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Genesis 19:1-11

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.

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.



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