Shock and Awe

After God and his two travelling companions *continued down the road to Sodom after leaving Abraham*, God decided He had more pressing matters to attend to. So He left his two companions to walk to Sodom alone. When the two men were nearing Sodom they saw another man sitting in the gateway to the city. It was Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

Lot, seeing the two men approaching, rose to his feet, bowed low, and said, “Please, gentlemen, come to my humble abode where you can spend the night and wash your feet. When morning comes you can continue your journey refreshed.”

There must have been something about Lot that the two men didn’t quite like the look of, for they answered in unison, “No. We will spend the night on the street.”

“I insist that you accept my hospitality” said Lot. “Listen, in addition to sleep and washing your feet, I’ll add food to what you’ll get if you stay with me. How about it?”

“Well, alright” said the two men.

They entered Lot’s abode, where Lot prepared a meal of unleavened cakes. The men ate the cakes, and then felt sleepy. But, before they could lie down to sleep, a hubbub began outside. It came from all the men of Sodom – irrespective of age – who had surrounded Lot’s abode.

“Bring your two visitors out to us” shouted the men of Sodom, “so that we might have sexual intercourse with them.”

Lot came out, prudently shutting the door behind him.

“Gentlemen all,” shouted Lot. “You are not to touch my two guests. If you all feel you absolutely must have sexual intercourse, why not with my two daughters who are both of them virgins?”

This didn’t mollify the crowd. So Lot shouted, “I’ll bring my daughters out to you. Once you see them, I just know you’ll all want to have sexual intercourse with them.”

Lot’s saying this was of no use. The crowd made as if to smash down the door. Lot’s two visitors inside, hearing what was being said outside, opened the door, pulled Lot in, then quickly shut the door. Then they caused all the men outside to become blind so that they couldn’t locate the door.

Lot’s two guests said to him, “We should tell you, Lot, that we are angels of God, and we have incredible destructive powers. God has told us to destroy Sodom, and this is what we’re about to do. So you should gather together all who live here in your abode, be they sons, sons-in-law, daughters, wife, and whomever. Get them out of Sodom now. If you don’t, they, along with you, will die, together with all the other Sodomites.”

After Lot had led all in his household to outside the city, the two angels addressed them, saying, “Flee now to the hills, else you’ll all be swept away.”

“No, gentlemen” said Lot, “you have shown your care for me by saving me and my family. While my family should flee to the hills, I, myself, won’t, because for me to do so wouldn’t be what a real man would do. I prefer to be overtaken by the disaster and die. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”

“You’re being ridiculous” Lot’s wife said to him.

Lot saw now that he was, in fact, being ridiculous. However he couldn’t now admit this in front of his wife and family for this would mean loss of face. In desperation Lot looked around him and noticed the outline of a small town in the distance.

“See that little town there?” said Lot to the angels. “It’s near enough for me to reach quickly. How about I escape there and you save my life?”

One of the angels said, “I’ll grant what you ask. Go quickly. Your wife can go with you.”

Lot and his wife immediately set off for the little town, which was called Zoar. As soon as they arrived there, fire and brimstone began raining down not only on Sodom, but on Gomorrah too. Both cities were destroyed along with all who lived there.

Lot’s wife looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah in the distance as the fire and brimstone were raining upon them, whereupon she turned into a pillar of salt.

Source: Genesis 19, 1-26

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3 Responses to Shock and Awe

  1. Richard says:

    What happened to these unfortunate cities? It couldn’t have been a volcano because the angels wanted Lot to flee to the hills. When the General Eyre visited Cornwall, the inhabitants fled to the hills too. Could it have something to do with that? The slag heaps from the kaolin mines there once looked remarkably like mountains of salt in the sunrise.

    A perfectly respectable lady turned into a table condiment for exhibiting commendable caution and curiosity? What was the world coming to? It could have been the work of evil capitalists exploiting the salt market.

    What happens, I ask myself, if salt loses its savour? Strangely, that question is left unanswered, and it could be important later.

    I am relying upon you to explain all these mysteries, Christopher.

    The punctuation in those days was ground-breaking – no inverted commas, a capital letter to indicate the start of speech and a full stop at the end: in between only commas, semicolons and colons.

  2. Christopher says:

    @Richard – Some assert that extraterrestrial visitors (the Elohim?), the progenitors of the human race, destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with nuclear-like weapons. Can we know anything for sure?!!

    Regarding punctuation, while the King James Bible doesn’t have inverted commas and their like, the New English Bible does. This is progress, which, as a Guardian reader (a Guardianista?), I believe in. Let us have a better tomorrow, is what I say.

  3. Richard says:

    Salaries lose their savour towards the end of the month. JM Keynes thinks a permanent and increasing advance will restore it. Could it be that inverted commas were invented for inverted logic?

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