Sodom and Gomorrah

ANGEL: Good afternoon, Lot.

LOT: Good afternoon, Traveller. Do I know you?

ANGEL: I know your uncle Abraham. He says to tell you hallo.

LOT: Oh! Uncle Abraham! I hope he's well.

ANGEL: Yes, he's very well. His flocks multiply, and he walks in the ways of the Lord.

LOT: He always was a God-fearing man. And what's your name, Traveller?

ANGEL: You can call me Azrael. Tell me the name of this city.

LOT: Sodom.

ANGEL: Ah. I've come a long way to see this place.

LOT: It's one of the great cities of the plain.

ANGEL: Yes, I've heard a lot about it. But from what I heard it was lively. It seems very quiet.

LOT: The business of the day is over. Things liven up after dark.

ANGEL: Do they? Have you lived here long?

LOT: Twenty years.

ANGEL: How do you like the place?

LOT: In what respect?

ANGEL: Well, do you like living here?

LOT: It has its good points and its bad points. I suppose all great cities are the same.

ANGEL: Are they? Have you been to many others?

LOT: I've been to Gomorrah, the other great city of the plain. That's very similar.

ANGEL: Similar in what ways?

LOT: Well, it's another big city. Imposing architecture. Lots going on. Streets full of traffic. Everything costs money. Buying and selling. Hustle and bustle.

ANGEL: And what about the people?

LOT: What about them?

ANGEL: Are they kind? Are they courteous? Are they hospitable?

LOT: Here, or in Gomorrah?

ANGEL: Both.

LOT: They have their good points and their bad points. I suppose people are the same everywhere.

ANGEL: Are they?

LOT: I suppose they are. It doesn't do to be judgemental.

ANGEL: Ah, but I've come here to be judgemental. I've heard a lot about this place, and I've come here to judge it for myself.

LOT: Well, if you live in a place, you have to take the people as you find them, and you have to learn to get along with them. Don't be too judgemental, that's my philosophy.

ANGEL: What would your uncle Abraham say?

LOT: He'd probably say something entirely different. He was always a God-fearing man, uncle Abraham. Very strict. Very firm ideas about right and wrong. That's all very well if you're living on the plains with your tents and your flocks, and all your herdsmen doing as you tell them, and your nearest neighbour five days' walk away. In the big city you have to be more broadminded. I'm not sure uncle Abraham would fit in very well around here.

ANGEL: Morals are morals, surely. Right is right, wherever you are, and wrong is wrong.

LOT: That's true, but it's also true that circumstances alter cases, and different people have different perspectives. Uncle Abraham is inclined to take a rather dogmatic view of these things. I used to live with him at one time, you know.

ANGEL: But you fell out with each other.

LOT: Oh no, not exactly, no. I wouldn't say we fell out. But his herdsmen and my herdsmen kept quarrelling. Things got a bit awkward. I think he thought I wasn't controlling my people properly. In the end he said to me Look, we're family, we don't want to be at odds, and the land is big. You choose yourself one place, and I'll choose myself another. So we went our separate ways.

ANGEL: And you chose the life of the city.

LOT: Well, not to start with, and it was never exactly a deliberate choice, but that's how it worked out. I came here to trade, and I met a beautiful woman. I fell in love, in fact. You know how it is. She was born and brought up in the city, she didn't fancy the life of the plains: she doesn't like dust and dirt: so this is where I settled. Now, where are you staying tonight, O Azrael?

ANGEL: Nowhere particular.

LOT: Haven't you booked yourself a room at an inn?

ANGEL: No, I haven't got any money.

LOT: No money? You must have some money.

ANGEL: No, I don't use it.

LOT: Don't use it? You can't do anything in a city like this without money. Where are you going to sleep?

ANGEL: The nights are warm. On the way here I slept under the stars. I can do the same tonight.

LOT: No, you can't stay outside all night.

ANGEL: Why not?

LOT: It isn't safe.

ANGEL: On the way here I slept in the open country. There were scorpions and snakes, and there were jackals and lions, but I wasn't afraid.

LOT: Azrael, you can't sleep on the streets of this city. You won't be safe. Come into my house for the night.

ANGEL: Why? What will happen?

LOT: Nothing will happen if you do as I say, and come into my house.

ANGEL: Are the people of this city really so evil?

LOT: There are good people here. But it isn't safe for you to sleep on the streets.

ANGEL: How many good people would you say there are? Are there fifty?

LOT: I haven't kept a tally. I don't know how many. Come into the house.

ANGEL: Would you say there are fifty? Or maybe forty?

LOT: Never mind about that now. The sun's going down. Come into the house.

ANGEL: No, I want to know. Would you say there are thirty? Or twenty?

LOT: I don't think it's that simple. You can't quantify these things. You can't separate people like sheep and goats, or wheat and tares. Who am I to say who's good and who's bad? Most people are a mixture. People who are good sometimes do bad things, and people who are bad sometimes do good things. It's not my place to judge.

ANGEL: But it's mine. That's why I've come here. I've come here to judge.

LOT: Question me no further about my neighbours, O Azrael. Accept my hospitality instead. Come under my roof for the night.

ANGEL: Very well, O Lot. I shall accept your hospitality.

LOT: Here's my wife Esther. Esther, this man Azrael will be staying with us tonight.

ESTHER: This man? This man here? Do we know him?

LOT: He's a friend of my uncle Abraham.

ESTHER: Oh, Abraham.

LOT: He doesn't have a place to stay, and we can't let him sleep on the streets. I told him we could put him up for the night.

ESTHER: Of course, husband, just as you wish, but can I have a word with you alone?

LOT: Excuse me a moment, Azrael.

ESTHER: Does he really have to stay with us?

LOT: Yes, I've offered him our hospitality. We can't leave him out on the streets all night. You know what this city's like.

ESTHER: I don't like the look of him. He's very dusty and dirty. He looks foreign. And we don't know anything about him.

LOT: I told you, he's a friend of my uncle's.

ESTHER: That doesn't exactly endear me to him. We've got two teenage daughters in the house. How are they going to feel about having a stranger foisted on them without any warning?

LOT: They won't mind.

ESTHER: Oh, won't they. And there's another thing. We haven't got any salt. We can't offer hospitality to anyone without salt. When somebody comes into your house it's the custom to offer them bread and salt.

LOT: I think it's more important to offer him our hospitality than to offer him salt.

ESTHER: I don't want him staying in our house, Lot. I don't like the look of him. Couldn't you pay for a room at the inn, if you're so keen on helping him?

LOT: Esther, I have offered him shelter under our roof. Would you bring shame on us?

ESTHER: I don't care about that. Won't you do this one thing to please me?

LOT: I do many things to please you. I live in this city to please you. But I have offered this man my hospitality.

ESTHER: Very well, husband. Of course you are the master in your own house, and your wife's wishes count for nothing. I shall prepare a place for him to sleep.

LOT: Thank you, Esther.

ESTHER: Now here comes our neighbour Tirzah.

TIRZAH: I've come for the salt, Esther.

ESTHER: I beg your pardon?

TIRZAH: Salt, Esther. You remember, I said I was going to come round to borrow some salt.

ESTHER: No, Tirzah, I don't remember.

TIRZAH: You must do. We've run out, and you said you could lend me some. Just a scoop.

ESTHER: No, Tirzah, I don't have any salt.

TIRZAH: What? Then why did you tell me I could borrow some?

ESTHER: I never said that. I think you must be mistaken.

TIRZAH: Of course I'm not mistaken! It wasn't more than two hours ago. What's come over you, Esther?

ESTHER: Nothing's come over me, but I don't have any salt.

TIRZAH: Well I never. I don't know what I'm going to do. Who's that man your husband's talking to?

ESTHER: One of my husband's herdsmen. He has come to talk to him about the flocks.

TIRZAH: He looks like a foreigner.

ESTHER: No, my husband has known him for years. He knows my husband's uncle too, old Abraham.

TIRZAH: I don't like the look of him, though. How he stares at everything! He stared at me just then, in horrible vulgar way. Straight into my eyes, as if he was going to demand something of me. It gave me quite a turn. If my husband had seen it, he would have taught him to stare. I'm surprised you can abide him in the same house with those two pretty young daughters of yours.

ESTHER: He won't be here long.

TIRZAH: He's not staying the night, is he?

ESTHER: No, he's staying at the inn.

TIRZAH: Well, he doesn't seem in any hurry to leave. He seems to be making himself quite at home. Your husband's offering him some bread, look.

ESTHER: Shouldn't you be getting on?

TIRZAH: What do you mean? Why?

ESTHER: Shouldn't you be trying the other neighbours, to see if they can lend you some salt?

TIRZAH: Oh yes! I'd almost forgotten the salt. Well, I'd better be off. I'll see you tomorrow, Esther. I hope that horrible man doesn't outstay his welcome.

ESTHER: I hope so too.

ANGEL: I wanted to thank you for your hospitality, O wife of Lot.

ESTHER: You're welcome, O Azrael.

ANGEL: I'm sorry to upset your domestic arrangements.

ESTHER: It's no trouble. We're happy to have you here.

ANGEL: I didn't like to interrupt while you were talking to your friend.

ESTHER: Oh, that was Tirzah. She's a neighbour of mine. She's a terrible busybody, I'm afraid. She came to borrow some salt.

ANGEL: But she went away empty-handed.

ESTHER: Yes, I'm afraid we don't have any. That's why we haven't been able to offer any to you. I do hope you're not offended.

ANGEL: Not in the least. And I think that before long you will have more salt than your heart could desire.

ESTHER: Well, I can buy some from the market tomorrow.

ANGEL: Of course.

LOT: Here, O Azrael! I've found some!

ANGEL: Found some what?

LOT: Some salt! Look, here in this dish! You see, wife, we did have some after all - in fact there's a whole bagful in the cupboard.

ESTHER: I must have made a mistake.

LOT: Well, never mind.

ESTHER: You seem to have the gift of prophecy, Mr Azrael.

ANGEL: My prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, O Esther.

[A knock at the door.]

LOT: Who's there?

SATAN: Your neighbour Haborym.

LOT: Haborym! What's the matter? What do you want?

SATAN: I've come with a few of your other neighbours. We'd like a word with your guest.

LOT: What? What guest? What do you mean, you'd like a word?

SATAN: The woman Tirzah tells us that you have a stranger under your roof. She says he looks like a foreigner. A staring foreigner, that was how she described him. We'd like a word with him.

LOT: What for?

SATAN: We'd like to ask him some questions.

LOT: What could you possibly want to ask him?

SATAN: If he's who I think he is, then I personally would like to ask him all sorts of things.

LOT: Can't it wait until the morning?

SATAN: Why the hesitation, Lot? You know us. We're your neighbours. What's happened to your good manners? Why don't you open the door and let us in?

LOT: It's late. We're all ready for bed.

SATAN: Then why not send him out to us? We'll let you have him back as soon as we're finished with him.

LOT: Haborym, this man is a guest in my house. He is under my protection.

SATAN: Open the door, Lot. You don't want to make an enemy of me.

LOT: No, I don't want to make an enemy of you, but I can't hand over my guest.

SATAN: You're making a mistake.

LOT: I have two teenage daughters.

SATAN: So you do. What have they got to do with it?

LOT: Take them instead.

ESTHER: Lot! What are you saying!

SATAN: Are you offering us your daughters, Lot?

LOT: Yes. Rather than bring shame upon my house, by handing over my guest, I will bring out my two teenage daughters.

ESTHER: No, Lot!

LOT: Do you hear me, Haborym?

SATAN: Yes, I hear you. But I've rather set my heart on that guest of yours. I'm afraid I've made up my mind to see him and find out who he is.

ESTHER: I'll never forgive you for this, Lot! To offer up your own daughters!

LOT: Rather than bring shame on our house by offering up a guest. It's what Abraham would have done.

ESTHER: Abraham may be pig-headed, but he isn't a coward. He would have gone out there himself. Or it would have been better if you'd offered me to them.

LOT: They're not interested in me or you. But they'll have the lot of us in a minute, because they'll break that door down.

ANGEL: Don't worry, Lot. They can't come in unless you let them in.

LOT: Can't they?

ANGEL: No. Listen.

[Fumbling noises.]

LOT: What's happening out there? What are they doing?

ANGEL: They can't find the door.

SATAN: What's this darkness? Whence is this darkness? Where's the door?

LOT: What's happening?

ANGEL: They are all blind.

LOT: Blind?

ESTHER: What have you done? How do you know they're all blind?

LOT: Have you made them blind?

ESTHER: Who are you?

LOT: Is it temporary? Will they see again?

ANGEL: No. They will never see the light of day again. But it doesn't matter. They were blind already.

[Silence. Then a knock at the door.]

SATAN: Azrael! Azreal! Azrael! Answer me!

ANGEL: Where are your friends now, Haborym?

SATAN: Is that you, Azrael?

ANGEL: Yes, it's me. Where are your friends now?

SATAN: They've all gone. They've all crept away.

ANGEL: Then creep away too, Haborym.

SATAN: Why won't you come out and answer my questions, Azrael?

ANGEL: You'll have your answer soon enough, Haborym. The fire of heaven will fall on this place. Creep away and take shelter.

SATAN: I have nothing to fear from heaven's wrath.

ANGEL: Except more pain. Creep away into a hole, Haborym.


ESTHER: What's going to happen now?

ANGEL: Wake up your daughters, Esther.

ESTHER: What for? No! The men have gone away now! You heard Haborym! And you said they were all blind!

ANGEL: Not for the men.

ESTHER: Then why do we have to wake them up?

LOT: What's going to happen, Azrael?

ANGEL: The fire of heaven will fall on this place.

ESTHER: What? What does that mean?

ANGEL: Tonight the cities of the plain will be destroyed. Not one stone will be left standing on another. Not one person who dwells in Sodom or in Gomorrah will be alive when day breaks tomorrow. You must leave here immediately.

LOT: Wake the girls, Esther.

ESTHER: Is it true?

ANGEL: Yes, it's true.

ESTHER: But my father and mother are here. My sisters are here, and their husbands and their children.

LOT: She's right, Azrael. Esther has family here. And there are people here, lots of people, who have never done anyone any harm.

ANGEL: But how many good people live here, Lot? Are there fifty? Are there forty? Are there even ten?

LOT: I don't know. I can't say.


ESTHER: Who can we take with us? Who else can we save? My mother and father only live a few streets from here -

ANGEL: You can take your daughters with you. Nobody else. This family, and this family alone, will be saved. You must go at once, in the clothes you are wearing, and you must not look back.

ESTHER: But why us? Why should we be spared? Is it because he was prepared to send out his daughters?


ESTHER: Then why us? Is it because of his prayers and his sacrifices and his humility? Is it because he never gets angry and never speaks a harsh word? Is it because he never judges anyone? Have his soft ways won him favour in the eyes of God?


LOT: Then why us, O Azrael?

ANGEL: Because of Abraham.

ESTHER: Abraham!

ANGEL: He interceded for you.

ESTHER: And he told you to kill everyone else, no doubt!



LOT: Wake up the girls, Esther.

ESTHER: I don't believe it. I don't believe it's actually going to happen.

LOT: I'll wake them myself.

ESTHER: Is this your God, Lot? What kind of a God would destroy everyone we know, everyone we don't know, in this whole city, and in Gomorrah too? How can that be right?

LOT: Come on. We can argue about it later.

ESTHER: What are we going to tell them? That all their friends are going to be killed? That all their family are going to be killed? Wouldn't it be better to stay here and perish with the rest?

LOT: Come on. God has given us a chance.

ESTHER: I tell you I don't believe it! Look me in the eye, you - Azrael - look me in the eye and tell me it's really going to happen.

ANGEL: It's going to happen. Wake your daughters. Time is short.

ESTHER: You killer! You murderer! I'll never forgive you for this! What kind of a God do you worship, Lot?

LOT: Come on, Esther!

ESTHER: All right. I'll wake them.

ANGEL: And Esther.


ANGEL: When you leave the city, don't look back.