Genesis 19

CHAPTER XIX

The two angels mentioned in the preceding chapter, come in

the evening to Sodom, 1.

Lot, who was sitting at the gate, invites them to enter his

house, take some refreshment, and tarry all night; which they

at first refuse, 2;

but on being pressingly solicited, they at last comply, 3.

The abominable conduct of the men of Sodom, 4, 5.

Lot's deep concern for the honour and safely of his guests, which leads

him to make a most exceptionable proposal to those wicked men, 6-8.

The violent proceedings of the Sodomites, 9.

Lot rescued from their barbarity by the angels, who smite them with

blindness, 10, 11.

The angels exhort Lot and his family to flee from that wicked place,

as God was about to destroy it, 12, 13.

Lot's fruitless exhortation to his sons-in-law, 14.

The angels hasten Lot and his family to depart, 15, 16.

Their exhortation, 17.

Lot's request, 18-20.

He is permitted to escape to Zoar, 21-23.

Fire and brimstone are rained down from heaven upon all the cities

of the plain, by which they are entirely destroyed, 24, 25.

Lot's wife, looking behind, becomes a pillar of salt, 26.

Abraham, early in the morning, discovers the desolation of those

iniquitous cities, 27-29.

Lot, fearing to continue in Zoar, went with his two daughters

to the mountain, and dwelt in a cave, 30.

The strange conduct of his daughters, and his unhappy

deception, 31-36.

Moab and Ammon born, from whom sprang the Moabites and

Ammonites, 37, 38.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIX

Verse 1. Two angels] The two referred to Ge 18:22.

Sat in the gate] Probably, in order to prevent unwary

travellers from being entrapped by his wicked townsmen, he waited

at the gate of the city to bring the strangers he might meet with

to his own house, as well as to transact his own business. Or, as

the gate was the place of judgment, he might have been sitting

there as magistrate to hear and determine disputes.

Bowed himself] Not through religious reverence, for he did not

know the quality of his guests; but through the customary form of

civility. See on verses Ge 18:3-5 of the preceding chapter.

Verse 2. Nay; but we will abide in the street] Instead of lo,

nay, some MSS. have lo, to him; "And they said unto him, for we

lodge in the street." where, nevertheless, the negation is

understood. Knowing the disposition of the inhabitants, and

appearing in the mere character of travellers, they preferred the

open street to any house; but as Lot pressed them vehemently, and

they knew him to be a righteous man, not yet willing to make

themselves known, they consented to take shelter under his

hospitable roof. Our Lord, willing for the time being to conceal

his person from the knowledge of the disciples going to Emmaus,

made as though he would go farther, Lu 24:13; but at last, like

the angels here, yielded to the importunity of his disciples, and

went into their lodgings.

Verse 5. Where are the men which came in to thee, &c.] This

account justifies the character given of this depraved people in

the preceding chapter, Ge 18:20, and in Ge 23:13. As their crime

was the deepest disgrace to human nature, so it is too bad to be

described; in the sacred text it is sufficiently marked; and the

iniquity which, from these most abominable wretches, has been

called Sodomy, is punished in our country with death.

Verse 8. Behold now, I have two daughters] Nothing but that

sacred light in which the rights of hospitality were regarded

among the eastern nations, could either justify or palliate this

proposal of Lot. A man who had taken a stranger under his care

and protection, was bound to defend him even at the expense of his

own life. In this light the rights of hospitality are still

regarded in Asiatic countries; and on these high notions only, the

influence of which an Asiatic mind alone can properly appreciate,

Lot's conduct on this occasion can be at all excused: but even

then, it was not only the language of anxious solicitude, but of

unwarrantable haste.

Verse 9. And he will needs be a judge] So his sitting in the

gate is perhaps a farther proof of his being there in a

magisterial capacity, as some have supposed.

Verse 11. And they smote the men-with blindness] This has been

understood two ways: 1. The angels, by the power which God had

given them, deprived these wicked men of a proper and regular use

of their sight, so as either totally to deprive them of it, or

render it so confused that they could no longer distinguish

objects; or, 2. They caused such a deep darkness to take place,

that they could not find Lot's door. The author of the book of

Wisdom was evidently of this latter opinion, for he says they

were compassed about with horrible great darkness, Ge 19:17.

See a similar case of Elisha and the Syrians, 2Ki 6:18, &c.

Verse 12. Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law] Here there

appears to be but one meant, as the word chathan is in the

singular number; but in Ge 19:14 the word is

plural, chathanaiv, his sons-in-law. There were only two

in number; as we do not hear that Lot had more than two daughters:

and these seem not to have been actually married to those

daughters, but only betrothed, as is evident from what Lot says,

Ge 19:8; for they had

not known man, but were the spouses elect of those who are here

called his sons-in-law. But though these might be reputed as a

part of Lot's family, and entitled on this account to God's

protection, yet it is sufficiently plain that they did not escape

the perdition of these wicked men; and the reason is given,

Ge 19:14, they received the solemn warning as a ridiculous

tale, the creature of Lot's invention, or the offspring of his

fear. Therefore they made no provision for their escape, and

doubtless perished, notwithstanding the sincerely offered grace,

in the perdition that fell on this ungodly city.

Verse 16. While he lingered] Probably in affectionate though

useless entreaties to prevail on the remaining parts of his family

to escape from the destruction that was now descending; laid hold

upon his hand-pulled them away by mere force, the Lord being

merciful; else they had been left to perish in their lingering, as

the others were in their gainsaying.

Verse 17. When they had brought them forth, &c.] Every word

here is emphatic, Escape for thy LIFE; thou art in the most

imminent danger of perishing; thy life and thy soul are both at

stake. Look not behind thee-thou hast but barely time enough to

escape from the judgment that is now descending; no lingering, or

thou art lost! one look back may prove fatal to thee, and God

commands thee to avoid it. Neither stay thou in all the plain,

because God will destroy that as well as the city. Escape to the

mountain, on which these judgments shall not light, and which God

has appointed thee for a place of refuge; lest thou be CONSUMED.

It is not an ordinary judgment that is coming; a fire from heaven

shall burn up the cities, the plain, and all that remain in the

cities and in the plain. Both the beginning and end of this

exhortation are addressed to his personal feelings. "Skin for

skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life;" and

self-preservation is the first law of nature, to which every

other consideration is minor and unimportant.

Verse 19. I cannot escape to the mountain] He saw the

destruction so near, that he imagined he should not have time

sufficient to reach the mountain before it arrived. He did not

consider that God could give no command to his creatures that it

would be impossible for them to fulfil; but the hurry and

perturbation of his mind will at once account for and excuse this

gross oversight.

Verse 20. It is a little one] Probably Lot wished to have it

for an inheritance, and therefore pleaded its being a little one,

that his request might be the more readily granted. Or he might

suppose, that being a little city, it was less depraved than Sodom

and Gomorrah, and therefore not so ripe for punishment; which was

probably the case.

Verse 21. See, I have accepted thee] How prevalent is prayer

with God! Far from refusing to grant a reasonable petition, he

shows himself as if under embarrassment to deny any.

Verse 22. I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither.] So

these heavenly messengers had the strictest commission to take

care of Lot and his family; and even the purposes of Divine

justice could not be accomplished on the rebellious, till this

righteous man and his family had escaped from the place. A proof

of Abraham's assertion, The Judge of all the earth will do right.

The name of the city was called Zoar.] Tsoar, LITTLE,

its former name being Bela.

Verse 24. The Lord rained-brimstone and fire from the Lord] As

all judgment is committed to the Son of God, many of the primitive

fathers and several modern divines have supposed that the words

vaihovah and meeth Yehovah imply, Jehovah

the Son raining brimstone and fire from Jehovah the Father; and

that this place affords no mean proof of the proper Divinity of

our blessed Redeemer. It may be so; but though the point is

sufficiently established elsewhere, it does not appear to me to be

plainly indicated here. And it is always better on a subject of

this kind not to have recourse to proofs which require proofs to

confirm them. It must however be granted that two persons

mentioned as Jehovah in one verse, is both a strange and curious

circumstance; and it will appear more remarkable when we consider

that the person called Jehovah, who conversed with Abraham, (see

chap. xviii.,) and sent those two angels to bring Lot and his

family out of this devoted place, and seems himself after he left

off talking with Abraham to have ascended to heaven, Ge 19:33,

does not any more appear on this occasion till we hear that

JEHOVAH rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from

JEHOVAH out of heaven. This certainly gives much countenance to

the opinion referred to above, though still it may fall short of

positive proof.

Brimstone and fire.-The word gophrith, which we

translate brimstone, is of very uncertain derivation. It is

evidently used metaphorically, to point out the utmost degrees of

punishment executed on the most flagitious criminals, in

De 29:23; Job 18:15; Ps 11:6; Isa 34:9; Eze 38:22. And as

hell, or an everlasting separation from God and the glory of his

power, is the utmost punishment that can be inflicted on sinners,

hence brimstone and fire are used in Scripture to signify the

torments in that place of punishment. See

Isa 30:33; Re 14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8. We may safely suppose

that it was quite possible that a shower of nitrous particles

might have been precipitated from the atmosphere, here, as in many

other places, called heaven, which, by the action of fire or the

electric fluid, would be immediately ignited, and so consume the

cities; and, as we have already seen that the plains about Sodom

and Gomorrah abounded with asphaltus or bitumen pits, (see

Ge 14:10,) that what is particularly meant here in reference to

the plain is the setting fire to this vast store of inflammable

matter by the agency of lightning or the electric fluid; and this,

in the most natural and literal manner, accounts for the whole

plain being burnt up, as that plain abounded with this bituminous

substance; and thus we find three agents employed in the total

ruin of these cities, and all the circumjacent plain: 1.

Innumerable nitrous particles precipitated from the atmosphere. 2.

The vast quantity of asphaltus or bitumen which abounded in that

country: and, 3. Lightning or the electric spark, which ignited

the nitre and bitumen, and thus consumed both the cities and the

plain or champaign country in which they were situated.

Verse 25. And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain] This

forms what is called the lake Asphaltites, Dead Sea, or Salt Sea,

which, according to the most authentic accounts, is about seventy

miles in length, and eighteen in breadth.

The most strange and incredible tales are told by many of the

ancients, and by many of the moderns, concerning the place where

these cities stood. Common fame says that the waters of this sea

are so thick that a stone will not sink in them, so tough and

clammy that the most boisterous wind cannot ruffle them, so

deadly that no fish can live in them, and that if a bird happen

to fly over the lake, it is killed by the poisonous effluvia

proceeding from the waters; that scarcely any verdure can grow

near the place, and that in the vicinity where there are any trees

they bear a most beautiful fruit, but when you come to open it you

find nothing but ashes! and that the place was burning long after

the apostles' times. These and all similar tales may be safely

pronounced great exaggerations of facts, or fictions of ignorant,

stupid, and superstitious monks, or impositions of unprincipled

travellers, who, knowing that the common people are delighted with

the marvellous, have stuffed their narratives with such accounts

merely to procure a better sale for their books.

The truth is, the waters are exceedingly salt, far beyond the

usual saltness of the sea, and hence it is called the Salt Sea. In

consequence of this circumstance bodies will float in it that

would sink in common salt water, and probably it is on this

account that few fish can live in it. But the monks of St. Saba

affirmed to Dr. Shaw, that they had seen fish caught in it; and as

to the reports of any noxious quality in the air, or in the

evaporations from its surface, the simple fact is, lumps of

bitumen often rise from the bottom to its surface, and exhale a

foetid odour which does not appear to have any thing poisonous in

it. Dr. Pococke swam in it for nearly a quarter of an hour, and

felt no kind of inconvenience; the water, he says, is very clear,

and having brought away a bottle of it, he "had it analyzed, and

found it to contain no substances besides salt and a little alum."

As there are frequent eruptions of a bituminous matter from the

bottom of this lake, which seem to argue a subterraneous fire,

hence the accounts that this place was burning even after the days

of the apostles. And this phenomenon still continues, for "masses

of bitumen," says Dr. Shaw, "in large hemispheres, are raised at

certain times from the bottom, which, as soon as they touch the

surface, and are thereby acted upon by the external air, burst at

once, with great smoke and noise, like the pulvis fulminans of

the chemists, and disperse themselves in a thousand pieces. But

this only happens near the shore, for in greater depths the

eruptions are supposed to discover themselves in such columns of

smoke as are now and then observed to arise from the lake. And

perhaps to such eruptions as these we may attribute that variety

of pits and hollows, not unlike the traces of many of our ancient

limekilns, which are found in the neighbourhood of this lake. The

bitumen is in all probability accompanied from the bottom with

sulphur, as both of them are found promiscuously upon the shore,

and the latter is precisely the same with common native sulphur;

the other is friable, yielding upon friction, or by being put into

the fire, a foetid smell." The bitumen, after having been some

time exposed to the air, becomes indurated like a stone. I have

some portions of it before me, brought by a friend of mine from

the spot; it is very black, hard, and on friction yields a foetid

odour.

For several curious particulars on this subject, see Dr.

Pococke's Travels, vol. ii., part 1, chap. 9, and Dr. Shaw's

Travels, 4to. edit., p. 346, &c.

Verse 26. She became a pillar of salt] The vast variety of

opinions, both ancient and modern, on the crime of Lot's wife, her

change, and the manner in which that change was effected, are in

many cases as unsatisfactory as they are ridiculous. On this point

the sacred Scripture says little. God had commanded Lot and his

family not to look behind them; the wife of Lot disobeyed this

command; she looked back from behind him-Lot, her husband, and she

became a pillar of salt. This is all the information the inspired

historian has thought proper to give us on this subject; it is

true the account is short, but commentators and critics have made

it long enough by their laborious glosses. The opinions which are

the most probable are the following: 1. "Lot's wife, by the

miraculous power of God, was changed into a mass of rock salt,

probably retaining the human figure." 2. "Tarrying too long in

the plain, she was struck with lightning and enveloped in the

bituminous and sulphuric matter which abounded in that country,

and which, not being exposed afterwards to the action of the fire,

resisted the air and the wet, and was thus rendered permanent." 3.

"She was struck dead and consumed in the burning up of the plain;

and this judgment on her disobedience being recorded, is an

imperishable memorial of the fact itself, and an everlasting

warning to sinners in general, and to backsliders or apostates in

particular." On these opinions it may be only necessary to state

that the two first understand the text literally, and that the

last considers it metaphorically. That God might in a moment

convert this disobedient woman into a pillar or mass of salt, or

any other substance, there can be no doubt. Or that, by

continuing in the plain till the brimstone and fire descended from

heaven, she might be struck dead with lightning, and indurated or

petrified on the spot, is as possible. And that the account of

her becoming a pillar of salt may be designed to be understood

metaphorically, is also highly probable. It is certain that

salt is frequently used in the Scriptures as an emblem of

incorruption, durability, &c. Hence a covenant of salt,

Nu 18:19, is a

perpetual covenant, one that is ever to be in full force, and

never broken; on this ground a pillar of salt may signify no more

in this case than an everlasting monument against criminal

curiosity, unbelief, and disobedience.

Could we depend upon the various accounts given by different

persons who pretend to have seen the wife of Lot standing in her

complete human form, with all her distinctive marks about her, the

difficulty would be at an end. But we cannot depend on these

accounts; they are discordant, improbable, ridiculous, and often

grossly absurd. Some profess to have seen her as a heap of salt;

others, as a rock of salt; others, as a complete human being as to

shape, proportion of parts, &c., &c., but only petrified. This

human form, according to others, has still resident in it a

miraculous continual energy; break off a finger, a toe, an arm,

&c., it is immediately reproduced, so that though multitudes of

curious persons have gone to see this woman, and every one has

brought away a part of her, yet still she is found by the next

comer a complete human form! To crown this absurd description,

the author of the poem De Sodoma, usually attributed to

Tertullian, and annexed to his works, represents her as yet

instinct with a portion of animal life, which is unequivocally

designated by certain signs which every month produces. I shall

transcribe the whole passage and refer to my author; and as I have

given above the sense of the whole, my readers must excuse me from

giving a more literal translation:-

_____________________et simul illic

In fragilem mutata salem, stetit ipsa

sepulchrum,

Ipsaque imago sibi, formam sine corpore servans

Durat adhuc etenim nuda statione sub aethra,

Nec pluviis dilapsa situ, nec diruta ventis.

Quinettam, si quis mutilaverit advena formam,

Protinus ex sese suggestu vulnera complet.

Dicitur et vivens alio sub corpore sexus

Munificos solito dispungere sanguine menses.

TERTULLIANI Opera, vol. ii., p. 731.

Edit. OBERTHUR.

The sentiment in the last lines is supported by Irenaeus, who

assures us that, though still remaining as a pillar of salt, the

statue, in form and other natural accidents, exhibits decisive

proofs of its original. Jam non caro corruptibilis, sed statua

salis semper manens, et, per naturalla, ea quoe sunt consuetudinis

hominis ostendens, lib. iv., c. 51. To complete this absurdity,

this father makes her an emblem of the true Church, which, though

she suffers much, and often loses whole members, yet preserves the

pillar of salt, that is, the foundation of the true faith, &c. See

Calmet.

Josephus says that this pillar was standing in his time, and

that himself had seen it: Εισστηληναλωνμετεβαλενιοτορηκαδ

αυτηνετιγαρκαινυνδοιμενει. Ant. lib. i., c. xi. 3, 4.

St. Clement, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. ii.,

follows Josephus, and asserts that Lot's wife was remaining even

at that time as a pillar of salt.

Authors of respectability and credit who have since travelled

into the Holy Land, and made it their business to inquire into

this subject in the most particular and careful manner, have not

been able to meet with any remains of this pillar; and all

accounts begin now to be confounded in the pretty general

concession, both of Jews and Gentiles, that either the statue does

not now remain, or that some of the heaps of salt or blocks of

salt rock which are to be met with in the vicinity of the Dead

Sea, may be the remains of Lot's wife! All speculations on this

subject are perfectly idle; and if the general prejudice in favour

of the continued existence of this monument of God's justice had

not been very strong, I should not have deemed myself justified in

entering so much at length into the subject. Those who profess to

have seen it, have in general sufficiently invalidated their own

testimony by the monstrous absurdities with which they have

encumbered their relations. Had Lot's wife been changed in the way

that many have supposed, and had she been still preserved

somewhere in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea, surely we might

expect some account of it in after parts of the Scripture history;

but it is never more mentioned in the Bible, and occurs nowhere in

the New Testament but in the simple reference of our Lord to the

judgment itself, as a warning to the disobedient and

backsliding, Lu 17:32:

Remember Lot's wife!

Verse 27. Abraham gat up early in the morning] Anxious to know

what was the effect of the prayers which he had offered to God the

preceding day; what must have been his astonishment when he found

that all these cities, with the plain which resembled the garden

of the Lord, Ge 13:10, burnt up, and the smoke ascending like the

smoke of a furnace, and was thereby assured that even God himself

could not discover ten righteous persons in four whole cities!

Verse 29. God remembered Abraham] Though he did not descend

lower than ten righteous persons, (see Ge 18:32,) yet the Lord

had respect to the spirit of his petitions, and spared all those

who could be called righteous, and for Abraham's sake offered

salvation to all the family of Lot, though neither his sons-in-law

elect nor his own wife ultimately profited by it. The former

ridiculed the warning; and the latter, though led out by the hands

of the angel, yet by breaking the command of God perished with the

other gainsayers.

Verse 30. Lot went up out of Zoar] From seeing the universal

desolation that had fallen upon the land, and that the fire was

still continuing its depredations, he feared to dwell in Zoar,

lest that also should be consumed, and then went to those very

mountains to which God had ordered him at first to make his

escape. Foolish man is ever preferring his own wisdom to that of

his Maker. It was wrong at first not to betake himself to the

mountain; it was wrong in the next place to go to it when God had

given him the assurance that Zoar should be spared for his sake.

Both these cases argue a strange want of faith, not only in the

truth, but also in the providence, of God. Had he still dwelt at

Zoar, the shameful transaction afterwards recorded had in all

probability not taken place.

Verse 31. Our father is old]. And consequently not likely to

re-marry; and there is not a man in the earth-none left, according

to their opinion in all the land of Canaan, of their own family

and kindred; and they might think it unlawful to match with

others, such as the inhabitants of Zoar, who they knew had been

devoted to destruction as well as those of Sodom and Gomorrah, and

were only saved at the earnest request of their father; and

probably while they lived among them they found them ripe enough

for punishment, and therefore would have thought it both dangerous

and criminal to have formed any matrimonial connections with them.

Verse 32. Come, let us make our father drink wine] On their

flight from Zoar it is probable they had brought with them certain

provisions to serve them for the time being, and the wine here

mentioned among the rest.

After considering all that has been said to criminate both Lot

and his daughters in this business, I cannot help thinking that

the transaction itself will bear a more favourable construction

than that which has been generally put on it. 1. It does not

appear that it was through any base or sensual desires that the

daughters of Lot wished to deceive their father. 2. They might

have thought that it would have been criminal to have married into

any other family, and they knew that their husbands elect, who

were probably of the same kindred, had perished in the overthrow

of Sodom. 3. They might have supposed that there was no other way

left to preserve the family, and consequently that righteousness

for which it had been remarkable, but the way which they now took.

4. They appear to have supposed that their father would not come

into the measure, because he would have considered it as profane;

yet, judging the measure to be expedient and necessary, they

endeavoured to sanctify the improper means used, by the goodness

of the end at which they aimed; a doctrine which, though resorted

to by many, should be reprobated by all. Acting on this bad

principle they caused their father to drink wine.

See Clarke on Gen 19:38.

Verse 33. And he perceived not when she lay down, nor when, &c.]

That is, he did not perceive the time she came to his bed, nor

the time she quitted it; consequently did not know who it was

that had lain with him. In this transaction Lot appears to me to

be in many respects excusable. 1. He had no accurate knowledge of

what took place either on the first or second night, therefore he

cannot be supposed to have been drawn away by his own lust, and

enticed. That he must have been sensible that some person had

been in his bed, it would be ridiculous to deny; but he might have

judged it to have been some of his female domestics, which it is

reasonable to suppose he might have brought from Zoar. 2. It is

very likely that he was deceived in the wine, as well as in the

consequences; either he knew not the strength of the wine, or wine

of a superior power had been given to him on this occasion. As he

had in general followed the simple pastoral life, it is not to be

wondered at if he did not know the intoxicating power of wine, and

being an old man, and unused to it, a small portion would be

sufficient to overcome him; sound sleep would soon, at his time of

life, be the effect of taking the liquor to which he was

unaccustomed, and cause him to forget the effects of his

intoxication. Except in this case, his moral conduct stands

unblemished in the sacred writings; and as the whole transaction,

especially as it relates to him, is capable of an interpretation

not wholly injurious to his piety, both reason and religion

conjoin to recommend that explanation. As to his daughters, let

their ignorance of the real state of the case plead for them, as

far as that can go; and let it be remembered that their sin was of

that very peculiar nature as never to be capable of becoming a

precedent. For it is scarcely possible that any should ever be

able to plead similar circumstances in vindication of a similar

line of conduct.

Verse 37. Called his name Moab] This name is generally

interpreted of the father, or, according to Calmet, Moab, the

waters of the father.

Verse 38. Ben-ammi] Ben-ammi, the son of my people.

Both these names seem to justify the view taken of this subject

above, viz., that it was merely to preserve the family that the

daughters of Lot made use of the above expedient; and hence we do

not find that they ever attempted to repeat it, which, had it been

done for any other purpose, they certainly would not have failed

to do. On this subject Origen, in his fifth homily on Genesis,

has these remarkable words: Ubi hic libidinis culpa, ubi incesti

criminis arguitur? . Quomodo dabitur in VITIO QUOD NON ITERATUR IN

FACTO? Vercor proloqui quod sentio, vereor, inquam, ne castior

fuerit harum incestus, quam pudicitia multarum. "Where, in all

this transaction, can the crime of lust or of incest be proved?

How can this be proved to be a vice when the fact was never

repeated? I am afraid to speak my whole mind on the subject, lest

the incest of these should appear more laudable than the chastity

of multitudes." There is a distinction made here by Origen which

is worthy of notice; a single bad act, though a sin, does not

necessarily argue a vicious heart, as in order to be vicious a man

must be habituated to sinful acts.

The generation which proceeded from this incestuous connection,

whatever may be said in extenuation of the transaction, (its

peculiar circumstances being considered,) was certainly a bad one.

The Moabites soon fell from the faith of God, and became

idolaters, the people of Chemosh, and of Baal-peor,

Nu 21:29; 25:1-3; and were enemies to the children of Abraham.

See Nu 22:1-6 &c.; Jud 3:14, &c. And the

Ammonites, who dwelt near to the Moabites, united with them in

idolatry, and were also enemies to Israel. See Jud 11:4, 24;

De 23:3, 4. As both these people made afterwards a

considerable figure in the sacred history, the impartial inspired

writer takes care to introduce at this early period an account of

their origin. See what has been said on the case of Noah's

drunkenness, Ge 9:20, &c.

THIS is an awful history, and the circumstances detailed in it

are as distressing to piety as to humanity. It may, however, be

profitable to review the particulars.

1. From the commencement of the chapter we find that the

example and precepts of Abraham had not been lost on his nephew

Lot. He also, like his uncle, watches for opportunities to call

in the weary traveller. This Abraham had taught his household,

and we see the effect of his blessed teaching. Lot was both

hospitable and pious, though living in the midst of a crooked

and perverse race. It must be granted that from several

circumstances in his history he appears to have been a weak man,

but his weakness was such as was not inconsistent with general

uprightness and sincerity. He and his family were not forgetful

to entertain strangers, and they alone were free from the

pollutions of this accursed people. How powerful are the effects

of a religious education, enforced by pious example! It is one of

God's especial means of grace. Let a man only do justice to his

family, by bringing them up in the fear of God, and he will crown

it with his blessing. How many excuse the profligacy of their

family, which is often entirely owing to their own neglect, by

saying, "O, we cannot give them grace!" No, you cannot; but you

can afford them the means of grace. This is your work, that

is the Lord's. If, through your neglect of precept and example,

they perish, what an awful account must you give to the Judge of

quick and dead! It was the sentiment of a great man, that should

the worst of times arrive, and magistracy and ministry were both

to fall, yet, if parents would but be faithful to their trust,

pure religion would be handed down to posterity, both in its form

and in its power.

2. We have already heard of the wickedness of the inhabitants

of the cities of the plain, the cup of their iniquity was full;

their sin was of no common magnitude, and what a terrible judgment

fell upon them! Brimstone and fire are rained down from heaven

upon these traders in iniquity; and what a correspondence between

the crime and the punishment? They burned in lust towards each

other, and God burned them up with fire and brimstone. Their sin

was unnatural, and God punished it by supernatural means. Divine

justice not only observes a proportion between the crime and the

degree of punishment, but also between the species of crime and

the kind of punishment inflicted.

3. Disobedience to the command of God must ever meet with severe

reprehension, especially in those who have already partaken of his

grace, because these know his salvation, and are justly supposed

to possess, by his grace, the power of resisting all solicitations

to sin. The servant who knew his lord's will and did it not, was

to be beaten with many stripes; see Lu 12:47. Lot's wife stands

as an everlasting monument of admonition and caution to all

backsliders. She ran well, she permitted Satan to hinder, and

she died in her provocation! While we lament her fate, we should

profit by her example. To begin in the good way is well; to

continue in the path is better; and to persevere unto the end,

best of all. The exhortation of our blessed Lord on this

subject should awaken our caution, and strongly excite our

diligence: Remember Lot's wife! On the conduct of Lot and his

daughters, See Clarke on Ge 19:31.

Copyright information for Clarke