Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Original Sin City

JUST GOT BACK from a great dinner with some friends at a local Spanish restaurant, El Olivo. After a few pitchers of Sangria, somehow Sodom and Gomorrah came up, so I told what I know about it from my recent reading about the Bible. Well, the story of the righteous Lot, his salty wife and horny daughters is a real hoot, and it is kind of unbelievable the first time you hear it. But Holly in particular didn't believe the part about the townsfolk wanting to have sex with the two angels, or the juicy bit about Lot's daughters basically date-raping him after they beat it out of the wicked city. Richard Dawkins uses the story to great effect in his unapologetic atheist apologia The God Delusion, which I just finished. He uses it as one of a number of Biblical "myths" that illustrate what a retributive, capricious and petty deity the Old Testament God could be.

But let's go to The Wikipedia. It's all there, or now here as the case may be:

In Genesis 18:2, God sends three men, thought by most commentators to have been angels appearing as men,[1] to Abraham in the plains of Mamre. After receiving the hospitality of Abraham and Sarah, his wife, God reveals to Abraham that he will investigate Sodom and Gomorrah, because their cry is great, "and because their sin is very grievous."[20:21] In response, Abraham reverently inquires of God if he would spare the city if fifty righteous people were found in it, then forty-five, then thirty, then twenty or even ten, with God affirming he would not destroy it after each request, for the sake of the righteous yet dwelling therein.[2] The two angels of God proceed to Sodom and are met by Abraham's righteous nephew Lot, who constrains the angels to lodge with him, and they eat with his family.

Genesis 19:4-5 describes what followed, which confirms its end (RSV):

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of
Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; and they called to Lot, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them (KJV: know them, RSV: know them, NIV: can have sex with them , NJB: can have intercourse with them)."

In response, Lot refuses to give his guests to the inhabitants of Sodom and, instead, offers them his two virgin daughters to "do to them whatever you like." [Gen 19:8]NASB However, they refuse this offer and threaten to do worse to Lot than they would have done to his guests. And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door. Lot's angelic guests rescue him and strike the men with blindness. Then, they command Lot to gather his family and leave, revealing that they were sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. As they make their escape, the angels command Lot and his family not to look back under any circumstance. However, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire and brimstone by God, Lot's wife looks back, longingly, at the city in defiance of the angels' specific command not to look back and she becomes a pillar of salt.

Lot left Zoar and retired with his two daughters to a cave in an adjacent mountain. In Genesis 19:30-38, Lot's daughters who in their mind were taking responsibility to bear children to preserve Lot's family line, got their father drunk enough to have sexual intercourse with them on two consecutive nights, with each becoming pregnant. The first son was named Moab (Hebrew, lit., "from the father" [meh-Av]). He was the patriarch of the nation known as Moab. The second son was named Ammon or Ben-Ammi (Hebrew, lit., "Son of my people"). He became the patriarch of the nation of Ammon.

And here's the fan favorite Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in official Bible-ese, straight from Genesis 19, which is not the 19th studio album by Phil Collins' old prog-rock band, it just seems as ancient. So take heed as applicable and don't say God didn't try to warn all you sinners.

Okay, who brought the Manischewitz?


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