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On Genesis, Part 29: The End of Sodom
As it is first recorded in Genesis chapter 18, Yahweh God had purposed to destroy Sodom for its sins, and when Abraham learned of that purpose, he plead for the Sodomites, having imagined that at least some of them were righteous, and he petitioned God on that basis, that the righteous not suffer for the sins of the wicked. So Abraham bargained with God, and asked him not to destroy the place for the benefit of fifty righteous men. When Yahweh agreed, he continued to bargain, all the way down to ten men, and Yahweh had nevertheless agreed, where it is recorded that He had said “I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.” With that the record of the exchange ends, and now here in Genesis chapter 19, we see that Yahweh did indeed destroy Sodom, permitting only Lot and his family any opportunity to escape. So evidently, there were not even ten righteous men among the Sodomites, and for that reason we described the altruism of Abraham as having been merely speculative, because Abraham imagined that a portion of them were righteous, but he had little direct experience to make any judgement in the matter.
The famous geographer of the early 1st century AD, Strabo of Cappadocia, did not work exclusively from first-hand accounts, but relied on the reports of others, especially of sailors and other travelers, since he probably could not have traveled by himself the entire broad world which he had labored to describe in writing, which had stretched from Britain and Ireland in the west to the Indus River in the east. He also frequently cited older writers, verifying or amending their descriptions of diverse places, and he mentioned many of those writers whose works are not lost. So, pertaining to Sodom, in the 16th book of his Geography he confused the Dead Sea with what the Greeks had called Lake Sirbonis, the Serbonian Bog on the Mediterranean coast west of Gaza which appeared to be more of a lake to early travelers.  But aside from that misidentification, which is evident where he named places such as Masada, he was clearly speaking of the Dead Sea. So he had described the asphalt produced by the lake, or sea, and the fires below the water which produced it , and then he wrote that:
Many other evidences are produced to show that the country is fiery; for near Moasada are to be seen rugged rocks that have been scorched, as also, in many places, fissures and ashy soil, and drops of pitch that emit foul odours to a great distance, and ruined settlements here and there; and therefore people believe the oft-repeated assertions of the local inhabitants, that there were once thirteen inhabited cities in that region of which Sodom was the metropolis, but that a circuit of about sixty stadia of that city escaped unharmed; and that by reason of earthquakes and of eruptions of fire and of hot waters containing asphalt and sulphur, the lake burst its bounds, and rocks were enveloped with fire; and, as for the cities, some were swallowed up and others were abandoned by such as were able to escape. But Eratosthenes says, on the contrary, that the country was a lake, and that most of it was uncovered by outbreaks, as was the case with the sea. 
Those final words, “with the sea”, are asserted to be a gloss for “with Thessaly”, Θεσσαλός rather than θάλασσα, which I must esteem as being correct since the reference to Eratosthenes describes an aspect of the Serbonian Bog which was also similar to a description of a lake in Thessaly.  But Strabo mistook the Dead Sea for what is now called the Serbonian Bog. Where Strabo had mentioned Masada in connection to this description, which was the location of a fortress known to the Romans since they conquered Judaea several decades before Strabo had begun to write, it is evident that he was actually describing the Dead Sea. Strabo was born about the same time as the Roman conquest of Judaea, in 63 BC. Later, Flavius Josephus had mentioned Masada often in his description of the conquest of Judaea, and also mentioned that Herod had kept his family in a fortress there while he joined the Romans in their conquest of the Hasmonaeans.  The ruins of Masada are near the south end of the Dead Sea about two miles west of its current coastline, and about 21 miles southeast of Hebron, where Abraham was still living by the oaks of Mamre.
So the destruction of Sodom was esteemed to be an account worthy of repeating by Strabo, and it is also evident that Scripture was not the source from which he had learned of it, but rather, he received it from local folk accounts. Where thirteen cities are mentioned by him as having been destroyed, the Scripture does not specify how many cities were destroyed. Here in this 19th chapter of Genesis we read only that “24 … the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” Then where the battle of the kings is described in Genesis chapter 14, only five cities of the plain are mentioned. Furthermore, Strabo’s account, where he states that the conditions of the lake are the reason why the accounts of the destruction of Sodom were believed, he certainly corroborates the words of the apostle Peter, who wrote about 40 years after Strabo had died, where in chapter 2 of his second epistle, speaking of God, he said: “6 and the cities of Sodom and Gomorra burning to ashes He had condemned to destruction, having been set forth for an example of those who are going to be impious”.
In Book 1 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans, Flavius Josephus described the battle of the kings which is recorded in Genesis chapter 14, and he wrote in part, speaking of the kings of Mesopotamia whom he had anachronistically referred to as Assyrians:
These kings had laid waste all Syria, and overthrown the offspring of the giants. And when they were come over against Sodom, they pitched their camp at the vale called the Slime Pits, for at that time there were pits in that place; but now, upon the destruction of the city of Sodom, that vale became the Lake Asphaltites, as it is called.” 
This agrees with our own conclusion, that after the destruction of Sodom, the Valley of Salt which was near to the Jordan River had become what is now the Dead Sea. For a description of Sodom, however, Josephus refers his readers to what he had written earlier, in his accounts of the Judaean wars.  So where he had described the western coasts of the Dead Sea in Book 4 of his Wars of the Judaeans, he wrote the following:
The nature of the lake Asphaltitis is also worth describing. It is, as I have said already, bitter and unfruitful. It is so light [or thick] that it bears up the heaviest things that are thrown into it; nor is it easy for any one to make things sink therein to the bottom, if he had a mind so to do. Accordingly, when Vespasian went to see it, he commanded that some who could not swim should have their hands tied behind them, and be thrown into the deep, when it so happened that they all swam as if a wind had forced them upwards. Moreover, the change of the color of this lake is wonderful, for it changes its appearance thrice every day; and as the rays of the sun fall differently upon it, the light is variously reflected. However, it casts up black clods of bitumen in many parts of it; these swim at the top of the water, and resemble both in shape and bigness headless bulls; and when the laborers that belong to the lake come to it, and catch hold of it as it hangs together, they draw it into their ships; but when the ship is full, it is not easy to cut off the rest, for it is so tenacious as to make the ship hang upon its clods till they set it loose with the menstrual blood of women, and with urine, to which alone it yields. This bitumen is not only useful for the caulking of ships, but for the cure of men's bodies; accordingly, it is mixed in a great many medicines. The length of this lake is five hundred and eighty furlongs, where it is extended as far as Zoar in Arabia; and its breadth is a hundred and fifty. The country of Sodom borders upon it. It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that Divine fire, and the traces [or shadows] of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits; which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten, but if you pluck them with your hands, they dissolve into smoke and ashes. And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility which our very sight affords us. 
Notice that Josephus made no comment on the cruelty of Vespasian, which actually seemed quite typical of Roman emperors of the time. Then, as for the superstitions and disgusting practices of the locals whom Josephus described, they were, after all, primarily Canaanites. But as for the statement that “And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility which our very sight affords us”, that also fully corroborates the words of Peter, that Sodom stood in his day “for an example of those who are going to be impious”. Today we see Sodom all around us, and according to Peter this is also an example for them, as they shall certainly all suffer the same fate.
[At Christogenea we have posted a video from a Judaized Christian source which, although it contains some errors in doctrine, records a visit to ruins on the Dead Sea which are very much like one may imagine for Sodom to appear today, and we shall include that presentation here, but we cannot take the time necessary to describe it in writing.]
[1 Serbonian Bog, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbonian_Bog, accessed September 14th, 2023; 2 Geography, Strabo, 16.2.42-43; 3 ibid. 16.2.44; 4 Strabo, Geography, footnote at 16.2.44, translated by Horace Leonard Jones for the Loeb Classical Library, volume 241, Harvard University Press, 1930-2000, p. 297; 5 Wars of the Judaeans, Flavius Josephus, Book 1, Paragraph 303; 6 Antiquities of the Judaeans, Flavius Josephus, Book 1, Paragraph 174; 7 ibid., Paragraph 203; 8 Wars of the Judaeans, Book 4, Paragraph 476.]
Where Peter, in that same place in his second epistle, had continued his remarks in respect to Sodom, and God is still the subject, we read: “7 and He delivered the righteous Lot who had been oppressed by the licentious conduct of the lawless 8 (for with sights and reports the righteous one dwelling among them day by day tormented a righteous soul with their lawless deeds)”. So by Lot’s choice to live in Sodom, he had tormented his own soul because he was forced to observe the perversity of their conduct on a daily basis. But Lot had entered into Sodom to live there on his own volition, and in a selfless display of brotherly love, Abraham had rescued Lot from his captivity when Sodom was looted by the kings of Elam and Mesopotamia. But then after his rescue, Lot had nevertheless moved back into Sodom once again. Later in this chapter, it is revealed that for some reason, Lot actually feared living in the countryside, although he was ultimately compelled to do so.
Now the degree of depravity in the conduct of the Sodomites is made apparent soon after the men who were with Abraham arrived in Sodom, where they are described as angels rather than, here at the commencement of Genesis chapter 19:
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;
The men who had been with Abraham were apparently angels, although they had been called by the Hebrew term enosh which describes a mortal man. The fact that they were indeed messengers of God is elucidated in their prophecy which they had announced before Abraham and Sarah concerning the birth of Isaac. When they departed from Abraham, they went on the way to Sodom, and now two of the three men are found here with Lot. We are not informed as to what became of the third man, but it is not crucial to understanding the balance of this account, so there is certainly no need to conjecture.
While the word used here is angels, from the Hebrew word מלאך or malak (# 4397), that word only means messenger or representative, primarily, and by itself it does not indicate that the messengers are from God, or that they have any supernatural origin or ability. The English term angel is only a transliteration of the Greek equivalent of malak, which is ἄγγελος and also means messenger or representative. So at this point in the narrative, Lot could not have known that these men were angels of God, and Lot himself is portrayed as having referred to them as men, using the Hebrew word enosh, in verse 8 of this chapter. They are described as men again in verse 10, and there is no indication of their nature until it begins to be revealed with verse 11.
We may never know why Lot sat at the gate of the city in the evening, since if the markets were near the gate, which is typical, then in ancient cities such areas were known to be the seedier areas of the city once evening fell. But where Lot had spoken to these men, it is evident that his own intentions were innocent:
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.
The ancient Greeks had a custom called ξενία which is clearly very ancient and is found all throughout their literature from the earliest times. According to Liddell & Scott, ξενία is the “hospitality shown to a guest, entertainment”, but the application of that hospitality in the customs which governed it went far beyond what that definition describes. A simple and fair summary is found in an article titled Hospitium, after the equivalent Latin word, in A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities:
In ancient Greece the stranger, as such (ξένος and hostis), was looked upon as an enemy … but whenever he appeared among another tribe or nation without any sign of hostile intentions, he was considered not only as one who required aid, but as a suppliant, and Zeus was the protecting deity of strangers and suppliants. (Ζεὺς ξένιος [Hospitable Zeus] and ἱκετήσιος [an epithet used of Zeus as the tutelary god of suppliants] … ) This religious feeling was strengthened by the belief that the stranger might possibly be a god in disguise …. On his arrival therefore, the stranger, of whatever station in life he might be, was kindly received, and provided with everything necessary to make him comfortable, and to satisfy his immediate wants. The host did not inquire who the stranger was, or what had led him to his house, until the duties of hospitality were fulfilled. During his stay, it was a sacred duty of his host to protect him against any persecution, even if he belonged to a politically hostile race, so that the host's house was a perfect asylum to him. On his departure he was dismissed with presents and good wishes …. 
Further on in this article, we read of such hospitality in Rome:
The hospitality of the Romans was, as in Greece, either hospitium privatum or publicum. Private hospitality with the Romans, however, seems to have been more accurately and legally defined than in Greece. The character of a hospes, i. e. a person connected with a Roman by ties of hospitality, was deemed even more sacred, and to have greater claims upon the host, than that of a person connected by blood or affinity. The relation of a hospes to his Roman friend was next in importance to that of a cliens … or, according to Masurius Sabinus …, the hospes had even higher claims than a cliens. The obligations which the tie of hospitality with a foreigner imposed upon a Roman were to receive into his house his hospes when travelling … and to protect and, in case of need, to represent him as his patron in the courts of justice …. Private hospitality thus gave to the hospes the claims upon his host which the client had upon his patron; but without any degree of the dependence implied in the clientela. Private hospitality was established between individuals by mutual presents, or by the mediation of a third person … and hallowed by religion; for Jupiter Hospitalis was thought to watch over the jus hospitii, as Zeus Xenios did with the Greeks … and the violation of it was as great a crime and impiety at Rome as in Greece. 
Those common Greek and Roman customs and laws must have been handed down from more ancient customs, and it is those more ancient customs which are found here in these chapters of Genesis, in the actions of both Abraham and Lot. This understanding of the relationship between host and guest in the ancient world is crucial to understanding the actions of Lot here in Genesis, since it was considered a great disgrace for a host if a guest suffered harm while in his home, just as a suppliant taking refuge at the altar of a temple would also be protected from harm, at least for as long as he stayed in the temple.
[9 A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, William Smith, LLD., William Wayte, G.E. Marindin, Editor, 1890, https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0063:entry=hospitium-cn, accessed September 14th, 2023; 10 ibid.]
Now, just as Abraham had begged the three men to allow his hospitality as soon as he had seen them, we see Lot do that same thing here:
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.
So both men, Abraham and Lot, must have thought it a privilege to serve sojourners. We had already cited Paul of Tarsus, in Hebrews chapter 13 where he had admonished his readers to “2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares”, so neither Abraham nor Lot knew that these men were angels. In relation to the earlier event with Abraham, we also already cited the Egyptian proverb found in The Instruction of Amen-Em-Opet, from the 12th or 13th centuries BC, which reads in part: “Do not neglect a stranger (with) thy oil-jar, That it be doubled before thy brethren. God desires respect for the poor more than the honoring of the exalted.”  But while the hospitality of Abraham and Lot was selfless, evidently to the Egyptians it was practised in hope of profiting from the gods.
[11 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 3rd edition, James Pritchard, editor, 1969, Harvard University Press, p. 424.]
Now it becomes apparent that Lot was not the only man watching at the gate of the city, but the others who had seen the men did not share his motives:
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: 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.
Now that Lot has taken these men in, he has an obligation to protect them, which he himself displays here, just as we have seen with the customs of xenia and hospitium in ancient Greece and Rome. But the Sodomites do not merely want to know the angels in an innocent manner, angels whom they perceive as men, rather, they want to abuse them sexually, which is evident in Lot’s response:
6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
Lot refers to these men as brethren, but they are actually only fellow-citizens of Sodom. However while some of these men may have been Canaanites, the cities of the plain, including Sodom, do not appear to be part of the land of Canaan at this time. This is found in Genesis chapter 13 where we read: “10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.” If the cities of the plain were also part of Canaan, then the passage as it is worded is nonsense, because the cities of the plain are distinguished from the land of Canaan, where Abraham had dwelt.
At this time, various parts of Canaan were subject to Egypt, or to the Canaanite tribes in the north, especially the Amorites. But as we observed in the battle of the kings recorded in Genesis chapter 14, these cities of the plain had been under tribute to the king of Elam who had also apparently ruled over Mesopotamia at this time, so these cities may have been of Cush in Mesopotamia, rather than of Canaan. In that manner, Lot having come from Ur in Mesopotamia, he would have had a closer affinity to these men than to Canaanites.
In that passage from Genesis chapter 13 which we have just cited, we read further on, in verse 12, that Lot had “pitched his tent toward Sodom”, but here, perhaps around twenty years later, he has a house in Sodom. The elder Abraham is still dwelling in a tent by the oaks of Mamre. While it is only conjecture, something in the city had attracted Lot to move into it, rather than to remain out in the fields with his cattle, in spite of any vexation of spirit which he had suffered living among the Sodomites. He even went into captivity on account of his having lived in Sodom, and when Abraham had freed him, he must have returned immediately. So Lot stands as a type for Christians today, who know better but who remain living in the company of sinners in our modern large cities. Then in a way, Lot is also a type for those who would choose luxury over austerity, and comfort and convenience over rustic simplicity.
Now Lot, burdened with the responsibility of a host, would rather lose his own daughters than see harm done to his guests, in accordance with the customs of xenia and hospitium:
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
Lot would go so far as to give up his own daughters than to see any harm come to his guests, which was the noble path to take in the ancient world, and by that a man would also preserve his own honor. If the men had accepted his daughters, this may have placed a much greater burden on Lot, as it is unlikely that any of them would have kept the women and supported them. So Lot, not being able to marry off daughters who were not virgins, most likely would have had to support them indefinitely. Although, as it works out, Lot would ultimately suffer that fate anyway, the men themselves were not interested in women, even if they were virgins.
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.
The men knew that Lot was not a native, where they said “This one … came in to sojourn”, and that therefore he should not be a judge, as he was an outsider. Where we read “This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge”, perhaps we would translate the text to read “This one came in to sojourn, and now judges as a judge.” So where they avowed that they would deal even worse with Lot, if they had been permitted, perhaps they would have raped and killed Lot after having raped his guests. But before they could do anything, the angels intervene:
10 But the men [the angels of verse 1] put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 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.
Aside from the prophecy which the men had for Abraham and Sarah concerning the birth of Isaac, something of which Lot could not have been aware, this is the first indication that these men truly were angels of Yahweh, revealed in the supernatural abilities which they displayed here. But throughout Scripture, both angels and men have had supernatural abilities imparted to them by God. But however it happens, Christians have one assurance, that the end of modern Sodom will happen in much the same manner that ancient Sodom had come to an end. However first we must examine the nature of Sodom itself.
There are modern Christian so-called pastors and teachers who claim that the Sodomites were not Sodomites, who are now called by the euphemism of homosexuals, because these men were attempting to have sex with angels and not with men. That in itself is a lie which has been contrived by modern Sodomites, the same Sodomites whom the world now calls homosexuals. There is no doubt that homosexuals are indeed sinners in the same manner as were the ancient Sodomites, and that they should therefore wear the label Sodomite, because they willingly follow in the sins of Sodom. These men of Sodom perceived that Lot’s visitors were men, as they demanded of him in verse 5 by asking “Where are the men which came in to thee this night?” There once again, the Hebrew word translated as men is a plural form of אנוש or enosh (# 582), which describes a mortal man. So they were seeking to attain some sort of perverse gratification by having sexual relations with men, and not with angels, as they did not know that the men were angels, just as neither Abraham nor Lot were aware that they had entertained angels, as Paul of Tarsus attested.
The fact that they sought to commit sexual acts with the men in Lot’s home is revealed not so much in the allegorical use of the verb to know which appears in the phrase “that we may know them” in verse 5, but explicitly in Lot’s response where he pleads that the men “do not so wickedly” and his offer of his daughters “which have not known a man” in verses 6 through 8. So there is absolutely no doubt that the men of Sodom sought to Sodomize the men who were guests in Lot’s home. For that, such acts deserve the label of Sodomy, and to this very day, all of those who commit them are nothing but Sodomites. Until the 1960’s that was the common term which was used to describe them in legal documents, but at that point the Jewish media began to push the euphemism, homosexual, upon the brainwashed public, although apparently, the term first appeared in psychiatric literature in Michigan in 1892.
Furthermore, these men of Sodom were wicked in this manner long before these angels had even appeared, as we read in Genesis chapter 13 where Moses had explained: “13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” Some of these men must have been among those whom Abraham had saved from captivity and returned to the king of Sodom no more than two decades earlier, in Genesis chapter 14. Wanting to know these men carnally, the term Sodomites as we know it in English properly describes a homosexual, and homosexual activity is properly referred to as Sodomy, as these are indeed history’s first recorded Sodomites.
But this was not the full extent of their sins. Yahweh already had intended to destroy the cities of the plain for their evil, as it is recorded in Genesis chapter 18, and here Sodomy was used as the example of the final cause for that destruction. But the apostle Jude mentioned another cause, which was race-mixing fornication, where he wrote in his epistle of the angels that sinned and the intruders into the assemblies of Christ and had likened them to be “7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Here we would assert that such fornication, the pursuit of strange or different flesh, is the same as the eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and that it was just to exterminate these men for that cause, as it was a repeat of the sins of Genesis chapters 3 and 6, which Yahweh God had expressly prohibited.
For this, the angels were about to destroy Sodom, but would spare Lot and anyone whom Lot may claim as his own:
12 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:
This reveals to us the fact that although these angels were evidently endowed with certain supernatural abilities, they were certainly not omniscient nor omnipotent, as only Yahweh God is omniscient and omnipotent, since they did not know precisely the size of Lot’s family, or whether or not he had sons or other daughters with husbands in addition to his two daughters who were still virgins. So now they explain to Lot what their intentions had been from the beginning:
13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it.
After the call of Abraham in Genesis chapter 12, he and Lot spent several years together, after Lot had departed with Abraham out of Haran, where his other uncle, Nahor, had stayed after the death of his grandfather Terah. Lot’s own father, also named Haran, had died earlier, in Ur of the Chaldees. Spending that time with Abraham, and voluntarily accompanying him to Canaan, Lot must have known of the Almighty God who had been guiding Abraham in his decisions. So while we do not know how much Abraham had revealed, or even could have revealed to Lot, Lot knew enough to use it to guide his own actions here. But the angels must have also had credibility in his eyes when they were able to keep the men of Sodom at bay by striking them with blindness. So for those reasons, Lot believed these men when they revealed this to him, and he acted upon his belief:
14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
As it is in the New American Standard Bible, to the men, Lot had appeared to be jesting. The whole world being pagan, the men apparently had no basis upon which to believe Lot’s words, and evidently in Sodom, men had little or no respect for one another, which is evident in their attitudes towards both Lot and the angels. Furthermore, since Lot’s daughters were still virgins and living at home, these men were not yet actually married to them, but only promised in marriage, and the Hebrew words, being quite ambiguous, must be interpreted according to the context of the broader passage in which they appear. The Hebrew term חתן or chathan (# 2860) described a relative by marriage through a woman, and therefore it was used of either a bridegroom or a son-in-law, among other relationships through a sister or daughter. Perhaps the phrase “his sons in law, which married his daughters” would better have been translated as “his sons-in-law who were taking his daughters”, as they were only betrothed and not yet married, and that is also in accordance with the Hebrew of the passage.
15 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. 16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
Here it seems that since the angels had hurried Lot and his family, pressing upon them the urgency to leave the city as quickly as possible, that the angels themselves did not have full control over what was about to happen. If they had full control, then they would not have had reason for such concern over a schedule. But because they evidently did have a schedule, a predetermined time when the city would be destroyed, they were compelled to rush Lot and his family to depart out of Sodom.
17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
The angels led Lot and his family a certain distance, and now they were sending them on their way, evidently to the same mountain ridge upon which Abraham had lived in Hebron. But in spite of such an ominous warning, it is apparent once again, that Lot does not desire to live in the countryside, and fearing the open country, he instead had preferred to live in a city:
18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: 19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: 20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.
The city, which is about to be renamed to צער or Zoar (# 6820), from a word meaning small or little, appears by that name anachronistically in Genesis chapters 13 and 14. In chapter 14, it is mentioned in the list of the kings of the cities of the plain who had fought on the side of Sodom, where we learn that the original name of Zoar was Bela. In turn, the name בלע or Bela (# 1106) is from a Hebrew word which means destruction. Yet in spite of the name, and because of the request of Lot, that city was spared, as the angel replies to his request:
21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.
Here it is apparent that Zoar is within close proximity of Sodom, since Lot could point it out, and since the angel acknowledged the city, where apparently both men could see it in the distance.
22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
As a brief digression, wherever the name Zoar appears in the King James Version, it is Segur in the Septuagint, except for Genesis 13:10 where it is Zogora. But of the ten occurrences of Zoar, the copies of Scripture found among the Dead Sea Scrolls preserve only two, where in Deuteronomy 34:3 and Isaiah 15:5 the name Zoar as it is found in the Masoretic Text is supported. For various reasons, including their own Hellenistic era biases, the Septuagint translators often did not do well with place names.
So Zoar was spared on account of Lot, but Lot will not profit from that either, as he is soon compelled to depart. Perhaps it is a memory of Zoar which caused the later inhabitants of the land, those described as having related the account of Sodom which is found in the writings of Josephus, to claim “that a circuit of about sixty stadia of that city escaped unharmed”, if the accounts were confused over time, as such myths often are. (Properly a myth is not necessarily a fictional tale, but rather, any account or story which was transmitted by word of mouth, as opposed to inscriptions or other writings. The word myth is from the Greek word μῦθος which is merely a word or speech as well as a tale, story or narrative. ) A στάδιον or stadion being 606.75 English feet, according to Liddell & Scott , sixty stadia is not quite seven miles (6.895). If Zoar was preserved while the entire area was burnt to a cinder, perhaps future generations of people from the surrounding areas may have believed that it was a portion of Sodom which was spared from destruction, since Zoar was in close proximity.
Here it is fully apparent that Lot continued to seek the comfort and luxury of cities, rather than the uncertain hardships of the countryside. In spite of the fact that Lot was considered righteous, which he evidently was, the decisions which he had made in his life did not bring him success. Here he is in Bela, which means destruction, and the city is renamed to Zoar, which means small. In the process, Lot was also made small in the destruction of Sodom. When Abraham had given Lot the choice of where he would live, he chose to live in the plain of the Jordan, and he brought with him much cattle and many of his own servants. But now he would be left with nothing, and the fate of his cattle and servants is unknown to us. Lot is not mentioned again after he is made an example of in this chapter, and the example of Lot should be just as important to Christians as the example of Sodom, since the two examples go hand-in-hand. The end of Lot is the end of a man who tolerated Sodom, regardless of the reasons which he may have had for doing so, and in spite of both his own inherent righteousness, and also in spite of the means which he had to live independently.
[12 A Greek-English Lexicon Compiled by Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott… With a revised supplement 1996, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1940, 1996, p. 1151; 13 ibid., p. 1631.]
24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
First we must note that Yahweh God did not destroy Sodomy, which is only an idea even if it is not a good idea. Ideas and concepts cannot be destroyed, and Sodomy is with us still today. But Sodomites can be destroyed, and this is a signal example to all who engage in it. This example is crucial to Christians, and especially today where Sodomy is once again becoming prevalent in our modern society.
It is for this reason that the city in which the two witnesses of Christ are killed is related to Sodom in the Revelation of Yahshua Christ, where we read in chapter 11: “3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. 7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. 8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”
Of course, Christ was not crucified in either Sodom or in Egypt, so Sodom and Egypt in that passage are allegories which represent concepts which are hostile to God, just as hostile as Jews are to Christ. Egypt was hostile to God in its enslavement and oppression of the children of Israel, and Yahweh destroyed it. Here, Sodom and the surrounding cities were hostile to God on account of their perversion and depravity, and Yahweh also destroyed them. Just as the witnesses of Christ are slain in the great city known as Sodom and Egypt, today there is a world banking system and usury-based economy through which international banks and corporations have enslaved the children of Yahweh, and Sodomites are once again liberated, and rampaging throughout the entire world. With that, anyone who advocates for Christ and stands against sin is also in danger of being slain. Sodomy is even being accepted by a vast majority of the formerly Christian churches.
Now Lot is in Zoar, a city within proximity of Sodom, as we have been informed in verse 23 that he entered in early in the morning, and now he loses his wife:
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Lot and his wife were told not to look back, in verse 17 where the angel had told them “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.” If it is early enough in the morning, perhaps the inhabitants of Zoar have not yet come out of their houses, and once reaching the city Lot’s wife could not overcome her curiosity. So, as another example for the benefit of modern Christians, she turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s wife seems to be a symbol of all those who would have care for Sodom and Egypt when they are finally destroyed. So the account of her may be set alongside the parable of the ten virgins recorded in Matthew chapter 25, who had no oil for their lamps, and when the Bridegroom appears they are off in the markets at the last minute, vainly trying to purchase oil at the last minute, and ultimately locked out of the wedding supper of the Lamb.
This is evident in Luke chapter 17, where Christ first spoke in reference to Lot and said “28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Then He continued, first with a warning similar to that of the angels here: “31 In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 32 Remember Lot's wife. 33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” So Lot’s wife is a symbol of those who may care for the things of this world, for the circumstances of their life in this world, when instead they should disregard this world of sin and look forward to the coming of the Christ and seek to join Him instead.
In modern Palestine, near the most southwestern coast of the Dead Sea, there is a place called Mount Sodom which is most probably not the location of ancient Sodom, and there is a pillar called Lot’s Wife, which is claimed to be the pillar of salt here. But that cannot be true, because it is in a setting which would not allow for its having been in any part of a city which Lot’s wife would have been able to access so readily. According to the account here, Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt in Zoar, after Lot had entered the city, and not on any hilltop outside of the city. The location of ancient Zoar is not known with any degree of certainty, although it is mentioned in Scripture as late as Jeremiah chapter 48 at a time shortly after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. It is within proximity of Sodom, and from some passages where it is mentioned in Scripture, may have been the southernmost of the cities of the plain. Yet even Flavius Josephus, in his descriptions of the destruction of Sodom, had claimed in his time to have seen a pillar of salt which was identified as Lot’s wife, and puts the event of verse 26 here as having preceded Lot’s entry into Zoar, which is an innovation. So there we read, in part:
God then cast a thunderbolt upon the city, and set it on fire, with its inhabitants; and laid waste the country with the like burning, as I formerly said when I wrote the [Judaean] War. But Lot's wife continually turning back to view the city as she went from it, and being too nicely inquisitive what would become of it, although God had forbidden her so to do, was changed into a pillar of salt; for I have seen it, and it remains at this day. Now he and his daughters fled to a certain small place, encompassed with the fire, and settled in it: it is to this day called Zoar, for that is the word which the Hebrews use for a small thing. There it was that he lived a miserable life, on account of his having no company, and his want of provisions. 
Josephus innovated where he conjectures why life for Lot in Zoar was miserable, but it must have been miserable for some reason. He also conjectured where he asserted that Lot’s wife had continually turned back to view the fate of Sodom, along with some other details not mentioned in Scripture.
[14 Antiquities of the Judaeans, Flavius Josephus, Book 1, Paragraph 202.]
27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the Lord: 28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. 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.
Again, as a brief digression, verses 27 and 28 are the only verses of this chapter of which any fragment had survived in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Throughout the rest of Genesis, it is never indicated whether Abraham had ever known the fate of Lot, or whether there was even any early cognizance of his descendants, until the writings of Moses following the Exodus from Egypt. Perhaps the statement here, “that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow”, serves as an indication that Yahweh had informed Abraham of Lot’s fate, that he was spared from the conflagration. While Abraham would live for another seventy-six years from this time, Lot’s descendants were later found near the northeast coast of the Dead Sea, while Abraham shall soon move further to the south of Palestine.
In spite of Josephus, there is no reason provided in Scripture for Lot’s next move:
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. 31 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: 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
Although it was evidently small, Zoar was nevertheless a city with a king of its own, who was able to field an army, and as the angel had told Lot, on his account it was preserved from the destruction of Sodom and the other cities of the plain. Neither do we know how much time Lot had spent in Zoar before he felt compelled to leave in fear. But in any event, the daughters of Lot must have seen men while they were in that city, and therefore we cannot know why they felt as it is described here, that there is “not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth”. We can only jest, and imagine that perhaps all the men of Zoar were drag queens.
Lot was given a chance to come out of the Babylon of his time, and he only sought to enter into a different city which evidently put him in an even worse situation, from which he was apparently forced out by the circumstances which he had found there. This is also a type for Christians, as they are called to “Come out from her, My people”, and we as read in Micah chapter 4: “10 Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies. 11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.” This is the predicament in which Christians are found today, overrun with alien races while Sodomy is prevalent everywhere. But it is in this situation that Christ returns, and has the ultimate victory as His enemies are consumed in fire descending from heaven.
In the ancient world, as it is expressed also in Scripture in the lives of Tamar the mother of Pharez and Zerah, Hannah the mother of Samuel, and Elisabeth the mother of John the Baptist, it was a disgrace for a woman not to have a child, and a risk also, if she had no son to support her in her widowhood. So now the daughters of Lot execute their wayward plan:
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
This may also have been the experience of the wife of Noah when Ham had violated his father’s bed and discovered his nakedness. Perhaps if her husband was intoxicated, then she was also intoxicated, and therefore Ham’s crime may have gone unnoticed it were not seen by his brothers.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. 35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. 36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
It is also interesting, that after fleeing Zoar, they had sufficient wine to get their father drunk on two consecutive evenings. That may indicate that Lot was in Zoar for a longer length of time, rather than a shorter one.
37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. 38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
The name מואב or Moab (# 4124) is actually formed from a prefix, מ, which is from, a suffix ו which is him and the word אב which is father, so the original Strong’s Concordance defines it as from (her) father, although the pronoun her is not found in the name itself. The name בן־עמי or Ben-ammi is a phrase which literally means son of my people.
Lot was made small, and even with this he shall ultimately be diminished even further. Both the Moabites and the Ammonites were reckoned among the enemies of the children of Israel after the Exodus, and we read in the law, in Deuteronomy chapter 23: “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever.” Throughout the balance of Scripture, they were treated accordingly. That law from Deuteronomy was repeated, and enforced, as it is recorded in Nehemiah chapter 13, so the circumstances by which Ruth was called a Moabite did not prevent the prophets from enforcing the law. Rather, Ruth was only called a Moabite for the same reason that David had been called an Ephrathite or Jephthah a Gileadite, because at the time, as Israel filled the land of Canaan, the Israelites frequently began identifying one another by where they had dwelt or where they were born, rather than by the tribe of their fathers. Other circumstances in the account of Ruth also serve to prove that she was an Israelite by race, and redeemed according to the law.
So perhaps the daughters of Lot are also a type, for all those who prefer illegitimate children to the virtue of chastity. Thus we read in chapter 4 of the Wisdom of Solomon that “1 Better it is to have no children, and to have virtue: for the memorial thereof is immortal: because it is known with God, and with men.” Today, both men and women are intermarrying with other races, the pursuit of strange flesh, or childless couples choose to adopt alien children, and they will all end up worse off than either the Moabites or the Ammonites. As we had said, the fate of Lot and the end of Sodom go hand-in-hand, in spite of Lot’s own inherent righteousness, and this should also be upheld as an important example for modern Christians. Yahweh willing, Sodom shall be soon destroyed, and this time, forever.
This concludes our commentary on Genesis chapter 19.