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Genesis 19:1-38

Context
The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening while 1  Lot was sitting in the city’s gateway. 2  When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face toward the ground.

19:2 He said, “Here, my lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house. Stay the night 3  and wash your feet. Then you can be on your way early in the morning.” 4  “No,” they replied, “we’ll spend the night in the town square.” 5 

19:3 But he urged 6  them persistently, so they turned aside with him and entered his house. He prepared a feast for them, including bread baked without yeast, and they ate. 19:4 Before they could lie down to sleep, 7  all the men – both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom – surrounded the house. 8  19:5 They shouted to Lot, 9  “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex 10  with them!”

19:6 Lot went outside to them, shutting the door behind him. 19:7 He said, “No, my brothers! Don’t act so wickedly! 11  19:8 Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with 12  a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please. 13  Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection 14  of my roof.” 15 

19:9 “Out of our way!” 16  they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, 17  and now he dares to judge us! 18  We’ll do more harm 19  to you than to them!” They kept 20  pressing in on Lot until they were close enough 21  to break down the door.

19:10 So the men inside 22  reached out 23  and pulled Lot back into the house 24  as they shut the door. 19:11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, 25  with blindness. The men outside 26  wore themselves out trying to find the door. 19:12 Then the two visitors 27  said to Lot, “Who else do you have here? 28  Do you have 29  any sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or other relatives in the city? 30  Get them out of this 31  place 19:13 because we are about to destroy 32  it. The outcry against this place 33  is so great before the Lord that he 34  has sent us to destroy it.”

19:14 Then Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who were going to marry his daughters. 35  He said, “Quick, get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy 36  the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was ridiculing them. 37 

19:15 At dawn 38  the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, 39  or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged!” 40  19:16 When Lot 41  hesitated, the men grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters because the Lord had compassion on them. 42  They led them away and placed them 43  outside the city. 19:17 When they had brought them outside, they 44  said, “Run 45  for your lives! Don’t look 46  behind you or stop anywhere in the valley! 47  Escape to the mountains or you will be destroyed!”

19:18 But Lot said to them, “No, please, Lord! 48  19:19 Your 49  servant has found favor with you, 50  and you have shown me great 51  kindness 52  by sparing 53  my life. But I am not able to escape to the mountains because 54  this disaster will overtake 55  me and I’ll die. 56  19:20 Look, this town 57  over here is close enough to escape to, and it’s just a little one. 58  Let me go there. 59  It’s just a little place, isn’t it? 60  Then I’ll survive.” 61 

19:21 “Very well,” he replied, 62  “I will grant this request too 63  and will not overthrow 64  the town you mentioned. 19:22 Run there quickly, 65  for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (This incident explains why the town was called Zoar.) 66 

19:23 The sun had just risen 67  over the land as Lot reached Zoar. 68  19:24 Then the Lord rained down 69  sulfur and fire 70  on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from the sky by the Lord. 71  19:25 So he overthrew those cities and all that region, 72  including all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation that grew 73  from the ground. 19:26 But Lot’s 74  wife looked back longingly 75  and was turned into a pillar of salt.

19:27 Abraham got up early in the morning and went 76  to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 19:28 He looked out toward 77  Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of that region. 78  As he did so, he saw the smoke rising up from the land like smoke from a furnace. 79 

19:29 So when God destroyed 80  the cities of the region, 81  God honored 82  Abraham’s request. He removed Lot 83  from the midst of the destruction when he destroyed 84  the cities Lot had lived in.

19:30 Lot went up from Zoar with his two daughters and settled in the mountains because he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 19:31 Later the older daughter said 85  to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man anywhere nearby 86  to have sexual relations with us, 87  according to the way of all the world. 19:32 Come, let’s make our father drunk with wine 88  so we can have sexual relations 89  with him and preserve 90  our family line through our father.” 91 

19:33 So that night they made their father drunk with wine, 92  and the older daughter 93  came and had sexual relations with her father. 94  But he was not aware that she had sexual relations with him and then got up. 95  19:34 So in the morning the older daughter 96  said to the younger, “Since I had sexual relations with my father last night, let’s make him drunk again tonight. 97  Then you go and have sexual relations with him so we can preserve our family line through our father.” 98  19:35 So they made their father drunk 99  that night as well, and the younger one came and had sexual relations with him. 100  But he was not aware that she had sexual relations with him and then got up. 101 

19:36 In this way both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 19:37 The older daughter 102  gave birth to a son and named him Moab. 103  He is the ancestor of the Moabites of today. 19:38 The younger daughter also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-Ammi. 104  He is the ancestor of the Ammonites of today.

1 tn The disjunctive clause is temporal here, indicating what Lot was doing at the time of their arrival.

2 tn Heb “sitting in the gate of Sodom.” The phrase “the gate of Sodom” has been translated “the city’s gateway” for stylistic reasons.

sn The expression sitting in the city’s gateway may mean that Lot was exercising some type of judicial function (see the use of the idiom in 2 Sam 19:8; Jer 26:10; 38:7; 39:3).

3 tn The imperatives have the force of invitation.

4 tn These two verbs form a verbal hendiadys: “you can rise up early and go” means “you can go early.”

5 sn The town square refers to the wide street area at the gate complex of the city.

6 tn The Hebrew verb פָּצַר (patsar, “to press, to insist”) ironically foreshadows the hostile actions of the men of the city (see v. 9, where the verb also appears). The repetition of the word serves to contrast Lot to his world.

7 tn The verb שָׁכַב (shakhav) means “to lie down, to recline,” that is, “to go to bed.” Here what appears to be an imperfect is a preterite after the adverb טֶרֶם (terem). The nuance of potential (perfect) fits well.

8 tn Heb “and the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, from the young to the old, all the people from the end [of the city].” The repetition of the phrase “men of” stresses all kinds of men.

9 tn The Hebrew text adds “and said to him.” This is redundant in English and has not been translated for stylistic reasons.

10 tn The Hebrew verb יָדַע (yada’, “to know”) is used here in the sense of “to lie with” or “to have sex with” (as in Gen 4:1). That this is indeed the meaning is clear from Lot’s warning that they not do so wickedly, and his willingness to give them his daughters instead.

sn The sin of the men of Sodom is debated. The fact that the sin involved a sexual act (see note on the phrase “have sex” in 19:5) precludes an association of the sin with inhospitality as is sometimes asserted (see W. Roth, “What of Sodom and Gomorrah? Homosexual Acts in the Old Testament,” Explor 1 [1974]: 7-14). The text at a minimum condemns forced sexual intercourse, i.e., rape. Other considerations, though, point to a condemnation of homosexual acts more generally. The narrator emphasizes the fact that the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with men: They demand that Lot release the angelic messengers (seen as men) to them for sex, and when Lot offers his daughters as a substitute they refuse them and attempt to take the angelic messengers by force. In addition the wider context of the Pentateuch condemns homosexual acts as sin (see, e.g., Lev 18:22). Thus a reading of this text within its narrative context, both immediate and broad, condemns not only the attempted rape but also the attempted homosexual act.

11 tn Heb “may my brothers not act wickedly.”

12 tn Heb “who have not known.” Here this expression is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

13 tn Heb “according to what is good in your eyes.”

14 tn Heb “shadow.”

15 sn This chapter portrays Lot as a hypocrite. He is well aware of the way the men live in his city and is apparently comfortable in the midst of it. But when confronted by the angels, he finally draws the line. But he is nevertheless willing to sacrifice his daughters’ virginity to protect his guests. His opposition to the crowds leads to his rejection as a foreigner by those with whom he had chosen to live. The one who attempted to rescue his visitors ends up having to be rescued by them.

16 tn Heb “approach out there” which could be rendered “Get out of the way, stand back!”

17 tn Heb “to live as a resident alien.”

18 tn Heb “and he has judged, judging.” The infinitive absolute follows the finite verbal form for emphasis. This emphasis is reflected in the translation by the phrase “dares to judge.”

19 tn The verb “to do wickedly” is repeated here (see v. 7). It appears that whatever “wickedness” the men of Sodom had intended to do to Lot’s visitors – probably nothing short of homosexual rape – they were now ready to inflict on Lot.

20 tn Heb “and they pressed against the man, against Lot, exceedingly.”

21 tn Heb “and they drew near.”

22 tn Heb “the men,” referring to the angels inside Lot’s house. The word “inside” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

23 tn The Hebrew text adds “their hand.” These words have not been translated for stylistic reasons.

24 tn Heb “to them into the house.”

25 tn Heb “from the least to the greatest.”

26 tn Heb “they”; the referent (the men of Sodom outside the door) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

27 tn Heb “the men,” referring to the angels inside Lot’s house. The word “visitors” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

28 tn Heb “Yet who [is there] to you here?”

29 tn The words “Do you have” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

30 tn Heb “a son-in-law and your sons and your daughters and anyone who (is) to you in the city.”

31 tn Heb “the place.” The Hebrew article serves here as a demonstrative.

32 tn The Hebrew participle expresses an imminent action here.

33 tn Heb “for their outcry.” The words “about this place” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

34 tn Heb “the Lord.” The repetition of the divine name has been replaced in the translation by the pronoun “he” for stylistic reasons.

35 sn The language has to be interpreted in the light of the context and the social customs. The men are called “sons-in-law” (literally “the takers of his daughters”), but the daughters had not yet had sex with a man. It is better to translate the phrase “who were going to marry his daughters.” Since formal marriage contracts were binding, the husbands-to-be could already be called sons-in-law.

36 tn The Hebrew active participle expresses an imminent action.

37 tn Heb “and he was like one taunting in the eyes of his sons-in-law.” These men mistakenly thought Lot was ridiculing them and their lifestyle. Their response illustrates how morally insensitive they had become.

38 tn Heb “When dawn came up.”

39 tn Heb “who are found.” The wording might imply he had other daughters living in the city, but the text does not explicitly state this.

40 tn Or “with the iniquity [i.e., punishment] of the city” (cf. NASB, NRSV).

41 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Lot) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

42 tn Heb “in the compassion of the Lord to them.”

43 tn Heb “brought him out and placed him.” The third masculine singular suffixes refer specifically to Lot, though his wife and daughters accompanied him (see v. 17). For stylistic reasons these have been translated as plural pronouns (“them”).

44 tn Or “one of them”; Heb “he.” Several ancient versions (LXX, Vulgate, Syriac) read the plural “they.” See also the note on “your” in v. 19.

45 tn Heb “escape.”

46 tn The Hebrew verb translated “look” signifies an intense gaze, not a passing glance. This same verb is used later in v. 26 to describe Lot’s wife’s self-destructive look back at the city.

47 tn Or “in the plain”; Heb “in the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley.

48 tn Or “my lords.” See the following note on the problem of identifying the addressee here. The Hebrew term is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

49 tn The second person pronominal suffixes are singular in this verse (note “your eyes,” “you have made great,” and “you have acted”). Verse 18a seems to indicate that Lot is addressing the angels, but the use of the singular and the appearance of the divine title “Lord” (אֲדֹנָי, ’adonay) in v. 18b suggests he is speaking to God.

50 tn Heb “in your eyes.”

51 tn Heb “you made great your kindness.”

52 sn The Hebrew word חֶסֶד (khesed) can refer to “faithful love” or to “kindness,” depending on the context. The precise nuance here is uncertain.

53 tn The infinitive construct explains how God has shown Lot kindness.

54 tn Heb “lest.”

55 tn The Hebrew verb דָּבַק (davaq) normally means “to stick to, to cleave, to join.” Lot is afraid he cannot outrun the coming calamity.

56 tn The perfect verb form with vav consecutive carries the nuance of the imperfect verbal form before it.

57 tn The Hebrew word עִיר (’ir) can refer to either a city or a town, depending on the size of the place. Given that this place was described by Lot later in this verse as a “little place,” the translation uses “town.”

58 tn Heb “Look, this town is near to flee to there. And it is little.”

59 tn Heb “Let me escape to there.” The cohortative here expresses Lot’s request.

60 tn Heb “Is it not little?”

61 tn Heb “my soul will live.” After the cohortative the jussive with vav conjunctive here indicates purpose/result.

62 tn Heb “And he said, ‘Look, I will grant.’” The order of the clauses has been rearranged for stylistic reasons. The referent of the speaker (“he”) is somewhat ambiguous: It could be taken as the angel to whom Lot has been speaking (so NLT; note the singular references in vv. 18-19), or it could be that Lot is speaking directly to the Lord here. Most English translations leave the referent of the pronoun unspecified and maintain the ambiguity.

63 tn Heb “I have lifted up your face [i.e., shown you favor] also concerning this matter.”

64 tn The negated infinitive construct indicates either the consequence of God’s granting the request (“I have granted this request, so that I will not”) or the manner in which he will grant it (“I have granted your request by not destroying”).

65 tn Heb “Be quick! Escape to there!” The two imperatives form a verbal hendiadys, the first becoming adverbial.

66 tn Heb “Therefore the name of the city is called Zoar.” The name of the place, צוֹעַר (tsoar) apparently means “Little Place,” in light of the wordplay with the term “little” (מִצְעָר, mitsar) used twice by Lot to describe the town (v. 20).

67 sn The sun had just risen. There was very little time for Lot to escape between dawn (v. 15) and sunrise (here).

68 tn The juxtaposition of the two disjunctive clauses indicates synchronic action. The first action (the sun’s rising) occurred as the second (Lot’s entering Zoar) took place. The disjunctive clauses also signal closure for the preceding scene.

69 tn The disjunctive clause signals the beginning of the next scene and highlights God’s action.

70 tn Or “burning sulfur” (the traditional “fire and brimstone”).

71 tn Heb “from the Lord from the heavens.” The words “It was sent down” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

sn The text explicitly states that the sulfur and fire that fell on Sodom and Gomorrah was sent down from the sky by the Lord. What exactly this was, and how it happened, can only be left to intelligent speculation, but see J. P. Harland, “The Destruction of the Cities of the Plain,” BA 6 (1943): 41-54.

72 tn Or “and all the plain”; Heb “and all the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley.

73 tn Heb “and the vegetation of the ground.”

74 tn Heb “his”; the referent (Lot) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

75 tn The Hebrew verb means “to look intently; to gaze” (see 15:5).

sn Longingly. Lot’s wife apparently identified with the doomed city and thereby showed lack of respect for God’s provision of salvation. She, like her daughters later, had allowed her thinking to be influenced by the culture of Sodom.

76 tn The words “and went” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

77 tn Heb “upon the face of.”

78 tn Or “all the land of the plain”; Heb “and all the face of the land of the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley.

79 tn Heb “And he saw, and look, the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace.”

sn It is hard to imagine what was going on in Abraham’s mind, but this brief section in the narrative enables the reader to think about the human response to the judgment. Abraham had family in that area. He had rescued those people from the invasion. That was why he interceded. Yet he surely knew how wicked they were. That was why he got the number down to ten when he negotiated with God to save the city. But now he must have wondered, “What was the point?”

80 tn The construction is a temporal clause comprised of the temporal indicator, an infinitive construct with a preposition, and the subjective genitive.

81 tn Or “of the plain”; Heb “of the circle,” referring to the “circle” or oval area of the Jordan Valley.

82 tn Heb “remembered,” but this means more than mental recollection here. Abraham’s request (Gen 18:23-32) was that the Lord not destroy the righteous with the wicked. While the requisite minimum number of righteous people (ten, v. 32) needed for God to spare the cities was not found, God nevertheless rescued the righteous before destroying the wicked.

sn God showed Abraham special consideration because of the covenantal relationship he had established with the patriarch. Yet the reader knows that God delivered the “righteous” (Lot’s designation in 2 Pet 2:7) before destroying their world – which is what he will do again at the end of the age.

83 sn God’s removal of Lot before the judgment is paradigmatic. He typically delivers the godly before destroying their world.

84 tn Heb “the overthrow when [he] overthrew.”

85 tn Heb “and the firstborn said.”

86 tn Or perhaps “on earth,” in which case the statement would be hyperbolic; presumably there had been some men living in the town of Zoar to which Lot and his daughters had initially fled.

87 tn Heb “to enter upon us.” This is a euphemism for sexual relations.

88 tn Heb “drink wine.”

89 tn Heb “and we will lie down.” The cohortative with vav (ו) conjunctive is subordinated to the preceding cohortative and indicates purpose/result.

90 tn Or “that we may preserve.” Here the cohortative with vav (ו) conjunctive indicates their ultimate goal.

91 tn Heb “and we will keep alive from our father descendants.”

sn For a discussion of the cultural background of the daughters’ desire to preserve our family line see F. C. Fensham, “The Obliteration of the Family as Motif in the Near Eastern Literature,” AION 10 (1969): 191-99.

92 tn Heb “drink wine.”

93 tn Heb “the firstborn.”

94 tn Heb “and the firstborn came and lied down with her father.” The expression “lied down with” here and in the following verses is a euphemism for sexual relations.

95 tn Heb “and he did not know when she lay down and when she arose.”

96 tn Heb “the firstborn.”

97 tn Heb “Look, I lied down with my father. Let’s make him drink wine again tonight.”

98 tn Heb “And go, lie down with him and we will keep alive from our father descendants.”

99 tn Heb “drink wine.”

100 tn Heb “lied down with him.”

101 tn Heb “And he did not know when she lied down and when she arose.”

102 tn Heb “the firstborn.”

103 sn The meaning of the name Moab is not certain. The name sounds like the Hebrew phrase “from our father” (מֵאָבִינוּ, meavinu) which the daughters used twice (vv. 32, 34). This account is probably included in the narrative in order to portray the Moabites, who later became enemies of God’s people, in a negative light.

104 sn The name Ben-Ammi means “son of my people.” Like the account of Moab’s birth, this story is probably included in the narrative to portray the Ammonites, another perennial enemy of Israel, in a negative light.



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