There is a meme going around about the sin of Sodom.

In case you ever wondered what the actual sin was, the Bible is clear.

Ezekiel 16:49-50

49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:(A) She and her daughters were arrogant,(B) overfed and unconcerned;(C) they did not help the poor and needy.(D) 50 They were haughty(E) and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.(F)

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Cross references

Ezekiel 16:49 : S Isa 1:10
Ezekiel 16:49 : Ps 138:6; Eze 28:2
Ezekiel 16:49 : Isa 22:13
Ezekiel 16:49 : S Ge 13:13; 19:9; S Jer 5:28; Eze 18:7, 12, 16; Am 6:4-6; Lk 12:16-20; 16:19; Jas 5:5
Ezekiel 16:50 : Ps 18:27
Ezekiel 16:50 : Ge 18:20-21; S 19:5

See also (from Wikipedia):

Jeremiah 23:14,[Jeremiah 23:14] where the sins of Jerusalem are compared to Sodom and are listed as adultery, lying, and strengthening the hands of evildoers;

Amos 4:1–11 (oppressing the poor and crushing the needy);[Amos 4:1–11];

Ezekiel 16:49–50,[Ezekiel 16:49–50] which defines the sins of Sodom as “pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and did toevah before me, and I took them away as I saw fit.”

See also their gross breaches of the law of hospitality

Again, from Wikipedia summaries of Jewish texts:

“… classical Jewish texts as stressing the cruelty and lack of hospitality of the inhabitants of Sodom to the “stranger”.[43]

The people of Sodom, Gomorrah and two other cities [Admah and Tzevayim] were seen as guilty of many other significant sins which brought about their destruction.[44][45]

Rabbinic writings affirm that the Sodomites also committed economic crimes, blasphemy, and bloodshed.[46]

Other extrabiblical crimes committed by Sodom and Gomorrah included extortion on crossing a bridge/or swimming a river, harshly punishing victims for crimes that the perpetrator committed, forcing an assault victim to pay for the perpetrator’s “bleeding”[47] and forcing a woman to marry a man who intentionally caused her miscarriage to compensate for the lost child.

Because of this, the judges of the two cities were referred to as Shakrai (“Liar”), Shakurai (“Awful Liar”), Zayyafi (“Forger”) and Mazle Dina (“Perverter of Justice”).

Eliezer was reported to be a victim of such legally unjust conduct, after Sarah sent him to Sodom to report on Lot’s welfare.

The citizens also regularly tortured foreigners who sought lodging. They did this by providing the foreigners a standard-sized bed and if they saw that the foreigners were too short for the beds, they would forcibly stretch their limbs but if the foreigners were too tall, they would cut off their legs (the Greek myth of Procrustes tells a similar story).[48][49]

As a result, many people refrained from visiting Sodom and Gomorrah.

Beggars who settled into the two cities for refuge were similarly mistreated. The citizens would give them marked coins (presumably used to purchase food) but were nonetheless forbidden, by proclamation, to provide these necessary services.

Once the beggar died of starvation, citizens who initially gave the beggar the coins were permitted to retrieve them, provided that they could recognize it.

The beggar’s clothing was also provided as a reward for any citizen who could successfully overcome his opponent in a street fight.[50][47]

The provision of bread and water to the poor was also a capital offense (Yalḳ., Gen. 83).

Two girls, one poor and the other rich, went to a well, and the former gave the latter her jug of water, receiving in return a vessel containing bread.

When this became known, both were burned alive (ib.).[51]

According to the Book of Jasher, Paltith, one of Lot’s daughters, was burnt alive (in some versions, on a pyre) for giving a poor man bread.[52] Her cries went to the heavens[47]” for more on the destruction of Sodom.

I’m by no means downplaying the depravity of Sodom, but there is a lot we can look at and reflect on ourselves if we don’t ignore the prophets and simplify Sodom to a narrow criticism.

  • 49 “‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom:
  • She and her daughters were arrogant,
  • overfed and unconcerned;
  • they did not help the poor and needy.
  • 50 They were haughty
  • and did detestable things before me.
  • Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.

What about Sodom do you see in today’s world?


Comment I received just now:

My purpose is not to elaborate on sexuality in the Bible or the modern day, although some explicit discussion will be required to explain the Sodom narrative. Rather, I intend to demonstrate that the primary concern of the story is to model and contrast Abraham’s hospitality and care for the stranger and the foreigner with the deliberate and extreme mistreatment of the stranger and the foreigner by the inhabitants of Sodom. The abusive sexual nature of the mistreatment, in the ancient mind, would have been subsumed under the crime of inhospitality.”