Sodom and Gomorrah: God is Not Pleased

Most advocates of gay marriage will, in an argument, demand proof of God’s disapproval of homosexuality.  Perhaps there just wasn’t a word for it in ancient times.  However, God makes himself pretty clear pretty early on in the Bible; Genesis  13:12-13 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.  Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.  Later, in Genesis 18:16 – “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom:  and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.  17.  And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do.”

 

With our world falling deeper and deeper into moral and spiritual chaos, it’s time to connect the dots of the ancient world and exactly how Sodom and Gomorrah represented hell on earth in ancient times.

 

Abraham brought his nephew, Lot, with him.  But a famine plagued the land of Haran where they had settled, so Lot and his wife departed for the Jordan Valley.  In those times, it was an extremely fertile valley, almost like a paradise.  Sodom and Gomorrah were already settled cities when Lot arrived.  There was a great rebellion against the kingdom of Elam, which ruled the valley, and Lot was kidnapped.  Abram took over one hundred of his servants, and against great odds, rescued his nephews and everything that belonged to him.

 

Centuries earlier, God had brought on the great flood and commanded Noah to build an ark, as he intended to wipe the wicked from the face of the Earth.  These wicked men were called “Sons of God,” the Nephilim or “The Watchers”, the cast-off angels from heaven who landed on Mount Hermon.  They intermarried with the daughters of men and supposedly taught their children evil ways, sexual depravity, and the making of metal weapons.   One of these, the leader, was called Semyaza.  The Book of Enoch, like the Book of Thomas, has been discredited by Biblical scholars and left out of the canon.

 

They were fruitful and multiplied, corrupting the children of Seth, the third son of Adam.  The Egyptians worshipped a god called Set or Seth, who was violent and homosexual.  These are thought to have been the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.   God saw that Noah was good and spared him from the flood, but evil still prevailed after the flood.  So God paid a visit to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if the rumors were true:  that the inhabitants engaged in homosexual acts and other deviant acts, abused what women lived there, attacked strangers, and forbid other residents to help others in trouble or travelers.

 

When God’s angels arrived on his behalf, Lot warned them not to remain in the town square.  They were immediately attacked and Lot took them into his home to shelter them.  The residents, down to the last man and boy surrounded the house, demanding that Lot hand the strangers over to them so that they might “know them” or “be intimate” with them.  The angels didn’t slay them with swords, as in The Bible miniseries, but they did blind them.  Lot and his family made their escape, with a warning from the angels not to look back.

 

Lot’s wife disobeyed and looked back.  She was instantly turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying God.  The angels told Lot to leave the valley completely.  The angels told him to take refuge in a small town named Zoar, on the south shore of the Dead Sea.  But Lot was afraid and fled into the mountains with his two daughters.  Eventually, Lot paid a terrible price for what was considered his cowardice.

Scientists today believe the area was hit by an asteroid.  About 150 years ago, archaeologists  uncovered a clay tablet with an eyewitness’ account of the asteroid suspected of being behind the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Researchers who cracked the cuneiform symbols on the Planisphere tablet believe that it recorded an asteroid thought to have been more than half a mile across.

 

The tablet, found by Henry Layard in the remains of the library in the royal place at Nineveh in the mid-19th century, is thought to be a 700 B.C. copy of notes made by a Sumerian astronomer watching the night sky.  He referred to the asteroid as a “white stone bowl approaching” and recorded it as it “vigorously swept along.”

 

Using computers to recreate the night sky thousands of years ago, scientists have pinpointed his sighting to shortly before dawn on June 29 in the year 3123 B.C.  About half the symbols on the tablet have survived and half of those refer to the asteroid. The other symbols record the positions of clouds and constellations. In the past 150 years, scientists have made five unsuccessful attempts to translate the tablet.

 

Mark Hempsall, one of the researchers from Bristol University who cracked the tablet’s code,  said the size and route of the asteroid meant that it was likely to have crashed into the Austrian Alps at Köfels.  As it traveled close to the ground it would have left a trail of destruction from supersonic shock waves and then slammed into the Earth with a cataclysmic impact.

 

Debris consisting of up to two-thirds of the asteroid would have been hurled back along its route and a flash reaching temperatures of  752 degrees F. would have been created, killing anyone in its path.  About 386,000 square miles would have been devastated and the impact would have been equivalent to more than 1,000 tons of TNT exploding.

 

Dr. Hempsell said that at least 20 ancient myths record devastation of the type and on the scale of the asteroid’s impact, including the Old Testament tale of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the ancient Greek myth of how Phaeton, son of Helios, fell into the River Eridanus after losing control of his father’s sun chariot.

 

The researchers say that the asteroid’s impact would explain why at Köfels there is evidence of an ancient landslide 3 miles wide and a quarter of a mile thick.

 

“Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of Heaven; and he overthrew those cities and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities … [Abraham] looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and toward all the land of the valley, and beheld, and lo, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.”  Genesis 19:24-28

 

In the case of the Gospel of the Egyptians, A. Bohlig and F. Wisse have suggested that the reason for the use of the title (“Gospel of the Egyptians”) is the prominence of Seth in this document, and the association in the minds of Egyptian readers with the Egyptian god of the same name.  Such an association is suggested in the document itself, they argue, in a passage where it is sad that the number of the seed of Seth is “the amount of Sodom.”  In the same passage, it is also said that Sodom is the “dwelling place” or “place of pasture” of the great Seth, which is Gomorrah.  Since the Egyptian Seth had been accused of sodomy (i.e., homosexual intercourse with Horus, his brother), and Gnostics can be expected to interpret as good what traditionally is considered evil, we have an indication of an Egyptian Gnostic attempt to “rehabilitate” the Egyptian god by interpreting him in terms of Seth, the third son of Adam. 

 

Of course, there is nothing in the text of the Gnostic Gospel of the Egyptians which suggests any “sodomite” tendencies on the part of the “great Seth,” nor indeed, does the use of the names “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” indicate any connection with homosexuality, much less a justification of, or denial of, the Egyptian god’s rape of his brother.  The symbolic use of “Sodom” and “Gomorrah” are given reverse evaluations in the Gospel of the Egyptians as cities destroyed by the evil Demiurge; this is a typical feature of Gnosticism.

 

Seth also called Setekh, Setesh, or Set, ancient Egyptian god, patron of the 11th nome, or province, of Upper Egypt. The worship of Seth originally centered at Nubt (Greek Ombos), near present-day Ṭūkh, on the western bank of the Nile River. Nubt, with its vast cemetery at nearby Naqadah, was the principal western was the principal pre-dynastic center in Upper Egypt. The town lost its preeminent position with the unification of Egypt about 3050 bce, which was carried out under kings whose capital was Abydos and whose royal god was Horus.

 

Seth was represented as a composite figure, with a canine body, slanting eyes, square-tipped ears, tufted (in later representations, forked) tail, and a long, curved, pointed snout; various animals (including aardvark, antelope, ass, camel, fennec, greyhound, jackal, jerboa, long-snouted mouse, okapi, oryx, and pig) have been suggested as the basis for his form. Because even the ancient Egyptians rendered his figure inconsistently, it is probably a mythical composite.

 

Originally Seth was a sky god, lord of the desert, master of storms, disorder, and warfare—in general, a trickster. Seth embodied the necessary and creative element of violence and disorder within the ordered world. The vicissitudes of his cult reflect the ambivalent attitude of the Egyptians toward him, as well as the shifting political fortunes of Egypt. During the 2nd dynasty (c. 2775–c. 2650 bce), King Peribsen identified himself with Seth for the first time, giving himself a Seth title instead of the traditional Horus name. His successor, Khasekhemwy, gave both Horus and Seth equal prominence in his titulary, reflecting the mythical resolution of the two gods. During the rule of the Hyksos invaders (c. 1630–1521 bce), Seth was worshipped at their capital, Avaris, in the northeastern Nile River delta, and was identified with the Canaanite storm god, Baal.

 

During the New Kingdom (1539–c. 1075 bce), Seth was esteemed as a martial god who could sow discord among Egypt’s enemies. The Ramesside pharaohs (1292–c. 1075 bce), originating in the northeastern delta, ranked him among the great gods of Egypt, used his name in their personal names (Seti I and Seti II, Setnakht), and promoted the image of Seth as the protector of Re in the prow of his bark, slaying Re’s enemy, Apopsis. Seth also joined Amon, Re, and Ptah as the fourth of the principal gods of the cosmos.

 

In myths, Seth was the brother of Osiris. There, too, his character was troublesome, for he was depicted as bursting out of the womb of his mother, Nut, being an unfaithful husband to his consort and sister, Nephthys, and murdering Osiris, whom he tricked into entering a chest, which he then closed and hurled into the river to be carried out to sea. After Osiris’s murder, Horus was conceived miraculously by Isis, the wife and sister of Osiris. Horus struggled with Seth, who sought to dispossess him from his father’s throne. This struggle forms the theme of the Ramesside text The Contending of Horus and Seth, which borders on satire, and the later, much more sombre version recorded by Plutarch, in which Seth is the embodiment of the Greek demon Typhon.

 

After the close of the New Kingdom, as Egypt lost its empire and later its independence, and as the cult of Osiris grew in prominence, Seth was gradually ousted from the Egyptian pantheon. In the 1st millennium bce his name and image were effaced from many monuments. He was now identified as a god of the eastern invaders of Egypt, including the Persians. No longer able to reconcile Seth with Horus, the Egyptians equated the former with evil and the demon Apopis, or with the Greek Typhon. Elaborate rituals of the repeated defeat of Seth as an enemy largely replaced the earlier ritual destructions of Apopis.

 

The first section of the Book of Enoch depicts the interaction of the fallen angels with mankind;  Semiazaz compels the other 199 fallen angels to take human wives to “beget us children.”

 

And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’. Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it.

 

The names of the leaders are given as “Samyaza (Shemyazaz), their leader, Araqiel, Râmêêl, Kokabiel, Tamiel, Ramiel, Dânêl, Chazaqiel, Baraqiel, Asael, Armaros, Batariel, Bezaliel, Ananiel, Zaqiel, Shamsiel, Satariel, Turiel, Yomiel, and Sariel.”

This results in the creation of the Nephilim (Genesis) or Anakim/Anak (Giants) as they are described in the book:

 

And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells; Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood.

 

It also discusses the teaching of humans by the fallen angels chiefly Azazel:

 

And Azâzêl taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjâzâ taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, Armârôs the resolving of enchantments, Barâqîjâl, taught astrology, Kôkabêl the constellations, Ezêqêêl the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiêl the signs of the earth, Shamsiêl the signs of the sun, and Sariêl the course of the moon.

 

Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel appeal to God to judge the inhabitants of the world and the fallen angels. Uriel is then sent by God to tell Noah of the coming cataclysm and what he needs to do.

 

God commands Raphael to imprison Azâzêl:

 

“The Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl (God’s Kettle/Crucible/Cauldron), and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgment he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azâzêl: to him ascribe all sin.

 

God gave Gabriel instructions concerning the Nephilim and the imprisonment of the fallen angels:

And to Gabriel said the Lord: ‘Proceed against the biters and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle

 

The Lord commands Michael to bind the fallen angels.

“And the Lord said unto Michael: ‘Go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. 12. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is for ever and ever is consummated. 13. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: (and) to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined forever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations.

 

The introduction to the Book of Enoch tells us that Enoch is “a just man, whose eyes were opened by God so that he saw a vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the sons of God showed to me, and from them I heard everything, and I knew what I saw, but [these things that I saw will] not [come to pass] for this generation, but for a generation that has yet to come.”

 

The Book of Parables appears to be based on the Book of Watchers, but presents a later development of the idea of final judgment and eschatology, concerned not only with the destiny of the fallen angels but also of the evil kings of the earth. The Book of Parables uses the expression “Son of Man” for the eschatological protagonist, who is also called “Righteous One,” “Chosen One,” and “Messiah”, and narrates his pre-existence and his sitting on the throne of glory in the final judgment.

 

Some of the fallen angels that are given in 1 Enoch have other names such as Rameel (‘morning of God’), who becomes Azazel and is also called Gadriel (‘wall of God’) in Chapter 69. Another example is that Araqiel (‘Earth of God’) becomes Aretstikapha (‘world of distortion’) in Chapter 69.

 

Azaz” as in Azazel means strength, so the name Azazel can refer to strength of God. But the sense in which it is used most-probably means impudent (showing strength towards) which comes out as arrogant to God. This is also a key point to his being Satan in modern thought.

Biblical scholar Nathaniel Schmidt states, “the names of the angels apparently refer to their condition and functions before the fall,” and lists the likely meaning of the angels names in the book of Enoch, noting that “the great majority of them are Aramaic.”

 

The suffix of the names ‘el’ means ‘God’)  which is used in the names of high ranking angels. The Archangels all include this such as Uriel (Flame of God) or Michael “who is like God?”  Another is given as Gadrel, who is said to have tempted Eve; Schmidt lists the name as meaning “the helper of God.”

 

The Samaritans

 

The narratives in Genesis about the rivalries among the twelve sons of Jacob describe tensions between north and south. Those were temporarily united under the strong kingship of David and Solomon, but at the death of Solomon, the kingdom split into two: northern Israel with its capital Samaria and southern Judea with its capital Jerusalem.

 

The Deuteronomistic Historians, writing in Judah, saw northern Israel as a sinful kingdom, divinely punished for its idolatry and iniquity by being destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 BCE.  Based on the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans assert their worship is the true religion of the ancient Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they assert is a related but altered and amended religion, brought back by those returning from exile.

 

The tensions continued in the postexilic period. Chronicles is more inclusive than Ezra-Nehemiah since for the Chronicler the ideal is of one Israel with twelve tribes; the Chronicler concentrates on Judah and ignores northern Israel.

 

Unlike the Chronicler, the Samaritans claimed that they were the true Israel who were descendants of the “lost” tribes taken into Assyrian captivity. They had their own temple on Mount Gerizim and claimed that it was the original sanctuary. Moreover, they claimed that their version of the Pentateuch was the original and that the Jews had a falsified text produced by Ezra during the Babylonian exile.

 

Both Jewish and Samaritan religious leaders taught that it was wrong to have any contact with the opposite group, and neither was to enter each other’s territories or even to speak to one another. During the New Testament period, although the tensions went unrecognized by Roman authorities, Josephus reports numerous violent confrontations between Jews and Samaritans throughout the first half of the first century.

 

Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from a group of Israelite inhabitants of the ancient Levant from the tribes of Ephraim and Mansseh (the two sons of Joseph son of Jacob as well as some descendance from the priestly tribe of Levi, who have connections to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan Kingdom of Baba Rabba. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the Hebrew term Shamerim, “Keepers of the Law.”

 

In the Talmud, a central post-Second Temple religious text of Judaism, Samaritan claim of ancestral origin was disputed, and in those texts they are called Cuthim or Kuthim), referring to the ancient city of Cuthah (Kutha), geographically located in what is today Iraq.  In the Biblical account, however, Cuthah was just one of several cities from which people were brought to Samaria, and the Samaritans were later called “Cutheans” to spite them, with the added assertion that the men of Kuth made Nergal (a god of the underworld, and whose name translates as ‘cock dunghill’) their god.  Modern genetics has suggested some truth to both the claims of the Samaritans and the mainstream Jewish accounts in the Talmud.

 

Mount Hermon

 

Gilgamesh passes near Mount Hermon in the Epic of Gilgamesh, where it was called Saria by the Sumerians: “Saria and Lebanon tremble at the felling of the cedars.”  In the Book of Enoch, Mount Hermon is the place where the Grigori (“Watcher”) class of fallen angels descended to Earth. They swore upon the mountain that they would take wives among the daughters of men and take mutual imprecation for their sin. The mountain or summit is referred to as Saphon in Ugaritic texts where the palace of Baal is located in a myth about Attar, a 15th Century Muslim pharmacist and poet.

 

Various Temples of Mount Hermon can be found in villages on the slopes. There is a sacred building made of hewn blocks of stone on summit of Mount Hermon. Known as Qasr Antar, it is the highest temple of the ancient world. An inscription on a limestone stele recovered by Warren from Qasr Antar was translated by George Nickelsburg to read “According to the command of the greatest a(nd) Holy God, those who take an oath (proceed) from here.”  Nickelsburg connected the inscription with oath taken by the angels under Semjaza who took an oath together, bound by a curse in order to take wives.  Hermon was said to have become known as “the mountain of oath” by Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau. The name of God [according to Gnostic tradition] was supposed to be a Hellenized version of Ba’al or Hadad and Nickelsburg connected it with the place name of Baal-Hermon (Lord of Hermon) and the deity given by Enoch as “The Great Holy One.”  Eusebius (the Bishop of Caesaria) recognized the religious importance of Hermon in his work “Onomasticon,” saying “Until today, the mount in front of Panias and Lebanon is known as Hermon and it is respected by nations as a sanctuary.” It has been related to the Arabic term al-haram, which means “sacred enclosure.”  Another Greek inscription found in a large temple at Deir El Aachayer on the northern slopes notes the year that a bench was installed “in the year 242, under Beeliabos, also called Diotots, son of Abedanos, high priest of the gods of Kobireia.” The era of the gods of Kiboreia is not certain, as is their location which is not conclusively to be identified with Deir al-Achayer, but was possibly the Roman sanctuary or the name of a settlement in the area.

The Canaanites the Bible speaks of are today’s Palestinians, at least half of whom have converted to Islam.  While it’s understandable why the Bible’s compilers would want to leave some ancient accounts out of their canon, the rejected texts shed some light on the darkness that is befalling our shrinking, material world.

 

 

 

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Published in: on April 2, 2013 at 11:52 am  Leave a Comment  

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