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In English Biblical usage, the suffix "ite" is sometimes used to refer to the inhabitant of a city e.g. someone from Bethlehem was a "Bethlehemite" (1 Samuel 16:1). The English-language term "Sodomite" originated by the same principle, in describing the people of Sodom. "Sodom" and "Sodomite" are however used to translate two original words of the Scriptures that were actually unrelated in meaning.

The English name of the city of Sodom is from the Hebrew word pronounced sed-ome which means burnt or scorched. Although in English the term "Sodomite" is obviously derived from the city of Sodom, in the original Hebrew the word translated into English as "Sodomite" was actually unrelated to the city of Sodom itself, but rather referred to certain unnatural behavior, whether in the city of Sodom, or anywhere else.

"Sodomite" is used to translate the Hebrew word pronounced kaw-dash which means a male idolater, a man who is morally defiled. While in English the term "Sodomite" is merely a direct reference to the city of Sodom itself, the actual Hebrew word that is translated into English as "Sodomite" refers to grossly immoral behavior, not place of residence. This is made obvious by the fact that "Sodomites" continued to exist after the people and city of Sodom were completely destroyed by The Lord.

What The Word of God Says About "Sodomites"

The original Hebrew word is found 6 times in the Scriptures (apart from the Bible's other references, using other Hebrew words, for the same behavior). The word is translated into English 5 times as "Sodomite" and once as "unclean." As is again made plain that the original Hebrew word referred to behavior, not a specific place, The Lord commanded that there were not to be "Sodomites," among other forms of grievously immoral behavior, in Israel.


"There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite 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 KJV)

Nevertheless, the people of Israel and Judah foolishly "did evil in the sight of The Lord."

"And Judah did evil in the sight of The Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites 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 14:22-24 KJV)

There were however times in which the kingdom was purged of all forms of idolatry. Note how "sodomites" are almost always included as a part of idolatry - the actual Hebrew word, that is translated as "Sodomite," even means male idolater.

"And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of The Lord, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron." (1 Kings 15:11-13 KJV)

"Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And the remnant of the sodomites, which remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land" (1 Kings 22:45 KJV)

"And he put down the idolatrous priests, whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; them also that burned incense unto Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven. And he brought out the grove from the house of The Lord, without Jerusalem, unto the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and stamped it small to powder, and cast the powder thereof upon the graves of the children of the people. And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of The Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove." (2 Kings 23:5-7 KJV)

As with all who violate the Creator's Laws, "sodomites" suffer from their own unnatural self-destructive behavior, as in this example from Job in which the same word that is 5 times translated as "Sodomite" in other verses is here translated as "unclean."

"They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean." (Job 36:14 KJV)

Fact Finder: Does God make salvation available to everyone who repents, including the "effeminate" and "abusers of themselves with mankind" (KJV)?
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

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