Genesis (Part 77)

Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find them HERE.

Genesis: 19:6-11

Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9 But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

______________________

Lot goes outside and begs his “brothers” to leave his guests alone – and he offers them his young virgin daughters in exchange for their doing so. Lot’s “brothers” feel judged and tell Lot that they are going to “deal worse with him” than with the guests. The two men – the two angels – stage a rescue of Lot and give the gathered townspeople blindness.

Every bit of this is pretty horrifying.

From The Pulpit Commentaries:

And Lot went out at the door unto them,—literally, at the doorwayor opening (pethach, from pathach, to open; cf. pateo, Latin; πρόθυρονLXX.); in which the gate or hanging door (deleth, from dalai, to be pendulous) swings, and which it closes—and shut the door (deleth, ut supra; θύραLXX.) after him,—to protect his visitors, which he also sought to accomplish by personal exhortation—and said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly—and also by an infamous proposal which nothing can extenuate and the utmost charity finds difficult to reconcile any pretence of piety on the part of. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man;—i.e. unmarried (cf. Genesis 4:1), though, according to some, already betrothed to two Sodomites (Genesis 19:14)—let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes. The usual apologies—that in sacrificing his daughters to the Sodomites instead of giving up his guests to their unnatural lust. 

And from David Guzik’s Commentary:

So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door.

a. Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! This was a difficult argument for Lot to make. He and the men of Sodom had a completely different standard for deciding what was wicked and what was not.

i. The difference in their standards points to an important question: If we abandon the Bible’s guide for sexual morality, what guide for sexual morality will we follow? To simply do as one pleases is not enough.

b. I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish: The offer was horrible and cannot be justified. The men of Sodom showed a shocking demonstration of depravity, but we are just as shocked at the willingness of Lot to give up his daughters to the mob as we are at the sinful desire of the mob itself.

i. We understand it a little more when we consider the low place of women in the pre-Christian world and the very high place of any guest in your home. It was understood a guest was to be protected more than your own family.

When you read through this section, you understand better why the two men (angels) were resistant to even visiting Lot’s house. Perhaps it is only through his relationship with Abraham that even Lot and his near kin are saved.

Looking at some of the translated words:

brothers = אָח ʼâch, awkh; a primitive word; a brother (used in the widest sense of literal relationship and metaphorical affinity or resemblance [like H1]):—another, brother(-ly); kindred, like, other. Compare also the proper names beginning with ‘Ah-‘ or ‘Ahi-‘.

wickedly = רָעַע râʻaʻ, raw-ah’; a primitive root; properly, to spoil (literally, by breaking to pieces); figuratively, to make (or be) good for nothing, i.e. bad (physically, socially or morally):—afflict, associate selves (by mistake for 7462), break (down, in pieces), displease, (be, bring, do) evil (doer, entreat, man), show self friendly (by mistake for 7462), do harm, (do) hurt, (behave self, deal) ill, × indeed, do mischief, punish, still, vex, (do) wicked (doer, -ly), be (deal, do) worse.

daughters = בַּת bath, bath; from H1129 (as feminine of H1121); a daughter (used in the same wide sense as other terms of relationship, literally and figuratively):—apple (of the eye), branch, company, daughter, × first, × old, owl, town, village.

Ellicott’s Commentary brings up some issues that arise re: Lot’s character.

(8) I have two daughters.—It is plain from Judges 19:24 that this proposal was not viewed in old time with the horror which it seems to deserve. Granting with St. Ambrose that it was the substitution of a smaller for a greater sin, and with St. Chrysostom that Lot was bound by the laws of hospitality to do his utmost to protect his guests, yet he was also bound as a father equally to protect his daughters to the last extremity: and if men might substitute smaller for greater sins, they would have an excuse for practising every form of wickedness. The difficulty arises from the high character given of Lot by St. Peter (2 Peter 2:7-8): but Lot was righteous only relatively; and though his soul was daily vexed by what he saw, it was not vexed enough to make him quit such evil surroundings, and return to the healthy and virtuous life of the mountains. And, when finally he sought refuge in them, as it was not of his own free will, but on compulsion (Genesis 19:30), he found there no peace, but shared, even if unknowingly, in deeds of horrible lust. The warning of his fall is, that men who part with religious privileges for the sake of worldly advantage are in danger of sinking into moral degradation, and of losing, with their faith and hope, not only their self-respect and happiness, but even that earthly profit for the sake of which they sacrificed their religion.

Unto these men.—The form of the pronoun is archaic, and occurs again in Genesis 19:25. It is found in a few other places in the Pentateuch, but never elsewhere.

The reason Christians in particular struggle with this passage is that 2 Peter 2:7-8 says the following:

But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day.

The text does not tell us this overtly. It is also difficult to read righteousness into the foregoing text from Genesis 19. However, we should assume from the text that Lot was at least righteous enough to be spared, he was righteous enough to (in his view) save the lives of the two strangers in his town by taking them under his roof, and he was righteous enough to face down a mob at his door to protect his guests. Was he righteous enough to give up living in the city of Sodom? No. Was he willing to commit a sin to prevent what he viewed as a greater sin? Yes.

Perhaps a way to read this is that the Lord’s standard of what constituted righteousness, such that He was willing to spare life, was not exceedingly high. God was merciful here and we see that through the personal failings of someone God spared.

I am also reminded of another Christian verse here re: Lot:

1 Corinthians 15:33 – Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Returning to the text, the people of Sodom get angry with Lot. In verse nine, the mob says that Lot came to their city to sojourn (he is an outsider / visitor) and they are angry that he as an outsider is judging them.

sojourn = גּוּר gûwr, goor; a primitive root; properly, to turn aside from the road (for a lodging or any other purpose), i.e. sojourn (as a guest); also to shrink, fear (as in a strange place); also to gather for hostility (as afraid):—abide, assemble, be afraid, dwell, fear, gather (together), inhabitant, remain, sojourn, stand in awe, (be) stranger, × surely.

judge = שָׁפַט shâphaṭ, shaw-fat’; a primitive root; to judge, i.e. pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication, to vindicate or punish; by extenssion, to govern; passively, to litigate (literally or figuratively):— avenge, × that condemn, contend, defend, execute (judgment), (be a) judge(-ment), × needs, plead, reason, rule.

The logic of the people of Sodom is something akin to: “You’re here as a guest. if you don’t like it you can get out… but we are going to deal, uh, harshly with you first.”

Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:

(9) This one fellow came in to sojourn.—Heb. the one came to sojourn, as if an extraordinary concession had been made in Lot’s favour in allowing him to dwell within their walls. In ancient times the rights of citizenship were most jealously guarded, and the position of a sojourner made very bitter.

He will needs be a judge.—Heb., is ever acting as a judge. This suggests that Lot had previously reproved the men of Sodom, and agrees with 2 Peter 2:8.

Why was Lot granted this extra-ordinary concession? Lot’s uncle Abraham rescued all of them from captivity back in Genesis Chapter 14. I suppose that they owe him (his kin, anyway) their very freedom is something easily forgotten when faced with criticism.

From The Pulpit Commentaries on verse 9:

And they said, Stand back. Ἀπόστα ἐκεῖ(LXX.); recede illuc (Vulgate); “Make way,” i.e. for us to enter (Keil, Knobel, Gesenius); Approach hither (Baumgarten, Kalisch); Come near, farther off (‘Speaker’s Commentary’). And they said again, This one fellow (literally, the one, an expression of the Sodomites’ contempt) came in to sojourn, and he will heeds be a judge:—literally, and shall he judge, judging;shall he continually play the judge, referring doubtless to Lot’s daily remonstrances against their wickedness (cf. 2 Peter 2:72 Peter 2:8)—now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they premed Bore upon the man, even Lot (literally, upon Lot, who appears to have offered a sturdy resistance to their violence no less than to their clamors), and came near to break ( שָׁבַר, to break to pieces, to shiver) the door.

There is a bit of inference here in this Commentary note. We do not read in the text that Lot’s “daily remonstrances against their wickedness” actually occurred. The belief that it did – in the commentary – comes from the verses in 2 Peter.

With the door just about to be broken down, the angels decide to intervene. Let’s return to the text again:

10 But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11 And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

The two men here are the two angels. However, the text refers to them again as men.

men = אֱנוֹשׁ ʼĕnôwsh, en-oshe’; from H605; properly, a mortal (and thus differing from the more dignified 120); hence, a man in general (singly or collectively):—another, × (blood-) thirsty, certain, chap(-man); divers, fellow, × in the flower of their age, husband, (certain, mortal) man, people, person, servant, some (× of them), stranger, those, their trade. It is often unexpressed in the English versions, especially when used in apposition with another word. Compare H376.

From David Guzik:

a. The men reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door: It must have taken great, perhaps supernatural, strength to do what the angels did at the door. Perhaps for the first time Lot began to understand that his guests were more than men.

b. They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness: Obviously, the work of striking the men blind was supernatural. Now the mob had a physical blindness appropriate to their moral blindness.

Ellicott’s Commentary makes an interesting note regarding the blindness:

(11) Blindness.—This word occurs elsewhere only in 2 Kings 6:18, and in both cases it is plain that actual blindness is not meant. Had the men here been struck with blindness they would not have wearied themselves with trying to find the door, but would either have gone away in terror at the visitation, or, if too hardened for that, would have groped about till they found it. So, if the Syrian army had been made actually blind, they would have surrendered themselves; nor would it have been practicable to guide an army of blind men on so long a march as that from Dothan to Samaria. In both cases the men were unaware that anything had happened to them. The people of Sodom thought they saw the door; the Syrians supposed that the locality was one well known to them, and only when the confusion was removed did they become conscious that they were at Samaria. The word really means a disturbance of vision caused by the eye not being in its proper connection with the brain. And so the men of Sodom ever seemed just upon the point of reaching the door, and pressed on, and strove and quarrelled, but always failed, they knew not how, but as they always supposed by one another’s fault. It is a strange picture of men given over to unbelief and sin, and who “seeing see not,” because they reject the true light.

The word here for blindness is סַנְוֵר çanvêr, san-vare’; of uncertain derivation; (in plural) blindness:—blindness.

The other place where it is used in the Old Testament is 2 Kings 6:18: And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.

As the commentary note says, if this were an actual blindness, then how did the army continue to move? Instead, the blindness seems to be of a sort wherein people are confused in their sight.

The Pulpit Commentary adds to the discussion on the blindness:

And they smote the men that were at the door—the pethaeh, or opening (vide Genesis 19:6)—of the house with blindness,— סַגְוֵרִים (sanverim), from an unused quadrilateral signifying to dazzle, is perhaps here intended not for natural blindness, but for confused or bewildered vision, involving for the time being loss of sight, and accompanied by mental aberration; what Aben Ezra calls “blindness of eye and mind” (cf. 2 Kings 6:18)—both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door—which they would hardly have done bad it been natural blindness only.

___________________

Yehuda Shurpin at Chabad.org provides some biographical information for Lot:

“Not much is known about Lot’s mother, but we do know that his father was Haran, brother of Abraham, who died at a relatively young age.

The Midrash gives us the backstory of Haran’s death:

Nimrod [the mightiest man of the era] said to Abraham, “I shall cast you into the fire and let your G‑d to whom you bow come and save you from it!” Haran was standing there and said to himself: “What shall I do? If Abraham wins, I shall say: ‘I am of Abraham’s’; if Nimrod wins, I shall say, ‘I am of Nimrod’s.’ ” When Abraham went into the furnace and survived, Haran was asked: “Whose are you?” and he answered: “I am Abraham’s!” So, they took him and threw him into the furnace, and his innards were burned and he died before Terah, his father. This is the meaning of the verse “And Haran died in the lifetime of his father Terah.”

After his father’s death, Lot travelled with his grandfather Terah and then later with Abraham to the land of Canaan.

The Midrash also tells us that Lot bore a striking resemblance to his famous uncle, Abraham.

[…]

The abundance of wealth and luxury caused inhabitants of Sodom and the surrounding cities to become increasingly wicked. In the year 2048 (1714 BCE), 25 years after Lot settled in Sodom, G‑d finally decided it was time to destroy Sodom.

The Talmud describes many of the sins and cruelties of the inhabitants of Sodom, including immorality and bloodshed. But they were particularly against the concept of charity. The Talmud describes one especially cruel act that illustrates this:

A certain maiden gave some bread to a poor man, [hiding it] in a pitcher. On the matter becoming known, they daubed her with honey and placed her on the parapet of the wall, and the bees came and consumed her. When the dying cries of this maiden pierced the heavens final judgement was rendered to destroy the cities.

According to a Midrash, this maiden was non other than Plitith, one of Lot’s daughter’s

G‑d informed Abraham that He would destroy Sodom, and Abraham pleaded on their behalf, asking if G‑d would save the city in the merit of at least 10 righteous people who lived there.

According to some, the number 10 was specific. Abraham thought that Lot, together with his wife Idith (a Sodomite woman), two married daughters and two unmarried daughters, together with their husbands and fiances, would amount to 10 worthy people. However, none of the sons-in-law were worthy.

It’s an interesting article and I encourage a read of the whole thing.

_____________________

We are on the cusp of judgment. The next set of verses deal with the escape of Lot’s family.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s