Genesis – Chapter 19

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The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 19


The two angels reached Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to greet them; and bowing down with his face to the ground,


1 he said, «Please, gentlemen, come aside into your servant’s house for the night, and bathe your feet; you can get up early to continue your journey.» But they replied, «No, we shall pass the night in the town square.»


He urged them so strongly, however, that they turned aside to his place and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking cakes without leaven, and they dined.


Before they went to bed, all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old – all the people to the last man – closed in on the house.


They called to Lot and said to him, «Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them.»


Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him,


he said, «I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing.


I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But don’t do anything to these men, for you know they have come under the shelter of my roof.»


They replied, «Stand back! This fellow,» they sneered, «came here as an immigrant, and now he dares to give orders! We’ll treat you worse than them!» With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door.


But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door;


2 at the same time they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such a blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway.


3 Then the angels said to Lot: «Who else belongs to you here? Your sons (sons-in-law) and your daughters and all who belong to you in the city – take them away from it!


We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the LORD against those in the city is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.»


4 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters. «Get up and leave this place,» he told them; «the LORD is about to destroy the city.» But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.


As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, «On your way! Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.»


When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’S mercy, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city.


As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told: «Flee for your life! Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.»


«Oh, no, my lord!» replied Lot.


«You have already thought enough of your servant to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life. But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me, and so I shall die.


5 Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It’s only a small place. Let me flee there – it’s a small place, isn’t it? – that my life may be saved.»


«Well, then,» he replied, «I will also grant you the favor you now ask. I will not overthrow the town you speak of.


Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.» That is why the town is called Zoar.


The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar;


at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah (from the LORD out of heaven).


6 He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil.


But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.


Early the next morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood in the LORD’S presence.


7 As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain, he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.


Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain, he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.


8 Since Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar, he and his two daughters went up from Zoar and settled in the hill country, where he lived with his two daughters in a cave.


The older one said to the younger: «Our father is getting old, and there is not a man on earth to unite with us as was the custom everywhere.


Come, let us ply our father with wine and then lie with him, that we may have offspring by our father.»


So that night they plied their father with wine, and the older one went in and lay with her father; but he was not aware of her lying down or her getting up.

34 Next day the older one said to the younger: «Last night it was I who lay with my father. Let us ply him with wine again tonight, and then you go in and lie with him, that we may both have offspring by our father.»


So that night, too, they plied their father with wine, and then the younger one went in and lay with him; but again he was not aware of her lying down or her getting up.

36 Thus both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father.


9 The older one gave birth to a son whom she named Moab, saying, «From my father.» He is the ancestor of the Moabites of today.

38 10 The younger one, too, gave birth to a son, and she named him Ammon, saying, «The son of my kin.» He is the ancestor of the Ammonites of today.

1 [2] Gentlemen: Lot does not yet know that the distinguished-looking men are God’s messengers; cf ⇒ Genesis 18:3.
2 [11] Blinding light: a preternatural flash that temporarily dazed the wicked men and revealed to Lot the true nature of his guests.
3 [12] Since Lot apparently had no sons, a glossator interpreted the term to mean sons-in-law.
4 [14] It is uncertain whether Lot’s sons-in-law were fully married to his daughters or only «engaged» to them (Israelite «engagement» was the first part of the marriage ceremony), or even whether the daughters involved were the same as, or different from, the two daughters who were still in their father’s house.
5 [20] A small place: the Hebrew word misar, literally «a little thing,» has the same root consonants as the name of the town Zoar in ⇒ Genesis 19:22.
6 [25] Overthrew: The consistent use of this term, literally «turned upside down,» to describe the destruction of the Cities of the Plain seems to imply that their upheaval (⇒ Genesis 19:29) was caused primarily by an earthquake; this would naturally be accompanied by a disastrous fire, especially in a region containing bitumen (⇒ Genesis 14:10) and its accompanying gases.
7 [28-29] From the height east of Hebron, Abraham could easily see the region at the southern end of the Dead Sea, where the Cities of the Plain were probably located.
8 [30-38] This Israelite tale about the origin of Israel’s neighbors east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea was told partly to ridicule these racially related but rival nations and partly to give folk etymologies for their names.
9 [37] From my father: in Hebrew, meabi, similar in sound to the name «Moab.»
10 [38] The son of my kin: in Hebrew, ben-ammi, similar in sound to the name «Ammonites.»