Right have grasped the concept yet. Doing so or failing to do so is probably what will determine how Western Civilization goes in the coming couple of centuries.

  4. Joe, I believe I recall from catechism that ‘misdemeanor’ sins are “venial”, not “venal”.
    Not trying to split hairs, but there’s a difference.

  5. Not sure why God chose to send angels to effectively paint the targets or carry out the punishment. Maybe I'm mis-reading the verses but it seems that the angels were allowed some degree of discretion in what to overthrow / destroy. I think Zoar might was going to be destroyed with the whole plane until Lot asked to flee to there; but this is just speculation.

    Also, verse 15 is interesting. I used to think that people of a nation or country would be punished together, even if some chose to leave that country, but verse 15 seems to indicate that people who want nothing to do with the depravity in a given place do have the option of getting out of the way before the bill comes due.

  6. Interesting perspective, and everyone DOES read it differently as we age.

  7. `3=-09876```13243546567890[-]=\\][POIUYTREWSQA

  8. Looking at the description of the area when Lot chose it, it seems to me it was extremely easy to make a living there. So the folks had a lot of idle time. Lot is called righteous in the NT, and even states the sinfulness there vexed him.

    God pulled a dust off, and his wife's looking back seems to me to be a longing gaze. Not a true "repentance". But, I'm long years removed so the accuracy of the observations is worth what you pay for it.

    But, yeah, no doubt God takes a dim view on things He expressly forbids. And if it goes on long enough, He'll let folks have what they want, or even a little extra. If for no other reason than to disinfect the very dirt that happened on.

  9. I interviewed the guy who found Sodom.

  10. According to my reading (elsewhere but close to this story), Lot lied to the towns people. His daughters had husbands.