Monday, May 13, 2013

Genesis: A Lot of Lot

Good news if anyone cares – our offer on the house has been accepted. No longer shall we be dependent on the in-laws for living space! Much rejoicing will be had throughout the land.

But, back to the Bible. We left off with the genital mutilation of the Abraham household, and we’re about to jump into the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This starts with an interlude in which God and a couple angels show up at Abraham’s tent to promise him once again that Sarah will bear him a son and he’ll have buttloads of descendants who get to have other people’s land given to them. Literally this chapter starts with God showing up to make the exact same promise he made at the end of the previous chapter (and about twelve times in previous chapters as well). The repetition is getting pretty mind-numbing. We get it: Abraham will have many descendants, and they get free land at other people’s expense. It’s as if the authors are hoping that if they keep drumming it into your head over and over, it’ll numb you into accepting that the atrocities that show up later in fulfilling the promise are justified.

So after the latest iteration of the same old promise, the angels get up and leave on their way to Sodom. God explains to Abraham that they’re going to see if the place is as bad as he’d heard (he doesn’t know?), and if it is then they’re going to destroy it. What follows is a portion of the story that I don’t recall ever being covered in my Sunday school.

Abraham starts negotiating with God. Starting out with kissing the divine ass a bit, he then suggests that such a great and wonderful god wouldn’t destroy a city if there were 50 righteous people there. And God agrees that OK, if there are 50, then he won’t destroy the city. And it goes on…

“Gen 18:27 “Abraham answered and said ‘Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And [God] said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’”

So this goes on, with Abraham mixing self-abasement and flattery, until he has talked God down to sparing the city for 10 righteous people. Just a funny little aside since it seems to have no effect on the course of the story – I wonder if it was thrown in there to be humorous.

Moving on to the portion of the story we’re mostly familiar with, we rejoin the angels, disguised as men, as they arrive at Sodom and are greeted by Lot. He immediately offers them shelter in his home, convincing them to abandon their plan to spend the night in the town square. Before too long, every single man in the city shows up, demanding that Lot send his guests out so they can have sex with them (I have to wonder… is the image of roving rape mobs the one fundamentalists have in their heads whenever they think of gay men?). Lot heroically steps out of the house, and gives a courageous speech standing up for everyone in his household.

OK, that last part was a lie. This is what Lot actually said to the crowd.

“Gen. 19:6 Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7 and said ‘I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’”

Now, I have a daughter. Just thinking of her being raped makes me so angry I break out in a sweat. But this guy… this guy offers up both of his virgin daughters to be gang raped by a mob. And at this point the mob hadn’t even threatened him yet. He hadn’t tried to reason with them or anything, with this option being tossed out as the last ditch effort. No… “Rape my daughters, please,” was his go-to move.

Now, given Uncle Abraham’s willingness to pimp his own wife out to save his own ass, and the general contempt the Bible displays for all things female, perhaps this attitude (as nauseating as it is) shouldn’t be all that surprising. But you find out a few verses later that these girls are also betrothed to be married, and their fiancés are asleep in the house blissfully unaware of their would-be father in law’s efforts to get their intended wives gang-raped. So I’m pretty sure that even by Biblical standards this Lot guy is a complete tool.

But the men of Sodom want nothing to do with raping girls when there are strange men around they can rape instead, and now the threats start flying. So the angels drag Lot back into the house and blind everyone in the mob. When Lot seems unwilling to flee the city, the angels drag him and his family away (except for the girls’ fiancés, who think the impending destruction of the city is just a joke).

Once they’re out of the city the angels tell them to flee and not look back. Lot’s (nameless) wife looks back, and is turned into a pillar of salt. Because that makes sense.

Now we get to another part of the Lot story that doesn’t come up much in Sunday school. Afraid to stay in a nearby city, he takes his daughters up into the hills to live in a cave. After awhile, the girls start to despair of ever finding a man to give them babies. So they hatch a plan:

“Gen 19:31 And the firstborn said to the younger ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.’ 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.”

The next night they got him drunk again, and the younger daughter repeated the process. Both women got pregnant, and the Moabites and Ammonites were descended from those incest babies.

Now… whoever wrote this passage may not be familiar with a little concept colloquially known as “whiskey dick.” It’s pretty simple. If a guy gets drunk enough, he can’t get it up. Lot here is apparently sufficiently blotto that he’s able to sleep through sex. One might think performance would be an issue here. Or that perhaps the “getting so drunk he didn’t even notice getting fucked” scenario is a dodge to make the girls look like the villains in their molestation by their father. Or perhaps even more likely… someone noticed that the Sodom story made Lot look like a complete shit for offering his daughters to a rape mob, and they decided to tack this story on as a way of saying “No, look! They were incestuous whores and totally deserved it!” Plus it created an opportunity to smear the ancestry of the Ammonites and Moabites (any bets on whether some Hebrews will be in conflict with Moabites and Ammonites later in the book?).

Since that seems to be it for Lot for the moment, and the narrative switches back to Abraham, this seems like as good a place as any to break. Until next time!

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