Applying the Weird Parts of Scripture – Sodom and Gomorrah

This post is part of a series. We’ve just gotten finished talking about the chronology of the weird parts of scripture. Now we’re going to look at applying what we learned about the Weird Parts of Scripture to some familiar (and weird) parts of scripture. So let’s jump right into it.

This post is going to explain what is going on in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I guarantee it is NOT what you thought it was.

Now, to guard against being misunderstood by people who do not read to the end, I am going to give my thesis up front. Sodom and Gomorrah IS NOT about “homosexual relations.” Neither is it about “forcible rape.” In fact, there is literally nothing in this story about the issues of the current day. Instead, it is a story about people who are wicked, and who have an option to turn to God, and then they don’t. The follow-up to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is that the people who were explicitly called by God to turn to him are no better — and possibly even worse — than Sodom and Gomorrah.

So this post is going to concentrate on the story of “Sodom and Gomorrah” in Genesis 19 and the story of “Sodom and Gomorrah — the Remix” in Judges 19.

Judges 19? Yes. That’s right. Judges 19. I bet you didn’t see that coming. Anyway, let’s dive right into the explanation of it all.

Genesis 19 and the Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

In case you need some background, in Genesis 18, the LORD visits Abraham, and he’s accompanied by two men. All three of these individuals are sometimes described as “men,” but it is clear from the text that they are NOT ordinary people. Upon seeing them, Abraham says this:

And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth and said, “O Lord, [footnote: or “My Lord”] if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham went quickly into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Three seahs [footnote: A seah was about 7 quarts or 7.3 liters] of fine flour! Knead it, and make cakes.” And Abraham ran to the herd and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to a young man, who prepared it quickly. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them. And he stood by them under the tree while they ate.

I want you to realize something about this. Abraham asked for his wife to use the “fine flour” (in other words, the good stuff) in an amount of 7 quarts for these three men. If you look up a recipe for homemade bread on the internet and count up the calories, this is FIFTY-THOUSAND CALORIES OF BREAD for THREE PEOPLE. Plus an entire cow. PLUS curds and milk. In other words, Abraham (who is no light-weight in the hierarchy of biblical importance) goes ALL OUT for these individuals, who are DEFINITELY angelic beings.

Also, let this serve as a reminder that whenever people say stuff about Genesis 6, that “angels can’t have sex with humans, because they don’t have bodies,” this is obviously false. Angels DO have bodies. But they aren’t NORMAL bodies. They are SOMETHING ELSE. They’re ridiculously WEIRD, and super important. And everybody who sees them knows it. And if they can eat bread and a cow, then they can probably (just as Genesis 6:1-4 says) have sexual relations with human beings as well.

Anyway, so God (that is, the LORD), tells Abraham that he is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because they are really wicked. Abraham, knowing his nephew Lot is there, asks for God to hold back if there are righteous people there. God agrees, even though (spoiler alert!) he knows there are no righteous people there. That’s when we read this:

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed himself with his face to the earth and said, “My lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night and wash your feet. Then you may rise up early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the town square.” But he pressed them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house. And he made them a feast and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

At this point, I think it’s worth noting that not only CAN angels eat, but they can REALLY eat a lot. This is the second feast recorded here, and the last one involved AN ENTIRE COW.

Anyway… moving on.

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.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

Now, that bolded portion is obviously the one that looks like it involves “homosexual relations,” and we’re going to return to that. For anyone unfamiliar with the way the Bible talks, you should realize that “know them” is definitely a sexual thing.

Another weird thing is that Lot seems to offer his two daughters who “have not known any man,” meaning that they are virgins. But the men do not want these women, which also suggests “homosexual relations,” but we’ll get to that, too.

Also, notice that the men/angels seem to have super-powers, causing blindness on an entire crowd of people.

Anyway, back to the story:

Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, “Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” And Lot said to them, “Oh, no, my lords. Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness in saving my life. But I cannot escape to the hills, lest the disaster overtake me and I die. Behold, this city is near enough to flee to, and it is a little one. Let me escape there—is it not a little one?—and my life will be saved!” He said to him, “Behold, I grant you this favor also, that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I can do nothing till you arrive there.” Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

The sun had risen on the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And he overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

And Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and he looked and, behold, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.

So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. (Genesis 19:1-29)

Yes, it was. But if it wasn’t weird, it wouldn’t be a part of this series.

The Traditional Explanation of Sodom and Gomorrah

If you look at a traditional understanding of Genesis 19, it goes something like this:

  • Homosexual sex is a bad thing
  • Offering your daughters to a rapey mob is also a bad thing
  • Let’s move on to a different subject

The traditional explanation of what we read in Genesis 19 is a condemnation of homosexual sexual relations. Why? Obviously because the men say “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them,” and if you read the Bible much, you know that “know” is a sexual thing. These men are asking for the men who came to Lot for sexual purposes. That’s obvious.

Lot on the other hand, sees this as terribly wicked, and says as much: “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.” But then Lot does something RIDICULOUS when he says, “Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

To which we imagine Lot’s daughters were like… um…. what?

This extremely weird thing for Lot to do to his daughters is typically explained by some “code” of hospitality, in which you have a heightened responsibility to your guests.

This ancient code of responibility to guests is true, but does it explain having more responsibility for your own family? Eh….. That’s weird…. anyway… Lucky for the daughters of Lot (but not Sodom and Gomorrah), the two men who came to Lot are having none of it. They rescue Lot and somehow strike the men with blindness, and make their getaway without much trouble. Then Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt, because she looked back. This is usually taken as a lesson about having an affinity for past sins, and the way that it is not healthy.

Now, I’m not going to say that these points are UNBIBLICAL. They are definitely good things to establish in a congregation. Instead, I’m going to make the point that THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS PASSAGE SAYS. There is a different passage that says that, and we’ll get to it later.

The point is that we are not understanding this right. There is something going on in this story that we don’t understand because it is too “weird.”

An Unexplained Riddle in the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

I want to reveal something that I had never noticed in this story, until I saw it preparing to read this. Let me know if this has ever been explained this conundrum to you:

  1. Lot’s daughters have “never known a man.”
  2. Lot has two sons-in-law through his daughters.
  3. These are Lot’s only daughters.

I hope that alone is enough to let you know that THIS STORY IS COMPLICATED AND YOU PROBABLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND IT.

What You Need to Know To Understand Sodom and Gomorrah

When reading this story about Sodom and Gomorrah, there is something that everyone totally reads and totally skips over, because it is too weird to incorporate into their thoughts:


As you should know from this series, these beings can be categorized under the general umbrella-term of “sons of God.” And in case you thought that “angels” and “sons of God” are two different categories of beings, we have Jesus mixing them together in the following passage:

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20:34-36)

In other words, THIS STORY ABOUT SODOM AND GOMORRAH IS NOT A NORMAL STORY. It is a very WERID story. It’s about humans AND ANGELS WHO HAVE SUPER POWERS. It is NOT a story merely about “people.”

But What About “Sodomy”?

But what about the word “Sodomy” you might say. Well, I hate to break it to people, but this is a big misunderstanding. There is no connection to the Bible of this word. As we know, the Bible was written before Christ, and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah happens sometime around 1800 BC. But look at the origin of the word “Sodomy” accoding to any random dictionary:

That word is not a “biblical” word. It’s a word invented in the 13th century in middle English. So yes, the idea that Sodom refers to “homosexual sex” is at least 800 years old, but it is also at least 2500 years removed from the event in question. There is no textual link between the definition of the term and the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Effect Human-Angel Sexual Relations

And this is where we need to recognize that whenever sons of God have sexual relations with daughters of men, STUFF HAPPENS, and IT IS NOT GOOD. Here is what we read in one of our “weird parts of scripture”:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim [Footnote: or “giants”] were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came [Hebrew: “bo”] in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. (Genesis 6:1-4)

Why is this bad? Well, remember what happens immediately afterwards. The flood happens. Why does God bring the flood? Well, let’s look at what he says about it:

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, [Footnote: Hebrew The end of all flesh has come before me] for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:5-13)

Keep this in mind. When angels/sons of God had sexual relations with humans, this produced a race of super-human “mighty men of old, men of great renown.” These men were “super-human,” but also VIOLENT.

Let’s also take a look at that phrase about “I have determined to make an end of all flesh.” Because the Hebrew is weird and hard to translate, we see that there are two potential translations of this phrase:

  1. I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
  2. I have determined the end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

That is SIGNIFICANTLY different, even though technically, both are true. The first translation communicates the idea that God is going to kill everyone on earth, because the earth is “corrupt” and there is “violence” everywhere, and that’s why the flood happens. The second translation communicates that every HUMAN who has NOT BEEN CORRUPTED is going to die IF HE DOESN’T ACT, and therefore, God has decided to kill all of THEM with the earth, and that’s how the flood happens.

In the first understanding, God “regrets” that he made man, because they are so BAD. In the second understanding, God “regrets” that he made man, because they are DYING VIOLENT DEATHS AT THE HANDS OF SUPERHUMAN VIOLENT GIANT NEPHALIM, and so he kicks some Nephalim-ass.

The Offspring of Angels

This fact applies to the story of the destruction of Sodom for the following reason. Look at what Jude says about Sodom:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, [footnote: Greek different flesh] serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:5-7)

Jude is not saying that Sodom and Gomorrah sought “homosexual relations” which is their “sexual immorality.” No. He’s saying they wanted to have sexual relations WITH ANGELS, just like those who perished at the time of the flood. These are the angels “who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling.” It’s all about sex with angels.

Yes. That’s right. WITH ANGELS.

And Peter backs up the same point in his letters:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [footnote: Greek “Tartarus”] and committed them to chains [footnote: Some manuscripts “pits”] of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. (2 Peter 2:4-10)

Notice that FOR SOME REASON Peter connects Noah and the flood with SODOM AND GOMORRAH. Why? Because they both involve SEX WITH ANGELS.

So here’s the math you need to get into your head whenever it comes to Sodom and Gomorrah:

Heavenly Being + Human Being = Mighty Giant and Man of Renown

Mighty Giant and Man of Renown + Earth = Violence and Corruption on Earth

Violence and Corruption on Earth + God Notices What’s Going on = Worldwide Destruction to Save Mankind

That might not make sense, because of the traditional understanding of Sodom and Gomorrah, but let’s go to another source, Josephus, who is about 2000 years removed from us. I have included the footnotes of William Whiston in the text of his translation. Notice what he says regarding the Flood:

Now this posterity of Seth continued to esteem God as the Lord of the universe, and to have an entire regard to virtue, for seven generations; but in process of time they were perverted, and forsook the practices of their forefathers; and did neither pay those honors to God which were appointed them, nor had they any concern to do justice towards men. But for what degree of zeal they had formerly shown for virtue, they now showed by their actions a double degree of wickedness, whereby they made God to be their enemy. For many angels [Footnote: This notion, that the fallen angels were, in some sense, the fathers of the old giants, was the constant opinion of antiquity.] of God accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust, and despisers of all that was good, on account of the confidence they had in their own strength; for the tradition is, that these men did what resembled the acts of those whom the Grecians call giants. But Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for the better: but seeing they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him, together with his wife and children, and those they had married; so he departed out of that land. (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 1.3.1)

So, in conclusion, let me just say that this is so clear, it’s unbelievable. This story is about SEX WITH ANGELS. The only reason this is hard for us to understand is because these CLEAR thing that the Bible is saying is so WEIRD that we don’t think it can be true. So we twist ourselves into knots trying to come to some other understanding.

As proof, I’d like you to notice what Psalm 24 says. It TOTALLY backs up this understanding:

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, [footnote: Hebrew sons of God, or sons of might]
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth[footnote: Revocalization yields makes the oaks to shake]
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; [Author’s note: This is the only time where the proper name of the Flood, Hebrew “mabbul,” is used in all of scripture outside of Genesis.]
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

This Psalm is about God rescuing HUMANITY from invaders from the HEAVENLY PLACES who cause superhuman violent Nephilim to almost exterminate humanity. That is how WEIRD this story is.

But strangely, there is great uniformity of this opinion in the ancient world that THE WEIRD STORY IS TRUE. If you don’t believe me, read Ovid’s story about the “wars of the giants” which happens right before the Great Deluge (the Greek version of the flood). This was COMMON KNOWLEDGE in the time of Christ, which was more than 2000 years after the events in question.

Keep that in mind when you think about how removed you are from the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Ignored Language Issue in the Story of Sodom and Gomorrah

So that’s a lot of background about the Flood and the fact that angels and human women can create superhuman beings that are violent. Fine, fine, fine. “BUT WAIT!” You might say, “WHAT ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY ARE MEN??” We have NO indication that male angels and male MEN do anything like what we saw in the days of Noah! Isn’t that the key to the whole “homosexual relations” thing? Here’s the key phrase:

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.” (Genesis 19:4-5)

That sounds pretty homosexual-rape-y, right? Well, yes. But remember that you are reading this passage in English.

Here is where we need to jump into some basic Hebrew grammar.

Hebrew verbs and nouns have gender, which English verbs (and most nouns) do not. In Hebrew, you can have a masculine verb to signal that a male subject is doing or receiving the action. In Hebrew, you can have a feminine verb, in which a female subject is doing or receiving the action. In Hebrew, you can also have a “common” verb, in which the gender does not line up to masculine and feminine, or encompasses both.

In English only pronouns and context can reveal this. That’s the problem with the translation.

Using the interlinear of the Hebrew of this chapter, which you can find with this link, we can look at the gender of the verbs in this passage. The brackets show where the Hebrew words group the English words that we read into a single original word.

[Now before] [they lay down(3mp)] [then the men(mp)] [of the city(fs)] [the men(mp)] [of Sodom(fs)] [compassed(3cp)] [over] [the house(ms)] [from young(ms)] [and to] [old(ms)] [all(ms)] [the people(ms)] [from every quarter(ms)] [and they called(3mp)] [to] [Lot(ms)] [and said(3mp)] [to him(ms)] [where are] [the men(mp)] [who] [came(3mp)] [to you(ms)] [tonight(ms)] [bring them out(3mp)] [to us(1cp)] [that we may know(1cp)] [them(3mp)]. (Genesis 19:4-5, interlinear)

Notice this. The MEN of Sodom are doing the speaking and acting. But the men are asking for the angels to come “to us” and the “us” is A MIXED GENDER. Further, the verb of what is going to happen when they get the angels shows that it is also “common” and therefore A MIXED GENDER thing. Realize what this means for the story:


After all, remember the math of Genesis 6 and Josephus:

Heavenly Being + Human Being = Mighty Giant and Man of Renown

The men of Sodom want might men of old. They want men of great renown. That’s what this is about. Sodom also has a reason for wanting this. That’s because in Genesis 14, Sodom got it’s butt kicked in a war with the kings of the north, and Abraham had to go rescue his son Lot.

Abraham is the one who rescued Sodom and its inhabitants. Sodom had the option to rely on Abraham and his God for safety.

The Reason Lot Offers His Two Daughters

We can also explain why Lot offered his two daughters to the people of Sodom. This is rather controversial, but it has an explanation, especially considering that Lot has sons in law through his daughters, but they have “never known a man.”

What does this mean? It means THEY ARE BETROTHED.

And so if you want to know why Lot offers his daughters to the men of Sodom, it is because he has ALREADY OFFERED his two daughters to the people of Sodom. He did it through a betrothal, which was the normal way to do things back then. It’s a contract for marriage. The marriage has not been consummated, but it is a very real legal thing. This was the same arrangement in the story of Joseph and Mary, the parents of Jesus:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed [footnote: That is, legally pledged to be married] to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:18-19)

In other words, notice what is happening here. Lot’s daughters are LEGALLY PROMISED to two particular men in the city of Sodom. Lot, however, is offering that the men cancel these obligations — if they see fit — and have his daughters rather than the two angels.

But why would the men of Sodom want Lot’s daughters? The answer comes from the previous post I wrote. Lot is a descendant of Terah and a descendant of Shem and Noah. He is NOT A NORMAL DUDE. He’s a high-status dude. The fact that he is “in the city gate” at the beginning of the chapter is evidence of this (See Proverbs 31:23). That location is basically like “the courthouse” or something. Peasants work the fields. Important people are at the city gate. Lot offering his daughters is a re-negotiation of his original marriage arrangement from some men of Sodom to other men of Sodom.

And let’s remember what had previously happened, too. Abraham is a BIG DEAL. And Lot is his nephew. Abraham saved Lot and Sodom by defeating the kings who beat Sodom in battle. Sodom has the option to rely on Abraham (and his God) who will protect them. But they did not. Instead:


To which the angels are like…. bad move.

That is what the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about.

Sodom and Gomorrah, the Remix

Now, let’s go to Judges 19, which I bet you never really studied in Sunday school. While Sodom and Gomorrah IS NOT about homosexual sexual relations, this story DOES involve homosexual sexual relations:

In those days, when there was no king in Israel, a certain Levite was sojourning in the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, who took to himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. And his concubine was unfaithful to him, and she went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there some four months. Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back. He had with him his servant and a couple of donkeys. And she brought him into her father’s house. And when the girl’s father saw him, he came with joy to meet him. And his father-in-law, the girl’s father, made him stay, and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and spent the night there. And on the fourth day they arose early in the morning, and he prepared to go, but the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Strengthen your heart with a morsel of bread, and after that you may go.” So the two of them sat and ate and drank together. And the girl’s father said to the man, “Be pleased to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” And when the man rose up to go, his father-in-law pressed him, till he spent the night there again. And on the fifth day he arose early in the morning to depart. And the girl’s father said, “Strengthen your heart and wait until the day declines.” So they ate, both of them. And when the man and his concubine and his servant rose up to depart, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold, now the day has waned toward evening. Please, spend the night. Behold, the day draws to its close. Lodge here and let your heart be merry, and tomorrow you shall arise early in the morning for your journey, and go home.”

But the man would not spend the night. He rose up and departed and arrived opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). He had with him a couple of saddled donkeys, and his concubine was with him. When they were near Jebus, the day was nearly over, and the servant said to his master, “Come now, let us turn aside to this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” And his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners, who do not belong to the people of Israel, but we will pass on to Gibeah.” And he said to his young man, “Come and let us draw near to one of these places and spend the night at Gibeah or at Ramah.” So they passed on and went their way. And the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin, and they turned aside there, to go in and spend the night at Gibeah. And he went in and sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

And behold, an old man was coming from his work in the field at evening. The man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was sojourning in Gibeah. The men of the place were Benjaminites. And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city. And the old man said, “Where are you going? And where do you come from?” And he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote parts of the hill country of Ephraim, from which I come. I went to Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to the house of the Lord, but no one has taken me into his house. We have straw and feed for our donkeys, with bread and wine for me and your female servant and the young man with your servants. There is no lack of anything.” And the old man said, “Peace be to you; I will care for all your wants. Only, do not spend the night in the square.” So he brought him into his house and gave the donkeys feed. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank.

As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.” But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.

And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home. And when he entered his house, he took a knife, and taking hold of his concubine he divided her, limb by limb, into twelve pieces, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And all who saw it said, “Such a thing has never happened or been seen from the day that the people of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt until this day; consider it, take counsel, and speak.”

Do you notice something strange about this story?


  • This is a traveler who is NOT FROM HERE and who is greeted kindly (Just like Abraham did)
  • The man is a Levite who serves in the house of the Lord (just like the ANGELS do when they’re not traveling)
  • They eat… …A LOT (just like the angels with Abraham)
  • Then they go to a different city (just like the angels to Sodom)
  • Then they go to a city and prepare to sleep in the square (just like the angels at Sodom)
  • Then they get invited to a house by someone who is NOT FROM THERE (just like Lot in Sodom)
  • They eat A LOT… …again (just like the angels with Lot)
  • Then “worthless men” come out and ask to “know” the man. (just like the men of Sodom)
  • The man who owns the house offers his concubine (just like Lot did with his daughters)

But then unlike the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, the worthless men take up the man on the offer of the concubine and they forcibly rape her until she dies. Then the Levite literally cuts her up into pieces and sends it to all of the people of Israel, and they come down and have a civil war in Judges 20. Which brings us to another parallel, which is this:

  • everybody dies and the City in which it happened was burned to the ground (just like Sodom and Gommorah).

What Does Judges 19 Mean?

There is something WEIRD here, that we need to pick up on. The opening passage is that “there was no king in Israel.” The point of this passage is that ISRAEL IS NOT ANY BETTER THAN WHO THEY REPLACED.

While at least Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin makes intuitive sense:

Heavenly Being + Human Being = Mighty Giant and Man of Renown

What was the reasoning behind Gibeah’s crime? What was the point? There was nothing. It was just complete self-destruction. Whereas Sodom was trying to access something like spiritual steroids by climbing UP on the totem-pole of sexual relations, Gibeah was trying to access something that is like spiritual garbage, climbing DOWN on the totem-pole.

It’s not that Gibeah’s crime (or “Sodomy” in general) is WORSE than other crimes like greed, pride, etc. It’s that it’s just pathetic and…. ….to get to the heart of the matter…. sad. To see this theme at work in a different part of the boble, look at what we read about King Manasseh:

Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty-five years in Jerusalem. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places that his father Hezekiah had broken down, and he erected altars to the Baals, and made Asheroth, and worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. And he built altars in the house of the Lord, of which the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem shall my name be forever.” And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord. And he burned his sons as an offering in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, and used fortune-telling and omens and sorcery, and dealt with mediums and with necromancers. He did much evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking him to anger. And the carved image of the idol that he had made he set in the house of God, of which God said to David and to Solomon his son, “In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my name forever, and I will no more remove the foot of Israel from the land that I appointed for your fathers, if only they will be careful to do all that I have commanded them, all the law, the statutes, and the rules given through Moses.” Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray, to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the people of Israel.

The Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they paid no attention. Therefore the Lord brought upon them the commanders of the army of the king of Assyria, who captured Manasseh with hooks and bound him with chains of bronze and brought him to Babylon. And when he was in distress, he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers.He prayed to him, and God was moved by his entreaty and heard his plea and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God. (2 Chronicles 33:1-13)

If you read that story, you see what it is… …sad. And so if you want to understand what Judges 19 is about, it is “sad.” It also has parallels to the Flood. When God says “I regret that I ever made man,” it’s not because he’s saying “ew… man. I don’t like him anymore. He’s been corrupted. Ew. Gross. Away.” Instead, he’s saying what he says in Ezekiel 18 and ALL OVER the Bible:

“Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

“Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just?

“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” (Ezekiel 18:19-32)

When God says that he regrets that he ever made man, he is saying, “Look at how far they’ve fallen. Look at how they are abused and oppressed. Look at how they are led astray and murdered. Look at how the evil powers of heaven have corrupted mankind. This is now how it is supposed to be. It is not by the strength of giants and men of great renown who will save them. It is I who will save them. Why will they not turn to me?”

And when we do not turn to him, this is what he says and does:

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
. . .
    the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
    May the Lord bless his people with peace!

The point of ALL of these stories is that God rescues, if only we would believe that he will save.

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