Sodom and Gomorrah, Part 1: Genesis 18

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Finally, one of the Bible stories we all know and love. It’s got angels, and fire, and salt pillars, and incest, and one of the most important moral lessons in the whole Bible!

Incest? Yes, incest. What, you didn’t know the story of Sodom and Gomorrah includes God-approved incest?

Just what kind of Bible story books have you been reading, anyway? It’s a good thing you came here!

Let’s get on with this story.

When last we saw our adventurers, Abram (now Abraham) had whored out his wife to Pharaoh, gaining lots of gold, cattle, and slaves in exchange. His nephew Lot had similarly prospered, though the Bible is silent about to whom he may have similarly rented his wife, and whether it was a long engagement to a single gentleman, or more of a by-the-hour thing.

Since the two of them had such vast herds, and so many slaves, the land where they were living couldn’t support them. They split up, and Lot decided to move to Sodom. Now, God is going to tell Abraham that He’s not happy with Sodom OR Gomorrah, and plans to destroy them.

Abraham was sitting in the door of his tent on a hot day, and suddenly saw three men close by him. He apparently recognized one of them as the Lord, but the Bible does not explain which one, or how He was distinguished from the others . . . or if perhaps the Lord actually took the form of all three men. Abraham addresses the three men as “My Lord” and offers them food. (Genesis 18:1-5)

. . . lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away . . . rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts . . . And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

Abraham rushes about getting food together. Then “they” ask him where his wife, Sarah is. Abraham says that she is in the tent, and “he” tells Abraham that he will return “according to the time of life” (nine months) and Sarah will have a son.

Sarah, eavesdropping from the tent door, being 90 and post-menopausal, laughed silently. (Genesis 18:9-12)

The Lord, ever the mind reader, asked Abraham why his wife laughed thinking she was too old to bear. Is, after all, anything too difficult for Me? I will return when I said, and she will have a son! (Genesis 18:13-14)

Sarah came out, frightened, and said she didn’t laugh. The Lord, said “Oh, yes you did!” (Genesis 18:15) (The Bible does not indicate whether this exchange continued into a series of “Did NOT!” and “Did TOO!”)

If the Creator of the universe showed up at your door, eating roasted calf, bread, butter, and milk, and said you were going to have a child, would you laugh? Abraham did several times in earlier stories!

The Lord finished His/their snack, and headed off toward Sodom. Abraham went along to start them off on their journey. The Lord then asked of Himself and/or His Companions a question. He prefaced the question by noting that Abraham would become a “great and all the nations of the earth blessed in him . . . [who] will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment . . .” (Genesis 18:16-22)

Note: Key moral lesson ahead!

What “justice and judgment”? What is this “way of the Lord”? Why, utterly destroying sinners, of course!

The Lord explained that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was great, and that He was going to go there and see if it was true.

Now, from reading the text, we may not see with absolute clarity that the Lord intends to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and that this is what He considers the “justice and judgment” that is the “way of the Lord”, but Abraham gets it! He has a question:

Abraham drew near [perhaps to whisper?] and asked, “Will you also destroy the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous in the city? Will you spare the place for the fifty righteous? Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:23-25)

The Lord said He would spare the city of Sodom for fifty righteous. Abraham then asks after forty, or thirty, or twenty, or ten. In each case, the Lord agreed He wouldn’t destroy the city for the sake of ten righteous, and ended the conversation.

What do you think Abraham did? His beloved nephew (Lot) and his family have moved to Sodom. God is on His way there to destroy the city.

Check out Part 2 for the correct answer!

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