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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 19

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3


Verses 1-3:

The "two men" were the two angels who had accompanied Jehovah on His visit to Abraham, and who were the Divine messengers of God’s judgment upon Sodom and the wicked cities of the plain.

Lot "sat in the gate of Sodom," shaar, denoting the entrance of a camp (Ex 32:26, 27), a palace (Ex 2:19), a temple (Eze 8:5), or a city (Jos 2:7). This was not a portal, but a wide, open area (plaza) where the magistrates sat to hear and adjudicate cases and settle disputes, as well as a place of social gathering for the men of the city (De 21:19; Ru 4:1; Pr 31:23). The implication is that Lot had become a magistrate in Sodom. He did not condone their wickedness, but he was willing to share in their lifestyle (2Pe 2:7, 8).

Lot greeted the two angels as they arrived in the city, although he did not at this point recognize them as supernatural visitors. He extended them the customary amenities of hospitality, as Abraham had done (Ge 18:1-8). He urged them to accept his hospitality. Perhaps he knew the danger they would face at the hands of the men of Sodom.

Verses 4-8

Verses 4-8:

Verses 4, 5: Before Lot and his guests had time to retire following their evening meal, the men, both young and old, from every extremity of Sodom came to the house and demanded that Lot deliver his guests to them. Theirs was no honorable purpose, no demonstration of hospitality. It was rather to have sexual relations with them. History reveals that this was a sin very prevalent among the Canaanites (Le 18:22) as well as among other heathen nations (Ro 1:27).

Verses 6-8: Lot desperately sought to protect his guests from the sinful purpose of the men of Sodom. "Door" is petach, the opening in the wall in which the gate or hanging door, deleth, swung and which it closed. Lot closed the "door" deleth to protect his guests. He then tried personal exhortation to try to dissuade the men of Sodom from their shameful affront both to decency and hospitality. Lot made a shameful offer in an attempt to satisfy the men of Sodom. He had two unmarried daughters, whom he offered to give them in order to satisfy their lust. In attempting to prevent one sin, he was guilty of another, both against himself and against his daughters. Even though Lot was "righteous," he was wrong to offer his daughters in such a manner. He should have cried out to Jehovah for protection and deliverance, rather than trying to take matters into his own hands.

It is never right to commit one sin to avoid another. For a similar circumstance, see Jg 19:22-27.

Verses 9-11

Verses 9-11: The men of Sodom were enraged by Lot’s refusal to deliver his guests to them and his plea on their behalf. Their attitude is typical of that of depraved sinners today toward God’s children. The men of Sodom had elevated Lot to a position of honor among them, so long as he did not take a positive stand against their sin. But when he spoke out to convict them of their guilt they showed their true opinion of him: contempt. They attempted to assault Lot and was about to break down his door. The angels came to Lot’s rescue, pulling him bodily into the house and firmly securing the door. Then by supernatural power they "smote the men with blindness." This is an expression denoting not natural blindness or sightlessness of the eyes, but confused vision accompanied with mental disorientation.

Verses 12-14

Verses 12-14:

Verses 12-13: By this time, Lot likely recognized the nature of his two guests, as angels, and not mere men. They urged Lot to warn his relatives in the city to leave Sodom, for the Lord’s purpose was fixed to destroy it completely. Their mission was to confirm and execute God’s sentence of utter destruction. "Lord" is Jehovah, the Covenant God.

Verse 16: Lot quickly went to his sons-in-law with the message of impending doom. Some suggest these were men betrothed to Lot’s two daughters, but who were not yet married. Others suggest they were husbands of at least two other daughters. Lot’s frantic message fell on deaf ears. The sons-in-law took the warning as a joke and refused to leave the city.

Lot’s bitter experience is an object lesson of the terrible price of sin in the life of God’s child. Unless it is confessed and forsaken, it produces devastation both to the one sinning and to others about him.

Verses 15-16

Verses 15, 16:

Lot was reluctant to leave Sodom, even after the shameful conduct of the depraved men the previous night. The angels were forced to use physical force to remove him, his wife, and his two daughters from the city. Jehovah’s mercy toward weak, worldly Lot and family would not allow their destruction along with wicked Sodom.

Verse 17

Verses 17

Verse 17: The angel who led Lot from Sodom instructed him to make haste to seek the sanctuary of the "mountain," likely the mountain region of Moab to the east. "Life" is nephesh, also translated "soul." The term denotes the mind, will, and emotions of the individual. In this case, it refers to physical life upon the earth, not eternal life in Heaven.

The angels’ injunction to Lot not to look back to the city and "plain" or circle from which he fled was evidently meant for his wife and daughters as well.

Verses 18-20

Verse 18-20: "Lord" is Adonai. Use of this term implies that Jehovah had joined the angels by this time, and that He was the One speaking to Lot and was so recognized by him. Lot begged one more favor from the Lord: the journey to the safety of Moab’s mountains was long and tedious. Perhaps Lot feared he would be unable to find safety there in time to escape Sodom’s destruction. He asked to be allowed to go instead to Zoar. This was the smallest of the five cities of the Sodom-valley region. He asked that God spare this city, which would not be a great demand upon His mercy since it was so small. Lot’s conduct in this matter shows his spiritual indolence, even in the face of God’s obvious mercy.

"Zoar" is from tsoar, meaning "little." In earlier times it was known as Bela (Ge 14:2). It was at the extreme southern limit of Moses’ view when he went up to Mt Pisgah to view the Land of Promise (De 34:3). See also Isa 15:5; Jer 48:34.

Zoar was an important point between Elath and Jerusalem, during the Middle Ages.

Verses 21-22

Verses 21, 22: "He said" implies that the speaker was Jehovah. He heard Lot’s request and agreed to it. He promised to withhold the destruction of Sodom until Lot and his family were safely in Zoar. But he once more urged Lot to make haste to get to this sanctuary.

Verses 23-25

Verses 23-25:

Lot apparently left Sodom in the early morning hours before dawn. His dawdling along the way hindered his arrival into Zoar until the sun was fully risen. But once Lot was safely out of the region of Sodom and Gomorrah, God’s terrible judgment began to fall. God rained fire and "brimstone" upon the region and utterly destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, and their surroundings. "Brimstone" is gophrith, or pitch. The term was later applied to other flammable materials as well. The entire neighborhood abounds with bitumen and sulfur. These materials furnished the fuel for the terrible fire and ignited when fire from Heaven fell upon the region. Some expositors believe this conflagration was the result of volcanic activity, but later archeological discoveries discount this theory.

Scholars agree that the Dead Sea covers the site of ancient Sodom and Gomorrah. Scientific expeditions have discovered that the Dead Sea actually consists of two lakes: one about thirteen feet deep, and the other about thirteen hundred. The shallow area is presumed to be the site of the doomed cities, and the deeper area is thought to have been a freshwater lake. The Divine visitation caused the entire area to become desolate, and to earn the title Dead Sea.

Verse 26

Verse 26:

"Looked back" is literally "went behind him and looked back." "Looked" (Sept. epeblepsen) implies looking with wistful longing. This the angel expressly forbade. We can only surmise the reasons Lot’s wife looked back with longing to the life she had known in the luxury and glamour of Sodom. But the record emphasizes the danger to spiritual life of the child of God who looks longingly at the ways of the world.

"Salt", melach, is the term commonly used for ordinary sodium chloride or salt. It should be noted that there are other chemical compounds designated as "salt" besides the common table-salt variety. Lot’s wife paid dearly for her attachment to Sodom. Tradition designates a mountain of salt at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, as the site of this occurrence.

In referring to the events of the Last Days just prior to His Return, Jesus compared them to the destruction of Sodom. Then He warned against becoming too attached to the things of this world, by citing the example of Lot’s wife (Lu 17:28-33).

Verses 27-28

Verses 27, 28:

Abraham arose early on the morning of Sodom’s destruction, and stood in the place where he had interceded for the city. He looked toward the region of Sodom and saw smoke rising in the air. The devastation of the entire region witnesses to its severity. Since that fateful day it is bleak and desolate. The Scriptures frequently refer to this event as evidence of God’s judgment upon sin (De 29:22; Isa 13:19; Jer 49:18; La 4:6; Am 4:11; 2Pe 2:6; Jude 1:7).

Verses 29-38

Verses 29-38:

Verse 29: Lot’s deliverance from Sodom was due, not to his own uprightness, but to the faithfulness of God’s covenant with Abraham. The Scriptures do not reveal if Abraham was aware of Lot’s deliverance, but it is logical to believe he was.

Verses 30-38: Lot did not linger long in Zoar. He became afraid, and left the little town for the isolation and safety of the mountains. Perhaps he saw that the men of Zoar were like those of Sodom and feared God’s judgment upon them. He failed to believe God, that he would be sate in Zoar, so he fled in fear to seek sanctuary in a cave, along with his two daughters.

Lot’s daughters failed to learn the lesson of Divine judgment upon sin, in the destruction of Sodom. They entered into a sin which God condemns, and tried to justify their conduct under the guise of preserving their father’s seed. From their act of incest there sprang two of Israel’s hereditary enemies: the Moabites and the Ammonites. The name "Moab" means "seed of the father." This was the name given to her son by Lot’s oldest daughter. "Ben-ammi," the name given her son by Lot’s younger daughter, means "the son of my people." The Moabites were descendants of Moab. They occupied the region northest of the Dead Sea, between the Jabbok and the Arnon (De 2:20). They were idolaters, worshiping Chemosh. The descendants of Ben-ammi were the Ammonites, a nomadic, marauding people who occupied the territory from which they expelled the Moabites and built a strong city, Rabbah (2Sa 11:1). They were idolaters, worshipers of Molech (1 Kings 11:7).

The idolatrous, immoral, wild nature of Lot’s grandsons, and the hostility of their descendants toward Israel, confirms God’s pronouncement that He would visit "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me" (Ex 20:5).

It is significant to note that one of the ancestors of our Lord was Ruth, a Moabitess. This teaches that God’s grace can overcome the effects of hereditary sin, and break the cycle of godlessness.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 19". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-19.html. 1985.
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