“If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss and yet will be saved—but only as one escaping through the flames.” -1 Corinthians 3:14-15
The account of Sodom’s destruction continues to illuminate the contradictions within Lot’s character and in addition lays the foundation for the seeding of two of Israel’s greatest enemies, both physical and spiritual: Moav and Ammon.
With regard to halakhah (the way we walk), the contrast between Avraham and Lot could be seen as a, “how to” and, “how not to” respond to G-d and His messengers:
“He (G-d) destroyed the cities of S’dom and Amorrah, reducing them to ashes —making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly. He rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly oppressed by the shameless immorality of the wicked. (For that righteous man, while living among them, was tormented in his righteous soul day after day by lawless deeds he saw and heard.) Therefore HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) certainly knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and how to keep the unrighteous being punished until the Day of Judgment-- especially those who follow after the flesh in its unclean desires and who despise HaShem’s (YHVH: Mercy) authority.” –2 Peter 2:6-10a
The lesson we learn from these two men is that faithful obedience reaps great reward, while disobedience and failing to keep our focus on G-d, leads to great trials and unnecessary suffering. Many believers today boast of the filthy depths they were delivered from as if it were a badge of honour, however, the testimonies of those who have remembered their Creator in their youth and have walked as Avraham walked are their own reward. We should reject the sensational sin honouring culture of some branches of Christianity and embrace the Kingdom culture of giving all honour and glory to the G-d Who has delivered us from sin through His Son our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus the Christ). Those who choose to obey the instruction of G-d will not regret it.
Gen 19:1 And two of the messengers (Ha-Malachiym: angels) came to S’domah (Sodom: Burning) in the evening; and Lot (covering) sat in the gate of S’dom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
This account takes place on the evening of the same day that HaShem and the two angels met with Avraham. These two malakhim (messengers) are the two men who had accompanied HaShem (In the form of the third man), however, we note that HaShem is not present here in the form of the third man.
As a continuation of the naming of these angels by the rabbis, the two angels here are traditionally seen as being Gavriel and Raphael. However, because I see Raphael as being a representation of the Healer Yeshua, Who is G-d with us, I interpret these messengers as being Michael and Gavriel. After all, they are here to proclaim warning to Lot (Gavriel) and to destroy the city (Michael). There will be no healing or wholeness (Raphael) offered to the unrepentant people of S’dom.
The fact that Lot was seated in the city gate infers that he had become one of the city’s leading elders/judges (Deut. 22:15; Josh. 20:4; Ruth 4:1). This idea is supported by Jewish tradition, which explains that five judges were appointed by the men of S’dom, and Lot was the chief among them (Bereshit Rabba, sect. 50. fol. 44. 4.) Some say that Genesis 19:9 refutes this, however, when read contextually, it in fact affirms the status of Lot as a judge. In modern terms one might say that by the time Genesis 19:9 rolled around, Lot had reached the threshold of local animosity and had become an unpopular immigrant politician in a city that valued physical gratification over human dignity. Sadly, I believe many of us live in similar cities today.
We should also note that Lot’s influence was very weak when compared with that of Joseph and Daniel, who lived among the wicked in exile. The difference of course being that each of these men was taken captive by the wicked, whereas Lot sought out the wicked because of his love for worldly wealth. Again, we learn a worthwhile lesson from these differences. We are not to seek opportunities to reside among the wicked, rather, if we find ourselves among the wicked through the natural progression of life, we are to live as tzidakim (righteous ones) among them. Following our father Avraham’s example of being light to the nations.
Notice that Lot approaches the messengers of HaShem in a similar way to his uncle Avraham.
Gen 19:2 And he said, “Behold now, my lords (Adoni: or my lord, not HaShem), turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and stay the night, and wash your feet, then you can rise early, and go on your way”. And they said, “No; but we will abide in the street all night”.
Once again we can see the similarities between the offering of hospitality shown by Lot and that of his uncle Avraham. However, it seems that Lot’s offer is also motivated by his knowledge of the filthy conduct of the city’s residents. Subsequently the messengers illuminate the wickedness of the city by putting Lot to the test saying, “We will abide in the street”.
The clause, “turn in” is interpreted by the Bereshit Rabba, to mean, “Go a roundabout, winding, crooked way to my house, so that the men of Sodom may not see you go in there, and know you are there.” In a like manner the Targum of Yonatan reads, "turn here, and there, and go into the house of your servant:"
Gen 19:3 And he (Lot) insisted; and they turned in with him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake matzot (unleavened bread: used during Pesach), and they ate.
Lot insists because he knows what will take place if the men remain in the streets. It seems that homosexual rape was used to deter foreigners, thieves and would be immigrants.
The making of the matzot (unleavened bread) is a retrospective detail which HaShem (via the pen of Moses) has clearly intended for conveying a comparative teaching regarding the Pesach (Passover) and the exodus of the Israelites (Exodus12:39). Matzot is made in haste and is without yeast (sin), thus it is a symbol of Lot’s desire to be righteous in spite of his poor choices and the trials they have birthed. In this way he is a type for the Israelite slaves in Egypt. Lot will also hesitate prior to leaving, perhaps considering whether he is better off staying, just as the Israelites did when they found themselves trapped beside the Red Sea.
Gen 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the terror (ha’eer: also, the city), the men of S’dom (burning), surrounded the house, from boys to old men, all the people from every quarter:
The term sodomy derives its name from this account. From early days this heinous act was considered an abomination, an act that is contrary to the creative order and the positive instruction to go forth and be fruitful. This would later be codified as law and made a capital offence, along with incest, bestiality and adultery (Leviticus 18:6-18, 22, 23; 20:13: 20:10, 15-16 Deut. 27:21).
In this age of political correctness, I have yet to hear anyone suggest that having sex with animals is a personal choice, a sexual preference or a character trait born of genetic disposition/imperative. Nor have I witnessed any “Adulterer’s rights” movements. I have however seen popular media drive home a homosexual, transgender and lesbian agenda, which dispenses with its opponents by calling them names like, “Bigot, homophobe, hater, fundamentalist etc.” What I find truly deplorable, is the public support given by Christians and Christian organizations, to those who practice these sinful behaviours. It seems that Liberal (and I do not mean the liberty of Messiah) Western Christianity feels lead to enable sin rather than love the sinner and hate the sin. Again, I have yet to see the Christian “Pro Adulterers” support rally or the, “Zoophilia is a personal choice” bumper sticker.
If, as the popular Christian evangelical idiom suggests, “We are to love the sinner but hate the sin”, why have we now concluded that we should, “Love the sinner by enabling the sin”? Worse still, “Love the sinner by labelling him with his sin”, e.g. “Homosexual”. No, he is a heterosexual who has been lied to and manipulated into believing that he is genetically wired to contradict G-d’s natural order.
You will not find me applauding at a gay pride rally, nor will you find me beating up sexual sinners, or shouting at crossdressers. But you will find me sharing the Gospel with people who make sin choices of every kind. You will find me advocating for kindness toward the sinner in spite of his sin. You will find me offering an alternative to what the popular culture calls sexual preference. I offer the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, the New Testament, and repentance and forgiveness through Messiah Yeshua.
Gen 19:5 And they called unto Lot, and said to him, “Where are the men which came in to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may know (yada: Gen. 4:1) them (Have sexual intercourse with them).
Some have suggested that the Hebrew, “yada” means, “To get to know” here, rather than being used as a euphemism for sexual relations. However, Lot’s response shows that he understood the men of the city to be referring to anal intercourse, this is the very reason he offers an alternate sexual expression (19:8) in order to divert their attentions.
Others suggest that the offense here is rape rather than the homosexual act. And, if this text were to stand alone apart from the rest of the Bible that might well be considered a viable argument. However, the Scriptures are very clear regarding the sexually immoral acts of homosexual practice.
“You are not to lie with a man, as with a woman—that is an abomination.” –Leviticus 18:22 (TLV)
“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, and they shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be on them.” –Leviticus 20:13 (TLV)
“For this reason God gave them up to shameful passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for what is against nature. Likewise the men abandoned natural relations with women and were burning with passion toward one another—men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” –Romans 1:26-27 (TLV)
“Or don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, those who practice homosexuality,” -1 Corinthians 6:9 (TLV)
“But we know that the Torah is good if one uses it legitimately, knowing that the Torah is not given for a tzaddik but for the lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinful, for the unholy and worldly, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, homosexuals, slave-traders, liars, perjurers, and for anything else that opposes sound teaching— in keeping with what was entrusted to me, the glorious Good News of the blessed God.” -1 Timothy 1:8-11
Gen 19:6 And Lot went out of the door to them, and shut the door after him, Gen 19:7 And said, “I plead with you my brothers, do not do this evil. Gen 19:8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known a man; let me, I pray you, bring them out to you, and allow you to do to them what seems good in your eyes: only do nothing to these men; for they have come under the protection (B’tzeil: Lit. shadow) of my roof”.
A number of Middle Eastern customs come into play in this situation. The concept of a guest being under the protection of the house, even when he is one’s enemy, is still practised today by many G-d fearing Mizrahi Jews and Arab Muslims in the Middle East.
By the offering of his daughters to the men of the city Lot shows how great an abomination he considers the homosexual act to be. So great in fact, that he would rather see his own daughters raped than to see the men of the city swapping natural sexual relations with women for the abominable act of anal intercourse. An act that is in direct opposition to G-d’s command to human beings regarding procreation.
Lot’s solution for appeasing the men of the city is none the less, despicable. Only a man of tainted moral character would offer his own daughters up to be raped and defiled. The differences between Lot and Avraham begin to come to the surface, thus showing the seed for the planting of the wicked nations of Moav (Of father, product of incest) and Ammon (Darkness).
A similar degradation of moral values can be seen in the account of Judges 19. The mistreatment of women in this way is equally abominable. As a husband and a father of two beautiful daughters, the suggestion made by Lot sickens me to the core and proves that he is in dire need of redemption.
Gen 19:9 And they said, “Stand back”. And added, “This one came to sojourn, and he dares to be a judge? Now we will deal worse with you, than with them”. And they pressed up against the man Lot, and came closer to the house, attempting to break down the door.
As mentioned previously, according to tradition, Lot is one of five judges/elders of the city. Therefore, the phrase, “This one came to sojourn, and he dares to be a judge?” is a statement of incredulity spoken after years of animosity toward Lot, a racial hatred that has resided just below the surface of public opinion. This would come as no surprise to Jewish communities throughout history and throughout the world, who have suffered similar, seemingly instantaneous hatred from those they live amongst.
Because Lot has dared to challenge the citizens of Sodom, they will now turn on him and abuse him in even more despicable ways than what they had first intended for the men he was trying to protect.
Gen 19:10 But the men put forth their hands, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut the door.
The men of Sodom were so numerous that they pushed up against Lot and were it not for the quick hands of the messengers of HaShem, Lot may well have been gang raped and quartered, then left on display in the street.
By seeking to do the best he could in his own strength, Lot has now engaged his fellow Sodomites, offered up his daughters to be raped in order to protect G-d’s messengers, and has required rescue from the men he was trying to protect. Avraham on the other hand, in repentance, trusted G-d, relying on G-d’s strength to deliver him.
Gen 19:11 And they struck the men that were at the door of the house with blindness (San’veir), both small and great: so that they wearied themselves trying to find the door.
The Hebrew word, “San’veir” is found only three times in the Tanakh and is used here to refer to a certain type of blindness, that Iben Ezra interprets as blindness of both the eye and the heart (lev: core being). It is also used in 2 Kings 6:18, where Elisha, while surrounded by angelic beings, calls for his enemies to be struck with “San’veir”. This type of blindness seems to effect a mental inability to discern detail or make an accurate assessment of present circumstances. It is noteworthy that it is employed only against the enemies of G-d and His people.
Gen 19:12 And the men (angels) said to Lot, “Do you have any other family beside your daughters? Whoever you have in the city, be they sons in law, sons, or daughters, bring them out of this place: Gen 19:13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them has become great before the face of HaShem (YHVH: Mercy); and HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) has sent us to destroy it.
Both the family unit and the individual have autonomy of choice. Family is important to G-d (7:1, 9:1, 17:9, 18:19), and each member of the family is responsible for his or her own decisions in relationship to G-d.
Gen 19:14 And Lot went out, and spoke to his sons in law, which were pledged to marry his daughters, and said, “Get up out of this place; for HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) will destroy this city. But his sons in law thought he was joking.
Lot’s inability to convince his sons in law of the coming judgement reflects both his own failing character and the lack of godly fear in the lives of his sons in law.
Gen 19:15 And when the morning arose, the messengers (Malakhiym: angels) rushed Lot, saying, “Arise, take your wife, and your two daughters, which are here; lest you all be consumed in the iniquity of the city. Gen 19:16 However, Lot lingered, so the men laid hold of his hand, and the hands of his wife, and two daughters; because HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) was showing mercy to him: and they brought him forth, and set him outside the city.
The phrase, “Lest you all be consumed in the iniquity of the city” presents an ambiguous message. If Lot and his family linger too long they will certainly perish in a literal sense. Additionally, when righteous people live in an environment where immorality reigns, they too are eventually consumed by the iniquity that has made its way into their lives.
The statement, “Lot lingered” again shows his compromised faith and his inability to choose G-d’s path over the riches he had amassed in Sodom (burning). If we consider this carefully we can develop a drash that says, Lot hesitated because he wanted to hold on to the riches he had collected for burning. It seems that Lot is a good candidate for the following description of a person who has not invested well in the journey of faith.
“If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss and yet will be saved—but only as one escaping through the flames.” -1 Corinthians 3:14-15
The angels of HaShem, acting out their purpose in G-d take hold of Lot and his family and deliver them to safety outside of the city. Doing for them what they were unable to do for themselves. This is the triumph of Mercy over judgement.
Gen 19:17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them out, that he (One of the angels) said, “Escape for your life; don’t look behind you (Don’t return), nor should you stay anywhere in the region; escape to the mountain, or you will be consumed.
“Don’t look behind you” is a Hebrew idiom meaning, “Don’t go back” or, “Don’t allow yourself to think about going back”.
Gen 19:18 And Lot said to them, “Oh, not so, my Lords/lord: Gen 19:19 Behold now that your servant has found in your eye, favour, and you have magnified chesed (mercy), which you have showed me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Gen 19:20 Behold now, this city is near to flee to, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape there, (is it not a little one?) And my soul shall live.
Lot’s request shows that he understands, at least in part, that he has been saved through no merit of his own. However, it is his fear that is the motivation behind his request. Not fear of G-d but fear of destruction.
The phrase, “Please no my lords” is rendered by Rashi as, “Please no my L-rd” which in turn follows the Talmudic interpretation, inferring that while Lot began his pleading with the angels, he continued by petitioning HaShem directly.
Regardless of where Lot’s faith stood, G-d intended to deliver him from this judgement as a mechanism for showing how mercy triumphs over judgement. The Midrash explains that, “two precious treasures” came from Lot: Ruth (Friend) the Moabitess, Great Grandmother to king David and Naamah (Loveliness) the Ammonitess, who married king Solomon. The Midrash reminds us that these two descendants of Lot would become the mothers of the Davidic dynasty and of the King Messiah. These two descendants of Lot are explicitly and implicitly listed in the genealogy of our King Messiah Yeshua (Matthew 1:5, 7).
Gen 19:21 And he said to him, “See, I have accepted your request concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, which you have spoken of”.
The, “he” here is either one of the angels speaking on behalf of HaShem, or HaShem Himself, given that only G-d could make the ultimate decision to spare this city. Alternatively, now that they are outside the city they may have met the third man (Raphael/Yeshua/Angel of the L-rd), Who is referenced here in the singular to distinguish Him from the two other angels, who have already said that “they” have been sent to destroy the city (19:13), rather than act to spare a city (Which would fit the role of an angel of healing, wholeness and restoration, such as Raphael or The Angel of The L-rd, the King Messiah Yeshua).
Gen 19:22 “So make haste and escape there; for I cannot do anything until you reach it”. Therefore the name of the city was called Tzoar (Insignificance).
If the speaker is one of the two Angels, then, “I cannot” means that G-d has withheld the destruction until Lot and his family flee to safety. Alternatively, if the speaker is G-d Himself, either manifest as Yeshua the third man or by way of the Bat Kol (Heavenly voice), then, “I cannot” means, “Because I’m righteous I cannot go against My own firm decision to protect the nephew of Avraham My servant”.
The city was formerly called Bela (Destruction: 14:2), but is now named Tzoar (insignificance) after Lot’s description of its size.
Gen 19:23 The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Tzoar. Gen 19:24 Then HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) rained upon S’dom (burning) and upon Amorrah (submersion) brimstone and fire from HaShem (YHVH: Mercy) out of the heavens;
The sun having risen upon the earth denotes a time between 9am and midday. This means that almost twenty four hours have passed from the time HaShem and His angels met with Avraham until the destruction of the S’dom and Amorrah region.
It is worth noting that the text continues to present us with the Merciful Name of G-d YHVH, thus showing the destruction of these wicked cities as an act of G-d’s mercy.
Gen 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. Gen 19:26 But having considered things, his (Lot’s) wife went from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Most English translations interpret the Hebrew more literally saying, “Looked back”, however this is a Hebrew idiom that means to return and there is room to translate the Hebrew text as, “went from behind him”. The text does not intend the reader to imagine Lot’s wife following closely behind him and turning in an instant of curiosity only to find herself being transformed immediately into salt as if by a magic spell. This is simply not the intended meaning. The text is conveying, all be it in idiomatic Hebrew form, the fact that Lot’s wife was not in agreement with his leaving the city and therefore, figuratively speaking, she looked back or longed to return. Thus she went back from following behind him and was destroyed (Turned to salt) along with the other inhabitants of the region.
The tragic death of Lot’s wife is used as a warning to every believer.
“On that day no one who is on the housetop, with possessions inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep their life (of temporal worldly wealth) will lose it, and whoever loses their life (of temporal worldly wealth) will preserve it.” –Luke 17:31-33
“’But my righteous one will live by trust.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.’
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have trust and are saved.” –Hebrews 10-38-39
Gen 19:27 And Avraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he stood before HaShem (YHVH: Mercy): Gen 19:28 And he looked toward S’dom and Amorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
Avraham got up and went to the place on the road to S’dom, where he had petitioned the L-rd on S’dom (Lot’s) behalf.
This is the counterpoint to the words of Genesis 13:10 which read, “Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Tzoar was well watered, like the garden of HaShem YHVH: Mercy, like the land of Egypt. (This was before HaShem destroyed S’dom [burning] and Amorrah [submersion].)”
Gen 19:29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Avraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the destruction, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot dwelt.
Notice that Lot has merited no righteousness of his own through trust, but has been delivered because G-d had taken note of Avraham, the father of trust.
The text seems to infer that Lot had travelled from city to city within the plain region of S’dom and Amorrah and had finally settled in S’dom.
Gen 19:30 And Lot went up out of Tzoar (Insignificance), and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Tzoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
Lot’s fear has now not only caused him to disregarded the call of G-d to flee, but has also caused him to flee from a place in which G-d had promised to keep him safe (19:17, 21).
The cave is in stark contrast to the house Lot had dwelt in and is even further removed from the flocks, herds and tents that he once had when he had been with Avram (Genesis 13:5).
Lot’s choice to make his own way has now lead him to the brink. Soon he will lose control even of his own body, at the hands of his daughters.
Gen 19:31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man in the land to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Gen 19:32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the seed of our father”.
Based on the words of the firstborn, it seems that both daughters were convinced that G-d had punished all humanity with fire (Though not by flood). Thus they concluded that they were the soul surviving remnant of humanity and had no choice other than to cohabitate with their father. This should be tempered with the fact that while the plain was decimated, the hill country wasn’t and the daughters of Lot surely knew they had an uncle and relatives living to the northwest. Therefore, the elder of the two daughters was either extremely naive or a conniving young woman who was unwilling to commit the abomination of incest alone.
Gen 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, and when she arose. Gen 19:34 And it came to pass that on the following day, the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay last night with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the seed of our father. Gen 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.
Perhaps Lot was easily swayed due to the loss of his wife and all that he had owned? It seems reasonable to presume that he was suffering from a form of PTSD and the subsequent depression that can result. Therefore, the use of wine as a numbing agent may have greatly appealed to him. However, this does not discount his personal responsibility. He chose to drink excessively. The Hebrew text has a unique marker above the clause, “and when she arose” which the rabbis’ say indicates that while Lot was not aware of her beginning the act, he was aware that the act had taken place once his eldest daughter arose from cohabitating with him. Regardless, he was unrepentant, evidenced by his actions the following night, in returning to his folly he thus produced heirs through his own daughters, an act that is equally as despicable as the homosexual acts performed in S’dom (Lev. 18).
Gen 19:36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.
Gen 19:37 And the firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moav (of his father): the same is the father of the Moabites (Incestuous: of his father) to this day. Gen 19:38 And the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi (Son of my people): the same is the father of the children of Ammon (darken) unto this day.
The fruit of this vile act are the two nations that will seduce Israel into carnal sin at Baal Peor (Numbers 25) and the foulest of religious perversions in the sacrificing of her sons and daughters to Molech (Leviticus 18:21). All of this can be traced back to the singular selfish choice that Lot had made in Genesis 13:10.
© 2016 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.