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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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SODOM.—The overthrow of the ‘cities of the plain’ was, according to Hebrew traditions, a Divinely-sent catastrophe, second only to that of the Deluge. The sinfulness of Sodom (often with the addition of ‘Gomorrah’) is frequently referred to as typical of terrible wickedness (e.g. Deuteronomy 32:32, Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14, Lamentations 4:6, Ezekiel 16:46-49, Wisdom of Solomon 10:6-8); and even more frequently is the devastation of the guilty cities typical of Divine punishment. And similarly in the NT:

1. Matthew 10:15 || Luke 10:12. In St. Matthew the words occur in the course of our Lord’s charge to the Twelve. If they came to any place in which their words were not received, they were to shake off the dust of their feet; ‘Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.’ In St. Luke, on the other hand, the words form part of the charge to the Seventy; he has ‘Sodom’ for ‘the land of Sodom,’ ‘Gomorrah’ is omitted, and instead of St. Matthew’s favourite expression ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως (‘in the day of judgment’), is used ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ἐκείνῃ (‘in that day’) [D [Note: Deuteronomist.] ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ, so Syrr.]. In Mark 6:11 the whole phrase from St. Matthew (exc. Σοδόμοις ῆ Γομόρροις for γῇ Σοδόμων καὶ Γομόρρων) is inserted in A and some Latin Manuscripts . Hence it found its way, through the Textus Receptus , into the Authorized Version .

Our Lord here implies the great fact, which in the passage dealt with in the following section He states more clearly, that since privileges bring responsibilities, their neglect brings punishment. And therewith He further implies the mysterious truth that at ‘the day of judgment’ the punishments awarded to men will vary. ‘It shall be more tolerable—more bearable’ cannot be a mere figure of speech. The same truth is taught in Luke 12:47 f., and its converse in Luke 19:16-19.

2. Matthew 11:23-24. Our Lord uttered Woes against three Galilaean cities which refused to accept His mighty works and repent (Matthew 11:20). These denunciations were a practical carrying out of the figurative injunctions which He gave to His disciples in Matthew 10:14. The three cities named are Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. The two former He compares with Tyre and Sidon; and to the latter He uses somewhat similar language in referring to Sodom: ‘for if in Sodom had been done the mighty works (δυνάμεις) which are being done in thee [the city], it would be remaining until to-day. However, I say unto you [the people] that for the land of Sodom it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment than for thee [the city].’ St. Luke has not preserved this reference to Sodom, though he gives the denunciation against Capernaum (Matthew 10:15). With regard to Matthew 11:24 Wright (Synopsis2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 216) says that the author ‘appends a sentence which reminds us of [Mt] Matthew 10:15. These refrains are very effective for Church reading, but they often seem to be editorial.’

The typical use of ‘Sodom’ as an example of sin reaches its height in Revelation 11:8, where Jerusalem is described as ‘the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt.’

3. Luke 17:29. This passage, like the two preceding, is absent from the Markan tradition. Sodom is here not so much a type of sin as of sudden and fearful destruction. Our Lord uttered many logia concerning the coming of the Son of Man. In one of these (Matthew 24:37-39, Luke 17:26 f.) He likened the ‘parousia’ (Mt.)—the ‘days’ (Lk.)—of the Son of Man to the Deluge in the days of Noah. St. Luke alone adds, ‘In like manner as it came to pass in the days of Lot; they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom, he rained [Genesis 19:24 κύριος ἔβρεξεν] fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed (them) all. Likewise shall it be in the day that the Son of Man is revealed.’ The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is also coupled with the Deluge in 2 Peter 2:5-7 as an example of punishment. See also Judges 1:7, Romans 9:29 = Is 1:9.

A. H. M‘Neile.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Sodom'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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