Visitors in an Evil City
There are a number of archtypal narrative “sets” throughout Scripture. The woman at the well and a man looking for a bride and the pharaoh/exodus motif are probably some of the most prominent. Perhaps Judges 19 and Genesis 19 are pieces of another narrative set which culminates in the birth of Christ. Both of these stories have foreigners visiting an evil city. They are taken in to be protected from the wickedness of the city. Sodomites come out demanding that they be given the guests for sport. Substitutes are offered, daughters or beloved concubines, and in the end someone close to the family dies and judgment falls on the city.
In the birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph are of course the travelers, ending up in Bethlehem as a result of a census. While there is no room in the inn, there is wickedness in the city in the person of Herod who is willing to go to great lengths to secure his reign, even butchering a number of baby boys. Men do hear about the visitors and seek them out, but they are not sodomites, they’re gentile wisemen and shepherds. And they bring gifts and worship the baby. The baby boys of Bethlehem are the substitutes; they are Israel, the beloved daughter and concubine of God. The Christ child is spared only to rise up and bring judgment on Israel for her wickedness, eventually destroying the wicked city which has become even more depraved than Sodom and Gomorrah.
Just as a side note: while the word does not show up in either Judges 19 or Genesis 19, the Hebrew word for “sodomite” is ‘qadesh’ which literally means ‘holy one’. Sodomy was ritually practiced in many ancient religions; thus to visit a harlot (‘qadeshah’) or a male temple prostitute (‘qadesh’) was not only a sexual perversion it was also an idolotrous act, an act of false worship. Which is an interesting back drop to the fact that Herod, hearing about the birth of King Jesus, tells the wisemen to tell him where the baby is so that he can go worship him also. This Herod while perhaps not a literal sodomite, wants to offer a pagan kind of worship; he wants to “un-man” the Son of Man.