The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 04-02-2013, 09:28 PM
SSG Schwartz SSG Schwartz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Can somebody explain the Story of Lot? (Gen: 19)

I don't want to create a debate, but I was attempting to understand Genesis once again after watching The Ten Commandments, and got hung up on the story of Lot. It seems to be such a sexual story that I should get it, but I don't understand if it is a history of events, or if there is a lesson there to learn.

Again, I don't want a debate about right or wrong, but what is the for dummies version of the story?

SFC Schwartz
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 04-02-2013, 10:08 PM
panaccione panaccione is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 2,022
Lot story
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-02-2013, 10:25 PM
SSG Schwartz SSG Schwartz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Thanks, that was amusing.

SFC Schwartz
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-02-2013, 10:33 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: San Diego, CA
Posts: 8,709
There seems to be some controversy over what the sin was, exactly, that got the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah doomed. The classical interpretation was homosexuality, ergo the word "sodomy." Others suggest it was a violation of the tradition of hospitality in general.

Really, the best you can possibly do is read the text itself, and make up your own mind. It's quite short, and, ultimately, fairly straightforward.

I *think* the lesson that it is trying to teach is pretty much the lesson of the whole Old Testament: God knows more than you do, so obey God. Period, end of lesson, and you'll die horribly if you don't get it.

Since we live in an era that has known the Enlightenment, and base our morality upon something more than sheer naked authority, we tend to find the lesson unpalatable. But that really is the lesson the story was written to teach.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-02-2013, 10:55 PM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Keeping my password unchanged
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,187
I always thought the lesson was about hospitality. YMMV.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-03-2013, 12:14 AM
njtt njtt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
It's a good thing to shag your daughters? (At least if your wife's gone all salty on you.)
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-03-2013, 01:42 AM
Magiver Magiver is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
he was a pillar of the community.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-03-2013, 01:54 AM
AClockworkMelon AClockworkMelon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by panaccione View Post
I love the top comment: "Was this really in the Bible?"
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:24 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by njtt View Post
It's a good thing to shag your daughters? (At least if your wife's gone all salty on you.)
It's more "It's a good thing to rape your father", but if you read that bit carefully I don't think you'll find any implied approval, just a simple recounting of events.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:57 AM
njtt njtt is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Malacandra View Post
It's more "It's a good thing to rape your father", but if you read that bit carefully I don't think you'll find any implied approval, just a simple recounting of events.
Ya' think? Just after God has destroyed two cities for nameless sins, and turned a woman to salt for looking behind her, but He lets this go.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-03-2013, 03:43 AM
naita naita is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
The bit with the daughters I read as a just-so story giving the neighbours a sordid past:
Quote:
36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab[g]; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi[h]; he is the father of the Ammonites[i] of today.
No wonder the Moabites are so whacky.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-03-2013, 03:58 AM
UDS UDS is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
A starting point is to look at the story in its context, and by “context” I mean the book of Genesis. We read Genesis as a single text, but of course it wasn’t composed as such. It was compiled, stitching together existing, already ancient stories, and sometimes stitching in more than one version of the same story. The story of destruction of Sodom is found in chapter 19, and it comes immediately after the story of Abraham in chapter 18, to which it forms a marked contrast.

In chapter 18, Abraham is living in a tent in the desert, with his wife and (small) household. He’s a nomad, travelling around looking for grazing for his sheep and goats, and otherwise living on what he can scrounge from the countryside. It’s a pretty basic existence, he’s getting on in years and at the start of each winter he really doesn’t know whether he will make it through to the next.

Three angels, disguised as men, come to his tent. Although they are strangers, in a culture which was suspicious of strangers, he greets them as honoured guests, and shares what little food he has with them. He even shares his water with them – an even scarcer resource. The men promise Abraham that his wife will bear a child (which indeed she does – Isaac).

Right. At the beginning of chapter 19, the same angels (though now there are only two of them – a sign, perhaps, that the editor is drawing together two previously separate stories) arrive at the gates of Sodom. The countryside around, it has already been established, is fertile, and Sodom is a prosperous and powerful city. We’ve also already been told that it has the name of being a place of great wickedness. (This has been mentioned as far back as chapter 14.) Lot meets the angels, and offers them his hospitality, much as Abraham did. In fact, he’s quite insistent, and he also insists that after saying with him they should “be on their way”. Lot, one senses, has a pretty shrewd idea of what happened to strangers in Sodom.

The men of the city surround Lot’s house and demand that he bring out the strangers “that we may know them”.

“Know” here looks like a bowdlerised euphemism for “have sex with”, and we tend to assume that it is employed by a squeamish translator. That’s unfair to the translator; the Hebrew word which appears here does in fact mean “know”. But, yes, it is a euphemism for having sex; it’s employed many times in the Old Testament in that sense.

But it also means “to know” and, remember, these men are strangers, and the culture of the time was suspicious of strangers. The citizens of Sodom didn’t know these men in either sense. I think the text raises both the literal and the euphemistic sense of the word, and the message is that “we’re going to do violence to these men; we’re going to humiliate them in the worst way we can, which is violent gang rape, and we are doing that because they are strangers, and we hate and fear strangers”.

Why would Sodom hate and fear strangers more than Abraham in the desert? Because Sodom has more to lose. Sodom is wealthy and powerful; Sodom is a target of envy. Sodom is rich, but is surrounded by poverty. Sodom is constantly at war. (We learned this in Genesis 14.) It’s only a few years since the place was sacked by the Elamites. The Elamites were driven off on that occasion, but they’re still around. Sodom is scared.

Sodom hates the fact that wealth and power doesn’t, in the end, buy security from the starving nomads of the valleys, because Sodom thinks it bloody well should.

In short, the reason the men of Sodom want to “know” these strange men is not so much because they’re men as because they’re strangers. This is the whole point of the contrast between Abraham’s reception of the strangers, and Sodom’s reception.

And this is a very long-standing reading. The prophet Ezekiel, for whom this was already an ancient story, writes that “this was the guilt of Sodom; she and her daughters had pride, surfeit of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy. They were haughty, and did abominable things.”

“But what about the gay?”, I hear you all cry. “What about the hot man-on-man sex? What about the handbags? And the glitter? And all that pink?”

Sadly, this story is not really about that. We’re obsessed with sex, and it’s kind of hard for us to comprehend that a moral story which involves sex is not primarily about sex. But, really, it isn’t.

But hold on. Doesn’t Trinopus, back in post #4, say that the “classic interpretation” is that the sin of Sodom was, well, sodomy?

That’s true, if “classical” actuall means “medieval and modern European”. This perspective arose in medieval Europe (as indeed did the word "sodomy" - a couple of thousand years after the story of Sodom was first written down). The classic Jewish commentaries all treat this story as being about hospitality to “the stranger” (which, don’t forget, is a central preoccupation of the Old Testament moral codes). Quite why our culture came to take a different view is a subject for another discussion, but obviously it’s tied in with our preoccupation with sex.

I’m not saying that the ancient Hebrews were fine with homosexuality; they were not. They took a Very Dim View Indeed. They put it on a par with sacrificing your children to Moloch, or eating black pudding. But they didn’t share our obsession with sex; they didn’t regard sexual sin as uniquely awful, and they didn’t think “sex!” whenever they heard the word “immorality”, as we do. Consequently when the homosexual aspect turns up in this story, it doesn’t necessarily become, for the culture for which it was written, a story about homosexuality. The main focus of this story is found by reading it in context, and in its context it’s very clearly about hospitality, about the treatment of strangers, about the responsibilities of wealth and power and about the idolatry of wealth and power.

It’s not just our focus on sex as the pre-eminent moral question which hinders us in reading this story. There’s an even bigger issue and that, of course, is Lot’s treatment of his daughters; he offers his two daughters to the ravening hordes, if only they will leave the strangers alone. How can we not be revolted by this? And how can this not become, for us, a story about the oppression and abuse of women?

Just as we read this story through the lens of our emphasis on sex, so the original audience would have read it through a few lenses of their own, one of them being the attitude to women. Women, basically, were viewed as the property of men, and this was especially true of daughters.

We, of course, are horrified by this. But if we really want to understand this story - what it means, how it was intended, how it was received by its audience – then we have to note that horror, but be prepared to put it to one side and to think about what the story means given that appalling attitude to women.

One of the things that our horror prevents us from seeing is that a proprietorial attitude to one’s family can sit alongside with a strong and natural love. Yes, the OT texts show us that the Hebrew men owned their daughters, but it also shows us that they loved them, passionately. Daughters were not just another species of property; they were incredibly precious. Time and again Old Testament texts present the loss of children as the worst possible misfortune that could befall someone; as a crushing blow from which no recovery could be expected.

So Lot offering his daughters to the mob isn’t offering them money, or goods, or slaves; he’s offering them the most precious thing he has. The point of the story is not that you should be willing to sacrifice your children in order to prevent gay sex happening, or even that you should be willing to sacrifice your children in order to observe the obligations of hospitality. The point is to underline the depravity of the mob; Lot offered them the most precious thing he could in order to induce them to act as they should have acted with no inducement at all, and they preferred to stick with to their disastrous, fear-filled, hate-filled rage. Why? Because they put their trust in their wealth and power. They looked to it to save them. They would sacrifice everything, including their own decency, to defend their wealth even from purely imaginary threats, and nothing would turn them from this catastrophic course.

And that, basically, is the point of the Sodom story. We might like it to be making a point about homosexuality but it isn’t, really. We might like it not to assume horrific attitudes towards women, but it does. But it’s not about either of those things.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-03-2013, 06:12 AM
si_blakely si_blakely is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
UDS identifies the salient points in the Lot narrative, far better than I could. But there is also a point being made about isolation and purity - a very strong thread running through the Old Testament. The people of Yahweh are to avoid mixing with their neighbors lest they absorb cultural influences that take them away from God. Abraham, a nomad, does. Lot doesn't, and the consequences are pretty extreme - wife turned to salt, immoral daughters etc. There is an object lesson here.
And another lesson is once you leave, don't look back. This lesson is repeated during the Exodus, when the Hebrews grumble that they were better off as slaves in Egypt. The divine punishment for such an attitude is rapid and final.
__________________
Simon
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-03-2013, 06:14 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 12,406
Quote:
36 So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab[g]; he is the father of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger daughter also had a son, and she named him Ben-Ammi[h]; he is the father of the Ammonites[i] of today.
Quote:
Originally Posted by naita View Post
The bit with the daughters I read as a just-so story giving the neighbours a sordid past:
No wonder the Moabites are so whacky.
If you think they're wacky, check out the Ammonites. I've heard that the children of incest could have issued, but I never would have imagined anything like that!
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-03-2013, 06:27 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Chillicothe, Ohio
Posts: 4,399
Wow, UDS, that is a great explanation. Thank you.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 04-03-2013, 07:01 AM
Prof. Pepperwinkle Prof. Pepperwinkle is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Chateau Pepperwinkle
Posts: 15,845
A number of Bible scholars have surmised that the Hebrews did not get along well with the Moabites (and a great many other neighbors), and that this story exists partly to slam them.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-03-2013, 08:43 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by panaccione View Post
That little video is just about the epilogue to the story, and doesn't even talk about the main part of it. Off the top of my head, the points are:

Moses negotiating with God about whether to kill all the people there. Moses wins.

The angels visiting Lot to warn him to get out.

The mob demanding that Lot hand over the angelic men to be raped.

Lot instead offering the mob his daughters ("they're virgins!").

Lot's wife looking back and being turned into a pillar of salt (WTF?).

Lot's daughters getting him drunk and having sex with him so they can be pregnant.



There's lots there to ridicule, I can't imagine why the video makers chose only the last point.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04-03-2013, 09:49 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
There's also the matter of "why did his daughters think they were the last people on Earth?" Sure, they saw Sodom destroyed (or heard it anyway- they couldn't look at it), but the angels never said anything about destroying the entire world, and you'd think that their first place to go would be Abraham (the rich warlord uncle who had saved their turkey-bacon when they were captured and enslaved and who saw their father as a kind of son).
And how exactly did they get food? They can't have carried that much out of Sodom, though apparently they carried some wine (since they got Lot drunk). If they were hunting and gathering you'd think they'd notice that "hey, the world's not destroyed after all... maybe the people in the next village are still there, let's find out!", but nope.

There are lots of plot holes.

And then parts of the story seem replicated in the tale of the Levite's concubine (except the mob does accept the concubine to gang rape, and when they're done her master sweetly says "get up, woman, let's go" but she's, unfortunately, dead).

Last edited by Sampiro; 04-03-2013 at 09:49 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:12 AM
Colophon Colophon is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
Wow, UDS, that is a great explanation. Thank you.
I'll second that. Excellent post.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:20 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 22,163
I'm no biblical scholar, and I've heard one say the story makes no sense at all, but my impression is that it's some kind of city mouse/country mouse type story intended to demonize city life.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:24 AM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is online now
Peep Ping Tom
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: North Shore of LI
Posts: 12,833
Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
A starting point is to look at the story in its context, and by “context” I mean the book of Genesis. We read Genesis as a single text, but of course it wasn’t composed as such. It was compiled, stitching together existing, already ancient stories, and sometimes stitching in more than one version of the same story. The story of destruction of Sodom is found in chapter 19, and it comes immediately after the story of Abraham in chapter 18, to which it forms a marked contrast.


...snip...
This would make a great Staff Report.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:26 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Chillicothe, Ohio
Posts: 4,399
Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtC View Post
Moses negotiating with God about whether to kill all the people there. Moses wins.
Abraham, not Moses.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:34 AM
md2000 md2000 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Interesting explanation - a few observations:

The Moabites and Ammonites - it seems a typical behaviour of ancient texts to attribute questionable or improper ancestry to your unpopular enemies/neighbours. If the Lord smote them, there wouldn't be any ancestors for the npopular neighbours. So He let themlive to create those races with the improper ancestors.

I wonder if the "know" is an extension of the story to emphasize the horror of it. "Not only did they want to beat them, those horrible people also wanted to bugger them. Worse, they preferred it to nice, clean young ladies..."

Remember the propaganda in WWI about the terrible Huns raping women and bayonetting babies; oh, wait, the Iraqis in Kuwait tossing babies out of incubators to steal the equipment to send to Baghdad.

I do recall reading something once that buggery was also a means by which the Egyptian royalty of the time humiliated the captives defaeated in battle. Presumably it was a not unknown expression of power and control of the time and region.

Last edited by md2000; 04-03-2013 at 10:37 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:43 AM
flight flight is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
And then parts of the story seem replicated in the tale of the Levite's concubine (except the mob does accept the concubine to gang rape, and when they're done her master sweetly says "get up, woman, let's go" but she's, unfortunately, dead).
So it is the same story, but with the death of the concubine. It seems the whole first section was included just to show that the concubine was unfaithful, so it was OK that terrible things happened to her.

What the hell was up with chopping up her body at the end though?
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:50 AM
flight flight is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Read the next verse. It was a call to arms, if a rather gruesome one.
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 04-03-2013, 11:17 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,841
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
Wow, UDS, that is a great explanation. Thank you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
I'll second that. Excellent post.
Brilliant post.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 04-03-2013, 11:19 AM
gytalf2000 gytalf2000 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earl Snake-Hips Tucker View Post
If you think they're wacky, check out the Ammonites. I've heard that the children of incest could have issued, but I never would have imagined anything like that!

Hilarious!
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 04-03-2013, 12:13 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
SD Curator of Critters
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Panama
Posts: 24,406
Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtC View Post
That little video is just about the epilogue to the story, and doesn't even talk about the main part of it. ... There's lots there to ridicule, I can't imagine why the video makers chose only the last point.
That's just one in a series of videos. The previous one, #6, covers the story of Sodom and Gomorrah itself.

One of the particular things they ridicule in the one on Lot's daughters, however, is the inconsistency of God destroying Lot's wife in a horrific way for a minor (and quite natural) act of disobedience while appearing to be unconcerned about father-daughter incest, something that appears much more serious to us.
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 04-03-2013, 12:55 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Honestly, I think Lot's wife did it on purpose. Culture of the times or no, non-existence as a pillar of salt has to be better than a lifetime with someone who is perfectly ok with almost literally throwing your children to the wolves.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:08 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by flight
What the hell was up with chopping up her body at the end though?
In the next chapter he sends a piece to each of the sections of Israel to drum support for his revenge against the Benjaminites.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:22 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
My take that I'll add to what's already been read and UDS's excellent post:

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah had just been sacked and enslaved by a coalition of five "kings" (probably more like tribal leaders). This is spoken to. They were rescued by Abraham, this bedouin warlord who has enough military power to defeat the people who defeated them.

So, it would be reasonable of the people of Sodom to assume that "if the 5 Kings are stronger than us, and Abraham is stronger than the 5 kings, it would stand to reason that Abraham is stronger than us". They are probably grateful to Abraham in some way, which is probably why Lot continues to live among them, but they also fear him; he's like a desert Don Corleone, and his nephew and heir presumptive lives among them. It's probably not lost on them that if Abraham ever takes a notion that "I'd like my nephew Lot to be king of Sodom" or just "I could use a boost to my retirement fund, maybe I should just sack Sodom myself, take their valuables and sell their people and buy an upscale retirement condo overlooking the sea", there's not a whole lot to stop him from getting his wish. So, again, like being in debt to Don Corleone, you respect him but you're also afraid of him, and you realize that he might one day ask more in repayment than you're willing to give, and you may even sleep with a sidearm in case he decides to stop being your friend.

Into this already super paranoid (actually, paranoid implies unjustified- they have reason to be afraid) city walk the angels. Now, while it's not apparent they're angels it probably is apparent they're not like other men: Abraham and Lot both bowed the second they saw them because they instantly recognized "These aren't regular men here". Lot did this at the city gate, in front of witnesses.

So, the guy who is most likely to be a serious threat to your already imperiled, historically unable-to-defend-itself-in-battle city has just received two ominous "not like us" guests and taken them to his house.

Do we

1- Hope for the best, maybe send over a fruitbasket
2- Keep an eye on him and if it seems they're up to no good maybe have a town council meeting to discuss next move
3- Go ahead and send a message NOW before Uncle Abe and his screaming nomads are all over the city

Even if "to know" did mean "to have sex with", it's a zillion times more likely to be in a "we'll show you what we think of your men, they're literally our whores" than "Mmm-hmm-hmmm, shake that thing Papi!" lustful sense (not that rape is usually about lust whether hetero or homo or any other way).
And while it's easy to believe Sodom was probably evil before they were sacked, afterwards they were probably a powder keg of suspicion and fear.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:37 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
The funny thing is, I have never wavered in my feelings about the story (I hate it, and it shows exactly what this God is capable of) but as I have grown to be an adult I understand more why Lots wife was turned to salt. Sometimes you just shouldn't look back, and one of those times would be when a God or a Devil is doing his thing. Some things you just shouldn't see.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 04-03-2013, 02:44 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
IIRC from other threads (there have been several) and other readings on the topic, some scholars of biblical language say "turned to a pillar of salt" was probbly a euphemism for dying instantly rather than literal, something like "kicked the bucket" or "bought the farm". Though that said, there are any number of salt formations claimed to be Lot's wife in Israel, so the literal translation has been a staple of the tourist trade for at least centuries.

Last edited by Sampiro; 04-03-2013 at 02:44 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 04-03-2013, 08:44 PM
FriarTed FriarTed is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: IN USA
Posts: 12,766
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bar3GOzDNzg

Professor Frank explains it all for you.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 04-03-2013, 09:10 PM
stpauler stpauler is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 6,038
If UDS ever offers a Bible study course, count me in!
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 04-03-2013, 10:20 PM
moriah moriah is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Another context to consider:

As Abraham and Lot come to the region, they decide to split up the land. So as not to get into an argument with Lot, Abraham let's lot chose his part of the land. And Lot chooses the area of Sodom and Gomorrah because it was so fertile.

HAH!*




*The 'hah' is because the whole area Lot chose became devastated after the wrathful destruction with the Dead Sea becoming... dead. It's an explanation-story for why the area is 'dead' and salty and why Abraham's Semitic kin (the non-Israelites of the area, who are the descendents of Lot) are relegated to the crappy areas of the region.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 04-04-2013, 01:21 AM
Dio2112 Dio2112 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by UDS View Post
And that, basically, is the point of the Sodom story. We might like it to be making a point about homosexuality but it isn’t, really. We might like it not to assume horrific attitudes towards women, but it does. But it’s not about either of those things.
The whole Sodom & Gamorrah story (and the next chapter with the daddy drugging and rape) is all just a sacred ethnic joke.

The Ammonites and the Moabites are demonstrated in the text to be the descendants of incest. Sodom & Gomorrah are guilty of being really shitty neighbors.

That's all it means.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 04-04-2013, 06:24 AM
handsomeharry handsomeharry is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
Honestly, I think Lot's wife did it on purpose. Culture of the times or no, non-existence as a pillar of salt has to be better than a lifetime with someone who is perfectly ok with almost literally throwing your children to the wolves.
I'm thinking that she didn't know that she had turning into a pillar of salt as an option available to her.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 04-04-2013, 08:43 AM
ThelmaLou ThelmaLou is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Texas
Posts: 4,841
Quote:
Originally Posted by stpauler View Post
If UDS ever offers a Bible study course, count me in!
Me, too!
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 04-04-2013, 08:49 AM
ethelbert ethelbert is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
The Aristocrats!
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 04-04-2013, 08:57 AM
md2000 md2000 is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
I tried looking up the location of Sodom for a visit to Israel, and found ther's some dispute. Some traditional interpretations put Sodom on the plains south-west of the Dead Sea, but other sources suggest it was one of "five cities" in the more general, fertile area around Jericho.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 04-04-2013, 09:27 AM
Leo Bloom Leo Bloom is offline
Keeping my password unchanged
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 6,187
Quote:
Originally Posted by ethelbert View Post
The Aristocrats!
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 04-04-2013, 10:11 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaamika View Post
The funny thing is, I have never wavered in my feelings about the story (I hate it, and it shows exactly what this God is capable of) but as I have grown to be an adult I understand more why Lots wife was turned to salt. Sometimes you just shouldn't look back, and one of those times would be when a God or a Devil is doing his thing. Some things you just shouldn't see.
...and especially when He explicitly told you not to look.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 04-04-2013, 10:15 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 22,163
The pillar of salt thing must have been based on existing mythology about the Dead Sea region.
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 04-04-2013, 10:40 AM
cmkeller cmkeller is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
I come not to dispute UDS's take on the story, but to complement it.

The Torah is (for non-believers: meant to be taken as) the communication of G-d to the Israelites in the desert, in preparation for their entry to Canaan and their impending conquest of the land. The commandments that they are expected to live their lives by start in Exodus. Genesis seems unnecessary to this purpose. The Rabbis comment that the purpose of Genesis is to establish the basis of the right of the Israelites to the land, which is a) G-d's complete ownership of the Earth, as he is the creator of it, which gives him the right to allocate land to peoples as he sees fit, and b) G-d's promise to Abraham to give him that particular piece of land.

Also included in such instruction is what lands NOT to conquer, as G-d has allocated these for other nations of Abrahamic heritage:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deuteronomy 2:5
Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deuteronomy 2:9
Then the Lord said to me, “Do not harass the Moabites or provoke them to war, for I will not give you any part of their land. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot as a possession.”
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deuteronomy 2:19
When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.”
The background on Lot, and the story of how these nations descended from him, is essential background information for explaining the rules within which the new nation is expected to conduct itself toward certain specific other nations.

There is a subtle difference between the Moabites and the Ammonites in the original Hebrew that is not reflected in the NIV English translation I used above. The NIV translates both a phrase in verse 9 and one in verse 19 as "provoke them to war", but in fact the word "war" is not present in the original Hebrew in verse 9. The traditional Jewish commentators say that this indicates that while the Israelites were not allowed to harass the Ammonites in any way, but they were allowed to harass the Moabites as long as they did not actually start a war. The reason for this difference is because Lot's second daughter was modest enough to use euphemism in naming her child, while the first daughter was more brazen about the origins of the child, demonstrating to the Israelites that sexual modesty was a virtue that G-d valued.
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 04-04-2013, 10:57 AM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Doesn't Moab literally mean "Who's your daddy?"
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 04-04-2013, 08:40 PM
SSG Schwartz SSG Schwartz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Quote:
And that, basically, is the point of the Sodom story. We might like it to be making a point about homosexuality but it isn’t, really. We might like it not to assume horrific attitudes towards women, but it does. But it’s not about either of those things.
Amazing summery UDS. Thank-you. I was afraid after the first response I would not get an explanation I would understand.

SFC Schwartz
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 04-05-2013, 05:49 PM
mr. jp mr. jp is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Add me to the list of people who greatly appreciated UDS' post. (Also Sampiro's follow up.)

I'm wondering if there could be some sort of collection of posts like these, for those of us who don't read that much on the forums.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 04-12-2013, 09:59 AM
sbunny8 sbunny8 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Step 1: Guy wandering in the desert finds strange looking pillars of salt near a place that smells really bad.

Step 2: Guy makes up a cautionary tale about some town that used to be there until it god decided to smite it.

Step 3: Guy makes up twist ending where one of the pillars of salt is actually a human being who got transmogrified for disobedience.

Step 4: After being repeated around the campfire a few times, the story ends up being written down and included in a compilation of other stories.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 04-12-2013, 11:35 AM
The Great Sun Jester The Great Sun Jester is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sampiro View Post
...a powder keg of suspicion and fear.
Wow, apart from getting our asses kicked at home The USA is starting to look more and more like Sodom. Wealthy, powerful, paranoid, xenophobic.

Last edited by The Great Sun Jester; 04-12-2013 at 11:37 AM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:12 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.