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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Genesis 19

 

 

Verse 1

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

There came two angels - Hebrew, 'the two angels:' two of those that had been with Abraham, commissioned to execute the divine judgment against Sodom (on the site of Sodom etc.: see the note at Genesis 14:2-3).

In addition to what is there said, it may be added, that, as cities appear anciently to have been planted very closely-seldom more than three miles from each other, as their ruins show-this was in all probability the case with "the cities of the plain" - the Hebrew expression, 'Sodom and her daughters,' which is of frequent occurrence, indicating that she was the capital, or at least the largest city of the Pentapolis, and that the other associated towns were 'about her' (Jude 1:7). Moreover, although it is impossible to fix the exact locality of Sodom, there is reason to believe that it was on what now forms the southern extremity of the Dead Sea (see the note at Genesis 19:23).

Lot sat in the gate. In eastern cities it is the market, and is often devoted to other business transactions (Ruth

4), the administration of justice, and the enjoyment of social intercourse and amusement; especially it is a favourite lounge in the evenings, the arched roof affording a pleasant shade.


Verse 2

And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

My lords, turn in - [Hebrew, '


Verse 3

And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 4

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

The house. On removing to the plain, Lot intended at first to live in his tent, apart from the people. But he was gradually drawn in to dwell in the city, because he and his family were connected with the citizens by marriage ties.

Men of Sodom, compassed the house - appalling proofs are here given of their abominable wickedness, which has been previously alluded to (cf. Genesis 13:13; Genesis 18:20). It has been objected, that an exaggerated account is here given of the depravity of the Sodomites, while no similar outrage is described as having been made by the inhabitants of the other cities. But it is well answered by Havernick, that 'we have here pars pro toto: Sodom, as the chief of those cities, embraces them also. Further, that their criminal conduct is by no means a fiction is shown by the history in Judges 19:1-30, where we meet with the same thing in the case of the Benjamities, who had adopted those enormities of lewdness from the Canaanites (cf. Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:23); and from the historical knowledge we otherwise possess of the Canaanites, we have abundant confirmation of the crime being naturalized among them, so that it need not surprise us to see it make its appearance here.' The extraordinary fertility of the plain, which supplied the people with overflowing abundance, led to idleness and luxury, and these, together with the tropical heat of the climate, superinduced habits of voluptuousness, extending to indulgence in the grossest vices (Ezekiel 16:49-50).


Verse 5

And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verses 6-8

And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,

Lot went out at the door unto them. Hospitality was considered a sacred duty, and imposed upon a host the obligation of protecting the lives of his guests at all hazards. But the offer made by Lot was so extreme as plainly shows that he had been thrown into a state of the most perturbed and agitated feeling, between fear of the popular violence and solicitude for the safety of the strangers that were under his roof. [It may be noticed that petchaah (Hebrew #6607) denotes the entrance or doorway, while delet (Hebrew #1817) means the door or valve, which is capable of being opened and shut.]


Verse 9

And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

And they said, Stand back , [Septuagint, aposta ekei; Vulgate, recede illuc (cf. Isaiah 49:20, where it is rendered "give place"]. But Maurer prefers the meaning of come near, approach, which the verb sometimes bears (see Gesenius, voce, naagash (Hebrew #5066) No. 2), and renders the words 'come here,' in a menacing tone. WayishpoT (Hebrew #8199) shaapowT (Hebrew #8199), and he is always setting up for a judge (cf. 2 Peter 2:7).


Verse 10

But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 11

And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

Smote ... with blindness [ bacanweeriym (Hebrew #5575)] (a plural word) - with temporary blindness; a Smote ... with blindness , [ bacanweeriym (Hebrew #5575)] (a plural word) - with temporary blindness; a hallucination-derived by Gesenius from a Chaldaic root, to dazzle, glitter (cf. 2 Kings 6:18). This is the first recorded instance of punishment inflicted by angels.


Verses 12-14

And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:

Hast thou here any besides? ... we will destroy this place - apostolic authority has declared Lot was "a righteous man" (2 Peter 2:8), at bottom good, though he contented himself with lamenting the sins that he saw, instead of acting on his own convictions, and withdrawing himself and family from such a sink of corruption. But favour was shown him: and even his bad relatives had, for his sake, an offer of deliverance, which was ridiculed and spurned (2 Peter 3:4).

Son-in-law - singular, without the article, as hypothetical whether he had any.

Thy sons. It is not stated that he had any. It was persons that were to be defended, not property belonging to Lot. How dreadfully corrupt must have been the social condition of that city, in which ten righteous people could not be found, to incline the scale toward the side of mercy!

Lot ... spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters - of course, not those mentioned in Genesis 19:8. The Septuagint has: kai elaleese pros tous gambrous autou tous eileephotas tas thugateras autou, spoke to his sons-in-law who had married his daughters (cf. Genesis 19:15). So Knobel and Delitzsch. But Josephus speaks of them as 'his sons-in-law who were betrothed to his daughters, espousals being considered sufficient to establish affinity,' (cf. 'Antiq,' book 14:, chapter 13:, section 1). Michaelis, Keil, and Ewald adopt the same view. We are inclined to prefer the rendering in our own version, both because Lot seems to distinguish his two daughters in his house (Genesis 19:8; Genesis 19:15) from his (other) daughters (Genesis 19:14); but the Hebrew verb [ laaqach (Hebrew #3947)] here rendered "married" is that which is generally used to signify taking a wife in the earlier books (Genesis 4:19; Genesis 6:2; Genesis 12:19; Genesis 34:4; Exodus 6:25; Exodus 21:10; Jdg. 14:2-3; 34:16 ), whereas another verb [ naasaa' (Hebrew #5375)] is used in the later books.

But he seemed as one that mocked unto - literally, he was as one that mocked in the eyes of his sons-in-law; i:e., they considered it a hoax (cf. Luke 17:28-29).


Verses 15-23

And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

The kindly interest the angels took in the preservation of Lot is beautifully displayed. The kindly interest the angels took in the preservation of Lot is beautifully displayed.

When the morning arose. But he "lingered." Was it from sorrow at the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years? or was it that his benevolent heart was paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis? This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that must have been fatal, but for the friendly violence and urgency of the angel.

Lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. The Hebrew [ `ªwon (Hebrew #5771)] sometimes denotes the punishment of iniquity, calamity, misery (Psalms 31:11; Isaiah 5:18).

Verse 16. And, while he lingered [Septuagint has: kai (Greek #2532) etarachtheesan (Greek #5015)] - and they were stupefied.

Verse 17. When they had brought them forth abroad ... he said ... look not behind. To look behind was a sign of unbelief, and reluctance to leave the scene of iniquity. The sudden change from the plural to the singular is remarkable here. Was it that the third angel, whom Abraham addressed as Adonai, and with whom he had commanded, had joined the other two-he who spoke with an air of superior authority, and as possessing a right, of his own gracious pleasure, to grant Lot the favour he implored? or is it to be considered that Yahweh here spoke through the medium of these who had declared themselves (Genesis 19:13) to be his commissioned messengers. Hengstenberg takes this view here.

Verse 18. Oh! not so, my Lord. Lot contradicted himself in prefacing his petition with the argument, "thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life, and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die." What a strange want of faith and gratitude, as if He who had interposed for his rescue could not have protected him in the mountain solitude-He who rescued him from the greater evil would not have saved him from less dangers!

Verse 21. See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also. His request for the preservation of the little town Bela was granted; and although his intercession was not, like that of Abraham for Sodom, prompted by a principle of profound and generous sympathy, but sprang entirely from an impulse of self-interest, it was allowed to prevail, in order to convince him from his own experience, since he ere long was convinced, that it would have been better and wiser for him to have at once followed implicitly the divine directions.

Verse 22. Haste ... for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. The ruin of Sodom was suspended until he was secure. What care does God take of His people (Revelation 7:3) - what a proof of the love which God bore to a good, though weak man!

Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The rise of this new name was a memorial of the event to which it referred, and its continued prevalence in the days of the sacred historian sufficiently refutes the scepticism of modern times, which has assailed with unhallowed hands the historic truth of this narrative.

Verse 23. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar. This circumstance enables us to make an approximate calculation of the distance of this little town from Sodom. The time of Lot's setting out from his residence in the latter city was at early dawn, and the sun's disc had appeared above the horizon before he reached Zoar; so that, as the twilight is always of brief duration, and the fugitive family would, in circumstances of such fearful urgency, make all possible expedition, the journey between the two cities cannot be supposed to have occupied more than an hour, if so much - i:e., the distance would only be about three or four miles. The site of Zoar, at the mouth of Wady Kerak, where it issues upon the isthmus of the large peninsula, has long been well known; and the correctness of that geographical position was not doubted until a few years ago, when De Saulcy announced that he had discovered the ruins of Sodom in the pass of Ez-Zuweirah, near Usdum. The apparent resemblance of this name, Zuweirah, to that of Zoar gave an air of credibility to the hypothesis of the French traveler, and his alleged discovery of the remains of cities over whose fate so awful a mystery hangs was hailed with loud acclaim, as surpassing in interest and importance the revelations made by the disinterred mounds of Assyria.

But a little examination showed that this startling discovery was an entire delusion. Not to dwell on the philological objection to the name Zuweirah being a modern corruption of Zoar-which Dr. Robinson and Dr. Eli Smith, most competent judges of the affinities between Arabic and Hebrew names, have pronounced to be insurmountable-the topographical situation which DeSaulcy assigned to the little preserved town does not meet the conditions of the sacred narrative. Zoar was visible from Sodom, and within or bordering upon the ciccar or plain; because it was one of the cities of the Pentapolis; whereas Zuweirah is about a mile and a half distant from any part of the sea or plain. Zoar stood conspicuous at the base of a mountain; whereas Zuweirah is entirely concealed in the hollow of the mountain.

Moreover, Zuweirah is on the western side of the sea or plain, and does not contain any vestiges of an ancient site. But many circumstances in the inspired history tend to show that Zoar must have stood on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.

Lot's flight to the mountain, the locality of the Moabite and Ammonite territories, and the situation of Zoar, which is described as the most westerly town of Moab (Isaiah 15:5; Jeremiah 48:34); and in addition to these, the testimony of Josephus, together with the traditions of the early Christian Church, embodied in the works of Eusebius and Jerome, bear that it lay on El Lisƒn, the tongue or long peninsula near the southeastern extremity of the broad part of the lake. This view is still further confirmed by the appearance of the country around the present Zoar, which shows marks of irrigation, cultivated fields, and an ancient site (see Robinson, 'Biblical Researches,' 2:, p. 648-650).


Verse 24-25

Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire. "Rained" is figuratively used in describing the descent of various objects from above-namely, hail (Exodus 9:18-23), manna (Exodus 16:4; Psalms 78:24) and lightning (Psalms 11:6; Ezek. 38:32 ). God, in accomplishing His purposes, acts immediately, or mediately through the instrumentality of means; and there are strong grounds for believing that it was in the latter way He effected the overthrow of the cities of the plain.

It was long thought that an earthquake or a volcano was employed as the agent of destruction. The raining down of burning matter from heaven appeared perfectly accordant with this idea, since the melted lava, being raised into the air by the force of the volcano, would fall in a fiery shower on the surrounding region. But though the whole country around bears traces of volcanic action, it must have been long prior to the historical period; and it does not appear that there has been an eruption from any of the extinct volcanoes in this region so recent as the patriarchal age. Recent explorations have suggested a way for a more literal interpretation of the text. 'The existing condition of the country throws light upon the Biblical narrative. Certainly we do observe by the lake sulphur and bitumen in abundance. Sulphur springs stud the shores. Sulphur is strewn, whether in layers or in fragments, over the desolate plains; and bitumen is ejected in great floating masses from the bottom of the sea, oozes through the fissures of the rocks, is deposited with gravel on the beach, or, as in the Wady Mahawat, appears, with sulphur, to have been precipitated during some convulsion. Everything leads to the conclusion that the agency of fire was at work, though not the overflowing of an ordinary volcano. The materials were at hand, and may probably have been accumulated then, to a much greater extent than at present.

The kindling of such a mass of combustible material, either by lightning from heaven or by other electrical agency, combined with an earthquake, ejecting the bitumen or sulphur from the lake, would soon spread devastation over the plain, so that the smoke of the country would go up as the smoke of a furnace. The simple and natural explanation, then, seems to be this-that during some earthquake, or without its direct agency, showers of sulplur, and probably bitumen ejected from the lake, or thrown up from its shores, and ignited perhaps by the lightning which would accompany such phenomena, fell upon the cities and destroyed them. The history of the catastrophe has not only remained in the inspired record, but is inscribed in the memory of the surrounding tribes by many a local tradition and significant name.' (Tristram's 'Land of Israel').

To this conjecture, formed after a careful scientific survey of the whole surrounding region, it may be added, that the houses of the people were probably built of clay bricks made from the soil of Siddim, in which bitumen was a predominating ingredient; so that with asphalt and other inflammable materials abounding throughout the whole extent of that vale, and ignited by causes under the control of a superintending Providence, the cities were first consumed; then, the bituminous crust of the earth taking fire, a general conflagration ensued, by which not only the surface produce was destroyed, but the alluvial ground completely scooped out. This universal destruction seems indicated by the two words employed by the sacred historian to describe this catastrophe, in Genesis 19:13; Genesis 19:24, [ mashchitiym (Hebrew #7843), destroy, and yahªpok (Hebrew #2015), overthrew; Septuagint, apollumen, katestrepse], the latter of which, being a special expression, is used in subsequent allusions to the dreadful fate of the cities of the plain (Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 13:19; Amos 4:11; Jeremiah 49:18; Jeremiah 50:40).

Sodom and Gomorrah only are mentioned here, either because they were the two chief cities, or because the narrative has an immediate reference to Lot and his family. But that Admah and Zeboiim were overwhelmed by the same catastrophe is expressly declared (Deuteronomy 29:23).

Among the physical agents employed in this destruction, water is not mentioned; because the cities were not submerged, but consumed and no allusion is made in this narrative either to the origin or the existence of the Dead Sea. Nevertheless it is impossible to ignore the fact of the presence of that remarkable lake, and the long prevalent opinion that it lies in the immediate vicinity, if it does not cover the site of the destroyed cities and plain.

In the present day particular attention has been attracted to the subject, and a succession of scientific expeditions sent out by various governments to examine the real character of the Dead Sea, as well as the geological phenomena of the Gh"r or Valley of the Jordan. It is divided externally into two portions-the northern and southern-by a long peninsula, which stretches almost across its whole breadth; and it has been ascertained by accurate survey that its bottom consists of two submerged plains, depressed throughout to a depth of 1,000 feet, while through its center, in a line corresponding with the course of the Jordan, there extends a ravine, cleaving the bottom to a depth of 200 feet more; the former, namely, the northern and larger, being about 50 English miles long. The bottom of the latter, or southern portion of the sea, which may be estimated at about 10 miles in length, is uniformly more elevated being not deeper than 13 feet below the surface (Lynch's 'Expedition'). To this smaller part of the lake Dr. Robinson ('Biblical Researches,' 2:, 601; Physical Geography,' 215) limits the catastrophe described in this chapter-the water of the northern bay (for he assumes that there has always existed a lake in this quarter as the receptacle of the Jordan) spreading over the whole or the greater part of the submerged plain, a conclusion apparently confirmed by Genesis 14:3 (cf. Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 1:, 9; 'Jewish Wars,' b. 4:, ch. 8, ˜ 4), and by the fact that immense masses of asphalt are after earthquakes, which is a frequent occurrence, ejected from the muddy bottom to the surface of the southern lake.

The writer of the account of the American Expedition considers the effects of the visitation to have been much more extensive; because he believes that, by a sudden and violent convulsion, the entire chasm was a plain sunk and overwhelmed by the wrath of God; and this belief he grounds on the extraordinary character of the soundings obtained. In both of these theories, it is assumed that the cities of the plain, and the plain itself, were overspread by the waters of the Dead Sea.

But Roland ('Palaestina Illustrata'), whose opinion has been most strenuously supported in our day by De Saulcy (founding on Genesis 13:12, toward, or as far as Sodom) places Sodom on the southwestern point of the lake, near Jebel Usdum [the Salt mountain, which was called Sodom by Galen, and indifferently by the Arabs, Jebel El-Maleh or Jebel Esdoum (Usdum)], a heap of stones lying on that spot being traditionally known as Kharbet Esdoum (the ruins of Sodom). This opinion necessitates his fixing the locality of Zoar also on the western side-an hypothesis which, as has been already shown, is totally inadmissible. Sodom must have stood a mile or two further north or northeast in the plain; and accordingly Cellarius, in his map of Palestine, places all the four destroyed cities of the Pentapolis within the range of the southern asphalt-like lake.

Future researches may throw light upon these vexed questions. But whether they may or not (and perhaps certain information can not now be obtained in regard to several of them), the judicial character of the calamity that befell the polluted cities of the plain is unmistakeably discoverable from the inspired record. Whether it was produced miraculously or by the operation of physical agents employed by God, is in a religious point of view of comparatively little consequence to determine. It was a divine judgment foretold, as being designed for the punishment of a people who were "sinners exceedingly." Their repentance would have stayed the hands of the destroying angels; and the knowledge of this interesting fact, relieving the pain of perusing the revolting narrative, gives a beautiful view of the moral government-the gracious character of God.

But those cities had become a hotbed of vice-a sink of iniquity; and while the inhabitants were exterminated, that their foul posterity might no longer defile the earth with their presence, their name is introduced into every prophetic denunciation-forms the type of every blasted scene of moral desolation, no terms more emphatic being found to describe the judgment of heaven upon a wicked people than to compare it to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah.


Verse 26

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. This phrase, "pillar of salt," is perhaps to be accounted for by the peculiarity of oriental metaphor. Salt, which was variously emblematical, was, with eastern people, especially a symbol of incorruptibility, and hence, to denote the validity and continuance of a covenant, it is frequently called in Scripture a covenant of salt (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5). Conformably to this interpretation, "a pillar of salt" will signify a perpetual pillar. It is deserving of notice, that the text does not say she was metamorphosed into a pillar of salt, but that she became a pillar of salt - i:e., having not only 'looked behind,' but actually turned back (our Lord's admonition, Luke 17:32, is founded on the fact of her attempting to retrace her steps) - she was suffocated and then overwhelmed by the torrent of bituminous and sulphureous matter; which, as it formed an increasing incrustation over her body, rendered her a lasting monument of the fatal effects of a too deeply rooted affection for worldly attractions, and of wilful disobedience to the divine instructions. Josephus asserts ('Antiquities,' b. 1:, ch. 12, ˜4) that this pillar was still standing in his day. Clement of Rome, a contemporary of Josephus, bears a similar testimony, as also does Irenaeus, who lived in the century following (Whiston's Josephus, note).

Many travelers in succeeding ages also attested the sight of this archaic monument; and the mystery was not cleared up until the American Expedition, under Captain Lynch-during their explorations of the Dead Sea-discovered an immense pillar near the base of the salt mountain ridge of Usd-m. This salsuginous pillar, which was cylindrical in front, and pyramidical behind, being attached to the rock by a prop, was 40 feet in height, and stood on a pedestal which was about 40 or 50 feet above the level of the sea. It was one entire mass of crystallization.

The following year it is described by De Saulcy, who saw it as greatly changed, until it disappeared. But numerous pyramidical columns of salt appeared in many other places of this region, the original formation and mutable appearances of which, as they are detached from the general mass of the salt mountain, are now well known; but which, in an earlier and less observant age, might easily be mistaken for the pillar into which Lot's wife, the victim of her supine indolence or sinful temerity, was supposed to be transformed.


Verse 27-28

And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD:

Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord. The peak is traditionally said to have been the ancient Caphar-Barucha, now Beni-Naim. 'From the height which overlooks Hebron, where the patriarch stood, the observer at the present day has an extensive view spread out before him toward the Dead Sea. A cloud of smoke rising from the plain would be visible to a person at Hebron now, and could have been, therefore, to Abraham as he looked toward Sodom on the morning of its destruction by God' (Hackett). It must have been an awful sight, and is frequently alluded to in Scripture (Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 13:19; Jude 1:7).


Verse 29

And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt. When God destroyed the cities, ... This is most welcome and instructive, after so painful a narrative. It shows, if God is a "consuming fire" to the wicked, He is the friend of the righteous: 'Remembering' the intercessions of Abraham, He rescued Lot from the terrific scene; and what confidence should not this give us that He will 'remember' the intercessions of a greater than Abraham in our behalf.


Verse 30

And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.

Lot went up out of Zoar. He became afraid to reside in this place, lest the inhabitants, if addicted to the same gross habits of wickedness, might be involved ere long in a calamity similar to that which had befallen the neighbouring cities.

And dwelt in the mountain. This might be the mountain immediately east of Zoar. The hills of the peninsula (some of them low mounds, reaching to the eastern shore of the sea) are in the official 'Report of the American Exploring Expedition' estimated at from 60 to 80 feet in height. If he took refuge in one of the mountains of Moab, they lay at a distance of 10 miles from Zoar. Lot's flight from Zoar, notwithstanding the divine assurance that he would be safe within its walls, is an additional proof of his instability of character-at least of his weak and wavering faith.


Verses 31-38

And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:

The first-born said unto the younger. The first impression naturally made upon the mind of a reader by the perusal of the horrid details which follow is, that the moral sensibilities of Lot's daughters had been blunted, or rather totally extinguished, by long and familiar association with the people of the Pentapolis, and that they had already sunk to the lowest depths of depravity, when they could in concert deliberately plan the commission of incest with their own father. But this first impression will soon be corrected or removed by the recollection that those young women, though living in the midst of a universally corrupt society, had yet maintained a virtuous character (Genesis 19:8); and therefore it must be presumed that it was through the influence of some strong, overpowering motive they were impelled to the adoption of so base an imposture.

It could not be, as has been generally supposed, that they believed themselves to be the sole survivors of mankind; because they knew that the inhabitants of Zoar were alive; and if they were now residing in a cave of the Moabite mountains, they must have seen multitudes of labourers working in the vineyards with which those heights were extensively planted. They could not be actuated, therefore, with the wish to preserve the human race, which, in their view, was all but extinct. Their object must have been very different, and most probably it was this. Cherishing some family traditions respecting the promised seed, in expectation of which Abraham, with Lot and others, had migrated to Canaan, they brooded in despondency over the apparent loss of that hope-since their mother's death; and believing that their father, who was descended from the oldest branch of Terah's family, and who was an object of God's special charge to the angels, had the best claim to be the ancestor of the distinguished progeny, they agreed together to use means for securing the much-longed-for result.

This view of their conduct is strongly confirmed by the circumstance that, instead of being ashamed of their crime, or concealing the origin of their children by some artfully-contrived story, they proclaimed it to the world, and perpetuated the memory of it by the names they bestowed upon their children; the oldest calling her son Moab [ Mow'aab (Hebrew #4124), an old or corrupt form of mee'aab (Hebrew #1), 'from father,' or as Kurtz derives it, Mow'aab (Hebrew #4124) = muw'b, from yaa'ab (Hebrew #2968), to desire, meaning, 'He that has been desired or longed for'], and the younger designating her son [ been (Hebrew #1121) `amiy (Hebrew #5971)], 'son of my people.' This, if not an altogether satisfactory, is at least a rational explanation of a course of conduct which, in young women of unsullied purity, is so revolting; but which, as Rosenmuller remarks, 'is in accordance not only with the circumstances of that time, but with the way of thinking and acting in remote antiquity.'

After these observations, it is superfluous to notice the strange criticism of de Wette and Von Bohlen, who consider this concluding narrative a fiction, which the national jealousy and hatred of the Jews to the Moabites and Ammonites invented; to bring disgrace on the origin of these people. But the value of their criticism will be seen at once by a reference to Deuteronomy 2:9-19, where the Israelites are expressly told not to molest the Moabites and Ammonites, because they were the descendants of Lot; and the narrative which forms the conclusion of this chapter must have had an influence in fostering brotherly feelings toward these people.

The history of Lot ends here. Dr. Robinson mentions ('Biblical Researches') that the Arabs have a tradition that he was buried on Beni-Naim, the elevated spot where Abraham stood before the Lord interceding for Sodom, and whence he next morning viewed the distant conflagration.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 19:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-19.html. 1871-8.

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