Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Apostasy of Sodom and Gomorrah

The wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah are proverbial. Still, the phrasing of the Targum Onkelos for Genesis 14:4 is amusing:
Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and the thirteenth year they apostatized.
The Aramaic term here, maradw, means to rebel but it also means to apostatize. Jews around the time of Jesus who listened to the Targum would have understood it in that sense, but it is not clear that they would have distinguished between rebellion and apostasy the way we do in English. They seem to have had a clearer notion than we do.