The next evening a new sage, this time a male of rather plain appearance, stood by the fire pit where the students met for their evening lecture. Yeshu accompanied by an Essene brother, walked towards the waiting figure. The brother paused his stride for a moment to speak.
“My young brother tonight you will hear a story of unbounded hate and greed for only such emotions could drive the actions described in this story of Abraham.”
By now, other members of the group had arrived to take their place around the firepit. Yeshu kicked a stone from the path and sighed.
“Brother, I am sorely taxed by these lessons. Does not any happiness reside anywhere within these people? Can it be they are totally consumed by hate and avarice? Oh how I long to hear a single story of kindness and compassion, but the characters in these Mikdash stories show not the least evidence of such traits. Can a people even survive let alone thrive on such emotions?”
The brother resumed his walk. “One must understand: without enlightenment, this is man’s natural condition. It is not these people alone, but man as a whole that accepts these conditions as his normal state of affairs. Yet our Jewish brethren of the Mikdash are a special people who, because of their religion based on bloodlust and death are especially pernicious in creating pain and misery among all men, even their own people. Look at the burdens they place on the fishermen of this region. Because these people produce food that stands apart from acceptable sacrificial tribute, they must pay an extra portion to convert their unclean fish to clean animals for the sacrifice. These men are already the poorest of the poor, yet the Mikdash kohanim spare them not a whit of compassion in their sacrificial demands. I leave you now, take care to pay close attention to your teacher this evening.”
Yehsu took his place among the group and the sage motioned them to sit. After a moment of silence, the sage spoke in measured voice. “Tonight I will narrate a bitter tale of destruction. This story is one of the use of power to steal the resources of others. You will recall a few evenings ago you heard the story of Siddem vale. In that story there was a reference to the well watered region of Sodom to the East, a region that was as well watered as the lord’s garden. After agreeing to give his nephew Lot first choice, Abraham went into the dry regions with his ill gotten gains and now his herds suffered from thirst. So the authority will take it upon themselves to take this resource by force from the sodomites. But they will use a rather unusual method to do so. They will use a moral imperative to justify their theft of the sodomite’s water. They will say all the people of Sodom are evil and therefore all must be destroyed and herein lies the essence of this instructional story. We now continue our story with The destruction of Sodom.”
“It was but a few days later when the greater authority of the priesthood, resplendent in his finery, stood with Abraham and two other lesser authorities upon a barren hillside. A hot wind blew swirling sand around them as the four men stood surveying the valley below where Sodom and Gomorrah lay. The high priest pointed to the distant cities saying, “Go down into those cities and find out if they have stood for or against us in those matters we have entreated. Find out if they have rebuked our commands to relinquish their water to Abraham’s herds.”
The two angents departed from the hillside and went down into the cities. Upon their arrival, the angents sought out the leaders of Sodom and demanded the relinquishing of sufficient water necessary to sustain Abraham’s large herds. The leaders of Sodom however responded hotly saying they had already stated their position on the matter, there was not enough water to supply Abraham and his people.
The two returned to where they had left. Trudging back up to their vantage point overlooking the valley, the angents approached the greater authority and Abraham sitting on the hillside and somewhat breathlessly made their report, “These cities are full of iniquity and intolerance for our people, they rebuke our commands! Unlike our people of the pure bloodline, their people are rife with sick and heretical perversions.”
Staring down at the valley, the greater authority mused out loud, “Such perversion creates a diseased mind. If our people were to emulate them, the pure bloodline would wither and die. Therefore the people of Sodom and Gomorrah must be destroyed lest their influence creates those perversions among our people.”
Abraham now pleaded, “But not everyone can be so wicked and lustful, not everyone of these cities can be so perverse in their nature and attractions, would you destroy those who are innocent along with those who are guilty?”
“Can you believe any of these people are not of such perversion?” came the authority’s retort.
Musing on a bargain, Abraham asked, “Suppose there are those whom are innocent? Suppose there are fifty innocent people in those cities? Would you destroy them along with the others? You have shown our people of the pure bloodline the greatest of benevolence, surely you would not be so crass as to destroy those who are no more guilty then those of our own blood?”
Abraham’s sudden passion for these people disconcerted the greater authority. “Perhaps you are correct in this matter. Let us make this offer then, if we can locate fifty Sodomites as pure as our people, who will consider our needs, then we will spare these cities.”
Again Abraham pleaded his case, “But what if you cannot find fifty, what if there are only forty five to be found, what then? Will you then destroy these cities simply because there are five less than the arbitrary number I chose?”
Melchizedek responded to the entreaty saying “I will grant you the forty five then Abraham.”
But Abraham persisted, “But what if there are only thirty?”
“I will grant you the thirty”.
Abraham however was now on a roll, “What about twenty men? Or ten, or even five, what if there are but five who are as pure as the people of our blood; would you still destroy them?”
Thoroughly exasperated, Melchizedek replied to this persistence, “We will go one more time into the city and ask again if we can find those who will obey our commands, grant us our requests and refrain from their perversions. If we can find any of this nature, even one, then we will spare the cities. Leave us now that we may make our plans to carry out your request.”
As Abraham left, Melchizedek spoke with his angents. The angents stated, “My lord, we cannot go again into the city as we will be recognized and the response will be the same. Therefore we suggest two new angents be assigned to serve as your peace emissaries.”
The greater authority replied, “Your suggestion is well taken. Assign two new angents to the task, but mark this detail, they are to use subterfuge in this matter. They are to claim they hail from a wandering tribe passing through this region. Should this ploy fail with the city fathers then the angents are to seek out the king of Sodom and make him an offer he can’t refuse. Mark well however, the angents are not to identify directly with our authority.”
Late that afternoon, the two angents arrived at the Sodom’s gate where Abraham’s nephew Lot awaited their arrival. Abraham had secretly dispatched a servant to provide Lot advance notice of the arrival of the two emissaries and the purpose of their mission.
Long ago Lot had returned with King Bera’s army to make a home within the gates of the city. After the battle of Siddim Vale, he well understood the authority’s power and cunning. He knew that if the authority commanded it, his home would be destroyed as would his many friends who resided within and so it was with great trepidation that Lot met the two angents at the city’s gate. He recognized them immediately by their dress. One angent was tall and bony the other shorter, but also quite thin; they walked in a stiff, stilted manner almost as if they suffered some form of pain in their lower extremities. Both were dressed identically in naturally colored linen robes with hoods that shielded their faces from not only the sun, but recognition as well.
When the three met at the gate, Lot prostrated himself before the two emissaries saying, “My lords, you are welcome into my house for I am your most humble servant. You have traveled far on your long journey, you must be tired. The dust from the path clings to your feet and robes! Come, avail yourself of our hospitality and bathe yourselves in our waters.”
To this the angent replied, “We cannot, for we are on a mission from God, it’s a holy thing. Therefore we will stand our watch this night near the water well in the city square. At dawn we shall demand an audience with the city fathers to state our position and make our offer.”
But Lot persisted saying, “The night is long and there is little to do in the village after dark. Come to my house dear fellows, my wife will make a feast for us.”
Knowing the authority’s predilection for a certain quickness of movement, Lot knew the two could not resist certain foods like unleavened bread, so he made them an offer saying, “Though it is late, my wife will make us a quick feast at this late hour; perhaps something without leavening.”
As expected, the angents could not resist Lot’s offer.
The three made their way into the village while Lot tried making small talk, but the angents gave no reply. After a quick dinner of hasty pudding and unleavened bread, the three sat and talked about the possible outcome of their demands upon the people of Sodom. As they talked into the night, the men of Sodom surrounded Lot’s house.
“In small villages word travels quickly. Lot had been seen with the angents and despite the precautions of assigning new angents, the Sodomites were not fooled, they knew these men had come to make their authority’s final demand. They knew their presence would either mean obsequious submission to an alien authority or all out war.
The mob began taunting Lot and the angents with sneering comments, “Lot! Son of a goat herd, send out the two angents you have invited into your home! We know they are here to demand our water! We know they are here to present the authority’s final ultimatum upon our resources! We know they have come to threaten us if we do not accede to their demands. We will show them how we deal with their threats, send out the two angents so we may know their true intent and we will bend them to our will! We will show them exactly what we think of their authority! Send them out Lot, we want their blood in the same manner they demand ours! Hand them over or we will come in and lay waste to your entire house even as they threaten to lay waste to our cities”.
Now Lot knew the men among the crowd were lustful and like all lustful men they would be susceptible to women’s charms, so he called out to the men. “Stay neighbors! Do you really desire the blood of these men; would you not prefer the pleasure of my daughters instead? Leave us and I will send out my two comely daughters for they are fond of celebration and will make merry with you and they’re virgins to boot, but I beg of you, leave this house in peace!”
The taller angent shot a look at his accomplice and then turned to address Lot. “Lot are you aware of the nature of these men? They lie with each other. Either you are woefully ignorant about the nature of these men or . . .”
“These men are not homosexuals!” Lot interrupted.
The tall angent continued, “Then we have been misinformed about their nature.”
The mob however, refused to hear Lot’s offer and began pressing in on the house while yelling and chanting, “Send them out! Send them out! Send them out! Send out these angents, we will show them our clout! We will show them what we think of their godly power!”
Then a few men among the crowd began yelling, “Our neighbor is one of them! He has judged us even as the authority has sent two of their own to judge us, he is one of them; he is of their blood!”
In an attempt to lay their hands upon Lot and the angents, the mob of Sodomites began forcing themselves against Lot’s door. They pressed hard upon the door until the rope hinges groaned while Lot and the agents pressed hard against the other side of the door frustrating further attack.
Finally the latch gave way, providing sufficient opening for one of the crowd to reach though and grab Lot. The angents seized Lot and with a mighty heave, pulled him back into the house. With renewed effort, the three managed to shut and bolt the door with a crossbeam.
Lot fell to the floor gasping, “Praise be to you for saving me!”
But the door immediately began creaking again, protesting the pressure being exerted. Then the cross beam began to bend and splinter, but before the door gave way a second time, one of the agents yelled “Get ready! On my command, move away from the door and into the room behind us!”
Producing a vial from the folds of his robe, the angent gave the command and all three jumped back from the door. Just as the door gave way, the angent uncorked the vial and shouted, “cover your eyes!” At the very moment the door burst open, the three covered their eyes and the angent dashed the vial to the floor. A red cloud rose from the smashed vial into the faces of the oncoming mob.
The assault stopped instantly as the mob fell back into the street coughing, spitting and screaming, clawing at their eyes. Blinded, they fell to their knees in the street moaning and sobbing as their eyes began to swell shut. A few moments later after the cloud had subsided, Lot stood under the splintered lintel surveying the scene. Some of the men staggered around in circles, crying out for water to sooth their inflamed eyes. Others simply laid in the street moaning in pain. His mouth agape, Lot turned to the agent and exclaimed, “This is truly a miracle!”
The angent replied, “Not really.”
“But surely it must be, for I saw these men blinded with mine own eyes, what manner of miracle is this that blinds men!”
The angent replied, “It is but a small thing cooked up from the seeds of the pepper tree by our magicians over at R&D. Now then Lot, is anyone still in the house?”
“There are no others outside my wife and two daughters hiding in the stable out behind the house.”
“Then move quickly from this place, for it will be leveled on the morrow. These men are obviously not with us, so they are against us; therefore they must be destroyed so we have water for our cattle. Sodom will soon be like the unleavened loaf left too long in the oven – a burnt offering, as it were.”
Lot cried out, “But what of my home and the commerce I have established here!? I will lose everything! Say this is not so, for I am too old to begin my life anew!”
The angent put a boney hand upon Lot’s shoulder and with a withering look said, “Hie thee and thy family from this place lest they suffer the fiery fate that is about to fall upon all Sodom!”
Lot then hurried to a neighboring house and banged on the door in the hope of saving his son-in-laws and when they opened their door, Lot admonished them “Get out of Sodom, take my daughters and leave Sodom! Leave NOW, for the authority is going to destroy this place on the morrow!”
But the sons-in-law scoffed at this, “You come unto us to promise our salvation from the supposed wrath of the authority even after you offered our wives, to the angry men of Sodom? Surely you jest! Away with you old man, you are nothing but an old fool.” The door slammed in Lot’s face.
Just then the angent came up behind him. “Tarry not! Take your wife and daughters from this cursed place lest you become consumed by the flames.”
But Lot did tarry, for he could not bear to give up the life he had built in Sodom. Finally the angents took Lot and his women by their hand and dragged them from Sodom. They did not stop until they were well away from the city.
The angents turned and said, “We leave you now for the hour is late and the danger is great. Heed these words well, do not look back upon your past! Do not grieve for what you have lost or reflect on the things you left behind, for you cannot return home!”
Lot pleaded with the angents, “Please my lords, do not ask this of us for it is too much to bear! Obviously I have found some favor, for providence has spared us the wrath of your authority. I cannot escape to yonder hills lest some evil overtakes me in the wilderness and I die.”
The angent replied, “There is a place called Zoar that has been spared our wrath for your sake alone. I will take you there, but we must hurry for the destruction of Sodom will not be accomplished until our safety is assured!”
A few hours later Lot and his family arrived in Zoar and even as the sun rose in the east a small elite force made ready for their assault upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Standing at the ready with engines of destruction made from pitch and brimstone, they awaited Melchizedek’s command to reduce the villages to ashes. When word arrived of Lot’s safety, the greater authority surveyed his forces arrayed around the villages below.
As Melchizedek raised his hand, an angent raised the ram’s horn to his lips. When the hand dropped the angent blew hard on the Shofar and the assault began. By mid-afternoon, the authority had laid waste to the cities and lands; destroying everything in the villages; people, vegetation and animals, all obliterated by the fiery engines of destruction. Lot’s wife sat sobbing over her loss with her head in her hands. She looked back with regret upon her terrible loss of everything she held dear. Finally, overwhelmed by grief, she stood up and began walking back to Sodom and in her regret, was lost forever to Lot and his family.
Lot watched in despair as his wife wandered aimlessly down the road leading back towards Sodom, but when he attempted to follow her and bring her back, the angent stopped him saying, “Do not follow her, for in her grief she is lost to us. The influence of the Sodomites was too great and for that reason she will forever despise us. She is to us as the basest mineral might be compared to our treasure; she is of no more value to our purpose than a pillar of salt. Therefore let her return to the ashes of Sodom for it is there she must find her fate.
Lot and the angent stood on the road and watched her disappear from sight towards the greasy pillar of black smoke making its ugly stain on the horizon. Lot wept quietly. The thought of the fiery destruction of everything he once held dear was too much to bear, even his beloved wife was gone.
The angent turned to Lot saying, “Because you are the nephew of our representative Abraham, we have spared you and your family from our destruction. Now go and give praise to our god that you were spared his wrath. And so Lot took his two daughters and departed Zoar to wander the mountains.
Later that day, a representative of the authority came to Abraham and said, “It is done, Sodom and Gomorrah are no more and now the waters of those places belong to us. When the ashes cool, take your herds into the remains of those cities and water them, for the wells are kept covered and therefore remain viable even though all else was destroyed.”
Time passed and Lot, depressed by his ruin, began spending more time in his cups with wine provided by the kind villagers of Zoar. One evening Lot’s firstborn daughter said to her sister, “Our father is old and his time is short and there are no eligible men, our future grows more dim with each passing day, especially if we consider how our time for bearing children is quickly passing. If we have no sons and no men then we will have no way to support ourselves after our father is dead. We will therefore be reduced to prostitution or perhaps even slavery. Therefore, let us have a celebration and drink with him and when he is in his cups, we will lie with our father so we might produce sons able to represent us…”
But the younger daughter interrupted saying, “Sister! This is a cursed thing you suggest for we cannot lie to our father. Have we not been taught that it is forbidden to lie – especially to our father? How could you suggest such a cursed thing!? Oh my sister you are a…”
Here the older daughter stopped her sister short, “You idiot! Mother always said your camel was short a hump; I said lie with our father, not lie to our father! This we must do to preserve our bloodline and ensure our survival!”
To this the younger sister replied, “Oh, that is different, we do indeed need to cast a critical eye towards our future and this cave is boring. Come let us take our father’s wine and have a party!”
And so the two sisters gave wine exceedingly to their father until his eyes crossed and he was ready to pass out on the floor of the cave. Then the two sisters had their way with Lot being none the wiser. And this they did night after night until they were certain they had conceived and upon the ninth month both sisters did bear sons.
It was late and the stars were well out when the sage concluded the story of Sodom and Gomorrah with this explanation, “Once again, there are numerous lessons to be learned from this story. The primary lesson however is about the use of a moral imperative to justify an authority’s criminal actions. Herein is found the lesson of deception and misdirection, for in this story, the real issue was not one of evil, morality or perversion, but of the need for a resource – water for cattle. As described in the previous story, Abraham accepted the less desirable dry region for his cattle, while Lot selected the well watered region of Sodom and Gomorrah. When it was discovered the water resources in the west would not support Abraham’s cattle herds, the kohanim issued their demands for water rights to the wells of the two villages.
“The leaders of the cities however refused to accede to their demands and for that reason were attacked and destroyed. Note well the utter devastation of the attack, the destruction by fire. This is the Holocaust or destruction by fire, a method greatly favored by the priesthood, for such destruction destroys all evidence and all hopes of recovery.
“Of course, the one thing that would not be affected by the incineration of the cities are the water wells. If the issue of water had been addressed directly, the authority’s action would have undoubtedly been correctly perceived for what it actually represented, the overt theft of a valuable resource.
“Had this been the case, the authority would not have been supported in those actions and might even have suffered the loss of their followers, for how many people willfully support overtly criminal acts committed by their leaders? But when such issues are reframed from a direct criminal issue like theft to an indirect moral issue, like that of evil, then an entirely different perception is created for such murderous actions.
“The trick here was in defining the targeted people as evil, perverse, debauched and of immoral character. The issue then harkens to the perceived greater virtues of the attackers. Believing this, who then would dare not stand in full support of any action deemed necessary to maintain such virtue and morality? Ponder these matters before closing your eyes tonight.”
The next day the initiates spoke of the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah. Yeshu and two other initiates discussed the events of the story as they drove their herds to higher pastures. One of the younger initiates asked, “What manner of men are these priests who claim to represent the authority of God when they misuse their power to destroy God’s creation? Are these men not evil, are they not devils?
Yeshu answered, “All is done according to God’s design. There is no evil and there are no devils that lay outside man’s nature. Men have the choice to serve God or to serve themselves. These priests have chosen to serve themselves. There is no inherent good or evil in such choices, there is simply one’s perception as to how these choices impact them personally.
“Therefore while Melchizedek perceived his action as good and just in providing his herds much needed water, Abraham had his doubts about the true nature of this bold theft from an innocent people. Likewise the people of Sodom and Lot’s wife might understandably perceive the authority’s actions as evil in their nature for depriving them of what they see as rightfully theirs.
“From this one can see there is no inherent good or evil in man’s actions even as there is no inherent evil in the lion’s attack on a lamb. There are only choices and in those choices are found man’s suffering or salvation, nothing more. Still, if one is a shepherd as we are, then one will strive to prevent their lambs from being slaughtered by the lion.”