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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 19

 

 

Verses 1-38

Genesis 19:1. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom, as a magistrate, no doubt, for the wicked accuse him of making himself a judge or elder. The main gate of a city was the usual place of hearing causes, and administering justice. There is no intimation that he sat there merely for hospitality.

Genesis 19:4. Old and young. The whole inhabitants of Sodom were utterly corrupted, and they wished all the world to know the perfection of their wickedness.

Genesis 19:5. Know them. This most abominable crime, since called Sodomy, is mentioned in other places, and often with the highest horrors of God and man. Leviticus 18:22. Romans 1:23-24. 19:22.

Genesis 19:11. Blindness, or dimness of sight. 2 Kings 6:18. The sin began with their eyes, which had been full of adultery; and with them the punishment began.

Genesis 19:14. He seemed as one that mocked. Lot’s error in taking refuge with the wicked in Sodom and forming matrimonial connections there, instead of dwelling in tents, cost him all his substance, and an infinitude of grief and trouble. The prohibition from marrying with unbelievers has often been supported and guarded by signal acts of providence. The males of David’s house were eventually all cut off, by marrying Jezebel’s daughter, except Joash, an infant.

Genesis 19:24. Jehovah rained—fire and brimstone from Jehovah. Whole councils of christian fathers have cited this text as demonstrative of the Godhead of Christ, and the distinction of persons in the Holy Trinity. So the early fathers by general consent: all admit Jehovah, the Angel, to be the Christ. Why then should any man accounted orthodox start a difficulty?

Genesis 19:26. Pillar of salt. The analysis of the human body coincides with the qualities of lime, and there were slime or salt pits in the vale of Siddim. Chap. 14. This pillar was a monument of “the wickedness of a foolish people.” Wisdom of Solomon 10:7.

Genesis 19:28. The smoke of a furnace. The district forming the dead sea, so called, because it was long before fish were discovered in it, extends about 76 miles by 18 or 20. It contained much bitumen, coally matter, and sulphur, covered with a fertile soil. Hence pride, idleness, and fulness of bread were the sins of Sodom. When their measure was full, God came down to enquire and to judge, teaching monarchs not to execute vengeance in a summary way, but wait for some investigation of character. He collected against them a dark cloud, composed probably of nitre, from which our fiery meteors or shooting stars are chiefly composed, and rained “snares” of fire and brimstone on the wicked. Yea, snares, for when they ran crying into the streets, the fire was there, and when they ran into the fields, the fire was there also. Thus “the heavens revealed their iniquity, and the earth rose up against them.” The fire burned as deep into the earth as the strata or masses of combustible matter extended, and continued burning on the shores of the lake for ages afterward. Deuteronomy 29:23. The lake of Sodom has a saltness superior to that of the sea, which may account for the paucity of fish; and for a sulphureous saline matter, often observed to collect and float on the waves, and which occasionally ignites and explodes. Thus Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, with nine other towns perished in the fire.

Genesis 19:31. There is not a man. The case of Lot’s daughters is perfectly unique. They had recently seen their sisters destroyed in Sodom, by marrying the men of that city. That was a sin they durst not repeat. They had no brother, nor relative, nor hope out of their own family. Moses simply mentions their situation.

Genesis 19:38. Ben ammi; that is, son of my people, or of my own race. By this name Lot’s daughter seems to justify the deed on the ground of necessity, there being no other man, Genesis 19:31.

REFLECTIONS.

How awfully great is the depravity of man, if it be capable of acquiring so great a growth of wickedness, and in defiance of conscience, of law and of judgments; and how wise and equitable the law of nations, which punishes the crime of Sodomy with death and abhorrence. By making a victim of one delinquent, a whole nation may be saved from destruction.

Sin has yet a more atrocious character: it never ceases to tempt and allure the less guilty, till they are initiated into all the mysteries of vice; it then throws off restraint and shame. The men of Sodom seemed desirous that strangers should publish to all the world the greatness of their shame. Ah, how like to the grand enemy will a course of crimes soon render a man, whose youth afforded the fairest hopes, and was adorned with many virtues.

We learn further, after men have gone a certain way in the awful route, that tears, arguments, and entreaties have no avail; they become the more violent for opposition, the judgment being hurried by passion to the abyss of destruction. Though Lot in the excess of grief, offered his daughters, not doubting for decency’s sake but the offer would be rejected; yet he could not prevail. If then at a certain crisis of sin men are thus given up to a reprobate mind, let us train up our children in the utmost modesty, and in all possible virtue. Let us support and improve the recent institution of Sunday schools, hoping thereby that the next age will be more generally reformed and converted to God: and let us encourage missions to the heathen, who are in a very awful state of wickedness.

Let all good men be warned not to give their daughters in marriage to the unregenerate. Lot married a woman of Sodom, and he either engaged his daughters to the men of Sodom, or, as is more probable, he had other daughters married in that city; and these connections pierced his soul with grief, lost his property, and brought his family to the verge of destruction.

In the charge delivered to Lot, sinners have the way of salvation pointed out. Escape for thy life. It is safest to conquer the snares of the world by flight. The great and precious promises are given to us, that we might be made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption which is in the world through lust. Samson, mighty Samson, fell by feasting with the Philistines. Oh that the lingering soul might be taken by the hand, and led into the good way. Look not behind thee at any glare of pleasures, nor at any companion who despises God’s warning, and will not follow thee to heaven. Nor stay, christian, in all the plain; while we are beguiled by the world, the judgments of God may overtake us. Escape to the mountain; the holy hill of Zion, the mountain of refuge and hope is right before us; let us hasten thither.

But did Lot’s wife look back; and was she instantly changed into a pillar of salt, either by falling into a saline, or changed into that substance by the immediate hand of God? And have the first transgressors of any covenant been often punished on the spot, to show what every sinner shall soon receive, as appears from Ham, who was accursed; from the blasphemer and the sabbath-breaker, who were stoned; and from Ananias and Sapphira, who dissembled? Then let all christians be cautious of presumptuously violating their covenant with God, and let us dread the idea of backsliding, Christ having said, Remember Lot’s wife.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 19:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/genesis-19.html. 1835.

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