Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

February 13, 2006 | 57 comments
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So here is the case for thinking that when the crowd outside of Lot’s house asks to know Lot’s guests (Genesis 19:5) that what it means is just, like, know and not, you know, like, know.

(a) Note in 19:2 that the angels volunteer to spend the night in the street when Lot offers them his home. Now, if all of the males are homosexuals bent on rape, it is hard to fathom why the angels would offer to sleep in the street. A more likely explanation is that Lot is a newcomer to Sodom (cf. 19:9), and the angels are afraid that if they are secreted off to Lot’s home after a nighttime arrival in the city, they may be mistaken for spies. (Which isn’t unreasonable, since Sodom has recently been at war (cf. Genesis 14).) Sleeping in the street is an effort to show to the community that they are no threat.

(b) “Know� in 19:5 is usually interpreted as a euphemism. However, it occurs almost 1000 times in the OT and only about a dozen of those are sexual references, and only specifically marital sex. When the OT mentions homosexual acts, it never uses this verb. It is at least plausible that the crowd wants to verify that the angels are not spies, that is, get to know them.

(c) The text tells us that all the men of the city, young and old, went to this house. It seems more likely that they are all interested in determining if these men are spies than they are all interested in raping them.

(d) Surely wanting to check the credentials of foreigners doesn’t merit the destruction of the city! What, then, is the sin for which Sodom was destroyed? It is not for this act. This scene with the angels is not the sin for which Sodom was destroyed but rather it is the scene in which Lot was rescued from the destruction. Judgment was already passed on the city before this incident.

(e) Aside from being appalled at the act, one wonders why Lot ever would have thought that two female virgins would satiate a crowd intent on homosexual gang rape. A much more compelling reading of Lot’s offer of his daughters (and one that makes sense of 2 Peter 2:7—which refers to Lot as righteous) is that he is offering them as a token to the city to guarantee the character of the men (i.e., angels) in his home. He isn’t offering them up to be raped (do you honestly think that God would have sent angels to spare a man who would do this from destruction?!?), but rather as a sort of hostage for the night.

(f) Also note that in 19:6, Lot refers to the crowd as ‘brothers.’ This makes no sense if he thinks they are interested in raping angels.

(g) What, then, of the reference to ‘wickedness’ in 19:7? First note that ‘wicked’ is a little too strong; next note that it is a gross breach of Lot’s offer of hospitality to submit his guests to a middle of the night grilling at the hands of the local militia. Note that in 19:9 the issue becomes Lot’s standing in the community—brother or sojourner (i.e., visitor)? The crowd’s anger is due to Lot’s expectation that they should trust a foreigner.

(h) Since we know that all of the men of Sodom was in the crowd, the traditional homosexual-rape interpretation requires us to read 19:12 as the angels asking if Lot wants any of the would-be rapists saved from the destruction of the city. That makes no sense. While the behavior of the crowd was rude and questioning of Lot’s judgment, it obviously wasn’t the crime for which Sodom was destroyed, else the angels would not ask if Lot wanted any of the crowd saved.

(i) 2 Peter 2:9 casts the moral of this story as not a condemnation of homosexuality but rather an example of God saving the righteous. Hence, the focus is on the angels saving Lot, not on what they were saved from.

(j) If Sodom were destroyed for the crowd’s desire to ‘know’ the angels, then why were the women of the city destroyed? And why was Gomorrah destroyed? Why were the men of Sodom destroyed if they never actually committed the sin? Why would God send angels to entrap people in sin (i.e., by sleeping in the street)?

(k) Genesis 19:29 makes clear the purpose of the story; it shouldn’t be titled ‘The Destruction of Sodom’ but rather ‘The Rescue of Lot.’

(l) Note that while the English word ‘sodomite’ derives from this story, the Hebrew word for sodomite connotes nothing more than a resident of Sodom. Where Sodomite appears in the KJV (i.e., Deut 23:17), it translates a word that does not specifically connote homosexual but rather something like a male temple prostitute.

(m) While there are many other biblical references to the sin of Sodom, homosexuality is never specified as the sin. In Genesis 18:20-21, no specific sin is mentioned. There are two passages that specify the sins of Sodom: Jude 7 (which speaks of sexual sin described as ‘going after strange flesh’, which is the worst possible way to describe homosexual sex since the Greek word translated as strange is the instantly recognizable heteras, with the connotation of ‘other’ or ‘foreign.’) and Ezekiel 16:44-58 which mentions neglecting the poor as the sin of Sodom along with abominations (which means, in Hebrew, wrong religious practices and has nothing to do with sexual activity). Note especially Ezekiel 16:53, where we would have to believe that there was more homosexual activity (than the 100% found in Sodom!) in Jerusalem at this time if we follow the traditional interpretation.

(n) No biblical story—nor the Jewish tradition—ever ties homosexual activity to Sodom. The only link is one word (‘know’) assumed to be a euphemism for sexual activity. As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

I’m posting this separately from my Sunday School lesson because it won’t be part of my Sunday School lesson; while I think it more likely to be an accurate reading of the text than the traditional interpretation, it is too far outside the mainstream of LDS thought to dump on a Sunday School class. Also note that this is NOT an effort to suggest that homosexual activity is not a sin–I believe that it is–but simply that it is not the main sin of Sodom.

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57 Responses to Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar

  1. Ben S. on February 13, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    “it won’t be part of my Sunday School lesson;” Have you no sense of adventure? :)

    An interesting read. I have some thoughts, but I need to look a few things up. (You should know, however, that scholars have begun to question the existance of temple prostitutes in Israel or Canaanite ritual.)

  2. Howie on February 13, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Many biblical scholars have long maintained that the sin of Sodom (and Gomorrah?) was something like “inhospitality” or being extremely “rude” (in their way) to strangers who come within their gates. Being distrustful of aliens, perhaps. I think the scholars are now fairly unanimous in rejecting the “homosexuality” angle, except for certain born-again “scholars” (and Mormons). You have some excellent points, Julie, some of which I have read in the works of other scholars who have wrestled with this vague and imprecise story.

  3. Emily F. on February 13, 2006 at 11:34 pm

    Compare Genesis 19:5-8 with Judges 19:22-25. The similarities could be coincidental but they are very interesting (and disturbing). Main difference in the latter story of the Levite’s concubine is that the “gang” of wicked men appears to accept the visitor’s offer of his concubine, instead of further trying to attack the male visitor or the householder.

    I have been out of the Sunday School loop for a while, but I’d like to think that it isn’t too far outside “the mainstream of LDS thought” to suggest that trying to rape someone’s houseguests is a so serious a display of wickedness that the gender of the perpetrators and intended victim(s) are just a bit irrelevant.

  4. Ariel on February 14, 2006 at 12:46 am

    I have always been quite disturbed by the “fact” that Lot offered his daughters to a bunch of men bent on rape. I’m glad for anything that says the traditional interpretation is incorrect.

    That having been said, I thought there were some GA quotes referring to homosexuality as the sin of Sodom. I don’t have time to look right now, but I might tomorrow.

  5. MahNahvu on February 14, 2006 at 4:00 am

    (a) Note in 19:2 that the angels volunteer to spend the night in the street when Lot offers them his home . . . . Sleeping in the street is an effort to show to the community that they are no threat.

    There are two additional possibilities: 1) To emphasize the shortness of time and the need to dispense with the usual hospitalities (further strengthened later by the serving of unleavened bread). 2) To emphasize that Lot was being especially hospitable (further strengthened through the offer of his daughters), and in contrast to the behavior of the townsfolk.

    (c) The text tells us that all the men of the city, young and old, went to this house.

    The Heb. anashim is a fairly generic term for men that is often used collectively or to refer to mankind in general. We need not conclude that it is strictly males that have gathered outside of Lot’s house. Indeed, the text extends from the young and old to “all the people” kol-h’am from the fringes, ie., everybody (vs.4).

  6. MahNahvu on February 14, 2006 at 5:21 am

    (e) Aside from being appalled at the act, one wonders why Lot ever would have thought that two female virgins would satiate a crowd intent on homosexual gang rape.

    If the author of this passage (usually identified as J) intended to communicate sexual rape, the phrase “daughters which have not known man” would have certainly helped drive home that point. It would also confirm what modern readers have observed, that the Bible knows nothing of homosexuality as an orientation. The text assumes the crowd is interested in female virgins, and refuse not because of sexual orientation, but because they are offended by the line “do not so wickedly,” by which they arrogantly acuse Lot of judging them.

    In my opinion, the passage was never intended to communicate sexual rape. I view the offering up of the two virgins as a fictional device used by the author to heighten the portrayal of arrogance and Sodomite pride in his account. (The later mention of the pillar of salt, while not strictly fiction, probably derives from folklore.)

  7. Mahonri on February 14, 2006 at 6:02 am

    The Foundations Of Righteousness: President Spencer W. Kimball (October 1977)
    We hear more and more each day about the sins of adultery, homosexuality, and lesbianism. Homosexuality is an ugly sin, but because of its prevalence, the need to warn the uninitiated, and the desire to help those who may already be involved with it, it must be brought into the open.
    It is the sin of the ages. It was present in Israel’s wandering as well as after and before. It was tolerated by the Greeks. It was prevalent in decaying Rome. The ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are symbols of wretched wickedness more especially related to this perversion, as the incident of Lot’s visitors indicates.

    Why Do We Continue To Tolerate Sin?: President Spencer W. Kimball (April 1975)
    The evil continued. The sin was too well entrenched. They had laughed and joked about a destruction. The transgressions for which Sodom had apparently been renowned continued on. In fact, the people wanted to take advantage of the pure angel men they had seen come into the city. The vicious men pressed and would have broken down the doors to get to them. (See Gen. 19:4-11.)

  8. Kurt on February 14, 2006 at 8:17 am

    (n) No biblical story—nor the Jewish tradition—ever ties homosexual activity to Sodom. The only link is one word (‘know’) assumed to be a euphemism for sexual activity. As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

    Julie, you and I have disagreed before on matters of interpreting the Scriptures, and what you have posted above is no different. The bulk of what you have written is just flat wrong. I am not going to bother to spend time commenting on any of it except for your comment (n), as that is symptomatic of the rest of the your post.

    First, the Jewish tradition is absolutely clear on this story and you are absolutely dead wrong in your presentation of it. Period.

    The Jewish Publication Society renders the KJV:know to “be intimate” and their Torah Commentary states, “That is, commit homosexual rape upon them (cf. Judges 19:22). From such texts as Leviticus 18:22, 24 and 20:13, 23, it is clear that homosexuality is regarded as one of the abhorrent perversions of the Canaanites. In this instance, the sin is compounded by aggression. A rabbinic interpretation, found in Tosefta Sotah 3:11 and elsewhere, suggests that the affluent people of Sodom selfishly adopted a deliberate policy of maltreating strangers in order to discourage visitors to the city and thus not have to share their prosperity with others.”

    Everett Fox in his Five Books of Moses states “The meaning is unmistakeably sexual”.

    Second, the meaning of the Hebrew “yada”, translated “to know” in the present context is clearly sexual, as it is in its appearance in Gen. 4:1 and elsewhere. This is not an alleged euphamism, its use in context is very clearly established. Take a look at Strong’s, would you?

  9. Hanna on February 14, 2006 at 11:41 am

    I don’t have the knowledge of Hebrew to comment on Julie’s interpretation of Gen. 19, but I was wondering if Julie or others have considered how the JST of Gen. 19 might change our understanding of the story? I ask, because the JST seems pretty clear that Lot did NOT offer his daughters to the crowd: “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do unto them as seemeth good in your eyes” (Gen. 19:13, JST).

  10. Boris Max on February 14, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    I’d like to second Mahnahvu’s observation about the Bible not knowing anything about homosexuality as an orientation. In fact, the concept of “orientation” itself is of relatively recent coinage. Most attempts to define a homosexual orientation have origins in the 19th century, so discussing this passage of scripture using this terminology is problematic. You are also implying via your repeated use of the qualifier “homosexual” that rape is a function of desire–that “straight” men wouldn’t sexually assault other men. But, sadly, most prisons teach us that rape is usually about power, not pleasure or orientation.

  11. Julie M. Smith on February 14, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    Ben, I can’t wait for your follow-up. I’m more than happy to turn the floor over to a professional. :) Quick question: What force do scholars who reject the temple-prostitute idea assign to a passage like Deut 23:17?

    Emily F., I don’t think the Judges passage is coincidentally similar. But I don’t think it proves that the Lot story is about sex anymore than the similarities between Cain’s ‘fall’ and Adam and Eve’s fall (both stories have much similar language) prove that Adam and Eve killed someone.

    Ariel, you don’t need to look up GA quotes; they agree with the traditional interpretation of this story. I am clearly out on a limb on this one relative to the position that church leaders have taken. (Interesting sidenote, however, is that when Pres. Lee spoke about this story, he said that the main sin was adultery of which homosexual sex was one type. That suggests to me–but doesn’t prove–that he didn’t see the crowd at Lot’s door as the sin for which Sodom was destroyed.)

    MahNahvu–The only problem I have with your shortness of time argument is that the time was long enough (i.e., overnight) for the angels to be harmed in the streets, if that were the crowd’s intent.

    Kurt, when I use the term ‘Jewish tradition’, I’m following scholars who use it to refer to the ancient Jewish tradition, not modern Jewish commentators. I know of nothing from the ancient Jewish tradition (ie., Mishnah, Talmud, etc.) that follows the rape theory (although if I am wrong, I am sure someone will point it out :)). Your reference to the Tosefta Sotah supports my point, as the maltreatment of strangers–which my reading supports–is not synonymous with homosexual gang rape.

    And Kurt, when I take a look at Strongs, I find what I stated in the original post: about 1000 occurances of ‘know’ and merely a dozen of which are euphemisms.

    Hannah–I don’t think the JST lets you out of the problem. According to the LDS scholars of the JST, it is not always–or even primarily–a restoration of the original text but sometimes what they call a ‘doctrinal harmonization;’ that is, Joseph recognized that something in the text didn’t conform to our understanding of doctrine and so he corrected it (with no implication that the text originally reflected the correction). It may very well be that in this case JS recognized that the traditional interpretation of Lot offering his daughers to rape was inconsistent with Peter’s view of him as righteous and so he corrected that immediate problem without realizing that the offer of the daughters wasn’t for rape in the first place.

    Boris Max, interesting thoughts and I don’t disagree. I suppose that this view undrecuts my point about the inanity of Lot offering daughers (yet, still, power over two local girls isn’t quite the same thing as power over two visiting men), but I don’t think it proves that know is used euphemistically.

  12. Ben S. on February 14, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    First, I’m sympathetic to your reading, if only because it’s a good close reading:) I wish more LDS would learn how to do this (and to that extent, there’s a good Religious Educator article on learning how to ask the right questions- Eric Huntsman, “Teaching through Exegesis: Helping Students Ask Questions of the Text” Religious Educator 6:1 (2005) .)

    At issue here are two things viewed very differently between modern western civilization and the ANE/Israelites, namely hospitality “laws” and sexuality. It’s accurate to observe that homsexual activity was not viewed as an orientation or identity until relatively recently. Rather, these things were simply viewed as shameful acts, the same way we might view someone cheating on a test. I say that not in terms of seriousness, but we don’t elevate “cheated on a test” to a primary characteristic of a person the same way we elevate race, gender, etc. Sexually assaulting the men would be a serious violation of the hospitality protocols, and Israelites may have seen that as a greater sin than homosexual actions in this case. The one subsumes the other. Since we today usually aren’t even aware of the hospitality “laws” or their importance, we elevate the sexual aspect of the story of Sodom to the prime reason for their destruction. In other words, I don’t think a hospitality-based motive for destruction is incompatible with a sexual-based motive for destruction.

    When Lot calls them “brothers,” that may remind the men of the city of the laws of kinship and hospitality- that the messengers are in his care, and thus to do *anything* to them (sexual or not) violates those “laws” and duties of hospitality.
    b) The sexual use of “know” is indeed limited. However, a large number of those references are in Genesis- before, after, and in Gen. 19 (19:8). I don’t think you can rule it out by sheer statistics, and I think the distriubtion argues against you. I find the choice of yada’ interesting, given that there are other words that could have been used with no ambiguity had the intent been to ascertain or discover the identity of the men. Given that Lot offers his daughters for the men “to do to them (f. pl.) as seems good,” it seems clear that the men were intent on *doing* something more than ascertaining identity.

    Lot’s actions are indeed problematic, and I don’t think the JST solves anything. The OT writers don’t introduce irrelevant details in the middle of a story, and to interrupt the flow to indicate that Lot had two virigin daughters who had nothing to do with the matter at hand seems like an ad hoc solution against what seems to be a fairly clear reading, namely that Lot was offering them to the men. I’m not convinced he thought it would satiate them, if sexual satisfaction indeed that is what they were after.

    Now, it’s possible that this was not meant sincerely, but as a rhetorical move. Note that in 19:8 where they are offered to the men, Lot explicitly points out that the messengers are under Lot’s protection. In other words, I read Lot as potentially saying with some sarcasm “Look, I won’t let you violate the hospitality laws, but if you want to rape my virgin daughters, go ahead.” Perhaps the modern equivalent would be saying something like “I won’t let you burn down the house, but if you want to kill me, go ahead” ie. he’s trying to call their attention to the moral significance of their actions by substitution something worse that he knows they won’t do. (While heinous, rape wouldn’t violate the hospitality/protection laws to the extent that it would with the angels.)

    l) On cult prostitutes, here’s a summary of the following copy-paste from the Anchor Bible Dictionary. My recollection was half correct. There were indeed temple prostitutes, but they were simply prostitutes employed by the temple or who prostituted themselves in order to pay a vow to the temple. However, there is little evidence for the old view that temple prostitutes were part of some sexualized fertility ritual that supposedly existed.

    “In OT commentaries and textbooks the existence of “culticâ€? or “sacredâ€? prostitution in ancient Israel is frequently presented as a historical fact. On the basis of such texts as 1 Sam 2:22; 2 Kgs 23:7, 14; 2 Chr 15:16; Ezek 8:14; Hos 4:13; and others, it is assumed that in paganized Israelite cults, worshippers engaged in sexual intercourse with devotees of the various shrines, as a way to promote fecundity and fertility. Under the influence of Canaanite mythology, so the argument runs, many Israelites had come to see the processes of nature as the result of the relations between gods and goddesses. Divine intercourse would lead to abundant harvests and an increase of cattle. Cultic prostitution, performed by humans, was a form of imitative magic by which the gods could be moved to engage in similar activities, with all the ensuing beneficial results. Corollary to this view is the interpretation of the terms qÄ?dÄ“Å¡ and qÄ•dēšâ as male and female “cult prostitute.â€? Orthodox Yahwism combated these evils. Priests, prophets, and wise men alike denounced cultic prostitution as idolatry and utter foolishness. The fierceness of their reproval is all the more understandable when the heathen background of the sexual rites is taken into account.
    In recent years, however, the widely accepted hypothesis of cultic prostitution has been seriously challenged. Various scholars have argued that the current view rests on unwarranted assumptions, doubtful anthropological premises, and very little evidence. At the same time the Ugaritic and Mesopotamian material, often referred to as evidence of cultic prostitution in neighboring civilizations, has been critically reevaluated and shown to be less unambiguous than it has often been assumed…Although the traditional understanding of this term has been challenged on the basis of the evidence concerning the Ugaritic qdÅ¡m, the parallelism between qÄ•dēšâ and zônâ in Genesis 38 and Deut 23:18–19 (—Eng 17–18) favors the idea that the qÄ•dēšı̂m engaged primarily in sexual activities. The Ugaritic qdÅ¡m seem to have consisted of all the nonpriestly temple personnel, who had been dedicated to a deity. They were free to marry and have children and could be released from their service by a royal decree. The situation of the Israelite qÄ•dēšı̂m may, to some extent, have been similar. Their functions need not be narrowed down to those of prostitutes; they may have performed a variety of menial tasks in the sanctuary as well. It cannot be denied, though, that during some periods they also functioned as prostitutes in the service of the temple. According to 2 Kgs 23:7, they had special rooms in the Jerusalem temple, a state of affairs intolerable to the zealous reformers, yet apparently accepted by the clergy in earlier times. Prostitutes operating as it were in the shadow of the temple, then, existed in ancient Israel. However, any links between the latter and a hypothetical fertility cult, it need hardly be said, belong to the domain of speculation. Prostitution as a source of profits for the temple?—yes; prostitution as an integrating part of fertility rituals?—no. ”
    David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:510-11. (This is only an excerpt.)

    m) “Ezekiel 16:44-58 which mentions neglecting the poor as the sin of Sodom along with abominations (which means, in Hebrew, wrong religious practices and has nothing to do with sexual activity)” In responce, Heb. to’evah or “abomination” in Ezekiel 16:47, 50 and 51 can indeed refer to sexual sin. Lev. 18:22-30 (cf. Lev. 20:13) specifically says (22) that a man should not lie with a man as one lies with a woman and that doing so is to’evah , and that those who lived in the land before the Israelites did so (27).

    I have a few more thoughts, but I can’t find my supporting references. My conclusion, though, is that the sin of Sodom and the surrounding areas was probably a sexual one, but viewed from the perspective of hospitality, not sexual morality per se.

  13. Julie M. Smith on February 14, 2006 at 2:17 pm

    Thanks, Ben S., that was _very_ helpful. I don’t know that you’ve talked me into reading know as _know_, but I think you’ve better stated what I wanted to get at in the larger sense: to reduce the story to ‘Sodom was destroyed because they were all gay’ isn’t faithful to the text.

  14. Kevin Barney on February 14, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    It is hazardous to post on a thread one has not yet even read (I have to leave the office shortly; I’ll read it later). But I did read Ben’s comment immediately above. I once had a lengthy debate on this topic with my friend Richley Crapo of USU, who took what I understand to be Julie’s position, that no sexual connotation to the passage was involved. My position was the same as what Ben writes. I think “know” is indeed euphemistic in that passage, but the main point was one of hospitality, not sexual aggression. Neither of us ever succeeded in convincing the other. I wish I had a transcript of that debate, but I suspect it was too long ago to still be in the archives.

  15. Jim F. on February 14, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Like Julie, I’m waiting anxiously to hear what Ben S has to say about this. Until then, though I find Julie’s interpretation very interesting, I am not convinced that all the crowd wanted to do was to get acquainted. The story is full of oddities and implausibilities. Reading a text edited multiple times that is thousands of years old and reflects a culture that we no longer share, we ought not to be surprised that there are lots of things that are and may remain inexplicable.

    I would bet that the offer of Lot’s daughters is a rhetorical gesture added by a later editor as a means of demonstrating that Lot was an exemplary host, the top of the top (but I have no evidence whatsoever, just a hunch). What Lot does is wrong, but it is certainly quite different when understood in ancient terms, both those regarding hospitality and those regarding the status of women. (That’s not a defense of the ancient view, just a recognition of it.) Note: the medieval Jewish commentator Rambam condemns Lot for having offered his daughters.

    In spite of Howie’s claim, I don’t think that the view that what the men are demanding is homosexual sex is the view only of “certain born-again “scholarsâ€? (and Mormons).” I agree that the OT view of homosexuality is quite different than ours (though it is pretty clearly a sin in the OT). I agree that the OT doesn’t deal with the question of homosexuality very often. Etc., etc. However, Raymond Brown, Joseph Fitzmeyer, and Roland Murphy don’t fit into either of the categories to which Howie assigns those who read the text in the traditional way, and they understand the text that way (Jerome Biblical Commentary 1:21) . Nehama Leibowitz also understood it that way (New Studies in Bereshit 176-177). The United Bible Society translators handbook understands it that way (A Handbook on Genesis 417). E. A Speiser also does (The Anchor Bible: Genesis 1:139). None of these people are either born-again or LDS, and each of them is a scholar, without the scare quotes.

    It would be nice if Julie’s interpretation is correct, and she offers a great deal for us to think about, but I remain dubious.

  16. Julie M. Smith on February 14, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    One idea that we haven’t floated yet is that ‘know’ may be a deliberately ambiguous choice on the part of the author:

    (1) to reflect that the crowd intended it ambiguously–sort of a veiled threat

    or

    (2) that the crowd meant it one way and Lot took it the other way (either the crowd meant rape or interrogate, and Lot interpreted the other), which has interesting implications that I’ll need to think about more

    or

    (3) that the crowd and Lot knew what it meant, but the reader of Genesis cannot/does not, which is interesting especially in light of the Judges passage

    This idea of ambiguity resonates with me–despite what I’ve posted above–because my real complaint with this story is that we read the ‘know’ing as the thing that Sodom was destroyed for [which, even if I were to buy the sexual meaning, is, in my opinion, an indefensible position] and since we (speaking generally) are not tempted to commit similar acts, we then assume that we have nothing in common with the crowd and fail to learn anything from the story.

    At the very least (and this is a point that I _will_ make in Sunday School), other scriptures that discuss this story do not focus solely on homosexual sex, and so we probably shouldn’t either.

  17. Jim F. on February 14, 2006 at 2:29 pm

    Oops, Ben was posting while I was typing (and answering the phone). I am no longer waiting for Ben S’s response. Unlike Julie, I find what he says convincing. It brings together well the explanation in Ezekiel and the traditional interpretation.

  18. Julie M. Smith on February 14, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Ben is absolutely right to correct me that to’evah -can- mean a sexual sin (and specifically, homosexual sin) but the broader meaning is simply ‘thing that is wrong/sinful’, and the majority of uses do not make reference to sexual sin (cf. Genesis 43:32), so while the sexual meaning is -possible- in Ezekiel, it isn’t -necessary-.

  19. Jim F. on February 14, 2006 at 2:48 pm

    Looks like we are having a post-fest here. Though I still don’t buy Julie’s interpretation of “know” here, I absolutely buy her point in 16 that the story is not fundamentally about sexual sin of any kind. As she says in her initial post, it is about the rescue of Lot, and we need to read and teach it that way if we want to understand the story. Secondarily it is about the destruction of those who sin, in particular it is about what Ezekiel says it is about, the destruction of those who live in “pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idelness” and who do not help “the poor and needy.” The violation of hospitality was a refusal to help the poor and the needy.

    I also think that Ben S’s explanation of Lot’s offer of his daughters works better than my speculation about an editor’s insertion.

  20. Ben S. on February 14, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    “to reduce the story to ‘Sodom was destroyed because they were all gay’ isn’t faithful to the text.”

    “At the very least (and this is a point that I _will_ make in Sunday School), other scriptures that discuss this story do not focus solely on homosexual sex, and so we probably shouldn’t either.”

    “it is about the rescue of Lot, and we need to read and teach it that way if we want to understand the story.”

    I can absolutely get behind these statements.

    “while the sexual meaning is -possible- in Ezekiel, it isn’t -necessary-” No, but it dovetails so nicely with the traditional reading and Leviticus :)

    Sexuality in the OT is a fascinating and potentially “dangerous” topic, as well as one which I think we misread most easily. (Don’t misread me, I think it clear that the Bible favors heterosexual and condemns homosexual union, but the reasons for it and the socio-cultural matrix surrounding it are much different and far from clear and unambiguos.)

  21. Kurt on February 14, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    Julie,

    You couldn’t have looked very hard:


    R Menhama in the name of R Bibi: This is what the Sodomites had stipulated among themselves. They said, As to any wayfarer who comes here, we shall have sexual relations with him and take away his money. Genesis Rabbah, Parashah 50:7

    With respect to the traditional Jewish view on homosexuality:


    Post-biblical references to homosexuality are also relatively few, and are uniformly negative. In the Midrash, for example, homosexuality is called the cause of solar eclipses (Sukkah 29a) and the destruction of the Temple (Tosefta Sotah 6:9, quoted in L. Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews). Another midrashic passage states that Ham’s sin, for which his descendants were condemned to slavery (Gen.9:20-27) was homosexual relations with his father, Noah (Sanhedrin 70a). It is also in the Midrash that we find lesbianism prohibited. The prohibition is derived indirectly from Leviticus 18:3: “You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt where you dwelt, or of the land of Canaan to which I am taking you. . .” Thus, according to a midrash, refers specifically to sexual practices: “The Egyptians used to marry a man to a man and a woman to a woman” (Lev. Rabbah 23:9).

    The halakhic, or legal, portions of the Talmud treat homosexuality as a rare aberration. In the Misnha, for instance, Rabbi Judah rules that two unmarried men may not sleep together under the same cover (Kiddushin 4:14); but the Sages overrule him and permit it, since “Jews are not suspected of homosexuality” (Kiddushin 82a).

    This attitude is also reflected in medieval legal materials. The greatest medieval philosopher, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) wrote: “A Jew is not suspected of homosexuality. Therefore, a Jewish man is allowed to be alone with another Jewish man. But if one takes care not to be alone with a male . . . it is praiseworthy. An adult who commits sodomy, either passively or actively, is to be stoned” (Hilkhot Issurei Biah, 22:2; 1:14). Rabbi Joseph Caro (1488-1575), author of the Shulkhan Arukh, the definitive legal code for traditional Jewry, was even more stringent: “In our century, when there are many lewd men around, one should refrain from being alone with another male” (Shulkhan Arukh, Even HaEzer ch.24). A century later, however, Rabbi Joel Sirkes suspended that prohibition, because “in our lands [i.e., Poland] such lewdness is unheard of” (Bayit Hadash to Tur, Even HaEzer, ch.24). Homosexuality itself is not explicitly prohibited in the Shulkhan Arukh, probably because its author believed that such behavior was virtually nonexistent among Jews.

    From: http://www.betham.org/kulanu/marder.html , which is a commentary on homosexuality by a liberal/reform Rabbi.

    Attempting to remove sexual sin from the story is impossible, given the context. Look at it, it is a story that is rife with sexual sin from start to finish. Such interpretations ignore the overwhelming context of sexuality. After the demand to turn the foreigners over so they may “know” them, the immediately ensuing statement by Lot concerning his daughters, and the subsequent incestuous actions of obtaining children by their father shows very plainly the context is a sexual one. You do have a point that the matter is not only one of homosexuality, as the accusation is that of injustice. However, the overall picture is the general wickedness of the Sodomites is characterized by an extremely pointed example of their desire to homosexually rape foreigners rather than treat them with the kind of hospitality Abraham and Lot gave them. Thus, the Sodomites are presented as completely corrupt, and their homosexual behaviors are used as indicative of this fact. Attempting to dismiss the sexual context is absurd.

  22. MahNahvu on February 14, 2006 at 5:08 pm

    The rabbinic commentary provides an interesting picture of how the Jewish faith (as well as the Christians for that matter) viewed the Sodom story, during the period we often refer to as the Great Apostasy.

  23. Edje on February 14, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    On point (e): Is there any connection between this incident and Mosiah 19:10-15? (Lamanites capture Zeniffites, who send “fair daughters” over; the Lamanites are “charmed with the beauty of their women” and don’t kill the Zeniffites).

    In both cases surrounded, numerically overwhelmed men offer nubile daughters to hostile men.Further parallels elude me. In Mosiah it seems like a negotiating tactic–allowing the Lamanites to mercifully forbear killing girls instead of forcing them to choose between being “soft” (not killing the men) and being “warrior-ish” (killing them dirty Nephite men). Lot seems more mercenary: Don’t take us, take the lasses!

    If there is a connection, it might support the idea of Lot using the girls as part of a non-mercenary, non-sexual negotiating strategy. Even if this true, however, it doesn’t help on the question of the crowd’s sexual intentions, nor, if there was a sexual intent, get Lot (or the Zeniffites) off the hook for, at best, reckless endangerment of the daughters.

  24. Julie M. Smith on February 14, 2006 at 7:53 pm

    Kurt, your statement from Genesis Rabbah, Parashah 50:7 confirms my overarching point that the main focus of the story is not about sex or sexual orientation. The rest of what you quote is not relevant–it was never my contention that Jewish tradition didn’t condemn homosexuality, rather that they didn’t read it as the main sin of Sodom. Now the argument that you make about context (re Lot’s daughters, both times they are mentioned) is a more persuasive one, but I’m still of the opinion that the sexual meaning of ‘know’ relies on circumstantial evidence and/or (possibly deliberate) ambiguity and not the indisputable kind of evidence.

  25. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 14, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    Many biblical scholars have long maintained that the sin of Sodom (and Gomorrah?) was something like “inhospitality� or being extremely “rude� (in their way) to strangers who come within their gates.

    What is interesting is that the men of Sodom complain of Lot trying to set himself up as a judge as a result of the conversation going on at that point.

    Reread this discussion in light of the further context.

  26. Kevin Barney on February 14, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    On whether yada’ is meant to be euphemistic in 19:5, I find it interesting that yada’ is used in a clearly euphemistic sense in 19:8, just three verses later.

  27. VeritasLiberat on February 15, 2006 at 3:28 am

    Maybe Sodom was destroyed not because they were all gay, but because they were all rapists.

  28. Robert C. on February 15, 2006 at 5:32 am

    Brilliant discussion everyone. Not sure I’ve formed an opinion on this yet, but I’m sure going to laugh harder next time I see Seinfeld’s Yada Yada episode… (see one etymologyst’s take here).

  29. Kurt on February 15, 2006 at 6:56 am

    Julie,

    Your original premise was that the story wasn’t sexual at all, based on your acontexual reading of the Hebrew yada, and that there is nothing homosexual about the story, so much so that even traditional Jewish interpreters didnt see it that way. You have been shown to be in error on both of those counts. So, now you reinterpret your “overaching theme” as sexuality not being the “main focus”. Sorry, Julie, it doesnt work that way. Your original “main focus” was to say there was nothing sexual at all about the story, your intention was to make the story entirely non-sexual. That is clearly not the case, as has been demonstrated.

    The quotes provided are relevant because they mitigate the idea that not directly commenting on homosexuality suggests absence of that reading/understanding or even perhaps tacit approval. Your premise in part (n) is that no traditional Jewish commentators explicitly address the sin, or one of the sins, of Sodom as homosexuality. The quotes I provide show plainly that traditional Jewish commentators clearly reject the behavior and not explicitly stating as much at every occasion cannot be taken as a deliberately ommited reading or tacit approval.

    The fact of the matter is the sexual/homosexual reading of the text is simply taken for granted by any traditional Judiac or Christian source. And, only relatively recently, have liberal commentators argued and advanced the very premise you did in your original post, in an effort to legitimize homosexuality and say it is not in fact a sin. They take the seeming silence (i.e., the lack of an explicit rejection of homosexual behavior) on the subject to mean there was no rejection of homosexuality, which is clearly not the case. Their efforts are clearly political, take the stuff appearing on affirmation.org for example where they cite the absence of Smith’s explciitly commenting on homosexuality in the Sodom account. It appears to me you have read some of that material, and without doing the research, have decided to recast and present it here. This is precisely why modern commentators, such as the JPS and Fox quoted above, have explicitly stated the meaning is sexual and is referring to homosexual rape. Because people like you misread and misunderstand the text and therefore draw erroneous conclusions from it.

  30. John Mansfield on February 15, 2006 at 8:39 am

    Stephen M, astute observation regarding verse 9. Consider also the immediate consequence for the Sodomites:
    they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

  31. Julie M. Smith on February 15, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    Kurt,

    What you may have missed is that I am not particularly interested in maintaining a dogmatic position on this issue but have been refining my views (see esp. #16) as the discussion progresses based on new evidence, mostly from Ben S.

    What you’ll notice, however, is that your (1) assertions of my ridiculousness (2) assertions of fact without evidence (3) misreading of my evidence and (4) accusations that I am pandering to gay rights advocates have had no effect on my opinion but that Ben’s careful evaluation of the actual text has. Since this is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last time, that we disagree on a matter of interpretation, you may want to remember this.

    To me, the entire point of posting an interpretation on the blog is not because I think I’m Moses sending something down the mountain. It is more like floating a trial balloon. In this case, some of my trial balloons were popped (‘know’ is likely more ambiguous than I originally suggested, and I am thinking more about the alternatives that I posed in comment #16) but others have not been challenged in any meaningful way (despite what the LDS footnotes say, Sodom was not destroyed because they were all homosexuals). To me, this has been a useful process in refining my thoughts on the matter as I prepare to teach a SS lesson what will touch on these things and I have appreciated all of the comments–except for parts of yours which seem to me unnecessarily hostile, dismissive of the position based on assertions instead of relevant evidence, and condescending.

  32. Kurt on February 15, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Julie,

    Your original post was rediculous. I presented all of the facts you requested. I misread nothing of yours. And I never accused you of pandering to gay rights advocates. Give it a rest already.

  33. Robert C. on February 15, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    Kurt, so that Julie isn’t the only voice regarding this here, let me add my opinion that I think your tone has come off as brash and uncharitable in several of the posts on this thread. You’ve raised some good points here and I’ve appreciated many of your insights elsewhere (viz. on blogs and in your SS lessons). However, when you use judgmental terms like “ridiculous”, inflammatory phrases like “dead wrong” or absolutist terms like “absolutely clear” you lose credibility with careful students of the gospel. Again, I believe you have many important insights to offer, but in this venue and others many may tune out your message when you use such a tone. (Kurt, I’d be happy to discuss this more or elaborate over email, but I suggest we not discuss this more on this thread–sorry for the temporary threadjack Julie….)

  34. Jim F. on February 15, 2006 at 5:12 pm

    Amen, Robert C. Thanks for putting this so carefully and accurately. Now let’s get back to our regularly scheduled program, Julie’s interpretation of the Lot story.

  35. Kurt Neumiller on February 15, 2006 at 6:28 pm

    Robert C., and JimF by implication,

    I am not the one who characterized Julie’s post as rediculous, she did. Do a word search. I was only agreeing with her characterization of it as such after she did. As for “absolutely clear” and “dead wrong”, I was correct on both counts. If that offends you as a “careful student of the gospel”, then forgive me for being direct in facts that are easily demonstrated.

    I find it entertaining you correct me for my tone when Julie’s tone is every bit as condescending and she distorts what I have said, deliberately mischaracterizing it in an obvious effort to distort my position. Are you going to correct her on that point? No? Julie gets this rather unpleasant tone from me because of the way she handles herself here and elsewhere in the Bloggernaccle in her interactions with me. I don’t indiscriminently hand it out to people, only to those who have earned it.

    Thanks for giving me the opportuntity to explain myself, I really do appreciate it. And, no Robert, I dont see any point in discussing this with you via private e-mail.

  36. Stephen M (Ethesis) on February 15, 2006 at 7:10 pm

    John Mansfield, I’m glad someone noticed how that fits in with the theme and with what is happening in these verses. Thanks for the response on that part of the analysis.

  37. Clinton on February 15, 2006 at 7:48 pm

    The rabbinic tradition does not focus on the homosexuality as the reason for the destruction of Sodom but their inhospitality as Julie noted.

    Rabbinic stories speak Eliezer’s (Abraham servant) stay in Sodom. (1) When he visited Sodom he saw one man beating another in protest and stood in for the beat man. When he went to the judges about the manner they decided he was in the wrong and had to pay the malicious manner for “bleeding him.” (2) When a visitor came to Sodom they would give him a bed to sleep in and if he was too tall they cut off his feet and if too short the would stretch him. (3) Visitors visiting a wedding were deprived of their coats. (Sanhedrin 109b).

    Rabbinic stories of Sodom also include these other tidbits. The four judges of Sodom were named Liar, habitual liar, deciever, and perverter of the law. (Sanhedrin 109b). In Sodom every one who gave bread and water to the poor was condemned to death by fire (Yalḳ., Gen. 83). When a traveller had his posessions stolen he complained to the judges and was fined four silver shekels (Sefer-Ha-Yashar). When Lot moved to Sodom he had to do charitable acts by night as not to be caught (Genesis Rabbah). One of the daughers of Lot by the name Pelotet was burned alive when caught providing charity (Pirke Rabbi Eleazar). Lot’s wife is turned to a pillar of salt because she didn’t give of it freely to those around her (Targum Pseudo Jonathan).

    I agree with posters that aspects of the text are fairly suggestive of a homosexual assault planned on Lot’s visitors. I would also note that it is not the homosexual nature of this act that is being in ANY way accentuated. In fact the emphasis is that this is inhospitable rape of visitors NOT homosexual rape. If this was the case then the rabbinic tradition would focus on this aspect which no one here has shown ONE example of a old rabbinical source focusing on this aspect. To say that Sodom was destroyed for homosexuality grossly misrepresents the story as this is the destruction of a wicked and uncharitable people.

  38. Julie M. Smith on February 15, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    “When a visitor came to Sodom they would give him a bed to sleep in and if he was too tall they cut off his feet and if too short the would stretch him.”

    This is delicious. Sounds vaguely familiar . . .

  39. Jim F. on February 15, 2006 at 11:12 pm
  40. BrianJ on February 15, 2006 at 11:40 pm

    Some of the posts here have dismissed the JST of this passage without giving a careful explanation. (I realize that I am new to T&S and so I may have missed some lengthy discussion of ignoring JST–please direct me there if that is the case.) If you choose to give a detailed rebuttal to this particular JST for my sake, it may be helpful to know that I can agree with posts #16 and #20: that Sodom was in trouble well before the visit to Lot, this because of many sins including sexual ones and lack of charity, focusing on only one sin lets many of us off the hook. I think the JST fits this interpretation just fine (verses are JST numbered):

    (a) Lot’s mention of his daughters (vs 13) is not non sequitur (post 12): the crowd demanded them (vs 11). And why would the crowd demand them now? Perhaps they had noticed the women before and saw this as a chance to get at them.

    (b) Lot pleads with them to spare his daughters (vs 13), and the detail of their virginity is included, either by Lot or by a later editor, to emphasize the cruelty of the crowd. I agree that Ben S’s interpretation (post 12) is possible, but the JST seems simpler to me.

    (c) Lot’s use of the word “brethren� (vs 13) is his attempt to counter the notion that he is an outsider—a direct response to when the crowd called him a sojourner (vs 10).

    (d) I do not know what to make of the “this once only� (vs 14). Had Lot always gone along with the Sodomites in the past?

    Also, can you dismiss the JST and yet accept Ezekiel’s explanations using the same rationale?

    Another idea that I would love for you to test: the men wanted to sleep in the street because then they could observe the goings on of Sodom. That is, after all, why they were sent there (Gen 18:21). If so, I could crudely summarize their report as, “We went to Sodom; were going to spend the night observing the people but were strongly advised against it by Lot; nevertheless, a big crowd showed up and, from what happened next, we can say that the Sodomites are very wicked indeed!�

  41. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 1:35 am

    BrianJ: I don’t think any of the regulars here would dismiss the JST as a whole, which means that they do owe you an explanation. I don’t have one. I think that we don’t know the prophetic status of the JST as a whole or of its parts, so we cannot merely say, “This is what the prophet revealed.” But neither can we merely ignore it. It was, after all, the result of work by a prophet. My work on the book of Romans led me to see that in almost every case, Joseph Smith’s changes made a lot more sense than I thought they did at first glance. (I think all of the changes that I continue to have trouble with are in chapter 7, where many of them seem to me to completely change the meaning of the chapter and to make it not fit with the chapters before and after.)

    In this particular case, the JST tells a rather different story than does the traditional text, but the JST isn’t inconsistent. I think it is also true that, though the JST draws out more clearly the idea that the men at Lot’s door wanted to have sex with his visitors, it doesn’t make that the most important part of the story.

    My reason for not dealing with the JST in any depth in the Sunday School lessons: it isn’t part of the assigned lessons, and it hasn’t been canonized. Nothing more, nothing less.

  42. Kurt on February 16, 2006 at 6:45 am

    The JST doesnt necessarily tell a rather different story that the KJV, it may be drawing out what is otherwise implied. With respect to verse 8, the traditional reading of the text is that Lot is offering his betrothed (cf. v. 14), but as yet unmarried and therefore virgin, daughters to the Sodomites in the place of the house guests. This reading is supported by Judges 19:24, and draws on the tradition that Semitic hospitality required the utmost in offering protection to guests.
    However, an alternative reading exists: Lot is not in fact literally suggesting the trade of the daughters for the guests, but is in fact hoping to appeal to some sense of moral decency by equating his turning over the guests with his turning over his own betrothed virgin daughters and therefore a statement equivalent to “No way would I turn over the guests or my daughters!” While the reading is obscure, it is supported by the JST/IV rendering.
    Adding on to this, take into account the betrothed sons-in-law and their brothers and fathers were probably among the rioting crowd, as v. 4 forwards the view that everyone in the town without exception was present. If this is the case, then the sons-in-law and their relatives would have been present, and certainly would not have been in favor of having their betrothed wives and daughters-in-law raped. As such, perhaps Lot’s intent was to spur his in-laws to action in quelling the riot, or appealing to his relatives in the riot to not commit such a grave sin against the women of their own family. If they were willing to do such a thing, and the context suggest they were, then these sons-in-law and fathers-in-law were willing to see the women of their own family publicly raped.

  43. Julie M. Smith on February 16, 2006 at 11:20 am

    Can those who think that the references to sons-in-laws means ‘the betrothed husbands of the two virgin daughters mentioned previously’ and NOT ‘the actual husbands of two (or more) other daughters of Lot’ make their case? I’ve seen many commentaries take this line, but I haven’t seen any evidence for it spelled out, and it seems (unless I am missing something) that the more natural reading is that Lot has four (or more) daughers; two virgins/young women at home and two (or more) married (who aren’t directly mentioned–just their husbands are).

    BrianJ–The JST and its status is worthy of its own post. Stay tuned . . .

  44. Russell Arben Fox on February 16, 2006 at 11:42 am

    Jim, do you mean you’re still working on your Book of Romans project? Will we see more of it published someday?

  45. Ben S. on February 16, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    In all fairness, I don’t think I saw the extended JST, just one verse (which makes me wonder what I looked it up in.) The lengthier JST makes more sense, and I wouldn’t describe it as I did above.

    My take on the JST is that *most* of it is of the prophetic-commentary type, and not the restored-text type (as laid out by Matthews). However, I’ve also had similar experiences to those of Jim, in which a textually jarring JST turns out to be very appropriate when I look at it further. And sometimes not.

  46. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    An aside to Russell (#44): Yes, I’m working on chapters 5-8. Will some of it be published someday? That depends on whether I live long enough to finish it (and I’m not assuming that I will die in the near future) and whether a publisher will take it.

  47. Russell Arben Fox on February 16, 2006 at 3:01 pm

    “….and whether a publisher will take it.”

    What, has FARMS turned stingy all of a sudden?

  48. Taylor on February 16, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    A really important text for thinking about the sexual activity and processes for abusing strangers is Judges 19, which is almost an exact parallel to Gen 19. The attempted rape of the honored guest and the offering of the less honored women is an important cultural theme.

  49. Jim F. on February 16, 2006 at 6:01 pm

    Russell: No, but they are moving in the direction of becoming a more academic press. I’m not sure whether my translation and commentary work will pass academic muster.

    Taylor: Thanks very much for that reminder. I think it is important to see the two passages together and to understand what we see in Genesis in cultural terms rather than our own, even though we need not, as a result, accept the less honored status of women as acceptable because that was a different time. The problem is the same as that of slavery. One simply cannot understand the OT (or, the NT, I think) without understanding it in terms of the practice of slavery. It doesn’t follow that we ought not to condemn slavery. Only that we need to understand it differently when we see it in scripture. If we merely condemn slavery, we aren’t going to understand Paul, for example.

  50. BrianJ on February 17, 2006 at 12:12 pm

    Jim F. (post #41) said: “[We] do owe you an explanation.” I apreciate your response, but I don’t think you ‘owe’ me. Your choice of word does reflect how seriously you take your work on this site, however, and I commend you for that. So often ‘intellectuals’ are accused of discussion purely for the sake of discussion–which I think belittles the scriptures–and you show an exception to that.

    You also said, “My reason for not dealing with the JST in any depth in the Sunday School lessons: it isn’t part of the assigned lessons, and it hasn’t been canonized. Nothing more, nothing less.” I’m having a hard time letting you of the hook so easily. Going over your other lessons, you have a habit of bringing in scriptures, questions, hebrew etyology, etc, that is not part of the lesson manual or the assigned reading.

  51. Julie M. Smith on February 17, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    “My reason for not dealing with the JST in any depth in the Sunday School lessons: it isn’t part of the assigned lessons, and it hasn’t been canonized.”

    I actually wanted to quibble with that statement as well, because sometimes it very much *is* a part of the assigned lessons, as in #8 (this week for most of us) where the notes to the teacher points out the JST about Lot NOT offering up his daughters.

  52. Jim F on February 17, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    First, I don’t take the suggestions for how to teach the lessons to be part of the assignment. As far as I’m concerned, the assignment is the reading assigned by the lesson’s name. Everything else amounts to suggestions for how to teach the lesson. But my questions are not intended to be a response to “how to teach the lesson.” They are a response to the text assigned for the lesson. That is relevant, of course, to teaching the lesson, but it isn’t the same thing.

    However, second, BrianJ asks a more important question: if I bring in Hebrew etymology, etc., why not bring in the JST. There’s no reason not to do so if it is relevant to reading the text assigned. I don’t usually find it relevant, though I think I have sometimes referred to it. On the other hand, I don’t have any strong feelings about not referring to it. Whether I do refer or not probably has as much to do with what I am familiar with than anything else. Were I more familiar with the JST, I probably would refer to it more.

    Finally, I certainly don’t intend my questions to be a list of all the possible questions one could ask. They are nothing more than the questions that occurred to me as I read. I assume that others would have other questions (and I hope they will add them). I also assume that with more experience, I’ll ask different questions, probably including more references to the JST.

  53. Julie M. Smith on February 17, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    That makes sense, Jim, thanks for explaining.

  54. anthony on February 19, 2006 at 6:58 am

    for someone who thinks [edit: homosexuals] are sinning, its one of the best queer heremuentics ive read—

  55. anthony on February 19, 2006 at 11:10 am

    i would really like not to be censored, i used my words carefully.

  56. dan on May 15, 2006 at 12:56 am

    Homosexual _behavior_ is part of Satan’s covenant.

    Here it is:

    >(b) “Know� in 19:5 is usually interpreted as a euphemism. However, it occurs almost 1000 times in the OT and only about a dozen of those are sexual references,
    >and only specifically marital sex. When the OT mentions homosexual acts, it never uses this verb.

    Not so, according to the scriptural record. Very similar to Genesis 19:5 (“bring them out unto us, that we may know them”) are the events in Judges 19:22-23:
    The “men of the city, certain sons of Belial” beat at the door, “saying, Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know him.” The host responds,
    “…do not so wickedly,…do not this folly.” Again, a woman is offered in the stead of the visitor; “…and they knew her, and abused her all the night…”

    The host’s references to the men’s actions, the adverb “wickedly”, and the noun “folly”, are not consistent with Julie’s opinion:
    >It is at least plausible that the crowd wants to verify that the angels are not spies, that is, get to know them.

    To confirm the use of “know” in this context, check out the OT contemporary record, the Book of Moses, in chapter 5, verse 51, last phrase.

    49 For Lamech having entered into a covenant with Satan, after the manner of Cain, wherein he became Master Mahan, master of that great secret
    which was administered unto Cain by Satan; and Irad, the son of Enoch, having known their secret, began to reveal it unto the sons of Adam;
    50 Wherefore Lamech, being angry, slew him, not like unto Cain, his brother Abel, for the sake of getting gain, but he slew him for the oath’s sake.
    51 For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother.

    To reiterate: “…and they knew every man his brother.”

    Homosexual behavior is part of Satan’s covenant.

    By the way, this would not seem to be the case for feelings or orientation:

    From the Honor Code at BYU:
    “Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation.”

    There is no question about the selfish behaviors of the citizens of the cities of the plain:

    “When love waxes cold, let the poor and the needy beware too, for they will be neglected, as happened in ancient Sodom (see Matt. 24:12; see also Ezek. 16:49).”
    Neal A. Maxwell, “Repent of [Our] Selfishness� (D&C 56:8),� Ensign, May 1999, 23

    (The word “know” occurs 472 times in the Old Testament and the word “knew” occurs 95 times.)

  57. Ben S. on May 21, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    Hey Dan, I just saw this comment. I think you’re completely misunderstanding that last phrase of the Book of Moses, “they knew every man his brother.” It simply means that the members of the conspiracy knew each others identity. There’s nothing here at all to imply sexual contact instead of mutual recognition.