Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sodom & Gomorrah

I've spent some time reading the chapters in Genesis on Sodom and Gomorrah this week, because I was asked to substitute teach Gospel Doctrine (Gen 13,14, 18,19).  I've found some interesting parallels that I was unaware of.

The 1st has to do with the battle between the east and west.  The east is the home of Israel's future enemies, the Moabites, Ammonites and others.  The author has nothing good to say about the east.  Particularly interesting are the names of some of the participants and locations:

·           King Bera (of Sodom) = "In Evil"

·           King Birsha (of Gomorrah) = "In Wickedness"

·           Valley of Siddim (where they join forces) = "Valley of Demons"

·           and others allies or locations; (Rephaim = "Shades, Spirits,"      Ashtaroth-karnaim = female demon of lust,·     Emmim = race of Canaanite giants)

On the other side are the good guys - who of course have names that indicate how good they were:

·           Abram = Exalted Ancestor

·           Melchizedek (Melek=King, Zadik=Righteousness) = King of Righteousness

·           Salem (over which Melchizedek presides) = "Peace" 

Is it coincidence that these names are so polarized?  I don't think so (who would name their kid "in evil?"  Maybe if they waited until the terrible twos to name their kids.)

Here is another interesting parallel.  The verses from chapter 18 & 19 of Genesis obviously depend on each other and were constructed to show contrasts between Lot & Abraham, and the evil Sodom and the Lord, and  also Sarah & Lot.

Angels & Lord Visit Abraham & Sarah (chap 18)            Angels Visit Lot in Sodom (chap 19)

2 Lord & 2 angels, runs, bows down                                      1 Two angels, rises, bows down

3-5 Invitation to wash, eat & rest accepted                            2 Invitation to wash & rest reluctantly accepted

6-8 elaborate food preparation                                                3 Feast & bread

9 Before resting, The Lord asks Where is Sarah                 4-5a Before retiring the Evil people ask where are the angels?

10-12 Sarah to have child (via union with Abraham)           5b Sodomites to have union with guests

 . Sarah hears from tent door                                                   6 Lot goes through door and shuts it

 . Sarah is in menopause                                                          7 Lot pleads - Don't be wicked

 . Sarah laughs at her having pleasure                                      8 Lot offers daughters to men  for their pleasure

 . Sarah believes Abraham is too feeble to produce a son       9 Men nearly crush  Lot,

13 The Lord wonders why Sarah  questions Him                  Sodomites wonder why Lot, judges their ways

14b – Promise of a Son reiterated through divine means        10-11 Lot saved by guests through divine means

Did these stories actually unfold in this strikingly similar pattern or was one story fashioned to provide a polarized contrast to the other story?

The last parallel I noted was with the Noah story and that of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Match A1,2,3 with B1,2,3:


A1. Gen. 6, The Sons of God (some sort of angelic beings?) are attracted to the daughters of men and have relations with them, producing an unholy race of nephilim, giants, heroes & warriors

A2.   Partially because of this, the Lord destroys the earth, saving a nucleus of righteousness (Noah & family)

A3.    Gen 9, Noah is drunk and is uncovered in his nakedness.  Ham acts inappropriately with his father resulting in a cursed race (Canaan – enemies of Israel)

B1.    Gen 19, inhabitants of S&G want to have relations with Angels, (possibly producing an unholy race?  Could Lot's offer of his daughters be an attempt to prevent such a race?)

B2.     The Lord destroys S&G, but saves a nucleus of righteous (Lot and daughters)

B3.      Lot's daughters get him drunk and have relations with him resulting in two races who are the enemies of Israel (Moab="of the same father" and Ben-Ammi ="Son of my paternal kin" – (Amm=Ammon) both names suggesting incest.  Again, who would name their kids such a thing.

These stories are apparently told to explain the origins of the peoples with whom Israel became enemies with.

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