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Genesis 19

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATION

NASB NKJV NRSV TEV NJB (follows MT)
The Doom of Sodom Sodom's Depravity The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah The Sinfulness of Sodom The Destruction of Sodom
19:1-11 19:1-3 19:1-11 19:1-2a 19:1-3
      19:2b  
      19:3  
  19:4-11   19:4-5 19:4-5
      19:6-8 19:6-11
      19:9-11  
  Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed   Lot Leaves Sodom  
19:12-14 19:12-14 19:12-14 19:12-13 19:12-14
      19:14  
19:15-22 19:15-22 19:15-23 19:15-17 19:15-16
        19:17-22
      19:18-20  
      19:21-22a  
      19:22b  
      The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah  
19:23-26 19:23-26   19:23-26 19:23-26
    19:24-26    
19:27-28 19:27-28 19:27-28 19:27-29 19:27-28
19:29 19:29 19:29   19:29
Lot is Debased The Descendants of Lot   The Origin of the Moabites and Ammonites The Origin of the Moabites and the Ammonites
19:30-38 19:30-35 19:30-38 19:30-33 19:30
        19:31-38
      19:34-38  
  19:36-38      

READING CYCLE THREE

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:1-11
  
1Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. 2And he said, "Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way." They said however, "No, but we shall spend the night in the square." 3Yet he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate. 4Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; 5and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them." 6But Lot went out to them at the doorway, and shut the door behind him, 7and said, "Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. 8Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like; only do nothing to these men, inasmuch as they have come under the shelter of my roof." 9But they said, "Stand aside." Furthermore, they said, "This one came in as an alien, and already he is acting like a judge; now we will treat you worse than them." So they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door. 10But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door. 11They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.

19:1 "the two angels came to Sodom in the evening" They had left Abraham and YHWH on the mount overlooking the Dead Sea in the evening and arrived some 40 miles distance in just a few minutes-they are angels!!! They are human in form, speech, and dress, as is evident from 18:2,22; 19:10,12,16. They always appear as males except possibly Zech. 5:9.

▣ "as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom" We can see something of the progression of Lot's wickedness by the fact that

1. in 13:11 he is said to have moved to the plains of Sodom and Gomorrah

2. the nomadic shepherd has moved into the city. He has apparently become one of the elders of the city which is implied in the phrase "in the gate of"

3. in v. 3 he is obviously aware of the homosexual activities of the inhabitants, which he had probably observed several times

4. in v. 7 he goes so far as to call them "brothers"

5. later on he is reluctant to leave the city and his material possessions.

God help us-Lot seems to have tried to change them (v. 9) but, as so often happens, their evil influence affected him, his wife, and his daughters!

As Abraham had done, Lot also arose to greet them and bowed down. Whether these are common cultural gestures (which is probable) or a recognition of their origin is uncertain.

19:2 "please turn aside into your servant's house, and spend the night, and wash your feet" Lot seems to be the only one to address these visitors and without realizing they were angels he wanted to protect them from the inhabitants of this city. This can be seen in his strong urging in v. 3. The response of the two angels is a Semitic idiom for a cultural way to say "yes," but not without some urging.

Three imperatives (expressing Lot's desire) describe Lot's gesture of Oriental hospitality.

1. turn aside - BDB 693, KB 747, Qal imperative

2. spend the night (lit. lodge) - BDB 533, KB 529, Qal imperative

3. wash - BDB 934, KB 1220, Qal imperative

Added to this he prepared a feast for them (cf. v. 3). Obviously these angels and the physical representatives of YHWH (possibly the Angel of the Lord) could and did eat food, as did the resurrected Jesus (cf. John 21).

▣ "we shall spend the night in the square" This must have been the normal procedure for visitors. But Lot knew the consequences. Possibly he had seen it happen before!

19:3 "he urged them strongly" This verb (BDB 823, KB 954, Qal imperfect) is used twice in this verse.

1. In v. 9 its literal meaning of push or press is used of the men of Sodom.

2. Here its metaphorical use of "to urge" is used (cf. Jdgs. 19:7; II Kgs. 2:17; 5:23). The adverb "strongly" (BDB 547) intensifies the request.

 

▣ "baked unleavened bread" The rabbis say this shows that this was the Passover, therefore, Isaac was born on the Passover (the next year). However, this seems to be reading too much into the phrase, "unleavened bread." Earlier in the day Abraham had cooked bread that was not unleavened. Apparently Lot's servants or family prepared the meal quickly (cf. Jdgs. 6:19).

19:4 "the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter" This implies that every single man in the town, both young and old, had become homosexuals, or at least, bisexuals. As God told Abraham to train up his children, 18:19, we see the negative aspect of that as the people of Sodom have trained their children in evil. Here is a good example of the sins of the fathers being passed on to their sons (cf. Deut. 5:9-10).

The last phrase translated "from every quarter" (cf. NASB and NKJV) is literally "to the last man" (BDB 892). The term is used for things in between (e.g., 47:21). The evil of Sodom that the angel (i.e., YHWH) had mentioned in 18:20-21 was true. There were not even ten righteous men (cf. 18:32).

SPECIAL TOPIC: HOMOSEXUALITY

19:5 "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them" Their demands are

1. bring them out - BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil imperative

2. have relations with - BDB 393, KB 390, Qal cohortative

Josephus, in his book Antiquities of the Jews 1:11:3, says that the angels were beautiful creatures and excited the lust of the men of Sodom. The Bible often speaks of the sin of homosexuality, which was apparently common in Canaan (cf. Lev. 18:22; 20:13). It was also common in the Roman Empire of Paul's day (cf. Rom. 1:26, 27; I Cor. 6:9; I Tim. 1:10).

The Hebrew phrase, "have relations with them," is literally "to know" (BDB 393, KB 390), which speaks of "intimate personal relationship." This homosexual gang-rape would probably have killed the visitors. It is obvious from v. 9 that this would have also happened to Lot's daughters and even to Lot himself. Some commentators see Lot offering his daughters to the mob as the experience which caused them to lose respect for their father.

19:7 "do not act wickedly" This verb (BDB 949, KB 1269, Hiphil imperfect, here used in a jussive sense) in this Hiphil stem can mean

1. do not hurt - e.g., 43:6; Exod. 5:22-23; Josh. 24:20; Isa. 11:9

2. do not do evil - e.g., I Sam. 12:25; Jer. 4:22; 13:23

It seems Lot is accusing the men of an immoral intent (cf. v. 9). He is acting as an ethical mirror to the intended sexual violence which encompassed two evils.

1. violation of hospitality

2. sexual perversion

 

19:8 "Now behold, I have two daughters" Lot expresses himself to the mob with three suggestions.

1. Let me bring them (his two daughters) out to you - BDB 422, KB 425, Hiphil cohortative

2. Do to them whatever you like - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperative

3. Do nothing to these men - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

These strangers had come under the "shelter of my roof" (literally, "shadow," BDB 853). This same term is used for "under the shadow of God's wing," which is a metaphor for protection and care (cf. Num. 14:9; Ps. 17:8; 36:7; 57:1; 63:7). Lot was obliged to protect his guests at any cost!

This has been explained in various ways, but it remains an enigma concerning the motives of Lot.

1. it was his ultimate desire to protect his guests (Oriental hospitality)

2. he knew this mob did not desire women

3. he was hoping his potential sons-in-law, who could have been in the crowd, would stop the mob at this point. This account is very similar to Jdgs. 19:24.

 

19:9 "stand back" This verb (BDB 620, KB 670, Qal imperative) is usually translated "come near" (e.g., Lev. 21:21; II Kgs. 4:27); uniquely here it denotes "get out of our way" as they pushed forward.

"and already he is acting like a judge" This is an emphatic construction (i.e., the imperfect verb and infinitive absolute of the same Hebrew root). The actions of these men deserve judgment (cf. v. 13). This is the information alluded to in 18:20-24. This may be the source of II Pet. 2:7-8, which calls Lot righteous.

▣ "now we will treat you worse than them" They proposed to molest (this is the same verb as v. 7) Lot and his family as well as the strangers.

19:11 "They struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness" This Hebrew term (BDB 645, KB 697, Hiphil perfect) means more than just simple, temporary blindness (the verb occurs only twice in the OT, cf. II Kgs. 6:18). Iben Ezra says that it means "blindness of eye and mind," which seems to fit the latter part of this verse, which says they continued to grope around looking for the doorway as if confused (e.g., Exod. 3:20). The blindness here (BDB 703) is different from Lev. 22:22; Deut. 28:28 (BDB 734). This one denotes "blinded by a bright light."

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:12-14
  
12Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it." 14Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.

19:12 "Whom else have you here" This is not so much for the angels' information as it is for Lot to see he had no real ties to Sodom!

19:13-14 "the Lord has sent us to destroy it. . .the Lord will destroy the city" The presence of a destroying angel can be seen in the ten plagues of Egypt, but the ultimate authority is YHWH behind angels' activities.

Three times in these two verses the Hebrew term "destroy" (BDB 1007, KB 1469) is used.

1. v. 13 - "destroy" - Hiphil participle

2. v. 14 - "destroy" - Piel infinitive construct (cf. v. 29)

3. v. 14 - "destroy" - Hiphil participle (cf. 18:28)

The term basically means "to ruin," but is used in the sense of destroy (cf. 6:17; 9:15; 13:10; II Sam. 24:16). This is the same root used to describe the "Death" angel in Exod. 12:23 (note I Chr. 21:15; Isa. 54:16; Jer. 22:7).

19:14 "went out and spoke to his sons-in-law" Some assume that Lot's daughters were already married (BDB 542, KB 534, Qal active participle, cf. the Septuagint and the Targums), but others believe they were only betrothed (cf. Josephus, the Vulgate, Rashi, and TEV). It seems to me from the context that Lot only had two daughters and they were still unmarried, living at home, but it remains a possibility he had other married daughters who were completely caught up in the life of Sodom and would not leave.

Lot tried to motivate these young men to leave.

1. up (lit. arise) - BDB 877, KB 1086, Qal imperative

2. get out (lit. go) - BDB 422, KB 425, Qal imperative

 

▣ "to be jesting" This verb (BDB 850, KB 1019, Piel participle) has several connotations.

1. sexual activity - Gen. 26:8

2. mocking - Gen. 21:9

3. make sport of (related to #1) - Gen. 39:14,17

4. play (related to #1) - Exod. 32:6

5. entertain - Jdgs. 16:25

The same root is used of Abraham's and Sarah's laughing at YHWH's promise of a child the following spring (cf. 17:17; 18:12).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:15-22
  
15When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." 16But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. 17When they had brought them outside, one said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away." 18But Lot said to them, "Oh no, my lords! 19Now behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your lovingkindness, which you have shown me by saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, for the disaster will overtake me and I will die; 20now behold, this town is near enough to flee to, and it is small. Please, let me escape there (is it not small?) that my life may be saved." 21He said to him, "Behold, I grant you this request also, not to overthrow the town of which you have spoken. 22Hurry, escape there, for I cannot do anything until you arrive there." Therefore the name of the town was called Zoar.

19:15 As dawn came the angels became emphatic.

1. up (lit. arise) - exact form of v. 14

2. take - BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperative

In vv. 16-22 the angels' concern and protection is continued.

▣ "or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city" This is a common term for divine judgment (cf. 18:23,24; 19:15,17; Num. 16:26; I Sam. 12:25).

19:16 "he hesitated" This verb (BDB 554, KB 552, Hithpael imperfect) is used several times in the OT and means "to linger" or "delay." Why Lot tarried is not stated. One can only speculate, but it does reveal a lack of trust in the angels' message. The warnings of v. 17 imply a reluctance on Lot's part to leave his life in Sodom or possibly his physical possessions (i.e., household goods, servants, valuables, livestock). Remember Lot chose the best grassland for himself (cf. 13:10).

▣ "for the compassion of the Lord was upon him" The Hebrew noun (BDB 328) is found only here and Isa. 63:9, which also denotes YHWH's covenant love, compassion, mercy, and grace towards His people. His special care is related to His promises to the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). The verb (although never appearing in Psalms) is used of YHWH's special covenant love (cf. II Chr. 36:15; Joel 2:18; Mal. 3:17 [twice], but note the contrast when they sin in II Chr. 36:17; Ezek. 5:11; 7:4,9; 8:18; 9:5,10)!

19:17 "Escape for your life" The verb "escape" (טלמ, BDB 572, KB 589, Niphal imperative) is used five times in this context (cf. 19:17 [twice], 19,20,22). It is a sound play on the name "Lot" (טול, BDB 532).

▣ "Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley" The angels give several emphatic statements to Lot.

1. escape for your life - BDB 572, KB 589, Niphal imperative

2. do not look back - BDB 613, KB 661, Hiphil imperfect used in a jussive sense (note the tragedy of v. 26, apparently it was hard for Lot and his family to let go of their lives in Sodom)

3. do not stay anywhere in the valley - BDB 763, KB 840, Qal imperfect used in a jussive sense

4. escape to the mountains - same form as #1

"Anywhere in the valley" literally means "five cities." This referred to five major cities in the Jordan plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar, which is also called Bela (cf. Gen. 14:2).

19:19 This verse shows something of Lot's personality. Exactly why he was afraid of the mountains is uncertain (unless it is just their distance away), but at least it reveals a lack of trust in YHWH's continuing protection and provision (lit. "favor in your eyes," cf. 6:8; 32:5; 34:11).

NASB "lovingkindness"
NKJV "mercy"
NRSV "great kindness"

This is the Hebrew special covenant noun hesed (BDB 338).

SPECIAL TOPIC: LOVINGKINDNESS (HESED)

19:20 "please, let me escape" This is a cohortative (BDB 572, KB 589, Niphal cohortative), which explains the "please, let" of NASB.

The next verb (BDB 310, KB 309) "escape" (lit. "live") is a Qal jussive.

19:21 "Behold, I grant you this" This is literally the Hebrew idiom "lift the face" (verb, BDB 669, KB 724, Qal perfect plus "face," BDB 815). It comes from the judicial realm. If a judge "lifted the face" of an accused to see who he/she was, then his impartiality was jeopardized (cf. Lev. 19:15; Ps. 82:2; Pro. 18:5). The judge must be no respecter of persons.

Lot, afraid that he could not make it to the mountains, asked for Bela (Zoar, BDB 858, the root means "to be insignificant"), which means "small" (BDB 859 I), "to be spared." The angels, surprisingly, approved his request (it seems in a sense all three angels represented YHWH's personal presence). This city was large enough to have a king, as is recorded in 14:2. This may theologically be another way to show the power of intercession (i.e., Abraham in 18:22-33).

19:22 Again the angel commands Lot.

1. hurry - BDB 554, KB 553, Piel imperative (the opposite of v. 16a)

2. escape - BDB 572, KB 589, Niphal imperative (cf. 19:17 [twice], 19,20), only here in Genesis through Deuteronomy

 

▣ "I cannot do anything until" The destroying angels are under orders to spare Lot and his family. This reflects either

1. the grace of YHWH

2. the power of intercessory prayer (i.e., 18:22ff)

 

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:23-26
  
23The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. 24Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. 26But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

19:24 "the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven" It seems rather unusual that the term "YHWH" is used twice here. Jewish commentators call the term the plural of majesty, while Christian commentators see something of the Trinity here. As a matter of fact, the Council of Sirmium commented on this verse as follows, "God the Son brought down the rain from God the Father." We learn from 14:10 of the presence of tar pits in this region and apparently, somehow, through lightening or raining fire (cf. Ezek. 38:22; Luke 17:29; Rev. 14:10; 19:20; 20:10), God caused this entire region to ignite and explode (cf. Jude 7).

Again note the supernatural preservation of Zoar. This is similar to Goshen being protected from the ten plagues.

Fire is always associated with the cleansing judgment of YHWH. See Special Topic at 15:17.

19:25 "He overthrew those cities" This Hebrew term "overthrew" (BDB 245, KB 253, Qal imperfect) means to turn upside down and thereby destroy. Sodom's destruction is used throughout Scripture to denote divine judgment (cf. Deut. 29:23; Isa. 13:19; Jer. 49:18; 50:40; Amos 4:11). This destruction was the personal judgment of YHWH. He would do the same to the Canaanite cultures that Joshua would face in the conquest of Canaan.

19:26 Readers are not sure exactly what happened here, but it is obvious that Lot's wife's heart was still in Sodom and she reaped a just recompense (cf. Luke 17:32). She became a memorial of disobedience! Not only was Lot's wife affected by their time in Sodom, but also his daughters, which is evident from vv. 30-38.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:27-28
  
27Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; 28and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace.

19:27 "to the place he had stood before the Lord" This is an idiom for being in the presence of Deity (cf. 18:22; Lev. 9:5; Deut. 10:8).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:29
  
29Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

19:29 "that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow" Notice that Lot was spared because of the intercession of Abraham, the possessor of the covenant promise (cf. Exod. 2:24). This verse accentuates the preeminence of Abraham.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 19:30-38
  
30Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. 31Then the firstborn said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. 32Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him that we may preserve our family through our father." 33So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 34On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, "Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father." 35So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. 37The firstborn bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38As for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.

19:30-38 These verses serve as an explanation of the origins of Moab and Ammon.

19:30 "for he was afraid to stay in Zoar" There are two possibilities concerning this verse: (1) he ignored the angel's special promise in v. 21 or (2) he saw how evil the people of this city were also and was afraid that God's judgment would surely fall on them too. He went to the very place he said in v. 19 that he feared!

19:31 The daughters show the same lack of trust in YHWH's provision as their father. They seem to have forgotten

1. God's deliverance through Abraham in chapter 14

2. God's deliverance through the angels in chapter 19

 

19:32 The daughters designed a plan to preserve their family line.

1. come - BDB 229, KB 246, Qal imperative (cf. v. 34)

2. let us make our father drink wine - BDB 1052, KB 1639, Hiphil imperfect used in a cohortative sense (cf. v. 34)

3. let us lie with him - BDB 1011, KB 1486, Qal cohortative (v. 34 imperative)

Verse 34 repeats these incestuous acts.

19:36 One wonders if they both became pregnant the first time or that this became a repeated event.

19:37 "Moab" The popular, but not technical meaning based on similar sounds was "from my father" (BDB 555), which shows the incestuous relationship. This child later became the father of the Moabites who caused such great problems for the Israelites, yet were relatives (cf. Deut. 2:9).

19:38 "Ben-ammi. . .sons of Ammon" Ben-ammi seems to mean "son of my people" (cf. the Septuagint, Jerome, and Augustine). The sons of Ammon (BDB 769) later caused tremendous problems for the nation of Israel, yet were relatives (cf. Deut. 2:19). The degradation of vv. 30-38 was seen either as (1) a mark of moral failure or (2) pride that they kept the pure racial line of the family. Both names are sarcastic!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. What are the major truths communicated in chapters 18 and 19?

2. Why does YHWH appear with angels? What is the purpose (or purposes) of His visit?

3. What does the term Adon mean and imply?

4. List the gradual degradation of Lot in these chapters.

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods