What the Bible says about Sodom

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Genesis 19:1 - Genesis 19:18

Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

19 The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.

“My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate.

Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house.

They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him

and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.

Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door.

11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here,

13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.

16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.

17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please!

The Fall of Sodom (19:1–38)

Abraham’s intercession for Sodom was unavailing; as v. 4 indicates expressly, there were not so many as ten righteous people in the city, and so the threatened doom must fall. The final demonstration of wickedness and the ensuing destruction of the cities of the plain are both portrayed in sombre colours, a frightening example for all time. The sequel (vv. 30–38) was equally grim, in a different way.

1–11. This paragraph draws attention, vividly, to the sin for which Sodom remains a byword. The Bible is quite unequivocal in its condemnation of sexual perversions of all kinds; there is, however, another dimension to the story which can easily be overlooked. The final, unforgivable sin was not that of the lust itself, but of a ruthless determination to harm and molest apparently defenceless people (strangers to whom every hospitality was due), in spite of the appeals made by Lot. He, it is clear, had not fallen into their ways; and yet his offer of his daughters (8) does him no credit, and made their later disrespect for his person the less surprising. The word translated blindness (11) is an unusual one, and Speiser’s suggestion, ‘blinding light’ is attractive.

12–23. The angels showed every possible attention to Lot and his family. The fate of his daughters’ husbands-to-be was not to be for lack of warning; but they, like Lot’s wife, were too much attracted by all that Sodom could offer. The lesson is self-evident (Lk. 17:32). It was their death which left the way open for the incest of vv. 31–35. Even Lot himself hesitated (16), but his righteousness is never in doubt (cf. 2 Pet. 2:7 f.). His wish to reside at Zoar — however temporarily — was sufficient to save this small town from destruction (20; the name resembles and possibly means ‘small’).

24–29. The precise location of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, remains uncertain. The note in 14:3 strongly suggests that at some time after the events now related, the waters of the Dead Sea covered the sites. If so (and archaeology has yet to solve the problem), the southern end of the Dead Sea must be meant. See J. P. Harland in IDB (s.v. ‘Sodom’) for discussion and map.

The whole Jordan valley is part of a rift valley, a major fault in the earth’s surface; and it is reasonable to explain the destruction of the cities of the plain in terms of an earthquake, coupled with the ignition of sulphurous gases. Falling debris could have encased Lot’s wife. For Genesis, however, the mechanics are beside the point; the important points are the divine principles of judgment and mercy. Lot was rescued for Abraham’s sake (29).

30–38. Lot and his two daughters moved off into the mountains, presumably those to the east which later were named after Moab (cf. v. 37). We may assume that the nearby disaster frightened many people away from the area; even so, the older girl’s remark in v. 31 is a gross exaggeration, even allowing for the ambiguity of the word rendered around here (perhaps ‘in this land’, with GNB footnote).

The girls’ actions well illustrate the corrupting of an evil environment such as Sodom. The passage shows an interest in later times (38), however, which may suggest that the Moabites and Ammonites of a later period betrayed a sexual laxity thus typified by their origins.

Here again, Genesis reveals an interest in the symbolic or inner appropriateness of names. The name Moab (37) resembles closely the Heb. mē’āb, ‘from a father’; and Ben-ammi (38) signifies ‘son of my kin(sman)’.

Salt-encrusted rocks along the Dead Sea shoreline (T. Bolen)

Read more from Zondervan Bible Commentary (One Volume)

Jude 1:7

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

The Case for Faith: Jude 5–7
Hell: Obstacle to Belief

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. —Jude 7

The doctrine of hell can be a stumbling block to spiritual seekers. And though that’s understandable, Dr. J. P. Moreland responds this way: “Whenever you’re trying to start a friendship with any person, you don’t understand everything about him and you don’t necessarily agree or feel good about every view he holds. But you have to ask, on balance, do you trust this person enough to want to enter a friendship with him?

“The same is true with Jesus. Every single issue isn’t going to be resolved before we enter into a relationship with him. But the question is, on balance, can you trust him? I’d encourage any seeker to read the Gospel of John and then ask, ‘Can I trust Jesus?’ I think the answer is yes. And I believe that, over time, as we develop our relationship with him, we’ll even come to trust him in those areas where right now we lack complete understanding.”

—Adapted from interview with Dr. J. P. Moreland

Read more from Case for Christ Study Bible

Ezekiel 16:49 - Ezekiel 16:50

49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

50 They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

49-50 Sodom's chief sin had been pride and self-exaltation, stemming from her abundant materialism (food), given to her from God (Ge 13:10), which had resulted in false security, apathy, and disdain and neglect of the poor and needy. This material ease fostered sexual perversion (Ge 13:13; 18:20; 19:4-5). As evil as Sodom was, she did not begin to do evil like Jerusalem. Since God removed Sodom in judgment, certainly Jerusalem would receive greater punishment (La 4:6; cf. Mt 11:23).

Read more from Expositors Bible Commentary (Abridged Edition): Old Testament