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Found in translation! (Pt III); how the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah was twisted in more ways than one

There is nothing in the Torah, Old Testament, Talmud or New Testament that says the Canaanite cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because the men were all homosexual.

Remember the medical definition of homosexuality we are sticking to is extra-biblical, 19th Century, medical terminology for sexual orientation. It would be as alien a concept to a Bronze Age Northern Palestinian Jew as the endocrine system, string theory, the Theory of Gravity and/or a spherical, solar-orbiting Earth.

Photo: An artist’s depiction of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

There is no ancient Hebrew word that translates as “homosexual” and, if you see the word “homosexual” anywhere in the Old Testament, you are using a translation done after 1945 that is over-reaching and has been tampered with by a translator adding his own spin and retro-fitted assumptions.

While it is very clear that, like many others, this Canaanite city had as part of their religion ritual sex acts by female and male prostitutes dedicated to Baal, Molech and Ashtoreth, it is highly unlikely that a Bronze Age city like Sodom had a majority homosexual population. In Bronze Age times, reproduction was key to any civilization surviving, which is why there was such an emphasis on making as many children as possible, even having multiple wives, even oppressing women in order to do so.

These were times when man lived entirely at the mercy of Nature and exposed to the risks of rampant human barbarism so there was safety in numbers.

Era Life expectancy at birth
(years)
Upper Paleolithic 33
Neolithic 20
Bronze Age and Iron Age 26
Classical Greece 28
Classical Rome 20–30
Pre-Columbian North America 25–30
Medieval Islamic Caliphate 35+
Medieval Britain 30
Early Modern Britain 25–40
Early 20th Century 31
2010 world average 67.2

(Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)

The main source of industry was agriculture and most of it involved manual labour. You needed lots of people to do this. Many women died in childbirth and many children died in infancy. Something as simple as a broken bone could kill you. This was the age before antibiotics.

In addition, there was constant tribal strife and fighting. Entire cities used to get wiped out in those days. So any city would need a constant replenishment of the military force defending it, especially one in Canaan, with prized fertile green land that everyone wanted. The people in Sodom had to be breeding like rabbits to keep up with those attrition rates and manage to erect a populous, walled city. We also know from Genesis that Lot’s daughters were engaged to men of Sodom.

The Book of Jasher (referred to in the book of Samuel) was edited out of the Old Testament by the early Roman Church leaders, who picked which books would comprise the bible. However, Jasher remains in the Talmud and, if you were to get your hands on it, it goes into much more detail about Sodom. The people of Sodom and Gommorah could put the GOP to shame with their xenophobic hatred of strangers entering their city. They would use wayfarers for brutal sport!

Want to see just how bad?

8 And when a poor man came to their land they would give him silver and gold, and cause a proclamation in the whole city not to give him a morsel of bread to eat, and if the stranger should remain there some days, and die from hunger, not having been able to obtain a morsel of bread, then at his death all the people of the city would come and take their silver and gold which they had given to him.

9 And those that could recognize the silver or gold which they had given him took it back, and at his death they also stripped him of his garments, and they would fight about them, and he that prevailed over his neighbour took them.

Photo: The Book of Jasher.

10 They would after that carry him and bury him under some of the shrubs in the deserts; so they did all the days to any one that came to them and died in their land. (The Book of Jasher 19:8-10)

Wicked – with their money, as it is written, and thine eye be wicked against thy poor brother…

What is written concerning them [the men of Sodom]… 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…”

“Now, they 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…”

“A certain maiden gave some bread to a poor man, [hiding it] in a pitcher. On the matter becoming known, they (the men of Sodom) daubed her with honey and placed her on the parapet of the wall, and the bees came and consumed her. Thus it is written, And the Lord said, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah, because it is great.” (The Babylonian Talmud)

Ezekiel 16: 49, says that the sin of Sodom was greed, pride, fullness of bread and a wicked refusal to help the poor. According to the gospels, when neighbouring villages were rude and inhospitable to Jesus and his disciples and refused to welcome them with the hospitality expected, he compared them to Sodom in Matthew 10:11-15. Even the biblical passages that focus specifically on the attempted rape were more focused on the fact that the men were attempting to violate two celestial beings.

Photo: An artistic depiction of Sodomites attacking angels.

In the book of Jude, Verse 5 speaks about angels who forsook their natural realm, a reference to the story in Genesis about the “Sons of God” who had interspecies sex (angel with human) with the daughters of men. Right after, it mentions Sodom, “In like manner…” being guilty of the same for going after “strange flesh.”

The word translated “strange” is from (Greek: heteras, same root of heterosexual but in this case it means “other/different”) and flesh (Greek: sarkos). What is other worldly or different flesh to that of a human male, certainly not another human male!

The atrocity of Sodom was that they were so depraved that they would attempt to brutalize even an angelic/celestial being. Anyone presenting the story as if they were infatuated and were seeking to make consensual love to Lot’s visitors is ignoring the verse where they threatened to do worse to Lot than they planned to do to his visitors. That violent mob wanted to teach Lot a lesson and emasculate him! Remember, he was an immigrant in their city. And now he was letting strangers in! For the xenophobic, inhospitable people of Sodom, that was the last straw.

The doublet story in Judges 19 is basically the same thing with a twist, the Gibean rape mob got a substitute (a female concubine) to violate and they raped her to death.

Again, this is not some new-fangled, politically correct, millennial SJW exegesis. Dr Brownlee, (1917-1983), an internationally renowned expert on the Hebrew language and the Dead Sea Scrolls said it best: “The oppression of the stranger is the basic element of Genesis 19:1-9 [and] ‘sodomy’ in Genesis is basically oppression of the weak and helpless.”

Photo: A placard in support of same-sex marriage.

Even the most conservative, anti-LGBT biblical scholars with academic cred would agree. Dr Mark Allan Powell, of the Trinity Lutheran Seminary, believes homosexual relations are a sin. However, he does not take the view that Genesis 19 is about homosexuality.

On page 23 of his book, Faithful Conversation—Christian Perspectives On Homosexuality,” he says, “…but with regard to current questions concerning homosexuality, these texts [Genesis 19 and Judges 19] have little to offer. The stories speak only of the sin of homosexual rape and say nothing at all about consensual relations between persons of the same sex.”

When anti-LGBT bible cherry-pickers misapply an account about gang rape to all gay people, it dehumanizes an entire group, thus making it easier to justify treating them as less deserving of their human rights. More importantly, the true meaning of the scripture is lost.

In 2018, the true lesson about Sodom’s crime has more spiritual/universal ethical relevance than ever! When visitors to our shores are raped, robbed and killed, that is the crime of Sodom. We are living in times when in the blink of an eye, our home, neighbourhood or entire country can be devastated by a natural disaster or civil unrest and war, leaving us in need of kindness from strangers.

Remember how some responded to opening up the country to a handful of Dominicans in need of shelter? That is the crime of Sodom.

Photo: Women look for refuge in Dominica during Hurricane Maria’s pounding.
(Copyright Times of Oman)

Should climate change trigger an ocean current shift resulting in an ice age, many living in wealthy First World countries could be homeless wayfarers in desperate need of shelter and charity too. Would they want to be treated the way they currently treat the visitor, the refugee and the immigrant?

Up next, the Mosaic Law!

Editor’s Note: The fourth and final edition of this four-part series will be published on Saturday 24 February. Click HERE to read Part One of “Found In Translation!”

About Jessica Joseph

Jessica Joseph
Jessica Joseph is currently the Creative Director of Accela Marketing St Lucia/Canada. She is a multiple ADDY Award Winning Trinidadian national, Pop Cultural Anthropologist and Humans Rights Activist. She blogs on Huffington Post and alieninthecaribbean.blogspot.com.

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33 comments

  1. Isn’t it wonderful that many of the original texts of the major religions of the time still remain and that, due to technology, they are accessible to speak to us today. I find it amazing that all of the religions include ‘The Golden Rule’. Buddhism: Christianity: Hinduism: Islam: Judaism: Native American.

  2. I only back online this week Jessica Joseph, so it’ll take a while for me to comb through your inflammatory, blasphemous articles 😉

    But very well written. The points you made here are pretty much the same points made by Bishop John Shelby Spong, Bart Ehrman, John Boswell, Johnathan Kirsch and Rabbi Steven Greenberg.

  3. Who is ANYONE that we should accept their findings? You? or Me? Or anyone? Everyone has to read, study and be convinced in their own mind.

  4. So God destroyed a whole city because of greed and envy??Nah…i doubt…these folks was downright nasty,it wasn’t just a sin but it was an abomination!As it was in the beginning so shall it be in the end.We are ending up in the same boat.SEX, MONEY and GREED!!

    • So what are we to make of the fact that everytime Sodom is mentioned in the Torah, Talmud and New Testament it is always within the context of greed, selfishness, oppressing the poor and being unkind to the stranger?

      “Hear this word, children of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, bring and let us drink. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Amos 4).

      Ezekiel 16: 49, says that the sin of Sodom was greed, pride, fullness of bread and a wicked refusal to help the poor.

      According to the gospels, when neighbouring villages were rude and inhospitable to Jesus and his disciples and refused to welcome them with the usual hospitality expected, he compared them to Sodom in Matthew 10:11-15.

      If men loving other men was the main crime, why is that not the main focus?

    • I don’t know this source that you keep quoting stuff from but am I to believe they were demanding Lot to hand over the strangers so that they could ill-treat them??If so then why was Lot specific in saying that he was willing to give them his virgin daughters??Why use the word “virgin” if he didn’t think it would appease their demands??Like I said “SEX MONEY and GREED!!Not one sin but many.This was and will be the downfall of man.

  5. This article shows why people need to read and do their own research. This is a blatant attempt to create a false and misleading narrative. Yes the sins of sodom were many and not solely based on homosexuality, but this does not negate the fact that homosexuality was a major part. Strange flesh is used to refer to same sex as well, so why try to spin it as though the men were aware that they were angels when the bible clearly put it across that the would be rapists belived they were regular men as evidenced by the way they referred to them. It was not a case of men attempting to rape angels, it was an issue of men wanting to rape angels because they thought they were men. This was included specifically to point out the sheer depravity of the human condition in that city, and any attempt to shift the narrative from what is specifically referenced in detail is an attempt to deflect from Gods disdain for homosexuality. To further illustrate the point, Lot went on to offer his own daughters and they did not want them because they were only interested in men. Lot may have offered his daughters because he knew the visitors were angels but its clear they rapists refused because they believed them to be men.

    • If I am not mistaken the men demanded that Lot hand over the strange men so that they may “know” them…meaning to get intimate with them…they preferred men over virgins!!smh

    • “Strange flesh is used to refer to same sex as well,”

      There is no biblical reference to same-sex being referred to as heteras sarkos. It refers to “flesh” that is different, otherly and not the same but opposite.

      If you read early Hebrew commentaries on the Sodom story, they do indicate the men knew the beings were of celestial beauty. Angelic beauty would outshine ordinary women, so they would not want ordinary women when they could have angels.

    • Why would the men want Lot’s daughters? They were already claimed by other men of Sodom? Remember, Lot’s daughters were engaged to men of Sodom. Plus, they were ordinary compared to angelic beings. Also, the people did not tolerate travelers in their land, and it was the angels who were the visitors and therefore their intended victims of rape.

    • In hebrew custom homosexuality is regarded as a strange or unnatural practice. While i ageee that strange in this case could refer to the fact that the beings are celestial, it must be taken in the context of the torah that any sexual activity that takes place outside of a relationship between a married male and female is unlawful and in the case of same sex interactions; unnatural and an abomination. Romans 1:27 refers to hetersexual relations as ” natural relations” Rom 1:27 ‘In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another’ – anything else would be considered strange. Further to the point, the angels were not targeted because they were angels and the bible offers no proof of anything otherwise. There is neither any evidence to suggest anything other than the fact that they were targeted for rape because they were male and the would be rapists were homosexuals.

  6. The Medieval Islamic Caliphate’s life expectancy is quite interesting.

  7. Will read on weekend. If you are one suggesting the whole thing was inhospitality please understand that you will have shot your credibility. Waiting till I read to say more.

  8. What a tale you tell Jessica however we believe the word of the prophets and the evidence of city ruins, and those lifestyles that have been perpetuated to this time.

  9. I’m not surprised by the deliberate misinterpretation of the bible. I heard in a bible study the story of Onan used as proof as God’s displeasure of masturbation. But when you read the story it sounds more like he engaged in the poor man’s contraception of the withdrawal method.

  10. I don’t think they needed a majority homosexual population to think of raping angels or strangers acc to the story

  11. Quite right .Close to the Dead Sea ,there were chemicals and minerals around.Coupled with their proclivities ,therefore,scholarship has discovered that the names of the two cities were really Sodium and
    Gonorrhea.There is a Lot to be learnt.

  12. best chapter

    however it doesnt mean the men didnt rape men or generally commit homosexual acts

    • For sure, men raped men! In ancient times rape was used as a way of humiliating and emasculating men who lost battles or were enslaved. But rape is an act of power and violence not sexual attraction or love. So one does not necessarily have to be a homosexual to rape another man.

      Research into prison rape for example, reveals that most of the men doing it are not homosexual and never have been. Many have wives and girlfriends on the outside. Violence and adrenaline are enough to make a dick hard and some rapists actually are sadists who get off on the suffering they inflict on their victims.

    • You become a homosexual or lesbian or bisexual as long as you continue to have sex with your own gender too.

    • Right and that’s what Sodom was accused off in the “writings” justifying their destruction

      There’s no way we can evaluate their mental sexual preference

  13. Fascinating piece, Jessica Joseph, and your conclusion about the true lesson of Sodom’s crime in today’s context is spot on. Teri Grice