Genesis 18-19: Sodom and Gomorrah
My internal thought before reading:
Sodom sounds a lot like sodomy. I wonder where that’s going to go.
We start out with the Lord appearing to Abraham. But it also says three men appeared. After that, everyone is referred to as “they,” so I’m honestly not sure if the Lord manifested as three men, or if the Lord was there with three men.
This issue doesn’t get cleared up, but whichever way it was, the Lord and/or the three men talked to Abraham about Sarah having a child. Sarah doubted that she would have a child at this age, and God was like: Watch me. (That’s not a direct quote.)
In an off-hand comment, the Lord (or maybe the three men?) say that they want to go destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if their sin is as bad as he heard about.
Abraham does something that doesn’t happen much in the Bible: He directly questions God by asking if he’ll really destroy the entire place, including the righteous that may be there. They end up negotiating until they agree that 10 people is appropriate number—if God finds 10 righteous people, he’ll spare the cities.
Friendly reminder from a previous post, Lot (Abraham’s nephew and former travel partner) is in Sodom.
Destruction—And a Whole Bunch of Other Stuff
Two angels (also used interchangeably with God in references…I’ll refer to them as the two angels or the two men here) went to Sodom and ran into Lot. Lot invited them to stay with him, have their feet washed, and enjoy a good meal.
Though they were hesitant, the two angels did stay with Lot.
In the middle of the night, the men of Sodom surrounded the house and asked Lot to bring out the two men so they could have sex with them. (My pre-reading sodomy question got answered.)
Lot refused. Instead, he offered his virgin daughters. The men didn’t want the daughters; they wanted the men.
The Sodom men tried to break down the door, but the angels put a stop to it and told Lot to take his wife and his daughters and run away.
After some disagreement, they do run to the next town over as Sodom burns to the ground. And this happens:
“Lot’s wife looks back and turns into a pillar of salt.”
With Lot’s wife out of the picture, the daughters (who of course were never named) were worried about Lot’s descendance being carried forward. So they each “lay with their father.” That’s a quote. When I first read it, I interpreted lay as sleep next to. I was very wrong about that.
The text never explicitly says sex, but it does say, “Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.” I feel like that’s blatant enough.
I realize that “lay with” in this instance is like “sleep with” in our modern language. The literal definition of “sleep with” is how I initially interpreted “lay with.” Just sleeping next to. But when you say “sleep with” today, most people assume sex. Yay language!
The daughters both have sons (who of course are named), so Lot’s genes move to the next generation.
Genesis 20: Abraham and Sarah
Abraham and Sarah move to a new region and, again, Abraham tells the locals that his wife Sarah is his sister.
The king of this region, Abimelech, sends for Sarah and “takes her.”
God came to King Abimelech in a dream and told him that Sarah is married woman—and he’s married to a prophet. The king explains that he didn’t know. God says, “That is why I did not let you touch her.” Because the king didn’t touch Sarah, he hadn’t sinned against God.
It’s interesting to me that God showed himself to Abimelech. I thought direct contact with God was reserved for specific people, but apparently not. I don’t know where I got that notion, so we’ll see how God continues (or doesn’t) to show himself.
This is also the first reference to “prophet” that I can recall. It’s not explained further at this point, but I know prophets come up plenty in future books of the Bible.
Back to the story. The king calls Abraham to him and is like, dude, what the heck (because hell hasn’t been mentioned yet…and also this is paraphrased). Abraham explained that technically he wasn’t lying: “She really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.”
The king gives Abraham cattle, sheep, slaves, land…and his wife back.
God healed the king and his people, who he had made barren because of the Sarah snafu. This fact was mentioned nonchalantly at the end of the story.
Additional Commentary on “Lay”
Because of my close proximity to LGBTQ+ issues, and my curiosity about how religions view homosexuality, I know that one of Christianity’s arguments against homosexuality is in reference to a phrase along the lines of “man must not lay with man.”
So I’m guessing the word “lay” will come back up in a future reading!
On a related note, one of the speakers in this year’s Cedar Valley Pridefest educational series is Dr. Susan Hill, whose talk is called, “Homosexuality and the Bible.” Come out if you can.
I’m not sorry about that come out joke, either.
With Pridefest coming up, I’m also working on some additional commentary and research around the homosexuality topic as it relates to the Bible. Stay tuned!
As always, I want to hear from YOU! Post your thoughts in the comment section below or shoot me message if you prefer to stay private.
Today’s reading is brought to you by Zeelool. The print in the Bible is pretty darn small, so my reading glasses have been a…God send (still not sorry).