Sodom and Gomorrah

According to the Old Testament of the Bible, Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities destroyed by God because of their wickedness. Apparently located near the southern end of the Dead Sea, the cities were known for the crude behavior and lack of hospitality of their inhabitants.

In the book of Genesis, the Hebrew patriarch Abraham begged God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of the few good people living there. God agreed not to destroy the cities if as many as ten righteous men could be found in them. Accordingly, he sent three angels to Sodom. The angels were greeted by Lot, the only good man in either city. Lot invited the angels to his home and treated them graciously. However, that night a group of Lot's neighbors surrounded the house and demanded that he send the angels out to them. When the neighbors tried to break in, the angels told Lot to leave Sodom immediately with his family. They also warned him that no member of his family should look back at the city after leaving it.

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God then sent a raging fire to consume Sodom and Gomorrah. As the cities went up in flames, Lot's wife could not resist looking back on the destruction, and God punished her by turning her into a pillar of salt.

See also Angels ; Fire ; Semitic Mythology .

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