Story of Sodom still stirs debate over meaning of words and nature of sin

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor
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It is hard to adequately respond to Rev Ivan Foster’s many points in his latest letter within the brevity of a reader’s letter.

Battle over Hebrew and sodomy rolls on, June 6

(This is just the latest letter concerning an exchange between these two writers – full links to all their letters are contained in the link above).

There is not room to go into every point in detail enough to explain clearly enough the Hebrew position being cited in regard to Sodom.

However, I would like to emphasise that it is not incongruous with Scripture to use the word “men” (‘anashim’ in the original Hebrew text) in regard to Genesis 19:4 if it is remembered that when this appears as “men” so many times in other instances it predominantly includes women as well.

Why do the conservative Protestant Hebrew translators, whom Rev Foster emulates so highly, make an exception for the crowd in Sodom?

I had to read, write, speak and even think in Hebrew when living in the land of the Bible, but I do not recognise Rev Foster’s Protestant Hebrew pronunciation of “enowsh en-oshe,” or is it his own translation?

The root word meaning “human” (enosh, anush) includes both genders, as does “anashim” (which comes directly from the same root meaning, ie humankind), which is often rendered as “men” in English translations of the Bible.

In the book of Acts we have crowds addressed with the same word (anashim -human beings) such as “men of Athens,” (anashei Atonah) “men of Ephesus,” etc, which did not mean men only, so why should “men of Sodom” (anashei S’dom) be different, unless a bias is being demonstrated by the reader/translator?

The word “am” for people which also appears in Genesis 19:4 differs from “anashim” in that it is singular, whereas “anashim” is plural.

One describes a collective people as one unit, such as with “am Israel, the people of Israel, and the other is a collective of individuals making up a crowd, gathering or people, such as “men of Israel,” or “men of Sodom/men of the city” which even if you say “men” instead of “people” does imply a mixed group of people.

“Am” is always used when it is not individuals, hence always appearing in Scripture as “people,” but that does not enforce “anashim” to be made up of exclusively males, never mind only exclusively male homosexuals, which is the common interpretation as to why there were not even 10 righteous ‘anashim’ left in the city.

According to the Hebrew, the whole “am” were sinning exceedingly before God, thus the true sense of the Hebrew would suggest the whole mixed crowd wanted to molest the holy angels in a lust-filled frenzy, if we open our blinkers in this matter.

The word “obnoxious” is Rev Foster’s description, not the Bible’s.

I will accept any viewpoint or terminology if it is found in the Bible, including “Sodomy” and “Sodomites” if they referred only to male homosexuals in the original text, but they are not in any concordance in that context.

Those are words of men, not God.

Colin Nevin, Bangor