.Ezekiel 16:48-51 NASB

48 As I live,” declares the Lord God, “Sodom, your sister and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not [ab]help the poor and needy. 50 Thus they were haughty and committed abominations before Me. Therefore I removed them [ac]when I saw it. 51 Furthermore, Samaria did not commit half of your sins, for you have multiplied your abominations more than they. Thus you have made your sisters appear righteous by all your abominations which you have committed.

Initial when the the city of Sodom is introduced it is said to have been exceedingly sinful and wicked.

Genesis 13:13 NASB

13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked [k]exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.

Genesis 18:20 NASB

20 And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.

But later the prophet Ezekiel describes Judah as being worse than Sodom,yet Judah was never overthrown in a moment unlike Sodom which was completely annihilated in a moment.

Was Judah's sin more grievous than that of Sodom?

  • You quote God's words saying that Judah is worse than Sodom, then ask if Judah's sin was more grievous. The question is contradictory - or maybe it is so unclear that I have misunderstood it.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 24, 2019 at 23:46
  • 1
    @Nigel J,earlier on Sodom is described as exceedingly wicked and is subsequently annihilated,but later Judah is described as worse than Sodom yet its not overthrown but just suffers some tribulations Jul 25, 2019 at 6:39
  • Jeremiah's Lamentations contain a response to God's judgments against Judah. I would not call that suffering 'just some tribulations', myself. It is severe judgment in my view.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 25, 2019 at 16:54
  • I had the same question just now as I read this passage. Thanks for asking! Nov 13, 2023 at 17:30

4 Answers 4


Jesus' words sheds light on this:

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matt. 11:20–24, ESV)

It is not that what Judah did was worse than Sodom, but that Judah's sins were done in light of God's revealed law. While Judah's judgment here on Earth wasn't as bad as Sodom's, the issue is the final judgment. Note that Jesus was not talking about the past judgment on Sodom but a future judgment.

  • Great answer - thanks Perry!
    – user25930
    Jul 25, 2019 at 8:17
  • Very helpful answer, thanks! Nov 13, 2023 at 17:30
  • Agreed. And Judah sinned egregriously in the presence of the "correct" temple of God. That's far more offensive and brazen than anything the Sodomites did. Jan 31 at 4:17

Lamentations 4:6 does say that Judah's sin and punishment were both greater than Sodom's: being overturned in a moment is better than the slow, tragic destruction of Judah. So the assumption that Sodom was punished more severely isn't necessarily correct. But since the correspondence of the sin to the punishment isn't part of the rhetoric that Ezekiel uses, I wouldn't use this to explain the passage in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel says explicitly that Judah's sins were greater than those of Sodom (16:48) and Samaria (16:51), nearly worse than them in every way (16:47). However, he doesn't say explicitly whose punishment was worse. In fact, he hardly mentions the concept of punishment at all here. The punishment for both Sodom and Samaria is handwaved in just a few words, "I removed them as I saw fit" (16:50). Ezekiel is not concerned with the specifics of their punishment here, nor with Judah's punishment. Ezekiel isn't judging the gravity of the sin by the punishment, so we shouldn't read that into his words.

Rather, he says that when the end of Sodom, Samaria and Judah's punishment is over and they return to their former state (16:53,55), Judah will be ashamed of all the evil things she did, in comparison to her sisters Sodom and Samaria. The words for shame (כְּלִמָּה and בֹּשֶׁת and their corresponding verbs) appear 8 times (if I counted correctly) in the last 11 verses of the chapter, and they are obviously a key theme here: Judah's sins, which are worse than Sodom and Samaria, should invoke shame and guilt (compare Jeremiah 2-3). Ezekiel describes the inability to speak from intense shame, when God magnanimously forgives her for all her sins (16:63). The magnitude of punishment is irrelevant to the speech; as Ezekiel says elsewhere (36:22,32), God saves the house of Israel for his own sake, not theirs.


Excellent question!

I will here present some points that lead me to view this Ezekiel reference to Sodom as not a viable passage from which to assess the sin leading to the destruction of the Sodom in Genesis. I see 2 primary ways of understanding Ezekiel's use of the name "Sodom". Each understanding has its own heading after the background points to hold in view.

Important points about the passage (Background):

  • Exekiel is commanded to speak these things to Jerusalem. This focuses the statements on the city of Jerusalem, contemporary of Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 16:3 and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says to Jerusalem:
  • Ezekiel references the early Genesis roots of the region. In this Genesis reference is also the first reference to Sodom, but no mention of Samaria with that name.
Ezekiel 16:3b Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite.
Genesis 10:15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites,...
  • Continuing in Ezekiel 16:3-45, in NASB an apparently allegorical history is given of Jerusalem. Then the sisters are introduced- Samaria, the older sister and Sodom the younger sister. They are referenced as being less evil than Jerusalem (even only half as evil). The sins of Jerusalem listed here are clearly allegorical with possibly the most lewd language found in the scriptures. Then Ezekiel, in stark contrast, lists the sins of Sodom as being non-sexual, although he does reference the Lord as saying that Sodom was "doing destesteble things before me" (note that a full study of "before the LORD" is important).

  • Given the numerous other references and comparisons to historical Sodom found in the Prophets, this Ezekiel passage would be "extra" information as it is the only reference to oppression of the poor as being the sin of Sodom. In another question I listed a longer analysis including a listing of every reference in the Nicean Canon to Sodom with a categorization as to whether that reference was a reference to cause or results. In other words, was the reference used to compare to the results of Sodom (destruction) or the cause of Sodom's destruction (the situation that precipitated the destruction). In that analysis the results appeared to indicate that the cause was turning to other gods, as summarized from the inferential references to Sodom. (that posting is currently on Hold as it was voted as Off-Topic)

First Possible Understanding

It may be that when Ezekiel is referring to Sodom and Samaria, he is refering to the geographic areas to the south and north of Jerusalem and the peoples living there in the contemporary times of Ezekiel.

Given that the prophecy is about the Jerusalem that is the contemporary of Ezekiel, a path of logic would indicate that the sisters are also contemporaries. Possibly meaning the regions that are to the north and south of Jerusalem. This approach certainly makes the promise of verse 53 (restoration to Sodom and Samaria) easier to incorporate into our overall understanding.

Second Possible Understanding

It can also be construed that the Jerusalem in focus is the Salem of the Genesis 13 account (contemporary to the annhilated Sodom) and the whole prophecy is not about Israel per se. Rather, the focus is the overall plan from the beginning of time. In this view, we must keep the allegory intact - the reference to the sins of Sodom are as allegorical as the listed sins Jerusalem. In other words, just as Jerusalem's sin is lusting after the genitals of Egypt, Sodom's sin was being proud and not caring for those in need.


Either way, the sins listed for Sodom are not the specific sins for the historical Sodom of Genesis.

As to your end question: was Judah's sin worse than Sodom's? This is an extremely important question and one that I feel can be answered, but takes a different approach than looking at sexual sin. Judah and Israel (southern and northern divided Kingdoms) both have histories of sexual sin, some even quite parallel to Sodom, yet without the no-delay execution of complete destruction. I feel that this is yet another example that our Lord has given us so that we might begin to see the real battle.

Blessings to all.

  • Welcome TBoat to BH, and thanks for contributing. I find your approach interesting and novel. But unfortunately you do not provide much evidence to support your claim that Sodom is not Geographic Sodom but Samaria. I would definitely be interested in exploring such a possibility if only you would bring more evidence from scripture (or from commentators and biblical scholars) to support this. Keep in mind that here at BH we strive to give answers than can be proven rather than personal opinion and speculation. Feel free to edit your answer and add sources and I will upvote.
    – bach
    Jul 25, 2019 at 13:40
  • @Bach - thanks. I took your advice and changed my response to be more structured. Also, my proposition was NOT that Sodom is Samaria. I hope that the answer is clearer this time. Jul 28, 2019 at 19:31
  • To all, in an effort to forestall the confusion I previously encountered in another question: A note to those who attempt to derive my underlying beliefs about the popular view of Sodom's sin: First, my views are unimportant, what is important is what can be understood from the scriptures. Second - so you don't have to guess my understanding - any and all sin separates the individual from the LORD. I am not the arbiter of what is sin, I believe the Law of Moses does that perfectly. That refines the definition of the problem. Jesus is the solution. Jul 28, 2019 at 19:32
  • @Readmyprofileplease You should be able to post on meta without reputation. See here for how to do it
    – b a
    Jul 30, 2019 at 14:30

Way back in Deuteronomy 32 God compared Israel to Sodom,

[Deu 32:32-33 ASV] (32) For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, And of the fields of Gomorrah: Their grapes are grapes of gall, Their clusters are bitter: (33) Their wine is the poison of serpents, And the cruel venom of asps.

He said that he was going to store their wrath and then unleash it later in history:

Deu 32:34-36 ASV Is not this laid up in store with me, Sealed up among my treasures? (35) Vengeance is mine, and recompense, At the time when their foot shall slide: For the day of their calamity is at hand, And the things that are to come upon them shall make haste. (36) For Jehovah will judge his people, And repent himself for his servants; When he seeth that their power is gone, And there is none remaining, shut up or left at large.

Jesus said that the current generation is THE GENERATION upon which the long "store up" wrath will fall:

[Mat 23:33-39 ASV] (33) Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of hell? (34) Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: (35) that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar. (36) Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. (37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killeth the prophets, and stoneth them that are sent unto her! how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (38) Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. (39) For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

The judgment arrived within 40 years of Jesus' pronouncement in the form of the war with Rome:

[Luk 21:20-24 ASV] (20) But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. (21) Then let them that are in Judaea flee unto the mountains; and let them that are in the midst of her depart out; and let not them that are in the country enter therein. (22) For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. (23) Woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! for there shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this people. (24) And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led captive into all the nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

It is this horrific day of judgment that is described in the Revelation.

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