Friday, January 13, 2012

Sodom and Gomorrah

What lesson can we possibly learn from this twisted tale? Genesis 18-19 tells a tale of a vengeful, capricious god, bent on destroying cities he deemed grievously sinful. God speaks with Abraham about the city, saying that if all he has heard about them is true he will destroy it. Abraham pleads with god, asking if there were yet a handful of righteous within the city, would god kill them all, righteous and sinner alike? how many righteous would he be willing to kill to destroy the cities? 50? 45? 40? 30? 20? 10? Abraham bargains for 10, and god sends his angels to go scout the cities.

Now, if we consider two cities they must have a reasonably sized population. Men, women and children. Visitors from out of town, trades people, animals, the whole bit. How can there not be 10 children worth saving? In two cities? Yet god doesn't seem to count them. Or care.

His angels arrive in sodom and are met by Lot, Abraham's nephew. He takes them into his home, but they are immediately confronted by a large group of men and boys from the city. They demand the two men go outside so they can have sex with them (hence the term sodomy). Lot runs outside to speak with the group offering up his two virgin daughters, "let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them". Wow, their own father offering them up to be gang-raped to save the two strangers he had only met earlier that day. These are the people god wishes to save from destruction?

Lot was warned of the coming destruction and told to leave the city immediately and not look back. He takes his wife and daughters with him, but his wife looks back and is turned into a pillar of salt as fire and brimstone rain down on the two cities.

Lot and his two daughters made it out alive and found a cave to settle in, and this is where it gets creepy. The two daughters on successive nights get their father drunk and each has sex with him to continue the family line. Isn't that rape? and incest? Each daughter gets pregnant and bears a son. One called Moab, whose linage became the moabites, the other called Ben-Ammi, whose lineage became the Ammonites.

I honestly fail to see the moral of this story. By any measure, Lot and his daughters are just as bad as the group of men in Sodom. Lot offers his daughters up for rape, and his daughters end up raping him, just as the group of men wanted to rape the two strangers. The whole story is awful. I just can't help but think of all the innocent people that probably died that day. It is obvious that the two men never got a chance to check out the whole of both cities before god delivered his verdict and sent punishment from heaven. I can't believe there weren't ten people to save. And Lot and his daughters should have been part of the destruction, if we are basing who gets saved on their righteousness. They don't seem very righteous to me.

The account of the hellfire that god brings on the city is very reminiscent of what happened when Mt. Vesuvius erupted in Italy in CE79 and destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in a similar fashion. I get a feeling this was ancient man trying to cope with a similar event further back in time, trying understand why such a catastrophe could have happened. They did not understand natural phenomenon as we do today. Something this major could have only been caused by a god because the cities were evil. It couldn't have been hot magma pressurized for thousands of years under a mountain that exploded. You even see human remains in the volcanic ash that look like they could be the "pillars of salt" that described Lot's wife when she didn't make it.

Mount Vesuvius - Wikipedia

Pompeii - Wikipedia

Herculaneum - Wikipedia


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