Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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May 18, 2018
Last Updated :
May 18, 2018
God Knows How To Make A Point, Foolish Humans Who Test God, Adam And Eve's Fall, Noah And The Genesis Flood, Nimrod And The Tower Of Babel, Pharaoh And Moses, Stubborn Israelites And Centuries Of Subjugation, We Are Supposed To Learn From The Mistakes Of The Past, Destruction Of Sodom And Gomorrah Is Mentioned Throughout The Bible, Sodom And Gomorrah Were At The Eastern Border Of Canaan Which Later Became Eastern Border Of Judah, The Journeys Of Terah Abram Sarai And Lot, Trouble In Egypt, Strife Develops Between Abraham And Lot, Lot Settles Near The Five Cities Of The Plain, Selfishness Of Lot, Signs Of Approaching Trouble, First And Second Wars Between Babylonian Kings And Five Kings Of The Plain, Kings of Sodom and Gomorrah Lose Their Lives At The Slimepits
If there is one thing that the Bible makes very clear, it is that when God wants to make a point, He knows how to make it. As I explain in a few other articles, such as "Beholding the Evil and the Good", not only will God repeatedly drive the point home, but He will issue a very stiff warning regarding what will happen if we willingly choose to disobey His holy Laws. However, being the proud, stubborn humans that we are, we just have to test God, don't we? We have to see exactly how far we can go, and how much we can get away with, before God decides to slam down His fist in righteous judgment against us. And it never ends well for us when He does.
Sadly, it has always been this way since the very beginning. Adam and Eve were warned to stay away from a certain tree in the Garden of Eden. We know how that turned out. They found themselves ousted from that beautiful paradise, as we see by these verses:
"And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them. And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
Genesis 3:9-24, KJV
The Patriarch Noah and his family must have spent decades building the Ark. But in spite of the fact that just by the act of building the Ark, Noah warned the wicked world of what was going to happen, we are told that only he and his immediate family survived the Genesis Flood. Everyone else took their last rebellious gasp of air. Consider this set of verses:
"And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth . . . And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die."
Genesis 6:5-13, 17, KJV
"And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man: All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died. And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark."
Genesis 7:21-23, KJV
"Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."
1 Peter 3:20, KJV
Years later, Babylonian king Nimrod -- who was the grandson of Ham, and the great grandson of Noah -- likewise decided to test the Lord. Thus, he and his rebellious gang proudly thought that they could make a name for themselves and build a tower which could reach to Heaven itself. As we all know, God didn't care too much for their haughty defiance, and the confusion of tongues was the result, as we see by this set of verses:
"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar [modern-day Iraq]."
Genesis 10:8-10, KJV
"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."
Genesis 11:1-9, KJV
Centuries later, Pharaoh was repeatedly told by Moses "Let my people go!" But did that proud Egyptian king listen? Of course not! After all, he was the king of Egypt, and no one ever told the king of Egypt what to do . . . at least so he thought. In the end, his army was destroyed in the Red Sea -- some six hundred chariots, to be exact -- and Moses led the Children of Israel to the mountain of God -- known as Mount Horeb, or Mount Sinai -- where the Laws of God were given to the Israelites. Consider the following group of verses:
"And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness."
Exodus 5:1, KJV
"And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear."
Exodus 7:16, KJV
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me.” “And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies upon thee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thy houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground whereon they are."
Exodus 8:1, 20-21, KJV
"Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.” “And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me."
Exodus 9:1, 13, KJV
"And Moses and Aaron came in unto Pharaoh, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, How long wilt thou refuse to humble thyself before me? let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou refuse to let my people go, behold, to morrow will I bring the locusts into thy coast:"
Exodus 10:3-4, KJV
"And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled: and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us? And he made ready his chariot, and took his people with him: And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them. And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. But the Egyptians pursued after them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, and his horsemen, and his army, and overtook them encamping by the sea, beside Pihahiroth, before Baalzephon."
Exodus 14:5-9, KJV
"And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses."
Exodus 14:21-31, KJV
"By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned."
Hebrews 11:29, KJV
Many more are the stories concerning defiance against God which we find in the pages of the Bible. As you can read in articles such as "The Fruits of Disobedience", "Oh Israel, Why Will Ye Die?" and many others, the track record of the ancient Israelites was likewise anything but stellar. Sadly, even though Moses and Joshua explicitly warned the Twelve Tribes of the curses which would befall them if they should backslide and rebel against the Lord; and even though they had received the very Oracles of God in order to teach them righteous living, the Scriptures record that for literally centuries, those stiff-necked Israelites endure continual persecution, invasion, subjugation and conquest due to their many sins. It was one continuous vicious cycle of obedience followed by rebellion, over and over again.
Amazingly, it was as if they had learned nothing from their time in Egypt. Even during the time of Christ, Israel was a subjugated nation. Those stubborn people just never seemed to learn their lesson; and to this very day, most Jews still have not repented of their unbelief. How truly sad indeed! You see, as I have mentioned before, one important lesson that the Bible teaches us, is that we are supposed to learn from the past. More specifically, we are supposed to learn from the mistakes of the past. We are supposed to look at the long history of the Israelites and say to ourselves, "I better not do that. Look at what happened to them when they did it!" This truth is evident from verses such as the following:
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:" Romans 15:4 KJV
"Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted . . . Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they areE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
1 Corinthians 10:6, 11, KJV
"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are SET FORTH FOR AN EXAMPLE, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
Jude 1:7, KJV
That last verse leads us into our main topic of discussion. If there is one particular story which stands out in the Scriptures, surely it is the one concerning the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain. If you are not aware of it, this tragic story is so important, and the lesson it teaches so vital, that it is mentioned by a number of authors, beginning with Moses in the Book of Genesis. Next it is mentioned by the Prophets Isaiah, Amos and Jeremiah. Finally, in the New Testament it is mentioned by Jesus, Peter and Jude. As I said at the beginning of this series, when God wants to make a point, He knows how to make a point. So the fact that this particular story has a thread throughout the Scriptures ought to tell us something. God wants us to learn something from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But before we actually get into the Biblical account itself, let me provide you with some background information first. The very first mention of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible occurs in the tenth chapter of the Book of Genesis. In that chapter, we are informed that the eastern border of the land of Canaan was the Jordan River which ran into the Dead Sea, or the "salt sea" as it is known in the Scriptures. It was there, in the Valley of Siddim that Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain were located, as we can easily determine by the following verse:
"And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha."
Genesis 10:19, KJV
Please note that in the previous verse, Moses first describes the western border of Canaan from Sidon to Gaza to Gerar, and then he crosses over to the eastern border where he mentions five cities of the plain. One city which is not mentioned in that verse is Zoar, which was also a city of the plain that was located near Sodom and Gomorrah. This very same land area by the Jordan River and the Dead Sea eventually became the eastern border of the land that was assigned to the tribe of Judah. Judah's western border became the "great sea"; that is, the Mediterranean Sea, as we can determine by this set of verses:
"And the east border was the salt sea, even unto the end of Jordan. And their border in the north quarter was from the bay of the sea at the uttermost part of Jordan . . . And the west border was to the great sea, and the coast thereof. This is the coast of the children of Judah round about according to their families."
Joshua 15:5, 12, KJV
Returning to the Book of Genesis, the next time that Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned in the Scriptures is in chapter thirteen. As you may recall, and as I explain in articles such as "The Children of God and Politics" and "One From Beyond: Hebrew of Hebrews", when Terah forsook his old life in the city of Ur in the land of the Chaldees -- which today is a part of Kuwait -- and headed north, in addition to his son, Abram, and Abram's wife, Sarai, he also took along Lot, who was the son of Haran, Abram's brother. Lot's father was not able to make the journey, because he had already died. However, Terah only made it as far as the city of Haran in Padanaram -- a part of modern Syria -- where he also died. Thus, Abram, Sarai and Lot continued on alone to the land of Canaan. Consider the following group of verses:
"Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran."
Genesis 11:27-32, KJV
"Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came."
Genesis 12:1-5, KJV
As the previous group of verses conclude, eventually, Abram, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot reached Canaan. At that time, the Canaanites -- who were the descendants of Cush and Ham -- dwelled in the land. To make matters worse, there was a great famine in progress. So, Abraham decided to take his family down into Egypt. Being as Abraham's wife Sarai -- that is, Sarah -- was so beautiful, Abraham chose to pass her off as his sister for his own protection. But that is where that old Patriarch ran into trouble. You see, Pharaoh, the king of Egypt wanted to marry that pretty woman.
In the end, the Lord sent some nasty plagues to Pharaoh. This resulted in him discovering the whole truth of the matter. It comes as no surprise then that he sent Abraham, his wife and all of their servants on their way, out of Egypt. So, Abraham re-entered the southern part of Canaan and eventually made it back up to Bethel, where he had previously built an altar and sacrificed unto the Lord. One interesting point which some of my readers may find somewhat shocking, is the fact that Sarah was actually Abraham's half-sister. According to the verse below, Abraham and Sarah had the same father, but different mothers:
"And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife."
Genesis 20:12, KJV
Thus, he spoke a half-truth as he and his wife had agreed to do during the course of their travels to the land of Canaan for their own protection, particularly Abraham's protection. One result of the journey into Egypt is that Abraham became quite wealthy and had lots of gold and silver, cattle, and servants, both male and female. But this created yet another problem. You see, Abram and Lot each had so many flocks, that eventually, the land was not able to sustain them both. As a result, Abraham's herdsmen and Lot's herdsmen began to argue amongst themselves. It is at this point in our story where Sodom and Gomorrah re-enter the picture. Consider what happened next:
"And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD. And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."
Genesis 13:2-13, KJV
I don't know about you, but I get the impression that Lot may have been somewhat of a selfish fellow. While it is true that Abram did allow Lot to choose which direction he would take, considering that old Abram was the elder amongst their clan, I think that the right and courteous thing for Lot to have done, would have been to leave the best land to Abram. Instead, Lot saw how absolutely beautiful the plain of the Jordan River was, and he grabbed it for himself. Notice that Moses even compares it to the Garden of Eden in the previous verses. But also notice the ominous warnings in those verses as well: "before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah . . . But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." Lot's decision reminds me of the following verse that is found in the Book of Psalms:
"And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul."
Psalms 106:15, KJV
You see, while Lot got what he wanted, it wasn't before long that some very serious problems arrived at his doorstep. As the previous verses demonstrate, Sodom and Gomorrah were already on God's radar. However, even before that calamity arrived, something else happened which placed Lot and his family's lives in serious jeopardy. Earlier, we discussed how Nimrod had set up his kingdom to the east in the land of Shinar, later known as Assyria/Babylonia and Mesopotamia, and today as Iraq. Now, a few hundred years later, Nimrod's empire has continued to flourish; so much so that the new king of Babylon -- Amraphel -- has formed a confederacy with other kings in the empire. Like all rulers, they wanted to expand their territory. So, they turned their eyes westward towards Canaan and the lush plain of the Jordan River, and they declared war on the five cities of the plain; that is, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela, which was also known as Zoar. Consider the following verses:
"And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; That these made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled."
Genesis 14:1-11, KJV
As you can see, this war occurred in the Valley of Siddim, which corresponds to the "salt sea", which today we know as the Dead Sea. The people of the plain lost that war, and were thus subjugated by Chedorlaomer, who was the king of the Babylonian province of Elam. However, as that last verse states, after thirteen years of subjugation, they grew tired of it. Thus, the kings of the five cities of the plain chose to rebel against Chedorlaomer.
Tragically, it was a foolish decision on their part, because King Chedorlaomer simply returned with the very same three Babylonian kings, and again fought against the five kings of the cities of the plain, in the very same place; that is, in the Valley of Siddim. But this time it was worse, because not only did the kings of the plain lose again, but it appears that the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah lost their lives when they fell in the slimepits. According to Adam Clarke's 1832 "Commentary on the Bible", these slimepits were in reality wells or pits from which asphaltum or bitumen sprung from the ground. Basically, bitumen is a naturally-occurring black, viscous, pitch-like substance, similar to what is used today to tar roads. I am reminded of the famous LaBrea tar pits in Los Angeles, California. It is the very same thing. Consider the following verses which describe these events:
"And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in Shaveh Kiriathaim, And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar. And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah, and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same is Zoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; With Chedorlaomer the king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. And the vale of Siddim was full of slimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they that remained fled to the mountain. And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way."
Genesis 14:5-11, KJV
Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.
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