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Genesis 18:16--19:29

Context
Abraham Pleads for Sodom

18:16 When the men got up to leave, 1  they looked out over 2  Sodom. (Now 3  Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.) 4  18:17 Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 5  18:18 After all, Abraham 6  will surely become 7  a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another 8  using his name. 18:19 I have chosen him 9  so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep 10  the way of the Lord by doing 11  what is right and just. Then the Lord will give 12  to Abraham what he promised 13  him.”

18:20 So the Lord said, “The outcry against 14  Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant 15  18:21 that I must go down 16  and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. 17  If not, 18  I want to know.”

18:22 The two men turned 19  and headed 20  toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 21  18:23 Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? 18:24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare 22  the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 18:25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge 23  of the whole earth do what is right?” 24 

18:26 So the Lord replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

18:27 Then Abraham asked, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord 25  (although I am but dust and ashes), 26  18:28 what if there are five less than the fifty godly people? Will you destroy 27  the whole city because five are lacking?” 28  He replied, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

18:29 Abraham 29  spoke to him again, 30  “What if forty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”

18:30 Then Abraham 31  said, “May the Lord not be angry 32  so that I may speak! 33  What if thirty are found there?” He replied, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

18:31 Abraham 34  said, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”

18:32 Finally Abraham 35  said, “May the Lord not be angry so that I may speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

18:33 The Lord went on his way 36  when he had finished speaking 37  to Abraham. Then Abraham returned home. 38 

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

19:1 The two angels came to Sodom in the evening while 39  Lot was sitting in the city’s gateway. 40  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 41  and wash your feet. Then you can be on your way early in the morning.” 42  “No,” they replied, “we’ll spend the night in the town square.” 43 

19:3 But he urged 44  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, 45  all the men – both young and old, from every part of the city of Sodom – surrounded the house. 46  19:5 They shouted to Lot, 47  “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so we can have sex 48  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! 49  19:8 Look, I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with 50  a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do to them whatever you please. 51  Only don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection 52  of my roof.” 53 

19:9 “Out of our way!” 54  they cried, and “This man came to live here as a foreigner, 55  and now he dares to judge us! 56  We’ll do more harm 57  to you than to them!” They kept 58  pressing in on Lot until they were close enough 59  to break down the door.

19:10 So the men inside 60  reached out 61  and pulled Lot back into the house 62  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, 63  with blindness. The men outside 64  wore themselves out trying to find the door. 19:12 Then the two visitors 65  said to Lot, “Who else do you have here? 66  Do you have 67  any sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or other relatives in the city? 68  Get them out of this 69  place 19:13 because we are about to destroy 70  it. The outcry against this place 71  is so great before the Lord that he 72  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. 73  He said, “Quick, get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy 74  the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was ridiculing them. 75 

19:15 At dawn 76  the angels hurried Lot along, saying, “Get going! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, 77  or else you will be destroyed when the city is judged!” 78  19:16 When Lot 79  hesitated, the men grabbed his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters because the Lord had compassion on them. 80  They led them away and placed them 81  outside the city. 19:17 When they had brought them outside, they 82  said, “Run 83  for your lives! Don’t look 84  behind you or stop anywhere in the valley! 85  Escape to the mountains or you will be destroyed!”

19:18 But Lot said to them, “No, please, Lord! 86  19:19 Your 87  servant has found favor with you, 88  and you have shown me great 89  kindness 90  by sparing 91  my life. But I am not able to escape to the mountains because 92  this disaster will overtake 93  me and I’ll die. 94  19:20 Look, this town 95  over here is close enough to escape to, and it’s just a little one. 96  Let me go there. 97  It’s just a little place, isn’t it? 98  Then I’ll survive.” 99 

19:21 “Very well,” he replied, 100  “I will grant this request too 101  and will not overthrow 102  the town you mentioned. 19:22 Run there quickly, 103  for I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (This incident explains why the town was called Zoar.) 104 

19:23 The sun had just risen 105  over the land as Lot reached Zoar. 106  19:24 Then the Lord rained down 107  sulfur and fire 108  on Sodom and Gomorrah. It was sent down from the sky by the Lord. 109  19:25 So he overthrew those cities and all that region, 110  including all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation that grew 111  from the ground. 19:26 But Lot’s 112  wife looked back longingly 113  and was turned into a pillar of salt.

19:27 Abraham got up early in the morning and went 114  to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 19:28 He looked out toward 115  Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of that region. 116  As he did so, he saw the smoke rising up from the land like smoke from a furnace. 117 

19:29 So when God destroyed 118  the cities of the region, 119  God honored 120  Abraham’s request. He removed Lot 121  from the midst of the destruction when he destroyed 122  the cities Lot had lived in.

1 tn Heb “And the men arose from there.”

2 tn Heb “toward the face of.”

3 tn The disjunctive parenthetical clause sets the stage for the following speech.

4 tn The Piel of שָׁלַח (shalakh) means “to lead out, to send out, to expel”; here it is used in the friendly sense of seeing the visitors on their way.

5 tn The active participle here refers to an action that is imminent.

6 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The disjunctive clause is probably causal, giving a reason why God should not hide his intentions from Abraham. One could translate, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation?”

7 tn The infinitive absolute lends emphasis to the finite verb that follows.

8 tn Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. (The Niphal of “bless” is only used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant. See Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14.) Traditionally the verb is taken as passive here, as if Abram were going to be a channel or source of blessing. But in later formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form, suggesting a translation “will bless [i.e., “pronounce blessings upon”] themselves [or “one another”].” The Hitpael of “bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 18:18 (like 12:2) predicts that Abraham will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae. For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11.

9 tn Heb “For I have known him.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) here means “to recognize and treat in a special manner, to choose” (see Amos 3:2). It indicates that Abraham stood in a special covenantal relationship with the Lord.

10 tn Heb “and they will keep.” The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive carries on the subjective nuance of the preceding imperfect verbal form (translated “so that he may command”).

11 tn The infinitive construct here indicates manner, explaining how Abraham’s children and his household will keep the way of the Lord.

12 tn Heb “bring on.” The infinitive after לְמַעַן (lÿmaan) indicates result here.

13 tn Heb “spoke to.”

14 tn Heb “the outcry of Sodom,” which apparently refers to the outcry for divine justice from those (unidentified persons) who observe its sinful ways.

15 tn Heb “heavy.”

16 tn The cohortative indicates the Lord’s resolve.

sn I must go down. The descent to “see” Sodom is a bold anthropomorphism, stressing the careful judgment of God. The language is reminiscent of the Lord going down to see the Tower of Babel in Gen 11:1-9.

17 tn Heb “[if] according to the outcry that has come to me they have done completely.” Even the Lord, who is well aware of the human capacity to sin, finds it hard to believe that anyone could be as bad as the “outcry” against Sodom and Gomorrah suggests.

18 sn The short phrase if not provides a ray of hope and inspires Abraham’s intercession.

19 tn Heb “And the men turned from there.” The word “two” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied here for clarity. Gen 19:1 mentions only two individuals (described as “angels”), while Abraham had entertained three visitors (18:2). The implication is that the Lord was the third visitor, who remained behind with Abraham here. The words “from there” are not included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

20 tn Heb “went.”

21 tc An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition reads “but the Lord remained standing before Abraham.” This reading is problematic because the phrase “standing before” typically indicates intercession, but the Lord would certainly not be interceding before Abraham.

22 tn Heb “lift up,” perhaps in the sense of “bear with” (cf. NRSV “forgive”).

23 tn Or “ruler.”

24 sn Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right? For discussion of this text see J. L. Crenshaw, “Popular Questioning of the Justice of God in Ancient Israel,” ZAW 82 (1970): 380-95, and C. S. Rodd, “Shall Not the Judge of All the Earth Do What Is Just?” ExpTim 83 (1972): 137-39.

25 tn The Hebrew term translated “Lord” here and in vv. 30, 31, 32 is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay).

26 tn The disjunctive clause is a concessive clause here, drawing out the humility as a contrast to the Lord.

27 tn The Hebrew verb שָׁחַת (shakhat, “to destroy”) was used earlier to describe the effect of the flood.

28 tn Heb “because of five.”

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

30 tn The construction is a verbal hendiadys – the preterite (“he added”) is combined with an adverb “yet” and an infinitive “to speak.”

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

32 tn Heb “let it not be hot to the Lord.” This is an idiom which means “may the Lord not be angry.”

33 tn After the jussive, the cohortative indicates purpose/result.

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

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

36 tn Heb “And the Lord went.”

37 tn The infinitive construct (“speaking”) serves as the direct object of the verb “finished.”

38 tn Heb “to his place.”

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

40 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).

41 tn The imperatives have the force of invitation.

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

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

44 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.

45 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.

46 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.

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

48 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.

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

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

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

52 tn Heb “shadow.”

53 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.

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

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

56 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.”

57 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.

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

59 tn Heb “and they drew near.”

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

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

62 tn Heb “to them into the house.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

70 tn The Hebrew participle expresses an imminent action here.

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

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

73 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.

74 tn The Hebrew active participle expresses an imminent action.

75 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.

76 tn Heb “When dawn came up.”

77 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.

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

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

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

81 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”).

82 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.

83 tn Heb “escape.”

84 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.

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

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

87 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.

88 tn Heb “in your eyes.”

89 tn Heb “you made great your kindness.”

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

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

92 tn Heb “lest.”

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

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

95 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.”

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

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

98 tn Heb “Is it not little?”

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

100 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.

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

102 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”).

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

104 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).

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

106 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.

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

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

109 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.

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

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

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

113 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.

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

115 tn Heb “upon the face of.”

116 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.

117 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?”

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

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

120 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.

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

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



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