Pax Hart

Genesis 19: The Destruction of Sodom

Two angels approach the gates of Sodom and find Lot, Abraham’s nephew. He bids them stay with him for the night. They decline and he insists. After dinner, the men of Sodom surround the house and demand Lot produce the men so that they can have sex with them. Lot resists, offering them his daughters instead. The angels strike the men blind and tell Lot to gather his family and flee the city, for they’ve been sent by God to destroy it. Lot gathers his family to leave – his sons-in-law don’t believe him and stay.

In the morning, Lot, his wife, his two daughters and the angels flee the city. The angles tell Lot to run to the mountains. He begs them to let him go to the nearby town, Zoar. They agree and tell Lot and his family to run for their live, not even looking back. Fire and sulfur rain down on Sodom and Gomorrah, destroying the towns and the plain. Lot’s wife looks back and becomes a pillar of salt.

Abraham looks out onto the plain the and sees the destruction.

Having left Zoar and gone to a cave in the hills, Lot’s daughters scheme to get lot drunk and have sex with him to carry on their lineage. They do so and have two sons; Moab and Ben-Ammi.

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.

This passage is the basis of the word “sodomy” and the sin that’s associated with homosexuality.

If you were a fire-and-brimstone preacher, you would think that the men of Sodom’s demand to rape the angles is the sole reason that Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. That’s simply not in the bible. In the preceding chapter, the angles tell Abraham that they’re going to investigate the general wickedness of the cities. The demands to rape the strangers is simply another – albeit dramatic – manifestation of their wickedness.

All of this hinges on the translation of the word “know”. The non-sexual interpretation makes the men of Sodom demanding to interrogate the strangers; with their disrespect and lack of hospitability being their crime, among their general wickedness.

3,000 years later, it’s the beastiality that still captures the imagination.

Interestingly, Lot offers to let the townspeople rape his daughters instead without hesitation. The violation of the strangers, whom Lot has taken into his home and shown hospitality for the night, is the greater offence.

As Lot’s family flees the city, his wife looks back: she hesitates, unable to let go of her attachment to the life she’s been forced to leave behind.

Even though Lot and his daughters have survived the wickedness from which they’ve fled, his daughters turn around and plot an incestuous coupling with their father.

We’re still tracing the lineage from Noah and now coming to Moab and Ben-Ammi.