Josephus On Homosexual Practice

In Book I of The Antiquities of the Jews, From the Creation to the Death of Isaac, a Jewish military officer,  historian and a Pharisee Josephus Flavius (37-c.100 A.D)  could help us in our exposition of Genesis 19. Josephus pointed out that “the Sodomites grew proud, on account of their riches and great wealth: they became unjust towards men, and impious towards God, insomuch that they did not call to mind the advantages they received from him: they hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices. God was therefore much displeased at them, and determined to punish them for their pride, and to overthrow their city, and to lay waste their country, until there should neither plant nor fruit grow out of it.”

He went on:

2. (196) When God had thus resolved concerning the Sodomites, Abraham, as he sat by the oak of Mambre, at the door of his tent, saw three angels; and, thinking them to be strangers, he rose up and saluted them, and desired they would accept of an entertainment, and abide with him; (197) to which when they agreed, he ordered cakes of meal to be made presently: and when he had slain a calf, he roasted it, and brought it to them, as they sat under the oak. Now they made a show of eating; and besides, they asked him about his wife Sarah, where she was; and when he said she was within, they said they would come again hereafter, and find her become a mother. (198) Upon which the woman laughed, and said that it was impossible she should bear children, since she was ninety years of age, and her husband was an hundred. Then they concealed themselves no longer, but declared that they were angels of God; and that one of them was sent to inform them about the child, and two of the overthrow of Sodom.

3. (199) When Abraham heard this, he was grieved for the Sodomites; and he rose up, and besought God for them, and entreated him that he would not destroy the righteous with the wicked. (200) And when God had replied that there was no good man among the Sodomites; for if there were but ten such men among them, he would not punish any of them for their sins, Abraham held his peace. And the angels came to the city of the Sodomites, and Lot entreated them to accept of a lodging with him; for he was a very generous and hospitable man, and one that had learned to imitate the goodness of Abraham. Now when the Sodomites saw the young men to be of beautiful countenances, and this to an extraordinary degree, and that they took up their lodgings with Lot, they resolved themselves to enjoy these beautiful boys by force and violence; (201) and when Lot exhorted them to sobriety, and not to offer anything immodest to the strangers, but to have regard to their lodging in his house; and promised, that if their inclinations could not be governed, he would expose his daughters to their lust, instead of these strangers—neither thus were they made ashamed.

4. (202) But God was much displeased at their impudent behavior, so that he both smote those men with blindness, and condemned the Sodomites to universal destruction. But Lot, upon God’s informing him of the future destruction of the Sodomites, went away, taking with him his wife and daughters, who were two, and still virgins: for those that were betrothed to them were above the thoughts of going, and deemed that Lot’s words were trifling.

Given Josephus understanding above, the term “sodomy” and “sodomite” used before and after Christ, generally refering to modern days’ homosexual practices, is fished out of Genesis 19:1-29 which involves gang rape. If this was the only part Josephus wrote about homosexual practice, then a pro-homosexual apologist has a positive case that its not homosexual practice per se that God was displeased but the gang-rape-homosexual practice .

In Against Apion, Book II, Josephus , as Paul in Roman 1, used Unnatural Argument(against creation order of sexuality) . He wrote:

 And why do not the Lacedemonians think of abolishing that form of their government which suffers them not to associate with any others, as well as their contempt of matrimony? And why do not the Eleans and Thebans abolish that unnatural and impudent lust, which makes them lie with males? (274) For they will not shew sufficient sign of their repentance of what they of old thought to be very excellent, and very advantageous in their practices, unless they entirely avoid all such actions for the time to come: (275) nay, such things are inserted into the body of their laws, and had once such a power among the Greeks, that they ascribed these sodomitical practices to the gods themselves, as part of their good character; and indeed it was according to the same manner that the gods married their own sisters. This the Greeks contrived as an apology for their own absurd and unnatural pleasures.

Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1996). The works of Josephus : Complete and unabridged. Peabody: Hendrickson.

Related Posts:

Philo On Homosexual Practice
Justin Martyr On Child Sacrifice, Incest And Same-Sex Sexual Practices
Homosex: Thus Saith The Mosaic Law
Response to Alex Haiken’s Homosex and Fertility Cult Rituals
Gay + Love: Responding The Last Standing Objection

About Prayson Daniel

Prayson Daniel is a Tanzanian, married to Lea and a father to Eloise. Reformed theology, philosophy of religion, apologetics and church history are areas he enjoy reading, pondering and sharing with a motto "when love comes first, disagreement follows at its right and proper place".
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