What are sodomites in the Bible?

Sodomites are often said to be inhabitants of the ancient Canaanite city which God destroyed. Many Christians assume that when the Bible uses the word, it is referring to homosexuals. The question is, Does that opinion fit the facts of history as given in the Bible?

The area around Sodom as it looks today.

Paleobotanists (plant historians who study ancient seeds, plants and plant fossils) tell us that 3700 years ago, the area around Sodom was well-watered, fertile and grew abundant crops. Because the men of that city tried to gang rape male angels, it is assumed that sod@mites must be homosexuals.

Does the Bible say that the men
of Sodom were sodomites?

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

definition of sod@mites

No, the Bible never says or implies that. Notice ISBEs definition:

sod'-om-it (qadhesh, feminine qedheshah):

Qadhesh denotes properly a male temple prostitute,

one of the class attached to certain sanctuaries of heathen deities, and "consecrated" to the impure rites of their worship. Such gross and degrading practices in Yahweh's land could only be construed as a flagrant outrage; and any association of these with His pure worship was abhorrent (Deuteronomy 23:17f):

The presence of Sodomites is noted as a mark of degeneracy in Rehoboam's time (1 Kings 14:24). Asa endeavored to get rid of them (1 Kings 15:12), and Jehoshaphat routed them out (1 Kings 22:46). Subsequent corruptions opened the way for their return, and Josiah had to break down their houses which were actually "in the house of the Lord" (2 Kings 23:7).

The feminine qedheshah is translated "prostitute" in Genesis 38:21-22; Hosea 4:14; in Deuteronomy 23:17 "prostitute" (the King James Version margin "sodomitess," the Revised Version margin transliterates). The English word is, of course, derived from Sodom, the inhabitants of which were in evil repute for unnatural vice.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915 Edition

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, knew in 1915, that a sodomite was a temple prostitute, not a homosexual. Let's study how the words sodomite and sodomites are used in the Bible. Please put aside for a moment, what your church taught you and your personal opinion on this issue.

Bas relief of an ancient qadesh or shrine prostitute

In Bible times, shrine prostitutes (qadesh) were common in the Holy Land.

God insisted that Israel must not engage in sexual worship of false gods because that is the kind of false worship the qadesh performed. The Hebrew word for sodomites is qadesh. It is a relatively rare word, used only six times in Hebrew scripture.

How does the King James Bible
use the word qadesh?

"There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite (qadesh) of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God." Deuteronomy 23:17-18.

"And there were also sodomites (qadesh)in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel." 1 Kings 14:24.

"And he took away the sodomites (qadesh)out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. 1 Kings 15:12.

"And the remnant of the sodomites (qadesh), which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land." 1 Kings 22:46.

"And he brake down the houses of the sodomites (qadesh), that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove." 2 Kings 23:7.

“They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean (qadesh).” Job 36:14

The meaning of Qadesh in Hebrew

Notice that nothing in the context of these verses deals with a committed, faithful, non-cultic partnership between two men or two women or a gay marriage. Qadesh is never used in the Bible to mean homosexual.

Wise students of scripture will also note that verses which mention sodomites are not talking about the geographical area called Sodom in the Bible. Every verse in the Bible which mentions sod@mite or sod@mites is referring to shrine prostitutes who worshiped the Canaanite fertility goddess.

The meaning of Sodom in Hebrew

The Hebrew word for Sodom is Cedom, an entirely different word than qadesh or qadesha. Cedom is from a Hebrew root meaning “to scorch or burn.”

Many Christians assume the Bible says things it never says. They base their religious beliefs on their false assumptions instead of on what scripture actually says, in context.

False assumptions lead people to believe the Bible condemns committed, faithful, non-cultic relationships between two men or two women when in actual fact, the Bible never condemns committed, faithful, non-cultic same sex relationships and never condemns gay marriage.

Thinking Christians are interested in
what the Bible actually says, not
merely what it is presumed to teach.

55 times our English Bibles use the word Sodom and related English words, sod@mite, sod@mites, Sodoma. Yet strangely enough, in Hebrew, Sodom and sod@mite are not related words. For this reason, it is easy to draw the wrong conclusion, that Sodom and sod@mites are related when in fact, they are not etymologically related.

  1. Never in any of the Sodom passages does God say that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.
  2. Never in any of the Sodom passages does God or a human author of the Bible link homosexuality with Sodom.
  3. Never in any of the sodomite(s) passages does God or a human author of scripture link sodomites with a committed, faithful, non-cultic partnership between two men or two women.
  4. Never in any passage that mentions Sodom does God deal with the subject of gay marriage. Isn't that interesting?

Look, if you disagree with what I just wrote, read the passages and see if you can disprove what I wrote. Don't be lazy and disagree and then continue to teach something that's not true.

Whenever the Hebrew words qadesh or qadesha are used in scripture, they refer to a pagan worshiper of the fertility goddess. Therefore when we translate from Hebrew to English (or any other language), if we're honest, we must retain the original Hebrew meaning instead of translating it to mean homosexual.

Because qadesh and qadesha, as used in the Bible, never refer to gay men or lesbian women in committed, faithful, non-cultic partnerships, it is wrong to assert that qadesh and qadesha mean homosexual in English when they clearly did not mean homosexual in Hebrew.

Sodomites, qadesh and qadesha, in the Bible were male and female worshipers of the Canaanite fertility goddess, not homosexuals and not lesbians.

Sodom was an ancient Canaanite city, Genesis 10:15-19, 13:12. The pagan Canaanite religious worship of the people of Sodom included precisely the same cultic, religious, sexual activity which was forbidden by God in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 and Deuteronomy 23:17-18.

The important link between the inhabitants of Sodom and ancient sodomites is cultic sexual worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess,
gay relationships or gay marriage.

Most of the inhabitants of Sodom were destroyed by God, Genesis 19:24. The only people who escaped destruction were Lot and his two daughters.

Lot Flees Sodom

by Jacob Jordaens, 1593-1678
Jordaens was a Flemish Baroque Painter

The people of Sodom were infamous for their pride, greed and inhospitality. Biblical writers, some ancient historians and Jesus Himself remark on the inhospitality of the inhabitants of Sodom but they never mention homosexuality. Don't you find that interesting?

Every time Sodom and sodomites
are mentioned in the Bible

Please don't take my word for it. Look up the verses for yourself in your own Bible and discover that God never mentions homosexuality or gays and lesbians in connection with judging Sodom.

Genesis 10:19, 13:10, 12, 13, 14:2, 8, 10-11, 12, 17, 21-22, 18:16, 20, 22, 26, 19:1, 4, 24, 28

Deuteronomy 23:17 - shrine prostitute

Deuteronomy 29:23, 32:32

Job 36:14 - margin, qadesh, shrine prostitute

Isaiah 1:9-10, 3:9, 13:19

Jeremiah 23:14, 49:18, 50:40

Lamentations 4:6

Ezekiel 16:46, 48-49, 53, 55-56

Hosea 4:14 - harlots, qadeshah, shrine prostitutes

Amos 4:11

Zephaniah 2:9

Matthew 10:15, 11:23-24

Mark 6:11

Luke 10:12, 17:29

Romans 9:29

2 Peter 2:6

Jude 7

Revelation 11:8, 22:15 - dogs (compare Deu 23:17-18 - “dog” was a derogatory name for a shrine prostitute).

Another source defines sodomite

The Companion Bible

The Companion Bible defines a whore as a sodomitess [a shrine prostitute] who was consecrated to heathen worship, 1 Kings 14:24, 15:12, 22:46, Job 36:14 (from The Companion Bible note on Deu 23:17).

The Companion Bible defines sodomites  or shrine prostitutes as those who commit the sin of Sodom, male prostitutes who were dedicated to idolatry which involved male-male sexual practice (from The Companion Bible note on 1 Ki 14:24).

The Companion Bible On
Canaanite Fertility Cults

The Companion Bible provides an interesting description of the fertility cult worship of ancient Canaan.

The Asherah pole was a phallic symbol, set upright in the ground, which represented the male organ of creation. The pole was associated with the fertility goddess. According to E.W. Bullinger, who wrote the notes for The Companion Bible, the phallic asherah pole was the “remembrance” of Isaiah 57:8 and the “image of the male” of Ezekiel 16:17.

E.W. Bullinger, 1837-1913,
a conservative evangelical
British Bible scholar.

Bullinger associates this phallic symbol with the obscene sexual orgies practiced by pagan worshippers of the fertility goddess in ancient Canaan (The Companion Bible, Appendix 42, p. 36.).

When we talk about sodomites, the qadesh and qadesha, we're talking about ancient temple prostitutes, not modern homosexuals. The Hebrew words from which we get the word “sodomite,” are qadesh or qedesh, qadesha or qedesha, qadeshim or qedeshim.

Ashtoreth was the
Canaanite fertility goddess.

Ashtoreth worshipers engaged in anal sex, men with men and men with women. This pagan worship is what God prohibited, not committed, faithful, non-cultic, same sex partnerships.

Sodomites were men and women who engaged in sexual acts with pagan worshipers of the Canaanite fertility goddess. In the Bible sodomites are not homosexuals - they are pagan worshipers of the fertility goddess who rejected the true God of Israel.

The words qadesh, qadesha, qadeshim, translated sodomite in the KJV, never mean homosexual as we understand that word today.

Sodomite is wrongly used
in the twenty first century
as an epithet to demean gays.

The term sodomite today could only accurately describe someone, not necessarily homosexual, who engaged in anal sex to worship the fertility goddess.

Christians who take their Bible seriously know that when the word sodomite is used in the Bible, it never refers to homosexuals. Read each reference again and prove to yourself that sodomite(s) as used in Scripture, never refers to homosexuals.

in Galilee.

  • Deuteronomy 23:17-18
  • 1 Kings 14:24
  • 1 Kings 15:12
  • 1 Kings 22:46
  • 2 Kings 23:7
  • Job 36:14

None of the verses listed on this page deals with a committed, faithful, non-cultic gay marriage or relationship between two men or two women. If you don't believe that, prove it to yourself by reading the verses again and, as you read, carefully note the biblical context.

When any Christian anywhere uses these verses against homosexuals and lesbians, that Christian has an ulterior motive. Do not be deceived. Stand up against bigotry and for the truth of scripture.

The Bible is friendly and
affirming to gays and lesbians.

Gay people are encouraged to believe on Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior just like non-gay people. Don't let anyone steal your joy in Jesus or your desire to serve God. Trust God, read, study and believe your Bible and grow in the Lord. You'll be glad you did.

If homosexuality was not the sin of Sodom, does the Bible tell us what made God so angry at Sodom?

Was Jude talking about homosexuality in Sodom or sex with angels?

Inhospitality or Lack of Hospitality was a very serious sin

The New Testament also has a lot to say about Hospitality and loving strangers

Portions of this article about sodomites are excerpted from the eBook, Gay Christian 101

From sodomites, return to
GayChristian101.com Home Page.

Enjoy this page? Get the html to share it with others.

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Google Translate

into 90 languages

by Faith

We are saved:

by grace alone through faith alone

in Christ alone.

Recent Articles

  1. Gay Christian 101 - Affirming God's glorious good news for all LGBs.

    Jan 08, 24 12:57 AM

    Rick Green 4
    Gay Lesbian Bisexual Christian 101 - Accurate biblical and historical info defending LGB Christians from the anti-gay crowd.

    Read More

  2. Romans 1 describes ancient shrine prostitution, not gays and lesbians.

    Dec 21, 23 04:37 PM

    Romans 1, in historical context, is about ancient Roman fertility goddess worshipers who engaged in shrine prostitution to worship Cybele, not gays and lesbians.

    Read More

  3. The Centurion And Pais - When Jesus Blessed A Gay Couple.

    Nov 14, 23 10:32 PM

    Centurion and Pais? If Jesus blessed a gay relationship, would this change your view of homosexuality?

    Read More

Gay Christian FAQ

FREE Bible Study Downloads

Who Is Jesus?

Bible Study Resources
for eDisciples

101 Community

Bible Boot Camp


Cybele and Rome

Adam - a real man?

87 Questions

Audacity Movie Review