Sodom and Gomorrah, Part 2: Genesis 19

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In Part 1, God visited Abraham and told him that He was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. You see, this is how God wanted Abraham to deal with sinners! And their pre-born babies, and their pets, and the birds that mock God by living in their evil, sinful cities.

Abraham knew that God was off to destroy his nephew Lot’s home and everyone living there. So, he showed how much he loved his brother’s son by . . . running to warn him? Sending a messenger? Nope. Abraham simply returned to his tent.

Two angels arrived at Sodom just before sundown. Lot, who was hanging out at the gate, saw them coming and bowed down before them, inviting them to stay at his house for the night. They said they planned to stay out in the street all night, but Lot insisted. So, they went to Lot’s house, and he made them dinner. (Gen. 19:1-3)

These characters are cherubim - angels as described by the prophet Ezekiel. Not exactly discreet!

The Bible doesn’t explain to us how Lot knew that the two men were angels. It’s a safe bet they didn’t fit the Biblical description of angels, with four faces and four or six wings, as everyone would probably have noticed them!

After dinner but before they went to bed, the men of the city surrounded the house and demanded that Lot bring out the strangers so they could “know them”.

Now, we all know what that means! The Hebrew word “Yada” or “know”, has multiple meanings. Strong’s Concordance tells us that out of several hundred uses of “Yada” in the Old Testament, it is translated to mean “had [carnal] relations” once, “lain [with, carnally]” once, and “raped” once. It is also translated to mean “know” 542 times, “knew” 38 times, and “known” 65 times.

Another source tells us:

Yãdhà has two meanings: “to know” and “engage in coitus.” Of 943 times yãdhà is used in the Old Testament, only ten times is it used to mean sexual intercourse, and all of these are heterosexual coitus. The Old Testament uses the word shãkhabh to mean homosexual acts and bestiality.

Lot was a resident alien in Sodom. When Lot invited strangers into his home, the townspeople approached Lot and demanded “Bring them out unto us, that we may know them (yãdhà).” Judging from the biblical references we’ve just discussed, it seems the townspeople were asking to get to know the credentials and intentions of strangers in their city.

Clearly, the only possible definition in this context is “know carnally”. Right?

These Sodomites want knowledge! Painting by James Tissot, late 19th century

Lot, a Godly man who does not particularly want his guests to be “known” in any sense of the word, and who also doesn’t want to be beaten up himself, heroically offers to throw his two virgin daughters to the crowd, for them to rape and otherwise abuse at will.

How can I call Lot a Godly man? Isn’t it obvious that he is? After all, God sent angels to help him escape because he is righteous. Is throwing your daughters to a mob to be gang-raped what you’d call “righteous” behavior?

This tactic did not work for Lot nearly so well as it did for a certain Levite in Judges 19 (whose concubine was tossed to an angry mob likewise demanding to “know” him). But, since it happens twice in the Bible, both times by Godly men, it must be acceptable to God to toss one’s daughters or concubines to angry mobs in an effort to ease tensions.

This is called “Biblical diplomacy”.

How would you feel if your Daddy threw you to an angry mob, for them to “know”, to save himself? Would you think him to be Godly for doing so?

But the men didn’t want Lot’s daughters! In fact, they were angered that Lot, a visitor in their city, dared to judge them and to refuse their demand, and charged the door.

The angels pulled Lot into the house and smote all the men at the door with blindness, so they wore themselves out trying to find the door!

If you were suddenly struck blind, would you be terribly concerned about finding someone’s door, or would you look for help? Those men must have been REALLY angry!

The angels then told Lot that they were going to destroy the city, and that he should gather all his family together and bring them away. Lot told his sons in law, but they thought he was joking, and ignored him. So, the next morning, the angels told Lot to take his wife and daughters and leave the city.

Lot hesitated, so the angels grabbed his and his wife’s hands, and led them from the city. Then, they instructed Lot to flee to the mountains, without looking back, for he’d be killed if he stayed on the plain.

Lot instead begged them to leave the small city of Zoar, not far away, alone . . . He could go there instead, since it wasn’t as far. The angels agreed, and told him to hurry, that they could not destroy the two other cities until Lot got to Zoar.

“That’s not how the story goes!” That’s what you’re thinking, right? Nope, that is how the story goes. Genesis 19:17-25.

That must be Zoar to their left. Painting by John Martin, 1892

After reaching Zoar, the Lord’s aerial assault upon Sodom and Gomorrah began, a great firestorm that destroyed the cities and everything in the plain, except for the little city of Zoar. And from Zoar, Lot’s wife looked back at the destruction; she was turned to a pillar of salt.

In modern times, we can buy salt at the grocery store in big containers for a dollar. But salt was incredibly valuable in those days, when it could only be obtained by boiling down seawater! Do you think the Lord was giving Lot a double bonus, both eliminating his disobedient wife, and giving him a small fortune to start his life over?

What will Lot and his daughters do next? Can you guess?

Answer in the poll below, then continue to Part 3 to find out!

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