Sodom and Gomorrah

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, John Martin, 1852
Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed in the background of Lucas van Leyden's 1520 painting Lot and his Daughters

Sodom and Gomorrah (ə/)[1] were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis[2] and throughout the Hebrew Bible,[3] the New Testament, and in the deuterocanonical books, as well as in the Quran and the hadith.[4]

According to the Torah, the kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were allied with the cities of Admah, Zeboim, and Bela. These five cities, also known as the "cities of the plain" (from Genesis in the Authorized Version), were situated on the Jordan River plain in the southern region of the land of Canaan. The plain, which corresponds to the area just north of the modern-day Dead Sea,[5] was compared to the garden of Eden[Gen.13:10] as being well-watered and green, suitable for grazing livestock.

Divine judgment by God was passed upon Sodom and Gomorrah and two neighboring cities, which were completely consumed by fire and brimstone. Neighboring Zoar (Bela) was the only city to be spared. In Abrahamic religions, Sodom and Gomorrah have become synonymous with impenitent sin, and their fall with a proverbial manifestation of divine retribution.[6][7][Jude 1:7] Sodom and Gomorrah have been used historically and today as metaphors for vice and homosexuality, although a close reading of the text and other Ancient Near Eastern sources suggest that this association may be incorrect.[8]

The story has therefore given rise to words in several languages. These include the English word sodomy, which is used in sodomy laws to describe sexual "crimes against nature", namely anal or oral sex (particularly homosexual), or bestiality.[9][10][11] Some Islamic societies incorporate punishments associated with Sodom and Gomorrah into sharia.[12]


The etymology of both names is uncertain.[13] The exact original meanings of the names are also uncertain. Some believe, the name Sodom (Hebrew: סְדֹםSəḏōm) could be a word from an early Semitic language ultimately related to the Arabic sadama, meaning "fasten", "fortify", "strengthen", but that is unlikely as the Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines the Hebrew word Sodom (Cēdom) as burning.[14]

Gomorrah (Hebrew: עֲמֹרָה‘Ămōrāh) is a special case for a number of reasons. The Hebrew term transliterated as ‘amōra was not always pronounced as such. In ancient times, all Semitic languages, including Hebrew, included a letter known as ghayn which made the sound of the voiced velar fricative (/ɣ/, or “gh”). At some point, Hebrew merged ghayn with the ayin (ע); thus words originally pronounced with ghayn no longer preserved the “gh” sound and instead adopted ayin’s pronunciation, the voiced pharyngeal fricative (/ʕ/), which is silent in Modern Hebrew. The Hebrew term for Gomorrah is one of these words. Thus, the true pronunciation of the term is ghamōrah, as opposed to the modern ‘amōrah. Based on the initial ghayn, it is possible that the Hebrew term could be based on the root gh-m-r, which means "be deep", "copious (water),"[15] but this is also in dispute as it is classically known as עֲמֹרָה ʻĂmôrâh, am-o-raw'; from H6014; a (ruined) heap; Amorah, a place in Palestine:—Gomorrah.[16]

Other Languages
አማርኛ: ሰዶም
العربية: سدوم وعمورة
български: Содом и Гомор
brezhoneg: Sodom ha Gomorra
čeština: Sodoma a Gomora
Հայերեն: Սոդոմ և Գոմոր
hrvatski: Sodoma i Gomora
Bahasa Indonesia: Sodom dan Gomora
Basa Jawa: Sodom lan Gomora
latviešu: Sodoma un Gomora
lietuvių: Sodoma ir Gomora
മലയാളം: സദൂം
Bahasa Melayu: Sodom dan Gomorrah
Nederlands: Sodom en Gomorra
português: Sodoma e Gomorra
Simple English: Sodom and Gomorrah
slovenčina: Sodoma a Gomora
српски / srpski: Содома и Гомора
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sodoma i Gomora
Türkçe: Sodom ve Gomora
українська: Содом і Гоморра