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Genesis 19:20-30

Context
19:20 Look, this town 1  over here is close enough to escape to, and it’s just a little one. 2  Let me go there. 3  It’s just a little place, isn’t it? 4  Then I’ll survive.” 5 

19:21 “Very well,” he replied, 6  “I will grant this request too 7  and will not overthrow 8  the town you mentioned. 19:22 Run there quickly, 9  for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (This incident explains why the town was called Zoar.) 10 

19:23 The sun had just risen 11  over the land as Lot reached Zoar. 12  19:24 Then the Lord rained down 13  sulfur and fire 14  on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from the sky by the Lord. 15  19:25 So he overthrew those cities and all that region, 16  including all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation that grew 17  from the ground. 19:26 But Lot’s 18  wife looked back longingly 19  and was turned into a pillar of salt.

19:27 Abraham got up early in the morning and went 20  to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 19:28 He looked out toward 21  Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of that region. 22  As he did so, he saw the smoke rising up from the land like smoke from a furnace. 23 

19:29 So when God destroyed 24  the cities of the region, 25  God honored 26  Abraham’s request. He removed Lot 27  from the midst of the destruction when he destroyed 28  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.

1 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.”

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

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

4 tn Heb “Is it not little?”

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

6 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.

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

8 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”).

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

10 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).

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

12 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.

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

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

15 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.

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

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

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

19 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.

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

21 tn Heb “upon the face of.”

22 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.

23 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?”

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

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

26 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.

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

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



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