Help on the subject...Understanding "Lot" Decision...

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Marcus Martin | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Feb 2 2016 2:11 PM

I'm in a LifeGroup at church and we are learning to tell stories our out of the Bible. The Story was on Gen. 19:1-11

(Ge 19:4) Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house

I'm Studying Gen. 19:1-11. My question is focus on verse 8 of ch 19.

Can someone expound on why did Lot so freely and willingly want to sacrifice his two daughter of purity in place of his guest? What made him think that way? Please share your thoughts.... God Bless.

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William Gabriel | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 2 2016 2:51 PM

This is probably a question for

This is a narrative, so the writer of Genesis is not necessarily condoning Lot's actions by describing them in the text. From what I understand, Hospitality was so immensely important to that culture that Lot must have thought giving his daughters was the lesser of two evils.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Feb 2 2016 3:43 PM

19:1–29 The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

Though no doubt still distressed by the immorality of the people of Sodom, Lot had come to feel quite at home there. He had started as a foreigner, pitching his tent near the city (13:12), and only later living in the city (14:12). By now, however, he is sitting in the gateway of the city (19:1), which implies that he was a respected person in Sodom, or even a leader of some kind, for the city gate was where commercial and legal transactions took place. But though the events in this chapter show that he had succumbed to the evil in Sodom, yet he qualified as one of the righteous for whom his uncle Abraham had pleaded (2 Pet 2:8).
Like his uncle Abraham, Lot immediately offered hospitality to visitors when they arrived in Sodom in the evening. He offered them the opportunity to wash their feet and spend the night at his house (19:2). The visitors declined, saying they would spend the night in the public square, probably a place on the street where they would not disturb anyone (compare Judg 19:15). But Lot was insistent, and they agreed to stay with him. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate (19:3). His actions contrast strongly with the behaviour of the men of Sodom. We can safely assume that he had learnt the values of kindness and hospitality while living with his uncle Abraham.
Before Lot and his visitors went to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house (19:4). They had no interest in protecting strangers, but wanted to exploit them. Bored with having sex with each other, they now demanded that Lot bring out the strangers so that we can have sex with them (19:5). Lot was horrified at this breach of the laws of hospitality, which he was so determined to uphold that he even offered to give the mob his two daughters who have never slept with a man if they would leave his guests alone (19:8). But the men of Sodom grew increasingly violent, attempting to overpower Lot and break down his door. They insulted him, calling him an alien, refusing his judgment on the matter, and threatening to treat him worse than them (19:9). In other words, they were threatening to rape Lot as well—and assuring him that it would be a violent rape. Homosexuality is a detestable sin before the Lord (Rom 1:26–27; 1 Tim 1:10—the NIV reads ‘perverts’ but homosexuals are the focus) and to compound it with rape is to invite God’s judgment. Even though this rape was not carried out, the intention is as bad as the act (Matt 5:28).
The men of Sodom did not know what kind of visitors were in Lot’s house. They had probably done evil to earlier visitors, which may have been why Lot had been so insistent that the men should not sleep in the square (19:3), but this time they were out of their depths. The visitors recognized Lot’s concern to protect them, and thus pulled him back into the house and shut the door (19:10). Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door (19:11; see 2 Kgs 6:18). This must have given them the shock of their lives, though worse was yet to come.
The angels had seen enough of Sodom to understand why the outcry to the Lord against its people is so great (19:13) and to convince them that this city should be destroyed. But Lot had acted honourably, and in view of this and in response to Abraham’s plea (19:29), he is given a chance to escape the judgment. He is told to get out of the city with his relatives—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belonged to him (19:12). Lot had sons-in-law, pledged to marry his daughters, but they thought their future father-in-law was only joking and refused to join him (19:14). No more time could be wasted, and so in the morning, Lot was ordered to get out with just his wife and his two daughters (19:15). Still Lot hesitated, but the men forced him to act, as they grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city (19:16). We are told that this was done because the Lord was merciful to them.
Having been brought out of the city, Lot and his wife and daughter were given four instructions: flee for your lives; don’t look back; don’t stop anywhere in the plain; flee to the mountains—or you will be swept away (19:17).
By this time Lot had begun to realize the seriousness of the situation. He knew his own physical weakness and judged that he would not be able to reach the mountains before destruction swept over him. So on the basis of the favour and kindness already shown to him (19:18–19), he requested to be allowed to flee to a small town that he knew he could reach (19:20). The request was granted and Lot was ordered to flee there quickly (19:21–22a). The reason for the urgency was I cannot do anything until you reach it.
Lot had pleaded to be allowed to go to the very small town, and his description of it led the town being given the name of Zoar which means ‘small’ (19:22b). It was the place where he, his wife, and his two daughters would find safety.
Sodom and its neighbouring city of Gomorrah were now engulfed in a rain of burning sulphur that the Lord poured out of heaven (19:24), destroying those cities and the entire plain, including all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land (19:25). As the Creator and righteous judge, God alone has the right to end the life of his creatures.
Lot’s wife failed to obey the instruction not to look back, and so she became a pillar of salt (19:26). There is no favouritism. Judgment comes upon all those who fail to adhere to the Lord’s instructions. She was offered the opportunity to escape, but she failed to obey. The grace of deliverance must be lived seriously. There is no place for looking back.
Abraham must have been deeply concerned by what the Lord had disclosed to him about the coming destruction of these cities. He got up early the next morning and looked down toward Sodom. He saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace (19:27–28). He did not know what had happened to his nephew and his family, but he could count on ‘the Judge of all the earth’ having done what was right (18:25).

Tokunboh Adeyemo, Africa Bible Commentary (Nairobi, Kenya; Grand Rapids, MI: WordAlive Publishers; Zondervan, 2006), 38–39.


However, the view that this gave the father absolute power over his children in any circumstance must be disputed. It is possible that the father had the legal right of execution over his children in the earliest, patriarchal period, but the evidence is not as strong as sometimes implied. Only Genesis 38:24 is a case of the head of a household passing a death sentence (on a daughter-in-law). Genesis 19:8 and Judges 19:24 describe a father’s willingness to sacrifice his daughter’s virginity, not the judicial right of life and death. No examples are to be found in the postpatriarchal narratives (Jephthah’s daughter was a sacrifice, not an execution; see below). On the contrary, the law of Deut 21:18–21 explicitly limits any such interpretation of patria potestas by placing the power of execution of a son in the hands of a court of elders, after due investigation which includes the presence and testimony of the mother as well as the father—probably an added element of protection for a son, in that the consent of both parents was required for the charge to be legally actionable.

C. J. H. Wright, “Family,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 767.



1. the two angels] See 18:22. It has been conjectured that the original text had here, as in vv. 5, 8, 10, 12, “the men” (i.e. the “three men” of 18:2); and that the substitution of the words “the two angels” has been made from motives of reverence, in order (1) to harmonize the action of this chapter with the scene of Abraham’s pleading with Jehovah in chap. 18, and (2) to separate Jehovah from contact with the evil of Sodom.
at even] They had visited Abraham at noon: see 18:1.
in the gate of Sodom] The wide arches of ancient Oriental city gates, contained recesses which were the resort of leading citizens; and in which business was transacted, bargains made, and justice administered, cf. 23:10, 18, 34:20; Deut. 21:19; Ruth 4:1.
bowed himself] See 18:2.
2. my lords] adonai. The Massoretic note upon this word is “profane,” i.e. not the Divine name: see note on 18:3.
turn aside] Lot’s words are a good example of Eastern hospitality. Possibly to this passage and 18:3 reference is made in Heb. 13:2.
in the street] We must be careful not to connect the modern idea of a “street” with this word, which means rather a wide open space. Cf. Judg. 19:15; Ezra 10:9; Neh. 8:1, “the broad place.”
The refusal of “the men” is partly to be explained as a piece of Oriental courtesy, but partly, also, to elicit the avowal that what would be safe in other towns could not be risked in Sodom.
3. he urged them greatly] The gentle compulsion of Oriental courtesy. To let a stranger sleep out at night would be contrary to all canons of civility, cf. Jud. 19:16–22.
a feast] Lit. “a drinking feast,” and thence “a banquet.” Perhaps we may assume that the Angels appeared as poor men needing food and shelter. The neglect of the poor and needy is part of the prophet’s reproach against Sodom in Ezek. 16:49.
unleavened bread] Cakes baked hastily without leaven or yeast; the “unleavened cakes” of Jud. 6:19.
4. the men of the city] The repulsive incident recorded in this passage (vv. 4–11) contrasts the hospitable conduct of Lot with the gross behaviour of the people of Sodom towards strangers, and has for all time associated the name of the city with shameless vice (cf. Isa. 3:9).
from every quarter] Lit. “from the end.” As in 1 Kings 12:31, the phrase means “from all classes of the people.” The writer insists upon the fact that “all” of every age and class were involved in the same guilt. Compare the scene in Jud. 19:23.
8. forasmuch as] R.V. marg. for therefore: cf. 18:5. Lot’s proposal, so atrocious in our ears, may have been deemed meritorious in an Eastern country, where no sacrifice was considered too great to maintain inviolate the safety of a stranger who had been received in hospitality. That Lot should have thought of imperilling the honour of his family, and not have rather hazarded his own life, is due not so much to the weakness of the man as to the terribly low estimate of womanhood which prevailed at that time. A parallel is afforded by the story in Jud. 19. The three regulations of modern Arab law as to the protection of the stranger are recorded by Robertson Smith in his Kinship, p. 259, “(1) the man whose tent rope has touched thine is thy stranger; (2) so also is he who journeys with thee by day and sleeps by thy side at night; (3) the guest who eats with thee is under thy protection, until he has eaten with another.”
9. Stand back] LXX ἀπόστα ἐκεί, Lat. recede illuc; cf. “give place,” Isai. 49:20.
This one fellow] Lot is reminded of his solitariness and of his foreign extraction.
came in to sojourn] The people contrast Lot’s position as a sojourner (gêr) in the city with his claim to decide and play the judge.
11. blindness] An unusual word for “blindness,” inflicted as a sudden temporary visitation, used here and 2 Kings 6:18. LXX ἀορασία.
12. And the men said] The incident just described had revealed the corrupt condition of the city. It had been tried by a simple test, and found wanting. Sodom is doomed; but Lot is to be saved.
any besides] The deliverance of the man carries with it the deliverance of the household.
son in law, and thy sons, &c.] A strange collocation. We should expect the sons and daughters first. Then again, why “son in law” in the singular? LXX has γαμβροί, which is probably a correction; Lat. generum. The proposal of Holzinger to put “son in law” in the previous clause is no improvement. Its prominence would be an additional difficulty.
13. we will destroy] See v. 24.
the cry of them] i.e. the cry against the people of Sodom; see note on 18:20.
the LORD hath sent us] Defining the position of the men in this and the previous chapter, as distinct from, and messengers of, Jehovah.
14. married his daughters] Better, as R.V. marg., were to marry, as Lat. qui accepturi erant. This seems more probable than the rendering of the R.V., and LXX τοὺς εἰληφότας. The verb used here means literally “the takers of.” For Lot’s daughters were in the house with him: Lot went out to find his “sons in law”: the word “sons in law” may mean “the betrothed.” If the daughters had been married, they would not have been living with Lot.
as one that mocked] The same word in the Hebrew as that rendered “laughed” in 18:12, and “sporting” in 26:8. The Lat. has quasi ludens = “as one who was playing.”
15. when the morning arose] At day-break. The doom was to be inflicted before sun-rise (cf. v. 23). If Lot was still in the city, he too would perish: hence the men’s haste.
consumed] See 18:23.
iniquity] Better, as R.V. marg., punishment. See note, on the ambiguous meaning of the Hebrew word, in 4:13; cf. 1 Sam. 25:24; 2 Sam. 14:9.
16. But he lingered] It was difficult for Lot to realize the immediate and overwhelming nature of the doom announced by his visitants. His feelings for home and its associations made him hesitate. The versions misunderstood the Heb.; LXX καὶ ἐταράχθησαν, Lat. dissimulante illo.
the LORD being merciful unto him] An interesting clause, shewing that the men were agents of Jehovah’s tenderness, as well as of His severity, cf. Ps. 34:22: does it not also imply that, in the original version of the narrative, Jehovah is here one of “the men”?
17. he said] One of the men is spokesman, as in v. 21; but the plural “they said” is found in the LXX and Lat.
look not behind thee] The meaning of this direction, which recalls the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, is not quite obvious. It may be a prohibition either of irresolute lingering, or of regretful curiosity. It is, probably, also, a test of obedience, combined with the thought that man could not look upon Jehovah and live. Cf. 16:13; Ex. 19:21.
the Plain] i.e. the kikkar: see 13:10.
the mountain] i.e. the mountainous region on the east of the Dead Sea, “the mountains of Moab.”
18. my lord] R.V. marg. O Lord. The Massoretic note here, as in 18:3, is “holy,” regarding the word as the Divine name. Certainly in this chapter Jehovah is not so directly identified with one of “the men” as in chap. 18. The rendering “my lord” is, perhaps, to be preferred, as in 18:3. On the other hand, the mention of “Jehovah” in v. 16, and the words in vv. 22 and 24, “I cannot do anything till thou be come thither,” and “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom,” would sufficiently justify the other rendering. Jehovah and His Angel are one, cf. 16:7 ff. His Presence is in “the two” as in “the three men.”
19. found grace] Cf. 6:8 (J).
thy mercy] Lat. misericordiam tuam. The LXX rendering, τὴν δικαιοσύνην, is a good illustration of the latitude given to “righteousness” as embodying compassion. Cf. Matt. 6:1.
I cannot escape to the mountain] Lot speaks as if he were too old (cf. v. 31) and weak for flight over rough ground. He fears he could not find refuge in the mountains in time.
evil] Better, as R.V. marg., the evil. The evil means the doom of impending catastrophe.
20. is it not a little one] i.e. “is it not a trifle (miz‘ar)?” It is a “small” concession to grant; or a “small” distance to go. Evidently a play on the pronunciation of the word Zoar. Lot’s entreaty that he may take refuge in Zoar causes the exemption of that city from the catastrophe. For Bela, as an old name of Zoar, see 14:2.
and my soul shall live] = “that my soul (= I) may live.” For “my soul” as a vivid way of expressing the personal pronoun, see 12:13.
21. I have accepted thee] Heb. “I have received,” or “lifted up thy countenance,” see note on 4:7. Compare the expression “respecter of persons,” e.g. Acts 10:34. Here Jehovah is a “receiver,” or “favourer,” of the person of Lot: cf. 32:20; Mal. 1:8.
22. I cannot do any thing] Mercy limits the exercise of Divine Justice. “The righteous” is not to be consumed “with the wicked” (18:23).
Zoar] See note on 14:2. Zoar is identified by tradition with a spot on the S.E. of the Dead Sea, where a peninsula projects from the coast. Cf. 13:10; Deut. 34:3; Isa. 15:5; Jer. 48:34. The name in the LXX Σηγώρ, Lat. Segor, gave the Dead Sea the name of the Sea of Zugar in the Middle Ages.

Herbert E. Ryle, The Book of Genesis in the Revised Version with Introduction and Notes, The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1921), 212–217.


19:8 I have two daughters. Lot offered his daughters to the lust of the Sodomites. But this attempt to protect his guests was an act of cowardly desperation and cannot be condoned. At the same time it reflects the low status accorded to women by the people of the land as well as by Lot, who was apparently influenced by the prevailing attitude (Ju 19:22 ff.). It is never a God-pleasing solution of a difficulty to commit one sin in order to prevent another.

Walter H. Roehrs and Martin H. Franzmann, Concordia Self-Study Comentary, electronic ed., vol. 1 (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1998), 35.


[19:6–8*] Lot had offered the men a roof and so protection. The “shadow of his roof” became thereby the place of security for the guests, the violation of which was a fearful crime with incalculable consequences. The narrative now continues: Lot goes to the extreme in both action (v. 6*) and word (vv. 7–8*) in his intervention on behalf of his guests. He goes outside the door and exposes himself to the attackers without any protection (“and shut it behind him”). He even offers to hand over his daughters to the mob. A warning, in which he addresses them as brothers, precedes the offer. G. von Rad writes “the address … rather indicates a situation of legal equality”; it appeals to their responsibility and warns them of the crime. The warning is indeed intended seriously; repentance by the men of Sodom even at this moment would have meant salvation. The offer is aimed at preventing something worse in accordance with that age’s way of understanding, and one should neither explain it away (B. Jacob: the Sodomites would certainly have not agreed to it) nor condemn it by our standards (F. Delitzsch: “He commits sin who intends to ward off sin by sin,” an example of questionable application of an abstract idea of sin). In any case it is a desperate offer that knows no way out.

[19:9*] The narrative of the attack reaches its climax in v. 9*. H. Gunkel takes offense, incorrectly, at the repeated ויאמרו at the beginning of v. 9* and holds that the first three words are an additional amplification. However, the narrator, responding exactly to the situation, deliberately distinguishes the articulated reply to the offer from the mere cry: “Out of the way!” As is often the case in such situations, the reply is saying, with the brutal might of an advancing mob, something correct, or at least apparently correct: “Will a gēr, who must be happy to be tolerated, assume the office of a native born?” (B. Jacob). And so, as usually happens, those who use force not only do what they want, but also want to be in the right. And it has remained so right up to the present day. The threat of those pressing forward renders Lot’s offer meaningless, and they want to seize him. The attackers advance; they threaten to break down the door; host and guests are in mortal danger.

[19:10–11*] The strangers intervene in extreme emergency and thus introduce the turning point which consists simply in parrying the immediate danger. It takes place in two scenes. There is nothing of the marvelous in the first; the men seize Lot, pull him inside and shut the door; they do what is routine in the situation. There are now witnesses to the second act. Inside they simply notice that no one breaks down the door and no one comes in; they experience it as a marvel which is expressed thus in their own idiom: the people outside were “struck with blindness.” In our idiom too this way of speaking does not mean actual blindness, but a temporary inability to see. This is described here by one word, סנורים, derived by E. A. Speiser from the Akk. šunwurum, by A. Ahuvia, Tarbiz 38 (1968–69) 90–92, from Hebr. סנר; as it occurs only here and in the same context in 2 Kings 6:18*, it points to an old narrative way of speaking, the equivalent of our “to strike with blindness,” to which the word, later fallen into desuetude, belonged. This narrative trope—threatening foes are struck with blindness at the critical moment—is very common and widespread; it occurs in folktales and in other forms of narrative. For examples and further literature see T. H. Gaster, Myth, Legend … (1969) 158f.

Claus Westermann, A Continental Commentary: Genesis 12–36 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1995), 301–302.


  The Patriarchal Period (1800 B.C.E.): Conciliatory Strategy

The preferred marriage partner for a boy in the Middle East has for millennia been a patrilateral parallel cousin, a father’s brother’s daughter. For example, according to Genesis 24:15, Isaac married Rebekah, the daughter of his first cousin, Bethuel, who was the son of Nahor, brother to Abraham, who was Isaac’s father. One needs a chart to keep the relations straight, and it is very advisable to do that while reading these passages in the Bible! However, wives and daughters were used to the patriarch’s advantage when necessary. This is a conciliatory strategy. Abraham readily offered his wife Sarah to the Pharaoh to preserve his own life (Gen. 12:10–20). Even in the presence of their prospective husbands (Gen. 19:14), Lot offered his virgin daughters to the angry men of Sodom (Gen. 19:8) in his attempt as a good host to protect his guests. As he behaved with the Pharaoh, so did Abraham behave with Abimelech (Gen. 20:2–18). Indeed, he instructed his wife Sarah to say of him: “he is my brother” (Gen. 20:13). While this is undeniably true (see Gen. 20:12), it is clear that in this and the other instances, sexual hospitality or extramarital sex is considered acceptable. The social norm was to offer women especially to men of higher social status if it contributed to the controlling male’s advantage.

John J. Pilch, A Cultural Handbook to the Bible (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K., 2012), 124.


Genesis 19:1–11 records the subsequent visit of the angels to Sodom. In this text it is Lot, Abraham’s nephew, who is sitting in the gate of the city, the physical and legal equivalent of the doorway of Abraham’s tent. He also goes out to meet the visitors as they approach and makes a statement similar to that of his uncle: “Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way” (19:2). However, Lot is not a citizen of Sodom; he is a resident alien and therefore does not have the legal right to offer hospitality within the confines of the city.
Once his visitors have eaten with him, Lot is forced to demonstrate just how seriously the obligations of hospitality are taken. During the night “all the men of Sodom” (a legal expression indicating “all citizens”) come to his door and demand that the two visitors be sent out to them to be examined. Lot has violated a social protocol, and now these men wish to determine for themselves if the visitors are a threat to the city (Gen. 19:4). The possibility that there is a threat of sexual assault in their speech is based on the dual meaning of the Hebrew word yādaʻ (“to know”), which connotes both obtaining knowledge and sexual intercourse (compare Gen. 3:5 and 4:1). Even so, Lot’s sense of duty to protect his guests is so strong that he offers instead to send out his two virgin daughters to satisfy the mob’s appetite for violence or their need for hostages. The daughters are technically his property, and he can dispose of them as he wishes, but this will involve both a financial and a personal sacrifice. He is saved from taking this drastic action when the angels blind the crowd, and his family is able to escape. In this case, the violation of hospitality customs and the threats of violence function as a means of demonstrating the justice of God’s intent to destroy the city.

Victor H. Matthews, The Cultural World of the Bible: An Illustrated Guide to Manners and Customs, Fourth Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015), 43–44.


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