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Destruction Of Sodom
Jonathan E Raddatz
Painting - Oil On Canvas
Ancient Jewish legend has it that the cities of the plains - of which Sodom was the central metropolis - where once located where the Dead Sea is today. That is to say, ancient tradition maintains that the ruins of Sodom lie at the bottom of the Dead Sea. At 423 meters below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest elevation of land in the world. It is also the deepest hypersaline lake on Earth.
Rictor Norton views classical Jewish texts as stressing the cruelty and lack of hospitality of the inhabitants of Sodom to the "stranger". The Jewish Encyclopedia has information on the importance of hospitality to the Jewish people. The people of Sodom were seen as guilty of many other significant sins. Rabbinic writings affirm that the Sodomites also committed economic crimes, blasphemy and bloodshed. One of the worst was to give money or even gold ingots to beggars, after inscribing their names on them, and then subsequently refusing to sell them food. The unfortunate stranger would end up starving and after his death, the people who gave him the money would reclaim it.
The Talmud and the book of Jasher also recount two incidents of a young girl (one involved Lot's daughter Paltith) who gave some bread to a poor man who had entered the city. When the townspeople discovered their acts of kindness, they burned Paltith and smeared the other girl's body with honey and hung her from the city wall until she was eaten by bees. (Sanhedrin 109a.) It is this gruesome event, and her scream in particular, the Talmud concludes, that are alluded to in the verse that heralds the city's destruction: "So said, 'Because the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah has become great, and because their sin has been very grave, I will descend and see...'"[Gen 18:20-21]
Lastly, there is the incident related in Genesis 19 where the citizens of Sodom aim to engage in sexual relations with the three angels visiting Lot. This passage finds paralles in Genesis 6 and the Apocryphal text incorporated in 1Enoch calles 'the book od Watchers'....
September 10th, 2012
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