13 August 2012

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

For some reason, certain of our ancestors considered Mondays almost as unlucky as Fridays (Friday still being the unluckiest day in the week to start any venture).  Three such were

  • The First Monday in April, the day on which Cain (the first murderer) was born and Abel (the first victim) was slain.
  • The Second Monday in August, on which day the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by Holy Wrath. 


  • The last Monday in December, when Judas Iscariot (the betrayer) was born (unless that day be Christmas Day, in which case the unluckiness moves to 31 December).

“These be dangerous days to begin any business, fall sick, or undertake a journey.”

Some attribute the above superstitions to advice from Lord Burghley (Elizabeth I’s chief minister) to his son; others to a book published in the reign of Charles I, or an Irish manuscript, or ‘Ye Olde Manuscript’, or “No reference is made to any authority for these dates…”

But you will still find sailors who will not set out on the above dates.


“And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.  And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabitants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth.  And his wife looking behind her, was turned into a statue of salt."  Genesis 19:24-26

You already know the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom-and-Gomorrah, and if not, you can read it in the 19th chapter of Genesis.  As to the question of why the Lord destroyed S-&-G…, well, I thought I knew from my early Bible School days.  It seems, however, that we were wrong.  According to the Finest Intellects of Our Time, God destroyed the cities of the plain because they were inhospitable.

[Well, that makes sense.  Sexually assaulting visitors to your city is definitely inhospitable, don’t you think?]

Images of the cataclysm usually include Mrs. Lot being transformed into a pillar of salt, with Lot and his daughters fleeing or taking refuge in a cave (look closely at the above image where a bolt of lightning is about to hit Mrs. L).  Most often, she is portrayed standing still and looking back (and already a pillar of NaCl) as in this 1866 engraving by Gustave DorĂ©.

The Nuremberg Chronicle depicts the escapees as a prosperous German burgher family.  Lot and his fashionably dressed and coiffed daughters resolutely turn their backs on the flame-engulfed buildings and follow the angel to safety, while behind them, Lot’s Wife, a salt cone with a typically German headdress, takes a last fond look at her home.

In this stained glass window, a white but still recognizable Mrs. L takes center stage between two masses of color – her family with the angel on the left, whom she has seems to be following, and a pile of burning buildings on the right to which she has turned her head.

And what would be perfect to put on the table today?  These, from Kosher Cook.  Yep, Lot and Lot’s Wife salt-and-pepper set (you can figure out which is which).


John Martin, 1852.  The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne. (Swiped from Wikipedia).

Gustave Dore, 1866. Lot Flees the Destruction of Sodom. Engraving.

Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493. Lot Flees from Sodom.  Woodcut. 

Canterbury Cathedral, late 12th century. Lot's Wife Turned into a Pillar of Salt. Gothic stained glass.