What can we learn from the example of Lot and his daughters?—Part 1
Whenever and wherever it is necessary, we try to give the background to any question which can give reasons and explanations that might not otherwise be taken into account.
Let us look into the background of Lot. He was the son of Abraham’s brother, Haran, and his wife was Milcah (see Genesis 11:27-29). We may have read these events many times before, but it is helpful to review them again with the thought in our mind that we are all, to one degree or another, a product of our environment. Bearing that in mind may give more than a clue as to why some terrible sins could have been committed.
In Genesis 12:1-4 we read:
“Now the Lord had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.”
We read in the following verse: “Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan” (Genesis 12:5). They then went to other places and finished up in Egypt because of a severe famine (verse 10).
In chapter 13, we read that Abram left Egypt and became very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold, and Lot, who also had flocks and herds and tents, went with him. Then we read in Genesis 13:6-7: “Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.”
Abram, being the considerate man that he was, offered a choice to Lot, even though it was he to whom God had made His promises. We read in verse 8-11: “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.’ And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.”
This was the first of a number of mistakes that Lot made when deciding to go east towards Sodom and Gomorrah, as we read in verse 13: “But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.” We also read that at first, Lot “pitched his tent even as far as Sodom” (verse 12), but later, he ended up living in Sodom (Genesis 14:12). It is important to see the events leading up to the sin that Lot’s daughters committed with their father, as we will discuss later.
In chapter 14, we read that Lot, who by that time dwelt in Sodom, was captured, apparently because of his goods and, as we will discuss, the stature and influential position that he had in Sodom, and he was then rescued by Abram. The narrative about Lot continues in chapter 19 where the sub-heading in the New King James Bible is “Sodom’s Depravity”. Lot had chosen to live in a very sinful city. We have covered the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, not just about their homosexuality, but all of the other sins that they were guilty of, and this can read in the following Q&A:
It was a city where Lot should never have gone to in the first place. But he did, and the consequences were dire for him and his family.
Let us move on to Genesis chapter 19:1-3:
“Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, ‘Here now, my lords, please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.’ And they said, ‘No, but we will spend the night in the open square.’ But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house. Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.”
We read that Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. The Ryrie Study Bible remarks: “The gate of Sodom was the centre of public activity. Lot’s being there may indicate he was a judge in the city (see 19:9).” The Application Bible adds: ”Evidently Lot held an important position in the government or associated with those who did because the angels found him at the city gate. Perhaps Lot’s status in Sodom was one reason he was so reluctant to leave.”
Elliott’s Commentary for English Readers states:
“This personal respect had made him close his eyes to the sinfulness of the people, and he had consented to live inside the town, and even to let its citizens marry his daughters.”
Lot showed the customary hospitality to the angels whom he probably did not recognize as such (compare Hebrews 13:2), but the problems were only just beginning, as we read in verses 4-5:
“Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.’”
To try and counter this affront to his guests, he made a terrible mistake, as we read in verses 6-8:
“So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, ‘Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.’”
To offer his daughters in such a manner to a baying mob was a shocking sin! We read the following in Barnes Notes on the Bible:
“The wicked violence of the citizens displays itself. They compass the house, and demand the men for the vilest ends. How familiar Lot had become with vice, when any necessity whatever could induce him to offer his daughters to the lust of these Sodomites! We may suppose it was spoken rashly, in the heat of the moment, and with the expectation that he would not be taken at his word. So it turned out. ‘Stand back.’ This seems to be a menace to frighten Lot out of the way of their perverse will.”
The Application Bible comments:
“Possibly Lot was hoping… that the homosexual men would be disinterested and simply go away… [Lot’s] terrible suggestion reveals how deeply sin had been absorbed into Lot’s life. He had become hardened to evil acts in an evil city.”
Lot might even have thought that in offering his two daughters to these homosexual men, they would recognize the evil of their contemplated action and leave in shame (which of course did not happen), but to make such an offer was a terrible sin.
The locals continued to argue with Lot and the men (angels) came to the rescue, as we read in verses 9-11:
“And they said, ‘Stand back!’ Then they said, ‘This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.’ So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door. But the men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they became weary trying to find the door.”
The family were then urged to leave the city – verses 12-14:
“Then the men said to Lot, ‘Have you anyone else here? Son-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and whomever you have in the city—take them out of this place! For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.’ So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, ‘Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!’ But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.”
In verses 15-17, we read that Lot and his family had to be persuaded to leave the city:
“When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, ‘Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.’ And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.’”
Lot pleaded with the two angels that he be allowed to flee to a city named Zoar, rather than escaping to the mountains (verses 18-22).
Lot’s wife looked back which they were instructed not to do: “The sun had risen upon the earth when Lot entered Zoar. Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (verses 23-26)
When we review the actions of Lot, we see the climate and culture that they, as a family, were subjected to and it does not make good reading:
Lot made the choice of going to live in the wrong place.
- He chose to live in the sinful city and “sat in the gate” (Genesis 19:1) which was an important place and showed that Lot was a leading citizen, a judge and a ruler of some kind.
- His family would be affected by their surroundings and the fact that Lot had become an active part of the “system” of Sodom. If he could behave in this way, then his family, including his daughters, must have believed that it could not be that bad.
- He offered his daughters to the baying mob.
- He was reluctant to leave Sodom even though he knew it was a rotten place and he had been told that God would destroy it (Genesis 19:15-17).
- He allowed himself to become drunk, which we will examine, when terrible sins with his daughters took place.
In spite of all of these mistakes, we read in 2 Peter 2:6-8: “… and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)…”
The Benson commentary observes:
“And turning the cities of Sodom, &c., into ashes — When the inhabitants of those places were sunk into the lowest degeneracy; and condemned them with an overthrow — Punished them with utter destruction, both of their persons and habitations; making them an ensample — Not an example to be imitated, but an example to be avoided, as the word υποδειγμα, here used, signifies.
“Hence Jude, to express the same idea, uses the word δειγμα. And delivered just Lot — By the miraculous interposition of his providence; vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked — Exceedingly grieved by the lewd behaviour of the lawless Sodomites. For that righteous man, dwelling among them — Lot appears to have dwelt sixteen years in Sodom, after he parted from Abraham; a long space to abide in one of the lewdest and most outrageously wicked cities in the world, and not be tainted with their vices. Doubtless, as he was so exceedingly grieved with their lewd conduct from day to day, he often earnestly desired to leave the place… In seeing their base actions, and in hearing their lewd speeches, he vexed — Εβασανιζεν, tormented; his righteous soul from day to day — For their wickedness was incessant; with their unlawful deeds — The cry of which came up at length to heaven, and brought down upon them flaming destruction.”
(To be continued)
Lead Writers: Brian Gale and Norbert Link