Loading

Genesis Nineteen

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Genesis 19:1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

in the gate. Archaeology has shown that it was customary in the Palestinian culture of the time for legal transactions, public proclamations and general business to be carried on at the city gate (Ruth 4:1, 2; 2 Samuel 18:24, 33; etc.). Lot had become recognized by this time as a leading resident of the city, despite his faith in God. Possibly the other leaders knew of his relation to Abraham, who had saved the city from destruction by the northern confederacy.

Genesis 19:2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

Genesis 19:3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

Genesis 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

all the people. The enormity of Sodom's wickedness is indicated by the eagerness with which not a few degenerates, but all the men of the city desired to commit the crime of homosexual rape, probably leading to murder, on two unknown visitors to their city. Lot's desire to protect them demonstrates his basically godly character (2 Peter 2:8) even though his carnality had led him into this compromising association.

Genesis 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

Genesis 19:6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

Genesis 19:7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.

Genesis 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

do ye to them. Lot's willingness to sacrifice his daughters (the fact that they still were virgins in such a place indicates that he at least had some influence over his family) is hard to understand, but it may well be that, by this time, he knew or suspected the angelic identity of the guests.

Genesis 19:9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

Genesis 19:10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

Genesis 19:11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

blindness. This miracle, which probably produced a blindness of mental confusion in the mob, rather than of actual physical sight, now clearly identified the two “men” as supernatural messengers of God, but even so, Lot's family hesitated and his sons-in-law refused to follow their urgent instructions.

Genesis 19:12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

Genesis 19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

Genesis 19:14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

Genesis 19:15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

Genesis 19:16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

Genesis 19:17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

Genesis 19:18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:

Genesis 19:19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

magnified thy mercy. This first reference in the Bible to God's “mercy” is described quite properly by Lot as “magnified.” God's mercy is also said to be “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17), and as great “as the heaven is high above the earth” (Psalm 103:11). He is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4) and has shown “abundant mercy” (1 Peter 1:3) in saving us. God's mercy is appropriately described in superlatives!

Genesis 19:20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

Genesis 19:21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.

Genesis 19:22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

escape thither. Lot had been instructed to go to the mountain (Genesis 19:17), but he prevailed upon the angels to let him live in Zoar. He soon became unwelcome in Zoar, however, and went to the mountain after all (Genesis 19:30). It is always better to follow God's instructions directly.

Genesis 19:23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

brimstone and fire. The precise nature of the physical agents used by God in the destruction of the five cities of the plain is uncertain. “Brimstone” is usually associated with sulfur, but the word may be used for any inflammable substance. The word “fire” is also used here for the first time in the Bible and could be understood either as a divine fire (as in Judges 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; etc.) or as gases and other combustibles ignited in a volcanic explosion falling to earth after their eruption. The entire region gives abundant evidence of tremendous volcanic activity in the past, although most of this probably antedated Abraham, occurring in the later stages of the Flood and in the early decades following the Flood. The area is still very active tectonically, lying astride the “Great Rift Valley,” extending all the way from the Jordan River Valley into southern Africa. Unless the judgment was entirely miraculous, in its physical nature as well as its timing, the most likely explanation seems to be the sudden release, by an earthquake and volcanic explosion of great quantities of gas, sulfur and bituminous materials that had accumulated from materials entrapped beneath the valley floor during the Flood. These were ignited by a simultaneous electrical storm, so that it appeared to Abraham, watching from afar, that “the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace” (Genesis 19:28).

Genesis 19:25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Genesis 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

pillar of salt. This remarkable happening is stated matter-of-factly, with no suggestion that it was a special miracle or divine judgment. Lot's wife “looked back” (the phrase might even be rendered “returned back” or “lagged back”) seeking to cling to her luxurious life in Sodom (note Christ's reference to this in Luke 17:32-33), and was destroyed in the “overthrow” (Genesis 19:25, 29) of the city. There are many great deposits of rock salt in the region, formed probably by massive precipitation from thermal brines upwelling from the earth's deep mantle during the great Flood. Possibly the overthrow buried her in a shower of these salt deposits blown skyward by the explosions. There is also the possibility that she was buried in a shower of volcanic ash, with her body gradually being converted into “salt” over the years following through the process of petrifaction, in a manner similar to that experienced by the inhabitants of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the famous eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

Genesis 19:27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD:

Genesis 19:28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Genesis 19:29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

Genesis 19:30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

dwelt in a cave. There have been “cave-dwellers” all through history, not primitive ape-men, but true cultured humans, forced by circumstances into such habitations. This home was quite a comedown for a family accustomed to material luxuries. The caves of the Dead Sea region have been inhabited by many people over the centuries. In fact, the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were found in such caves, left by communities of the Essene sect. Note also Job 30:3-6.

Genesis 19:31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

Genesis 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

Genesis 19:33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.

Genesis 19:34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.

Genesis 19:35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.

Genesis 19:36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

child by their father. This case of incest is not specifically condemned in Scripture, presumably because the Mosaic laws against incest had not yet been given. Lot's daughters knew, for example, that their great uncle, Nahor, had married his niece, their own Aunt Milcah (Genesis 11:27-29), and that Abraham's wife Sarah was his half-sister (Genesis 20:12). Nevertheless, their particular act was unnatural, to say the least, and they knew their father would not consent to it if he were sober. To their credit, they had remained virgins up to this time (Genesis 19:8), even in a licentious city like Sodom and were not motivated by physical lust, but by their concern that their family not be left without descendants. They should have merely trusted God concerning this need, however. The people descended from them, the Moabites and Ammonites, were perpetual enemies of the Israelites.

Genesis 19:37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.

Genesis 19:38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.