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The Destruction of Sodom

The Destruction of Sodom


The Wickedness of the Sodomites

The angels left Abraham’s tent, and two of them turned in the direction of Sodom to carry out G‑d’s decision to destroy that city.

The Sodomites were notorious for their wickedness. They had no consideration for the poor, nor for the passing stranger to whom they offered no hospitality; nor would they even sell him any food or water. Once they had found out that Plitith, Lot’s daughter, had secretly given food to a stranger who was near starvation, and they burned her in public. Another time, when they discovered that a young girl had fed a starving beggar, they smeared honey all over her and placed her upon the city wall, so that she died from the stings of the bees attracted by the honey.

These and many other similar hideous acts of cruelty by the Sodomites and their neighbors of Gomorrah, had aroused G‑d’s anger, and He decided to destroy them completely.

Abraham Pleads For Sodom

When G‑d informed Abraham of his intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham pleaded with G‑d to save the cities for the sake of the righteous who might be living there. Only when G‑d had promised him that if there were even ten righteous inhabitants in Sodom, He would save the entire city for their sake, did Abraham plead no more.

Lot’s Hospitality

Lot, Abraham’s nephew, could never forget completely his uncle’s teachings and ways of living. Although he had been associating with the Sodomites for many years, he had not accepted their attitude towards strangers, and he did not share in their cruel treatment of the unfortunate passer-by.

Lot had been sitting at the gates of Sodom when he saw two strangers. He greeted them and invited them to his tent, although he knew full well that he risked his life by doing so. The strangers at first refused, but after Lot persuaded them, they finally agreed to follow him into his house.

The people of Sodom, having learned of the presence of strangers, surrounded Lot’s house. They demanded that Lot give up the two visitors to be dealt with in the usual manner. In vain did Lot try to quiet them and persuade them to leave the strangers alone. The more he spoke to them, the more excited they became. Finally, they threatened to kill Lot and proceeded to storm the house. But the angels pulled Lot back into the house and struck the attacking mob with blindness, so that they could not force their way into Lot’s house.

Lot and His Family Are Saved

Thereupon, the angels told Lot to take his entire family and leave the city immediately, for G‑d had sent them to destroy Sodom. But Lot’s sons-in-law were Sodomites and refused to leave their homes. Morning dawned, and the angels took Lot, his wife, and two unwed daughters, and led them out of the town, forbidding them to turn back and look at the city. As soon as Lot had reached Zoar, G‑d rained brimstone and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah. The place that had once looked like a divine garden was turned into a sea of salt. Lot’s wife was too curious to obey the command of the angels. She turned around to look back at the city where they had lived so long. The punishment followed instantaneously; she was changed into a pillar of salt. Lot ultimately left Zoar, and he and his descendants inhabited the provinces of Moab and Ammon.

The Dead Sea

Abraham, remembering G‑d’s gracious promise, hastened early in the morning to the spot where he had prayed to G‑d on the previous day. The blooming valley was hidden by smoke; giant furnaces rose from earth to heaven where the proud cities of the Jordan stood; and the wild flames were rapidly consuming the land. When the devastation was complete, a vast lake of salt and asphalt, or bitumen, “The Dead Sea,” lay to the east of the desert of Judah.

The Dead Sea remained, and is now one of the marvels of the earth. The destruction of Sodom brought fear into many hearts. Wayfarers and caravans began to shun that part of the land, and soon the roads leading to the once fertile regions of Sodom became all but deserted.

From Our People by Jacob Isaacs published and copyrighted by Kehot Publication Society 1946-1948
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Michele November 5, 2017

Do you have any more stories recorded of the cruelty of the people of Sodom?
I have read of other stories elsewhere but would like to know the historical source.
Thank you. Reply

Daniel Waduka Uganda January 30, 2017

Great! Thanks! Wow. I have really gained a great insight about the story, even before reading it right in the bible. Thanks very much. Reply

Shaul Wolf August 7, 2015

Re: Unwed daughters The Torah clearly references Lot's unwed daughters earlier on in the story. When the people of Sodom demanded that the guests be given to them, Lot said "Behold now I have two daughters who were not intimate with a man". Clearly Lot had daughters who were not married in addition to his married daughters. Reply

Anonymous November 5, 2017
in response to Shaul Wolf:

Isn't it true that the daughters were considered married as soon as they were promised, though they had not yet been joined intimately or in household? Reply

Anonymous Seattle August 5, 2015

Lot's 2 unwed daughters? Then who were Lot's son in laws married to? Your articles are interesting & have some truth, but then some far fetched tales also. I didn't know Lot had a 3rd daughter?

How & when do you answer discussions/questions? Reply

Anonymous Scottsdale, AZ December 22, 2012

Zoar instead of the mountain What did Lot mean when he said, ".... I cannot escape to the mountain lest the evil attach itself to me and I die" Reply

Yehuda Shurpin for January 11, 2011

Re: Plitith - Lot's daughter Plitith was a third daughter of Lot and was killed when her kind deed was discovered.

The story of Plitith is not found in the Bible itself, rather it is from the Midrash Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer, 25, as cited by Rabbi Posner in a previous comment.

Here is the story with a few more details:

Plitith, the daughter of Lot, was married to one of the leading citizens of Sodom. One day, she saw a pauper starving in the street, and her soul was saddened over him. What did she do? Every day, when she went to draw water from the well, she would take some of the food from her home in her pitcher and feed the pauper. But the people of Sodom wondered, "This pauper, how is he surviving?" Eventually the matter became known and she was taken out to be burned, and her cries rose to the Divine Throne. Reply

Eric November 23, 2017
in response to Yehuda Shurpin for

When did Moses allow you to follow rabbi traditions over his law? Reply

Irene Esparza Lubbock, Texas January 7, 2011

Plitith - Lot's daughter I wanted to know more about Plitith- Lot's daughter. The Mishna on The Destruction of Sodom says she was burned for feeding a starving man. Did she die? I know he had 2 daughters that later became the mothers of Moab and Ben-Ammini, but is Plitith one of those or did Lot have 3 daughters? I can not find Plitith in my Bible. Help! Reply

Yosef or Joseph Modesto, Ca December 8, 2010

Lot and his daughters Where is the incident where lot tried to offer his two daughters that have not had known men. So the men could know them instead of the men. Isn't it interesting that by known it really meant know in a sexual way? I don't think lot would say here interrogate my daughters instead. Reply

Menachem Posner for April 19, 2009

Plitith & The young girl It is found in Pirkay D'Rabbi Eliezer, 25. Reply

Wilner Cornely Wheeling, IL/USA April 14, 2009

Plitith & The young girl What is the source for the nme of Lot's daughter and the incidents that surround them because of their hospitality? Reply