Sodom's Evil, Society's Evil
By Rabbi Yaakov Beasley
In last years
lecture, we analyzed the negotiations between Avraham and Hashem before
the destruction of the city of
This week, we
will discuss the behavior of the people of
1 And the two angels came to Sodom at evening; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom; and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he fell down on his face to the earth.
2 And he said: Behold now, my lords, turn aside, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and you shall rise up early, and go on your way. And they said: Nay; but we will abide in the broad place all night.
8 Behold now, I have two daughters that have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do to them as is good in your eyes; only unto these men do nothing; forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of my roof.
9 And they
said: Stand back. And they said: This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he
will play the judge; now will we deal worse with you than with them. And they
pressed sore upon the man, even
16 But he lingered; and the men laid hold upon his hand and upon the hand of his wife and upon the hand of his two daughters, Hashem being merciful unto him. And they brought him forth and set him without the city.
What, then, was
the sin of
intended to prevent the entry of all strangers. They imagined that many people would
come to their land on account of its fertility, and they refused to share its
bounty with the less fortunate.
midrash adds an additional dimension to the nature of
They issued a
Not only are they wicked, states the midrash, but their wickedness was conducted openly, through the rule of law. By clothing their immoral behavior in the cloak of legality, they led to their citys destruction.
cannot ignore the heavy sexual undertone that accompanies the Sodomites
attempted lynching of the guests both hidden in their request bring them out
unto us, that we may know them," and made explicit by
The sin of
Hashem caused to rain upon
What was once
as fertile as