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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Genesis 19

 

 

Verse 1

Genesis 19:1. There came two angels — Probably two of the three that had just before been with Abraham, the two created angels, who were now sent to execute God’s purpose concerning Sodom. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom — Waiting for an opportunity of entertaining strangers, in which he imitated Abraham, and set an example of hospitality in the midst of the reigning and abominable vices of the place. For though he was influenced to go thither by improper motives, and continued there with unjustifiable obstinacy, when every dictate of religion and morality cried aloud, — “Come out from among them;” yet, on the whole, as St. Peter observes, (2 Peter 2:8,) he was a righteous man, and his righteous soul was vexed from day to day with the filthy conversation of that most abandoned place, in seeing and hearing of their unlawful deeds.


Verse 2

Genesis 19:2. They said, Nay, but we will abide in the street all night — So they said, not only to give Lot an opportunity of evincing the sincerity and cordiality of his invitation, but because it was their real intention to abide in the street, where they, no doubt, would have abode, if he had not so much urged them to lodge in his house.


Verse 3

Genesis 19:3. He pressed upon them greatly — Partly because he would by no means have them to expose themselves to the perils and insults which he was aware awaited their lodging in the street of Sodom, and partly because he was desirous of their converse.


Verse 4-5

Genesis 19:4-5. No description which could be given of their vile and abominable conduct, however laboured, could possibly have conveyed so striking an idea of their unparalleled wickedness, as this simple narrative of facts. Here were old and young, all from every quarter — Collected for practices too shameful to be mentioned! Either they had no magistrates to protect the peaceable, or their magistrates themselves were aiding and abetting.


Verse 8

Genesis 19:8. I have two daughters — This was unadvisedly and unjustifiably offered, probably through the great discomposure and perturbation which his mind was in. It is true, of two evils we must choose the less, but of two sins we must choose neither, nor ever do evil that good may come of it.


Verse 11

Genesis 19:11. And they smote the men with blindness — This was designed to put an end to their attempt, and to be an earnest of their utter ruin the next day.


Verse 13

Genesis 19:13. We will destroy this place — The holy angels are ministers of God’s wrath for the destruction of sinners, as well as of his mercy for the preservation and deliverance of his people.


Verse 14

Genesis 19:14. Lot spake to his sons-in-law, &c. — It is likely these sons-in- law had married other daughters of Lot, who were now dead, or who afterward perished in the destruction of the city. Up, get you out of this place — The manner of expression is startling. It was not a time to trifle, when the destruction was just at the door. But he seemed to them as one that mocked — They thought perhaps that the assault which the Sodomites had just now made upon his house had disturbed his head, and put him into such a fright that he knew not what he said. They that made a jest of every thing made a jest of that, and so perished in the overthrow. Thus many, who are warned of the danger they are in by sin, make a light matter of it; such will perish with their blood upon their heads.


Verse 16

Genesis 19:16. While he lingered — He did not make so much haste as the case required, and this would have been fatal to him, if the angels had not laid hold on his hand, and brought him forth. Herein the Lord was merciful to him; and if God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin.


Verse 17

Genesis 19:17. Look not behind thee — He must not loiter by the way; stay not in all the plain — For it would all be made one dead sea; he must not take up short of the place of refuge appointed him; escape to the mountain — Such are the commands given to those who, through grace, are delivered out of a sinful state. 1st, Return not to sin and Satan, for that is looking back to Sodom. 2d, Rest not in the world, for that is staying in the plain.

3d, Reach toward Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not take up.


Verse 22

Genesis 19:22. I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither — The very presence of good men in a place helps to keep off judgments. See what care God takes for the preservation of his people!


Verse 24

Genesis 19:24. Then the Lord rained, from the Lord — The Son, who had conversed with Abraham, from the Father, for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. He that is they Saviour will be the destroyer of those that reject the salvation.


Verse 25

Genesis 19:25. And he overthrew those cities, and all the inhabitants of them, the plain, and all that grew upon the ground — It was an utter ruin, and irreparable; that fruitful valley remains to this day a great lake, or dead sea. Travellers say it is about thirty miles long, and ten miles broad. It has no living creature in it: it is not moved by the wind: the smell of it is offensive: things do not easily sink in it. The Greeks call it Asphaltis, from a sort of pitch which it casts up. Jordan falls into it, and is lost there. It was a punishment that answered their sin. Burning lusts against nature were justly punished with this preternatural burning.


Verse 26

Genesis 19:26. But his wife looked back from behind him — Herein she disobeyed an express command. Probably she hankered after her house and goods in Sodom, and was loath to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin, Luke 17:31-32; she too much regarded her stuff. And her looking back spoke an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostacy from our Christian profession. And she became a pillar of salt — She was struck dead in the place, yet her body did not fall down, but stood fixed and erect, like a pillar or monument, not liable to waste or decay, as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance, which would last perpetually.


Verses 27-29

Genesis 19:27-29. And Abraham gat up early — To see what was become of his prayers, he went to the very place where he had stood before the Lord. And he looked toward Sodom — Not as Lot’s wife did, tacitly reflecting upon the divine severity, but humbly adoring it, and acquiescing in it. Here is God’s favourable regard to Abraham. As before, when Abraham prayed for Ishmael, God heard him for Isaac; so now, when he prayed for Sodom, he heard him for Lot. God remembered Abraham, and for his sake sent Lot out of the overthrow — God will certainly give an answer of peace to the prayer of faith in his own way and time.


Verse 30

Genesis 19:30. He feared to dwell in Zoar — Probably he found it as wicked as Sodom; and therefore concluded it could not long survive it; or perhaps he observed the rise and increase of those waters, which, after the conflagration, began to overflow the plain, and which, mixing with the ruins, by degrees, made the Dead sea. In those waters he concluded Zoar must needs perish, (though it had escaped the fire,) because it stood upon the same flat. He was now glad to go to the mountain, the place which God had appointed for his shelter. See in Lot what those bring themselves to at last that forsake the communion of saints for secular advantages! He has lost all his substance, and the greater part of his family. His wife is made a monument of the divine wrath against those that prefer the world to God, and the principles of his remaining daughters are so corrupted, and their moral feelings so stupified, through their intercourse with the depraved inhabitants of Sodom, that they are prepared for the greatest crimes; they even lay snares to entangle their own father in the dreadful one of committing incest with themselves. He dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters — It seems strange when he was thus reduced, that he did not think of returning to Abraham, from whom he was at no great distance, and who, no doubt, would have kindly received him. But probably he was ashamed to return, being conscious that he had not treated that venerable servant of God with due respect; or, being now stripped of all, and a wretched outcast, he could not brook appearing so degraded among those that had known him in his more prosperous days.


Verse 32

Genesis 19:32. Come, let us make our father drink wine — Although, upon the whole, Lot was a righteous man, and possessed of many amiable qualities, yet it evidently appears that his principles also, as well as those of his daughters, had suffered some degree of contamination by the society of evil-doers, otherwise surely he would have withstood every temptation to excess of drinking. Here the history of Lot ends; after this we hear no more of him or of his daughters. We cannot but be sorry to leave them under so dark a cloud. He, indeed, we have reason to believe, lived to repent of his sin, otherwise St. Peter would not have spoken so honourably of him; but we have no proof that his daughters repented of theirs. And certainly the children thus desired, and in this unlawful way obtained, were monuments of their own and their father’s reproach, and the names they thought fit to give them, which descended to their posterity, perpetuated the memory of their sin and shame to all generations: Moab signifying, of my father, and Ben-Ammi, the son of my people.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 19:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/genesis-19.html. 1857.

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