SODOM AND GOMORRAH:
[Pictures taken from the DK ILLUSTRATED FAMILY BIBLE pgs. 44-45 Copyright 1997]
11. Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate (gateway) of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.” But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. Lot was fulfilling the custom of hospitality. Especially in the desert, it was imperative for a sojourner of a particular area to provide lodging and food to a traveling stranger; this meant life or death to the traveler if these needs were not met. Abraham did this custom of hospitality to the three men that met him in the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18:1-5), and the Book of Judges (19:13-25) talks about a man needing only lodging for himself, his men, and his cattle because he was traveling to the house of the LORD. The custom of hospitality was that the traveler asked the inhabitant of a particular area for lodging, food, or drink; but the inhabitant could also ask the traveler if he needed these things.
However, *"The Upright (Yashar) Book" says this was illegal in Sodom (Yasher 19:41). Moreover, the Talmud states that the Sodomites wanted to discourage travelers from coming to them and deplete their wealth. It is written: "They said: Since there cometh forth bread out of [our] earth, and it hath the dust of gold, why should we suffer wayfarers, who come to us only to deplete our wealth. Come, let us abolish the practice of travelling in our land..."
Additionally, the text says that Lot insisted that the men stay at his home and not spend the night in the square. According to the Talmud, the Sodomites "...had beds upon which travellers slept. If he [the traveller] was too long, they shortened him [by lopping off his feet]; if too short, they stretched him out." Lot was trying to protect these men. He may have secretly invited the foreigners into his home. His sons-n-law may have alerted the other citizens of Sedom (Sodom); which resulted in the following verse.
Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Apparently the Sodomites reacted like other citizens in other areas where a mob of men took counsel and surrounded a house in those times. One reason this was done was to see if the visitors were spies (see Joshua 2:3). Another reason was to harass a resident who received foreigners into his home (see Acts 17:5-9).
The cities back then didn’t like foreigners that much, so foreigners were often vexed. Female foreigners were raped and possibly sometimes the men as well. Also, kings would take a male foreigners wife, then kill the husband. The traveler also had the fear of robbery when traveling in foreign lands. When Abram entered Egypt, Pharaoh took his wife, and because God plagued Pharaoh and all his household, Pharaoh gave Abram back his wife. Another inhospitable act similar to Sodom’s occurs in (Judges 20:4-5 NKJV) where it says: So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “My concubine and I went into Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, to spend the night. And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me, but instead they ravished my concubine so that she died.” Because this man was a foreigner, they wanted to kill him by burning the house down on him. Since strangers were vexed, God made a prohibition against it: - “You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21 NKJV). Because of the mistreatment and hatred that Laban showed toward Jacob and his two daughters, (Genesis 31:14-15 NKJV) says this: Then Rachel and Leah answered and said to him, “Is there still any portion or inheritance for us in our father’s house? Are we not considered strangers by him? For he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money.” The reason foreigners were hated is because the travelers could be spies. These spies could overthrow the city or nation. Also, eating with one another was a part of worship for believers of the same God. It was an abomination for the Egyptians to eat with the Hebrews (Gen. 43:32).
Bring them out to us that we may know them [carnally].” So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow (protection) of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back! (Come near here!)”
The men of Sodom wanted to know (ya-da) who the men were that Lot accepted into his home. Lot responded: "do not do evil" or "do not harm (hurt, mistreat)." Some of the meaning of these Hebrew words are lost in the English translation (see Deut. 26:6; 2 Sam. 20:6; etc.). They wanted to take his guests hostage and punish Lot for accepting foreign guests into his home. They likely planned on killing all the males and raping the women. Lot, fearing for the life of himself and the other men, offers his daughters to be raped. He was hoping that the Sodomites would be satisfied with only part of their intent. The guests, once the host has accepted them, are sacred, and must be protected from any danger; even at the cost of the life of members of the family. The guests in return have to not cause any trouble in the city that would shame the hospitable person.
In a similar account, the men of Gibeah wanted to know who the foreigner was that the resident there accepted into his home. The resident's virgin daughter and the Levite foreigner's concubine were given to the mob to be raped (Judg. 19:22, 24). Later, at (Judges 20:4-5), the Levite interpreted that the men of Gibeah wanted to kill him and NOT have sex with him. He also said that they raped his concubine. That is why I believe "know" is likely the meaning meant and NOT "have sex with" (NIV).
The Book of Great Wisdom also suggests that "know" is the correct interpretation of ya-da. Aramaic has that same Semitic word, but pronounces it i-da. Wisdom 19:13-14 says: "...and those who they didn't know, they didn't receive them while they were there ... because they weren't willing to allow (or forgive) strangers. (Peshitta).
Lot had said that his daughters had not known [a] man; which means they were virgins. He said that because the citizens back then were sleeping with virgins and other men's wives to disgrace foreigners and their host (similar Lam. 5:11 bethuloth "virgins" is wrongly translated as "maidens"). Lot's daughters were also married to the sons-n-law of Lot (Gen. 19:14). So the humiliation would have been doubly bad had the Sodomites agreed to Lot's proposal.
Then they [the men of Sodom] said, "This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.” (Genesis 19:1-9 NKJV). The men of Sodom planned on committing violence. In the place of "deal worse" and "than," the Hebrew text literally says "we will do more evil to you than with them" or "we will harm (injure) you more than them." The same Hebrew word ra-a, in the imperfect form: "to do evil; to harm, injure, mistreat, treat bad, etc." appears again from (Gen. 19:7) along with the intensive word min "more than" here.
According to The Upright (Correct) Record, which was read in the Temple and quoted (Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18; 2 Tim. 3:8) as a reliable source, Sedom (Sodom) had unrighteous customs, laws & judges (Yasher 19:17, 40-41, etc.). Some of these unrighteous decrees (compare Isa. 10:1) directly targeted strangers. This could explain the motivation and consent of all the people of Sedom to harm or defraud the strangers. Sedom is also narrated to represent not only the city of Sedom, but also "the nation (kingdom) of Sedom," which included the cities of Sedom, Gamorah (Gomorrah) Ẓevoyim (Zeḅoyim) and Admah (Yasher 16:3-5; 19:1, 23). There are also other kingdoms where the kingdom's name was named after a notable city in the kingdom. Babylon (Baḅel), Elam and Urhay are a few other examples.
And the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, ... And Abraham came near and said, "Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? (Gen. 18:20, 23 NKJV). The account that played out later in chapter nineteen is just what happened there. Sodom had other sins that the Bible mentions; such as adultery, inhospitality, arrogance, committing abomination, fornication, et cetera. The reference of them committing abomination could refer to them committing murder, rape and / or idolatry. These are the reference verses: Deut. 29:23, 32:32; Yasher 18:16-17; Wis. 19:14-17; Sira 16:8 ; Isa. 3:9, 13:19; Jer. 23:14, 49:18, 50:40; Lam. 4:6; Ezek. 16:46-48; Amos 4:11; Zeph. 2:9; 3 Macc. 2:5; Matt. 10:15; Luke 17:29; Rom. 9:29; 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7. The Talmud gives their additional sins.
Jesus specifically mentions that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of their inhospitality to strangers. When Jesus sent His disciples preaching the gospel house to house and into different cities, of which they received the hospitality of lodging, food, and drink; Jesus said this: “Whatever city or town you enter, ask who is trustworthy in it, and remain there until you leave. And when you enter into the house, salute the family. And if the family is trustworthy, your salutation of peace shall come upon it; but if it is not trustworthy, your salutation shall return to you. Whoever will not welcome you and will not listen to your words, when you leave the house or the village, shake off the sand from your feet. Truly I say to you that it will be easier for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that city.” (Matthew 10:11-15 Lamsa). Jesus is saying that the citizens that don't show hospitality and receive his disciples message will have a harsher judgment than the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day.
If the alternate sexual interpretation has any merit, the following is what others believe. Some scholars interpret Lot's gesture of offering his daughters to the mob as implying that the Sodomites wanted to humiliate the foreigners by raping them. Maybe they [ the foreigners] would be killed afterwards. Perhaps this is what 1 Corinthians 6:9 is talking about when it says that men raping other men will not inherit the kingdom of God. If Lot was trying to offer his daughters to be raped by the mob as a substitute for the men, then he knew the Sodomites had heterosexual desire and were hence either heterosexual or bisexual; not homosexual. I could also accept that the rape of both men and women, murder and / or other cruelties were all going on. However, the Bible doesn't specifically say that the Sodomites wanted to sleep with the men. The Bible has shown that in this context, and by a verse reference, that ya-da should be interpreted as "know" and not "have sex with.
"So even if the sexual sense is meant, the story of Sodom isn't a good example that the Bible condemns homosexuals; meaning people that are born gay. That's because the men didn’t want to have sex with the men out of lust, but wanted to rape them. Nothing was consensual.
However, many scholars believe the "homosexual interpretation" is a reinterpretation of the Sodom story. This conclusion is due in part because the incident at Gibeah is very similar to the Sodom incident. If we transfer those details to the Sodom story then we see a picture of Lot opening the door and seeing a mob of men with torches ready to burn down the house to kill all inside. In fear of his life and everyone else inside, Lot offers his married virgin daughters to the men of Sodom because he knew they were like the surrounding cities that raped virgins and other men's wives. So we know why Lot would offer his daughters to the mob; and it wasn't because they were homosexuals or wanted to sleep with the men. Separately, the 1 Corinthians 6:9 reference of men raping men could refer to incidents with slaves, captives, during war time, prison or by normal citizens in the respective country.
Homosexuals and heterosexuals generally have issues with the interpretations ignorant and / or bias people give about the Sodom story. A lot of passive gay men like manly men and wouldn't have any desire penetrating or raping heterosexual men. They would see penetrating a man as taking away his manliness, which they wouldn't want to do. Consider when you heterosexuals penetrate your wives or girlfriends. Generally your woman companion doesn't have the desire or want to penetrate you. Passive gay men think like women. The role of penetrator isn't necessarily what they want to be unless their partner wants it. Concerning heterosexuals, they generally don't accept that they would be raping other men if they aren't attracted to them. So a cultural or influencing force is going on here. Decent people, regardless of their sexual orientation, don't act like this.
*Note: The words al-sefer ha-yashar literally mean: "on the upright book" or "in the correct record." When a Hebrew noun is definite and has an adjective, Hebrew puts the definite article on both words (example: "the book - the upright" = "the upright book." However, when you have the word "on" or "in" in the statement, the word "the" is replaced with the preposition be "in" or the word al "on" before that noun; but the statement still says: "in the correct record." If the statement hypothetically said: "in the book of the upright one," the word al "in" would have been left out and the first noun also wouldn't have the definite article attached to it. Or for the other way, the letter be "in" would have been used and the definite article for the second word would have been left out (Compare Lam. 2:22). It would have been deliberately said differently to distinguish what is meant. Not saying "in" or "on" in Hebrew statements is also fairly common (examples: "in the morning," "in the night," etc. can be said with or without the preposition be "in"). The early translation witnesses (Aramaic Targum, Peshitta, Greek & Latin) contradict each other on this statement and translate this statement three different ways. This tells me that the translators were ignorant of the correct meaning of these words. So I reject their translations and I go by the obvious meaning of the Hebrew words. This obvious meaning also fits the so-called "Book of Jasher's" content better.
12. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbouring cities which in like manner gave themselves over to fornication (za-ni or prostitution), and followed after other carnal lusts (bis-ra flesh, people)..." (Jude 1:7 Lamsa). This verse is talking about how the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbouring cities committed fornication (pre-marital sex), which included incest and prostitution. Additionally, these people followed after "other flesh (people)," which is referring to the foreigners/strangers. The Aramaic word bis-ra, translated as carnal lusts here, really means flesh or people. We see this here: "It shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour My spirit upon all flesh (people); and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions and your old men shall dream dreams;" (Acts 2: 17 Lamsa). Another example is when Paul said that Israel was the “sons of my flesh (or people)” (Rom. 11:14). Dr. Lamsa, however, translated the words “sons of” as “those who are” in this verse. (See also Gen. 37:27).
A translation of this verse would then be: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities which in like manner gave themselves over to fornication, and went after other people." The statement “went after other people” is referring to how the citizens were treating or going after foreigners and foreign couples. It could be implied it was done to harm or do violence (compare: Jer. 48:2). The Bible gives examples which specifically infer that the men could be killed or were beaten (Acts 17:5-9). Perhaps they were also humiliated by being raped. Sometimes a husband was spared if he offered up his wife or concubine to be raped. Sometimes he was killed and his wife was given to another. So the words written by Yehudah (Jude) don't explicitly say the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were raping men or committing homosexuality. Those last words could be referring to other things.
Is the Bible Against Homosexuality? by Preacher Mattai © 2016. All rights reserved.
Sub Pages: Rebuttals