In the second tradition, Lamech is the son of Methuselah, the oldest man in the Bible. Like his father before him, this Lamech doesn't rush into parenthood: he is one hundred and eighty years old when he gets around to fathering Noah. Lamech finds time for more progeny during his remaining five hundred and ninety-five years. (After the birth of the Nephilim and Noah's Flood, people start living shorter lives [only gradually, though--see SHEM], no doubt part of God's judgment of man.) (Gen. 4:19-24; 5:25-31) (On to SONS OF GOD)
While male homosexuality is condemned also in the Old Testament (Lev. 18:22, 20:13), Paul's is the only reference in the Bible to lesbianism. (It is roundabout because there is no single word in biblical Hebrew or Greek for homosexuality of either gender). It is possible that same-sex lovemaking among women is not mentioned in the Old Testament because sex between women, unlike sex between males, does not involve a wasting of seed, indeed does not involve males, and was therefore of no particular concern in ancient Israel's male-centered society. (For a lesbian interpretation of Ruth's devotion to Naomi in the book of Ruth, see Rebecca Alpert.)
Her words suggest that this story originally involved a world cataclysm, with Lot and his daughters, like Noah and his family in the flood story, being the only surviving humans. But the suggestion is academic, as her words make sense either way. These daughters have had a bad time. First they lose their married sisters in Sodom's supernatural fall, then their mother is lost--turned into a pillar of salt--in the flight from the scene of destruction. They then flee with their father from the city of Zoar--where according to Yahweh they were supposed to be safe--apparently because the destruction has spread, engulfing virtually the whole Jordan plain. Now languishing in their mountain cave, Lot's daughters might easily be excused for assuming that, save the old man, the rest of humanity has been wiped out by the wrath of God.
In any case Lot's daughters take action. "Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him," says the older one, "that we may preserve seed of our father." So they get Lot drunk on successive nights, with the firstborn lying with him on the first night, and the younger one on the second night, with Lot remembering nothing about either occasion. Impregnated, the two daughters bear Moab, the father of the Moabites, and Benammi, the father of the Ammonites.
Thus Genesis, in the story of Lot and his daughters, pulls a rather sly little trick. It matter-of-factly presents two troublesome neighbors of Israel--Moab and Ammon, lying east of the Jordan River--as children of incest, without passing any judgment on the three incestuous Hebrew parents. (See INCEST.) (Gen. 19:30-38) (On to ISAAC AND REBEKAH)
Lucas van Leyden, Lot and His Daughters / Louvre, Paris
The Hebrew word for love in general is ahabah (verb form aheb). (God's love for his people is often called hesed [KJV "loving-kindness," RSV "steadfast love"].) For sexual intercourse, the Old Testament writers use the verb bo ("to enter" or "to go into" ) or the euphemisms "to lie with" (yashav) and "to know" (yada). ("To know" in this sense is subsequently found also in Greek, as ginosko.) These sexual terms occur many times in the Hebrew Bible, and typically each use covers the whole sexual encounter, any foreplay or other elaboration not being a narrative concern. (See KISSING.) Usually the only point seems to be that the lovers are about the task of being fruitful and multiplying (e.g., "And Adam knew Eve," who bears Cain [Gen. 4:1]), though at times the encounter, as far as the man is concerned, is for sexual gratification (see, for example, BATHSHEBA and JUDAH AND TAMAR).
Notable exceptions to such brief, matter-of-fact descriptions are diatribes against Israelite idolatry, conceived of as "playing the harlot" (Hebrew verb zanah) and using often lurid sexual imagery (see EZEKIEL). There is also the erotic Song of Solomon, in which the term for lovemaking or "caressing" is dodim (related to the word for female breasts), with the woman of the Song referring to the man as her dodi ("lover"). (Dodim is also used in Prov. 7:18, where an adulteress entices a young man with "Come, let us take our fill of love.")
The Greek New Testament reflects a different milieu. Gone is the "pronatalist worldview," replaced by the belief among the first Christians that the world is soon coming to an end (Matt. 16:28; 24:34; 1 Cor. 7:29-31; James 5:8). Gone also, under Hellenistic influence, is the Hebrew notion that a man should "rejoice with the wife of his youth" and be "ravished always" with her love (Prov. 5:18-19). Instead there is the misogynistic view that a woman should be seen and not heard, and that she is to be seen as uninvitingly as possible. Just as the Greek philosopher Aristotle, quoting some unnamed poet, wrote that "silence is a woman's glory" (see Ghougassian), so Christian women are to "keep silence in the churches" (1 Cor. 14:34); and just as Perictione cautioned Greek women against wearing fine clothes and bathing too often, so Christian women are to wear "modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety" (1 Tim. 2:9). A husband is to love his wife (Col. 3:19, Eph. 5:26), and should have sex with her regularly to avoid infidelity (1 Cor. 7:2-5). But though it's "better to marry than to burn" with desire (1 Cor. 7:9), the best way sexually to await the world's end, says the Apostle Paul, is to be unmarried and celibate (1 Cor. 7:7-8). (The usual Greek word for romantic or sexual love, eros, is found nowhere in the New Testament; the word used for love is agape, which has a spiritual sense, with philia being brotherly love.) "It is good," Paul says in short (quoting the Corinthians), "for a man not to touch a woman" (1 Cor. 7:1)--which would no doubt sound strange to the just-married Old Testament warrior who got to spend a whole year with his wife. (See also PAUL.)
Gustav Klimt, The Kiss / Osterreichische Galerie, Vienna
Lot and His Daughters