The Doom of Sodom
1It was evening when the two angels came to Sodom. Lot was sitting at Sodom’s [#In ancient times this was the primary place of commerce and legal business.city] gate. Seeing them, Lot got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2And he said, “See here, my lords, please turn aside and come into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may get up early and go on your way.” But they said, “No, we shall spend the night in the open plaza [of the city].” 3However, Lot strongly urged them, so they turned aside and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them [with wine], and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4But before they lay down [to sleep], the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, surrounded the house, #The emphasis in the text that all the men of Sodom came reveals the depth of their depravity.all the men from every quarter; 5and they called out to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may know them [intimately].” 6But Lot went out of the doorway to the men, and shut the door after him, 7and said, “Please, my brothers, do not do something so wicked. 8See here, I have two daughters who have not known a man [intimately]; please let me bring them out to you [instead], and you can do as you please with them; only do nothing to these men, because they have in fact come under the shelter of my roof [for protection].” 9But they said, “Get out of the way!” And they said, “This man (Lot) came [as an outsider] to live here temporarily, and now he is acting like a judge. Now we will treat you worse than your visitors!” So they rushed forward and pressed violently against #Lit the man.Lot and came close to breaking down the door [of his house]. 10But the men (angels) reached out with their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door [after him]. 11They struck (punished) the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, from the young men to the old men, so that they exhausted themselves trying to find the doorway.
12And the [two] men (angels) asked Lot, “Have you any others here [in Sodom]—a son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters? Whomever you have in the city, take them out of here; 13for we are destroying this place, because the outcry [for judgment] against them has grown so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy and ruin it.” 14So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were [betrothed, and legally promised] to marry his daughters, and said, “Get up, get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy this city!” But to his sons-in-law he appeared to be joking.
15When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot [to hurry], saying, “Get up! Take your wife and two daughters who are here [and go], or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16But Lot hesitated and lingered. The men took hold of his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, because the Lord was merciful to him [for Abraham’s sake]; and they brought him out, and left him outside the city [with his family]. 17When they had brought them outside, one [of the angels] said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, or stop anywhere in the entire valley; escape to the mountains [of Moab], or you will be consumed and swept away.” 18But Lot said to them, “Oh no, [not that place] my lords! 19Please listen, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness (mercy) to me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, because the disaster will overtake me and I will be killed. 20Now look, this town [in the distance] is near enough for us to flee to, and it is small [with only a few people]. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) so that my life will be saved.” 21And the angel said to him, “Behold, I grant you this request also; I will not destroy this town of which you have spoken. 22Hurry and take refuge there, for I cannot do anything [to punish Sodom] until you arrive there.” For this reason the town was named Zoar (few, small).
23The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24Then the Lord rained down brimstone (flaming sulfur) and fire on Sodom and on Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven, 25and He overthrew (demolished, ended) those cities, and the entire valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and whatever grew on the ground. 26But Lot’s wife, from behind him, [foolishly, longingly] looked [back toward Sodom in an act of disobedience], and she #Lot’s wife not only “looked back” to where her interests were, but perhaps lingered behind and was overtaken by the fire and brimstone; her dead body likely became continually encrusted with salt since this disaster occurred in the salt-rich area around the Dead Sea.became a pillar of salt.
27Abraham started out early the next morning to the place where he [only the day before] had stood before the Lord; 28and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley [of the Dead Sea]; and he saw, and behold, the smoke of #Not only were Sodom and Gomorrah blazing ruins, but also Admah and Zeboiim (Deut 29:23; Hos 11:8), as well as all the towns in the Valley of Siddim; Zoar was the lone exception.the land went up like the smoke of a kiln (pottery furnace).
29Now when God ravaged and destroyed the cities of the plain [of Siddim], He remembered Abraham [and for that reason], and He sent [Abraham’s nephew] Lot out of the midst of the destruction, when He destroyed the cities in which Lot had lived.
Lot Is Debased
30Now Lot went up from Zoar, and lived in the mountain together with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay [any longer] in Zoar; and he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31The firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is aging, and there is not a man on earth [available] to be intimate with us in the customary way [so that we may have children]. 32Come, let us make our father drunk with wine, and we will lie with him so that we may preserve our family through our father.” 33So they gave their father 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 got up [because he was completely intoxicated]. 34Then the next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay with my father last night; let us make him drunk with wine tonight also, and then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve our family through our father.” 35So they gave their father wine that night also, and the younger got up and lay with him; and again he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. 36Thus both the daughters of Lot conceived by their father. 37The firstborn gave birth to a son, and named him Moab (from father); he is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38The younger also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-ammi (son of my people); he is the father of the Ammonites to this day.
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The Wickedness of Sodom
1That evening, the two angels came to Sodom # 19:1 Sodom means “scorched” or “burnt region.” while Lot was sitting at the city’s gateway. # 19:1 A city gateway usually consisted of towers, guardrooms, and a meeting area where people could sit. Often, the city leadership would conduct meetings there (see Ruth 4:1–12). Recent archeological discoveries at Tel-Dan revealed a stone bench that was fifteen feet long connected to the wall of one of its towers. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed with his face to the ground. 2He said, “Please, my lords, come to your servant’s house to spend the night and wash your feet; then you can rise early and go on your way.”
“No,” they answered. “We will be fine to spend the night in the town square.”
3But Lot was so insistent they finally agreed to go to his house. Lot had unleavened bread baked for them and prepared a feast, and they ate. 4But before they retired for the night, the men of the city, men young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom, to the last man, surrounded the house. 5They shouted out to Lot, “Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them!” # 19:5 Or “that we may know [yada’] them.” This word is used frequently for sexual relations. They surrounded the house, not simply to introduce themselves to the men, but to sexually abuse them. See Gen. 13:13; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Deut. 23:18; Judg. 19:22; Rom. 1:18–32; 1 Cor. 6:9–10.
6Lot went outside, shutting the door behind him, 7and said to them, “No! My brothers, I beg you, don’t sink to such depravity! 8Look, I have two virgin daughters; I’ll bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you please. Only don’t do anything to these men, for they are guests in my house.” # 19:8 Or “they have come under the shadow of my roof.”
9“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This guy comes as a foreigner to live among us, and now he dares to judge us! We’ll inflict more harm on you than on them!” Just then they lunged at Lot and tried to break down the door, 10but the two angels reached out and pulled Lot safely back into the house and bolted the door. 11They struck the men outside the house, young and old, with one blazing flash of light # 19:11 The Hebrew word sanverim is found only here and in 2 Kings 6:18. The word indicates more than sightlessness (Hb. invaron), but a sudden immobilizing and dazzling flash of light. See the Aramaic Targums; Yoma 22b.; H. M. Orlinsky, Notes on the New Translation of the Torah (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1969), 93ff.; E. A. Speiser, “The ‘Elative’ in West-Semitic and Akkadian,” JCS 6 (1952): 81ff. so that they could not find the door!
12Then the visitors said to Lot, “Who else lives here? Do you have any other family here—sons or daughters, sons-in-law or daughters-in-law who live in Sodom? Get them all out of the city, 13because we are about to destroy this place. A tremendous outcry against the people has come before Yahweh, and he has sent us here to destroy it!”
14So Lot went out to find the two men who were pledged to marry his daughters and told them, “Hurry, leave the city, for Yahweh is about to destroy it!” But they thought he was only joking and paid him no attention.
15At dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Go! Take your wife and your two daughters and leave or you will be consumed in the judgment about to come to the city!” 16But Lot hesitated, so the angels grabbed his hands and the hands of his wife and daughters and brought them outside the city, because Yahweh was merciful to them. 17Once they were safely outside the city, the angels said to them, “Run for your lives! Don’t stop anywhere in the plain until you’ve reached the mountains. And don’t even look back, or you’ll die!”
18Lot replied, “Oh no, my lords. 19You’ve been so gracious to your servant, and you’ve been so kind to save our lives, but I can’t make it to the mountains. It’s so far from here; disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die! 20Look, over there is a village close enough to run to, and it’s a small one. # 19:20 Or “Zoar,” a wordplay in Hebrew. The word for “small” sounds like Zoar. Let me escape there instead. You can see that it’s such a small village. Let my life be spared!”
21“All right,” he replied. “I will grant this request too. # 19:21 Or “I have lifted up your face,” a figure of speech for showing favor. I will not destroy that village. 22Now, you must hurry. Run to that village, for I can’t do anything until you are there.” (That is why the village was called Zoar.)
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
23By mid-morning, # 19:23 Or “When the sun had risen upon the earth.” Lot arrived at the small village of Zoar, 24And Yahweh’s fire from heaven fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah. 25He completely destroyed the cities of the plain, and all their inhabitants and whatever grew in the valley. # 19:25 Jesus made it clear that if the miracles he did in Israel had been seen in Sodom, the people of Sodom would have repented. Therefore, it will be more tolerable for them in the Day of Judgment than for the cities of Galilee (see Matt. 11:20–24). Knowing that God will soon judge the corrupt world, it is vital that we live holy lives (see 2 Peter 3:11–15). 26But Lot’s wife turned and gazed longingly on the city and turned into a pillar of salt. # 19:26 See Luke 9:62; 17:32. Perhaps there really was a salt-pillar that resembled a human. In the book the Wisdom of Solomon 10:7, which was included in the Septuagint, it says, “A pillar of salt stands as a memorial to an unbelieving soul,” and Josephus claimed to have seen it in his day (Ant. 1.203).
27That morning, # 19:27 Or “The next morning.” It is unclear whether Abraham saw the moment of the destruction of the cities or if he viewed the smoke rising the next day. Abraham hurried back to the place where he had stood before Yahweh. # 19:27 See Gen. 18:22. The implication from Gen. 18:16 and 18:33 is that this high point may have been some distance from Abraham’s camp. 28Looking down toward all the land of the plain, he saw columns of smoke billowing up from Sodom and Gomorrah # 19:28 Gomorrah means “a ruined heap” or “to chastise.” —like the smoke of a furnace!
29So before God destroyed the cities of the plain where Lot had settled, he remembered his affection for Abraham # 19:29 That is, he honored Abraham’s request. God had not forgotten Abraham and then suddenly remembered him, but rather showed his affection for Abraham by fulfilling his request to spare the righteous. and spared Lot from all the destruction.
Lot and His Daughters
30Afraid to remain in Zoar, Lot left there and settled in the hill country and lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31One day, his firstborn suggested to the younger, “Our father is getting old, and there isn’t a man anywhere who could impregnate us in the normal way. 32Come, let’s get our father drunk with wine and have sex with him. That way we can at least have children through our father.”
33That night, they got their father drunk with wine, and the firstborn went in and slept with him. Lot was so drunk he didn’t have a clue about what had happened. # 19:33 Or “he did not know when she lay down and when she arose.” See v. 35. This chapter opens with Lot sitting at the gate of Sodom, the seat of authority, and ends with him drunk in a cave—from councilman to caveman! Lot could have returned to his uncle, Abraham, but instead he fled to a cave. 34The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “I slept with my father last night. Tonight, it’s your turn. We’ll get him drunk with wine, and you can sleep with him and we can preserve our family line through our father.”
35So they got their father drunk the second time; and the younger went in and slept with him. He was once again so drunk he had no clue what had happened. 36As a result, both Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37The older daughter had a son named Moab, # 19:37 Or “from my father,” a wordplay which in Hebrew sounds like “[conceived] from my father.” who is the ancestor of the Moabites of today. # 19:37 Jewish tradition views these two daughters as righteous women whose motives were noble. Perhaps they presumed the entire world had been destroyed and that Zoar was spared only while they were there, leaving no other living male except their father. Regardless, one day a descendant of Moab, Ruth, would be included in the roots of the Jewish monarchy as David’s great-grandmother (see Ruth 4:17–22) and listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ (see Matt. 1:5). There is no sin or evil that can hinder God’s grace from shining through even the darkest cloud of human failure. 38The younger also had a son named Ben-Ammi, # 19:38 Or “son of my relative,” a wordplay which in Hebrew sounds like “son of my [paternal] relative.” the ancestor of the Ammonites of today.
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