The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
, John Martin
Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed in the background of Lucas van Leyden
's 1520 painting Lot and his Daughters
Sodom and Gomorrah (/) were cities mentioned in the Book of Genesis and throughout the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and in the deuterocanonical books, as well as in the Quran and the hadith.
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, 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.[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.
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. Some Islamic societies incorporate punishments associated with Sodom and Gomorrah into sharia.