Continuing with this series, we now turn to Genesis 18-19, in which Abraham and Sarah in the first part of Chapter 18 learn from God that she, now at an old age, will bear a son. The passage begins with the Lord appearing to Abraham under some trees, as well as three “men,” presumably angels.
Abraham, by now used to interacting with God, runs to Sarah to get some food and drink for his guests. What use God and some angels have with mortal food is a mystery. In any case, they eat the meal, and God then tells Abraham that Sarah will have a son. Sarah, passed child-bearing years, laughs to herself, and God asks why Sarah laughed at the proposed miracle. God then said, to paraphrase, “Is anything impossible with me?” God and Sarah then have a brief feel-good moment in which Sarah denied scoffing at the suggestion that she would have a child. God then says, “No, but you did laugh!” Ahh … divine humor. What a jolly fellow, this Yahweh.
Verse 17 is where things get interesting and not so jolly, as God is about to do some heavy-handed smiting. In Verse 16, God asks himself:
Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing? (v. 17)
This is, perhaps, the most intriguing quote in the whole passage. First, the notion of God asking himself a question is really bizarre since, in his omniscience, he already knows what he is going to do, not just about Sodom and Gomorrah but about everything, and this logical problem comes up time and time again in the Bible. Apparently, it didn’t take long to decide. Two verses later, God spills the beans:
I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. (v. 21)
Here again, God does not have to “go down” anywhere to find out whether Sodom is full of wicked people. He already knows. If he doesn’t already know, he’s not omniscient, and thus, not God at all. Further, what to make of this “outcry” (This is the term that’s used in the New King James Version) against Sodom. God seems to be getting a sixth sense from a source other than himself. Is that the Holy Spirit? No, that can’t be right since the Holy Spirit is just the “spiritual” manifestation of God. Are angels communicating to God all of Sodom’s misdeeds? Is Satan? In any case, this “outcry” seems independent of God, which is odd to say the least.
Abraham then pleads with God that if he can find some people in the city who are righteous, the city can be saved. God concedes — grudgingly? — that if at least 10 people are good in Sodom, the town won’t be torched. Perhaps to show how depraved the city really was, whoever wrote Genesis includes the next passage that has two angels (what happened to the other guy?) coming to Sodom. Lot takes them into his home and prepares a meal for them. Now, the men of Sodom, “old and young” come to Lot’s house and demand that Lot turn over the angel-men so that the townfolk can have sex with them.
In order to save the men from sex-starved and sex-obsessed city, Lot then says the men can have his two virgin daughters for their gang-raping pleasure. What a guy! Really seething and horny by now (You can just picture them with breathing heavy with fists clenching and licking their lips in wanderlust), the men outside attempt to break the door down, but just as the angels pulled Lot back into the house, the men struck the townfolk with blindness, and then order Lot to take his family out of the city. I guess the angels blinded them so that they couldn’t see what was about to happen? Who knows.
Lot and his family escape to a location called Zoar as fire and brimstone rain down on the city. His wife, however, wasn’t as fortunate. For some inexplicable reason, they are commanded not to look back on the town as it was being torched. Lot’s wife disobeys this commandment and is subsequently turned into a pillar of salt. Somehow, this doesn’t seem odd to anyone at all, and Lot never mentions a word about this wife. Indeed, Lot seems more interested in whoring out his daughters than protecting his bride.
I’ll conclude with more lively sexcapades in the brief passage that follows. In 19:30-38, we learn about how Lot’s incestual lineage found its genesis in those two daughters, who were apparently, by this time, quite sex-starved themselves. Maybe they wanted to be thrown out to the raging men in Sodom:
Now living in Zoar, in a cave no less, with his two daughters, Lot found himself drunk with wine and easy pickings for his two horny daughters:
Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. (v. 32)
The first thing to notice here is that ”come in unto us” is a particularly graphic way to say they want want to have sex so they can have children. Second, the passage indicates that because Lot was drunk, he did not realize his daughters were copulating with him. Yes, that’s right. Lot was drunk; he wasn’t blind. How do you not know when a person begins having sex with you, and when he or she dismounts (v 35)? Further, even plastered, one would be lucid enough to realize a) a girl is on top of me and b) that girl is actually my daughter. The final problem with this is that if Lot was so shit-hammered that he couldn’t stand up (or see, apparently), he probably wouldn’t have had the vitality, as it were, to pull off one sexual firecracker, much less two. This entire passage is a !facepalm.
Moving on. Third, this is one of a handful of instances in which the biblical patriarchs engage in incestual activity. Sarai was, after all, Abraham’s half sister. Here’s more information from Wikipedia:
Incest amongst the patriarchs includes Abraham’s marriage to his half-sister Sarai;[Gen.20:11,12] the marriage of Abraham’s brother, Nahor, to their niece Milcah;[Gen.11:27–29] Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, his first cousin once removed;[Gen.27:42–43;29:10] Jacob’s marriages with two sisters who are his first cousins;[Gen.29:10,Ch.29] and, in the instance of Moses’s parents, a marriage between nephew and aunt (father’s sister).[Exod.6:20]
Passages such as these often get a pass from Christians or other religious types because they claim that for the Old Testament law about incest to be established in the first place, there had to have been some cases in which incest, in fact, had occurred. Otherwise, there would be no basis for the necessity of the law. The biblical characters could be excused from such behavior because that was part of a development in their moral character.
This explanation, forced as it is, misses one point: God didn’t have to wait until all the way in Leviticus to start handing down his law. Indeed, I have no idea why he did. Hell, he put a carrot on a stick in front of Adam and Eve, allowed Satan into Garden and then exiled the couple for doing something he knew they were going to do in the first place. God, very early on in the Bible, seems concerned with man following his rules, yet waits until Leviticus to establish the law? Since the aforementioned episodes of incest took place before the Ten Commandments were passed down, broken by Moses in anger — that surely was a sin — and then handed down again, one would have thought that might be a good time to say something about incest or rape or slavery or child abuse or sex trafficking. But nah, those weren’t important social ills that needed to be eradicated any time soon.
Finally, isn’t the justice of God immutable and everlasting? In other words, if incest or eating ham or homosexuality were wrong by the time Leviticus rolls around, wouldn’t they have been wrong in Genesis as well? That’s the definition of immutable. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever, right? This is more evidence that the biblical writers simply made stuff up as they went along and attempted (but failed) to make it as consistent as possible, given that they were semi-literate Bronze-aged scribes steeped in myth and lore.
And this masterwork of stupidity is supposed to be our source code for morality. Remember that divine humor I was talking about?