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What can we learn from the example of Lot and his daughters? (Part 2)

In the first part of this two-part series, we reviewed the background from where Lot parted company with Abram, as we read in Genesis 13:11: “ Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.”   We then saw that Sodom was destroyed as Lot, his wife and two daughters fled from the city.

Let us continue with the story, as we read Genesis 19:30-38

Then Lot went up out of Zoar and dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with him; for he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. And he and his two daughters dwelt in a cave.  Now the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.  Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.’  So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.  It happened on the next day that the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Indeed I lay with my father last night; let us make him drink wine tonight also, and you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve the lineage of our father.’  Then they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.  The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.  And the younger, she also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.”

First, we note that the daughters made Lot drunk. Lot did not initiate his drunkenness, but he gave in to his daughters’ conduct of giving him too much wine to drink. Nevertheless, Lot should have resisted the temptation. We are reminded of the drunkenness of Noah, when his grandson Canaan abused him sexually, and when Noah awoke and realized what had happened and what Canaan had done to him, he cursed Canaan, Ham’s son, for his evil deed.

Then, we note that the daughters felt they had to make Lot drunk, in order to produce offspring with him, apparently understanding full well that Lot, being sober, would not have agreed to such action voluntarily.

It is quite possible that the culture that they had imbibed during their years in Sodom could have made their acts seem reasonable to them, and they could have become insensitive to sin after living amongst such a society for some years.  They thought that their family would not have any descendants and so took matters into their own hands.   It doesn’t seem like lust, more the desire to preserve their line and produce offspring.   However, it was against the instructions of God as we read in Leviticus 18:6-7, where the subheading in the New King James Bible is “the laws of sexual morality”:

“None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the Lord.  The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you shall not uncover. She is your mother; you shall not uncover her nakedness.”

Of course, this instruction was recorded in the Bible hundreds of years later than this incident, and so they may not have thought it to be a “big deal”.   Nevertheless, it was unnatural and an underhand way of deceiving their father. And, as mentioned above, they knew it was wrong and that their father, being sober, would not have agreed to it. The fact that the passage in Leviticus 18 was recorded later does not mean that the prohibition did not exist and was unknown to the daughters. It is also possible that Lot’s daughters were aware of his previous offer to the homosexual men, and they might have thought, if he could do that to us, we could also do this to him.

In addition, according to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, we read: “Barrenness in the East was looked upon as a ground of great reproach as well as a punishment from God” and perhaps their comment ‘there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth’ (Genesis 19:31) was a part of their thinking.”

Of course, this is not to excuse such behaviour but to show what they may have been thinking about.   We know that Sarah and Rachel went many years without bearing a child and the frustration that it caused both of them until they did finally bear a child. Sarah and Abraham sinned when they tried to produce offspring through Sarah’s maid Hagar, rather than waiting for God to fulfil His promise that Sarah herself would become pregnant, and the consequences were disastrous.

We all have to live with the consequences of our actions.   They did not put their reliance on God, (as Abraham and Sarah at first doubted God’s word as well.) We know that Galatians 6:7 reveals: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”  There are always consequences for our actions, whoever we are.

There were a lot of factors to take into account, but Lot’s daughters made a decision that would reverberate with the nation of Israel in the future.  Reviewing some of the commentaries about this incident are very helpful.

Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary states:

“See the peril of security. Lot, who kept chaste in Sodom, and was a mourner for the wickedness of the place, and a witness against it, when in the mountain, alone, and, as he thought, out of the way of temptation, is shamefully overtaken. Let him that thinks he stands high, and stands firm, take heed lest he fall. See the peril of drunkenness; it is not only a great sin itself, but lets in many sins, which bring a lasting wound and dishonour. Many a man does that, when he is drunk, which, when he is sober, he could not think of without horror. See also the peril of temptation, even from relations and friends, whom we love and esteem, and expect kindness from. We must dread a snare, wherever we are, and be always upon our guard. No excuse can be made for the daughters, nor for Lot. Scarcely any account can be given of the affair but this, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? From the silence of the Scripture concerning Lot henceforward, learn that drunkenness, as it makes men forgetful, so it makes them to be forgotten.”

As mentioned above, Lot did not become drunk “voluntarily,” but he gave in to his two daughters who gave him too much wine, and so, wanting to please them, he drank too much, which he should have refused to do. As a consequence, he became “insensible to their action” (Ryrie Study Bible).

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament says:

“But Lot’s daughters had so little feeling of shame in connection with their conduct, that they gave names to the sons they bore, which have immortalized their paternity. Moab, another form of ‘from the father,’ as is indicated in the clause appended and also rendered probable by the reiteration of the words ‘of our father’ and ‘by their father’ (Genesis 19:32, Genesis 19:34, and Genesis 19:36), as well as by the analogy of the name Ben-Ammi equals Ammon. This account was neither the invention of national hatred to the Moabites and Ammonites, nor was it placed here as a brand upon those tribes. These discoveries of a criticism imbued with hostility to the Bible are overthrown by the fact, that, according to Deuteronomy 2:9, Deuteronomy 2:19, Israel was ordered not to touch the territory of either of these tribes because of their descent from Lot; and it was their unbrotherly conduct towards Israel alone which first prevented their reception into the congregation of the Lord, Deuteronomy 23:4-5. – Lot is never mentioned again… even his death is not referred to. His descendants, however, frequently came into contact with the Israelites; and the history of their descent is given here to facilitate a correct appreciation of their conduct towards Israel.”

We read in the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary the following information about Moab and Ammon:

Moab (perhaps ‘from father’).  The starting point for both was in the vicinity of Zoar. Thence the roving Ammonites went to the NE whereas the more peaceful Moabites remained near their ancestral home displacing the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:11; cf Genesis 14:5).

“Coming up from Egypt the Israelites approached Moab through the desert facing Moab outside the bordering circle of hills on the SE.   They were forbidden to molest the Moabites in the enjoyment of the land that they had taken from the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:9-11).   They therefore applied for permission to pass through the territory of Moab and, being refused, went around its borders.

“Moab did not fight against Israel for 300 years. The Moabites were only too friendly, sending their daughters to cultivate friendly relations with the Israelites and to entice them to their idolatrous services.

“The national deity of the Moabites was Chemosh (which see), mentioned only in Numbers 21:29; Judges 11:24; 1 Kings 11:7, 33; 2 Kings 23:13; Jeremiah 48:7, 13, 46.

Ammon ‘inbred’, another form of Ben-ammi.  A nomadic race descended from Lot’s youngest daughter, as the more civilized Moabites were from the elder one.   Although the Israelites were forbidden to molest the Ammonites, Ammon was often in league with nations against Israel, such as with Moab (Deuteronomy 23:3-4); with Moab and Amalek (Judges 3:12-13), with the Syrians (2 Samuel 10:1-19), with Gebal and Amalaek (Psalm 83:7) and was almost always hostile, both before and after the captivity (Nehemiah 4:3 etc).

“The Ammonites were governed by a king (1 Samuel 12:12).   The national deity was Molech (1 Kings 11:7) often called Milcom (1 Kings 11:5, 33).

“The Ammonite names in the Bible shows that the language was akin to that of the Hebrews.

“Solomon set an example in marrying Ammonite women.   Rehoboam’s mother being Naamah. An Ammonitess (1 Kings 14:31) which example Israel was too ready to imitate (Nehemiah 13:23).”

The daughters did not trust God to provide husbands for them and took matters into their own hands with the consequences that we read about in 1 Kings 11:33.  This was in connection with Jereboam’s rebellion: “…because they have forsaken Me, and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the people of Ammon, and have not walked in My ways to do what is right in My eyes and keep My statutes and My judgments, as did his father David.”

The many bad decisions that Lot made together with living and being actively involved in an evil city which was full of sin meant that the daughters of Lot were exposed to so much that was wrong.   Further, it would seem that being concerned about their lineage caused them to behave in such a shocking way, and we must not immediately dismiss the concerns that barren women had in those days.  For example, Rachel, the wife of Jacob said “Give me children or else I die!” (compare Genesis 30:1).

These are reasons, not excuses for their sinful behaviour, but those reasons are in no way justifications for sin, and the consequences have been seen through history.  For us, there are many lessons to be learnt from this whole episode, as we read in 1 Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”

One of the most important lessons that we can take from this story is to be careful about the company we keep, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:33: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’”    The ESV renders this as: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”

In addition, God warns us not to be involved in the evil system of this world, let alone supporting it (compare Revelation 18:4; 2 Corinthians 6:17). Today, many say that even though they might be against abortion personally, they must support it as elected politicians. This double-standard and hypocrisy does not produce good fruits, and Lot might very well have given a wrong impression to his daughters, seeing him to be actively ruling and judging in Sodom. Today, many may not be in a position of simply moving away from a sinful city (even though it would be unwise to move into a sinful city such as San Francisco), but they must not be in any way become a supporting part of its sinful system.

Had Lot and his family understood this truism, they would have avoided what turned out to be very distressing and life-changing events.

Please note:

We also have these other Q&A’s on Lot and his daughters:

How Many Daughters Did Lot Have?

The Bible says that Lot was just or righteous. But did he not commit horrible sins? How can he then be called “righteous”?

Lead Writers: Brian Gale and Norbert Link