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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Genesis 19:26

But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

Adam Clarke Commentary

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."
  • "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."
  • "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, etc. Hence a covenant of salt, Numbers 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, etc., etc., 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, etc., 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

    Teetulliani 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, etc. See Calmet.

    Josephus says that this pillar was standing in his time, and that himself had seen it: Εις στηλην ἁλων μετεβαλεν, ἱοτορηκα δ ' αυτην· ετι γαρ και νυν διαμενει . Ant. lib. i., c. xi. 3, 4.

    St. Clement, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. 2, 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 traveled 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 favor 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 neighborhood 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, Luke 17:32; : Remember Lot's wife!

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    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    Genesis 19:26

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar Of salt

    The cause and danger of backsliding

    THE CAUSE OF BACKSLIDING. Unbelief, leading to


    1. There is the danger of forfeiting our salvation.

    2. The danger of punishment. (T. H. Leale.)

    Lot’s wife





    Lot’s wife


    1. Association with good people.

    2. Remarkable interpositions of Providence on her behalf.

    3. Divine aid afforded to escape the danger.


    1. Inasmuch as sin in its most detestable forms had been presented to her view.

    2. Inasmuch as a special commandment was disregarded.

    3. Inasmuch as there was no reasonable inducement to disobey,


    1. Separated from the objects of her hope.

    2. Held forth as a warning to others throughout the ages.

    3. Lost almost within reach of safety. (Homilist.)

    The danger of looking back

    “Remember Lot’s wife”--

    1. In the hour of conviction of sin. “Up! flee for your life!” is the voice of the Holy Spirit. Delay, hesitation, casting longing looks back on a life of sin, then, may be fatal.

    2. In the hour of fiery temptation. The only safety is in precipitate flight.

    3. When any question of duty is pressed upon you.

    4. Amid the assaults of unbelief.

    5. Note what Christ says in Luke 9:62 : “No man, having put his hand to the plough,” etc.

    Lot’s wife

    I. She was made A NOTARIZE AND CONSPICUOUS EXAMPLE OF JUDICIAL INFLICTION SO as to “justify the ways of God to men.” Why was she overtaken by so signal a doom? She was probably not different from others, her fellow-townswomen--the votaries of fashion and the slaves of custom. We possess some intimation of the habits which then existed, and the tastes which then prevailed. “The iniquity of Sodom “ was “ pride, fulness of bread; and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters” (Ezekiel 16:49). No encomium is pronounced on her; but how differently is her partner regarded! (2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:7-8.) Probably she was frivolous, light, and careless in her conduct; her character made up of negations, rather than of positive vices; and her faults probably originated in the unfavourable influence of the society in which she mingled. “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Timothy 5:6). We see a judicial infliction overtaking her conduct, which was marked by the following features.

    1. Disobedience. It is the business of principle to obey the right and the rule. It does not matter what the law prescribes, for the majesty which invests the government of God descends on all the acts of His legislation; and it is not for us to question their greater or less magnitude, or their superior or subordinate authority. He shows us what He wills, and it is our part to obey. In the case before us there was to be no idolatry of home--no favourite objects to preserve and bring away. They were to come out quickly and unburdened. The general command was to disregard all; and even the particular precept could not be more distinct: “Escape for thy life! Look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain! Escape thou to the mountain, lest thou be consumed” (Genesis 19:17)! Then commenced a struggle in her mind. Here was her disobedience. Only obey the voice of God, and it shall be well; but if thou disobey, ruin will be the result.

    2. Ingratitude. It was not ordinary kindness, but particular and pre-eminent that was shown to her husband, herself, and her household. “Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do anything till thou be come thither” Genesis 19:22). As if His fury were stayed till the complete deliverance of these, His favourite charge.

    3. Reluctance. Hers was an averted countenance. Are we surprised at this? Think of the awe--the panic--the agitation! Think of the natural instinct which attached her to home. Was it that her heart grudged to leave behind some favourite whose misery excited her pity and commiseration? None of these feelings are manifested. But there is a wistful and hankering look. Her eye seems enamoured of what she must abandon; the objects of vanity--her companionships--whatever she coveted--her pursuits--herfriends--her abode--her flocks--all that she was leaving; and though she saved what was of greater value, her heart went after her covetousness Ezekiel 33:31); and it was all concentrated in that look.

    4. Distrust. Might it not be a false alarm? Might it not be well to pause and examine?

    5. Indecision. This paralyzes all, and is unaccountable in such a case as hers. See how the waves threaten to surround her! Yet she wavers, instead of hastening her retreat.

    II. Why are we to “Remember Lot’s wife,” but that there was SOMETHING IN HER CONDUCT TO REBUKE AND INSTRUCT US?

    1. How small a thing may prevent our salvation! Lot’s wife may have been gay and volatile--nothing more.

    2. The increased misery of perishing within the reach of recovering mercy. Lot’s wife was in the track of safety. All was promise and hope.

    3. The evil of a careless state of mind. Lot’s wife was not fully possessed of the fear proper to her situation. Led by the example of those among whom she dwelt, she had no just view of the evil of sin. Left by her companions, she thought to return; but the resolve was too late! Advance was as helpless as retreat!

    4. The misery of apostasy. Many have a disposition to what is right; but there is nothing fixed--no true change. How many have been thus hindered in their course! They were almost persuaded to be Christians Acts 26:28), but they “looked back”; and our Lord indicates that this disposition leads to condemnation (Luke 9:62).

    5. The fearful state of mind when God leaves the sinner and abandons him to his own will. In the case of Lot’s wife, God could do no more, and the angels went on. The last desire for deliverance left her. She “looked back”--stopped--and stood still for ever! (R. W. Hamilton, D. D.)

    Lot’s wife

    I. THE TEXT SHOWS THAT ACTIONS MAY BECOME PUNISHABLE, WHICH TO US MAY SEEM MOST HARMLESS AND EXCUSABLE. No doubt there are some things which have happened in each of our lives which stand out more prominently than others, and we can remember these with ease, and with a constant recurring memory. They are the mountains and hills (so to speak) in our mind-scenery which come before us ever so plainly; but the little rivulet, or the humble stone, or the half-hidden bush is passed over and seldom thought of. And such is the case with human life, we overlook or forget the smaller things of every-day existence, while we lay a great emphasis upon what we consider more deserving of our attention. But it is the little transactions of the day which make up the character, which form it, and give to it its destiny. It is the oft-repeated habit which grows into strength, and stamps its image upon our hearts and minds, whether good or bad. It is the word of anger which, like a spark, kindles into flame our fiercest passions, while the word of kindness will soothe the feelings of ill temper and carry comfort into the most troubled bosom. A look, a simple pressure of the hand, and even sometimes a well-known footstep, will do much to change the history of a life. Yet, after all, God looks deeper into our doings than what meets the eye or falls upon the ear of sense. He is a Searcher of the heart, of its intents and motives; and according to its principles, which lie beneath the disturbed and restless surface of human actions, so does He acquit or condemn us, commend or disapprove. Thus with regard to Lot’s wife, it was not the mere turning back of her body, or the look of her eye, which He condemned, but the motives which prompted these actions, and made them the instruments of her own evil wishes, and of the wrongful feelings which stirred within her soul. Hence, if the eye should become the instrument of sin, pluck it out; or, if the arm should lead us to offend, cut it off.

    II. We observe here THAT THE SIN OF LOT’S WIFE FOUND HER OUT WHATEVER THAT SIN MIGHT HAVE BEEN. Did her heart long to remain with the people of the cities whom God had cursed? She became a fixture to the spot where such a wish was encouraged. Did she depreciate or condemn the judgment which wrapt the cities in flames? She is made to share their fate, only in another form. Would she rather return to the place from which she was commanded to flee, and so brave the curse which God had declared against it? Then let her steps be arrested in death, and her folly become a monument of warning to others who would follow her example. Did she, by looking back in direct opposition to the orders not to do so, care nothing about the interposition of angels, nought of the Divine goodness and mercy in providing for her and her household a refuge and a place of rest and security? Then let her insensibility and ingratitude become marked by turning her into a lifeless and insensible pillar of salt. And thus we often find that there is a correspondence between the act of disobedience and the judgment which follows it.

    III. THE FATE OF LOT’S WIFE WAS SUDDEN, QUITE UNEXPECTED. It came upon her in an instant. In the very act of turning she was struck by the hand of death. There came to her no note of warning of the calamity, and the momentary change allowed no time for thought, for reflection, or for shrinking fear. But it is not the suddenness of death we have most to dread, it is the being unprepared for such a change. It is this we have most to fear.

    The manner and form of the death of Lot’s wife may be regarded comparatively of little consequence, but the state of mind in which the destroyer found her is of the utmost importance.


    V. The body of Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt seems to point to the COMPARATIVE INSIGNIFICANCE OF THE HUMAN BODY, AND TO CAST A SORT OF CONTEMPT UPON IT. But suppose its rigid fixture to the ground may be considered a symbol of the fixity of the human character in death! (W. D.Horwood.)

    Lost near safety

    In an October day a treacherous calm on the northern coast is suddenly followed by one of the fiercest storms within the memory of man. Without warning signs a squall comes sweeping down the main, and the ocean leaps in its fury like a thing of life. The heavens seem to bow themselves, and form a veil of mirk and gloom; and above the voices of the storm is heard the cry of those on shore, “O God of mercy, send us those we love!” But, alas! there are those for whom that prayer cannot now avail; for floating spars and bodies washed ashore from which all life is sucked tell too plainly that some home is desolate, some spirit crushed. And now a mighty shout is heard, and all eyes again turn towards the sea, for through the darkness of the storm a boat is seen struggling towards the shore, now lost to sight, and again borne on the crest of the wave, nearer and yet nearer the harbour’s mouth. The climax now approaches in this wild race for life; and hearts are high with hope or chilled with fear, for the next wave must either bear them into safety or send them to their doom. See! there it comes, threatening in its vastness and twisting in its progress like some hideous thing of night. A cold sweat breaks out on those on shore, for the boat is lifted on its boiling crest and dashed with resistless fury against the stonework of the pier; and as a mighty cry of anguish rises, the men clinging to the wreck wave to their friends a last adieu, who, close at hand, stand agonized spectators of the scene! Yes, they have surmounted all the dangers which have proved fatal to their fellows, only to miss the friendly hands stretched out to save, and perish before the eyes, and be washed up lifeless at the very feet, of those they love. In all such cases the grief of onlookers, and of all who mourn their loss, is augmented by the thought that though so near to safety they yet were lost. Remember that to be near the harbour-mouth is not to be safe in its shelter--that though near to the kingdom of heaven you may never enter therein; and that, in so far as your final salvation is concerned, being near to Christ is no better than being far away, if it never lead to a complete surrender of your heart to Him. (W. Landels, D. D.)

    Lot’s wife: a warning

    All which bewray and show that they were never in heart soundly reformed, how glorious soever their outward show was for a time. Fear we, then, ever to look back with Lot’s wife I Fear we to return to those old vices and sinful corruptions wherewith we have been stayed! Fear we to frequent that company, to lust or long for those poisoned pleasures which heretofore have given us a fall, or at least endangered us, for as the Lord liveth that smote this woman (Lot’s wife) we shall be smitten first or last, and stand as spectacles of His wrath for evermore. Now, as you have heard what she did, so hear, I pray you, what she suffered. She looked back, and the Lord turned her into a pillar of salt. That which respecteth the punishment itself is that it was just and most due to her. For, first, she was delivered with her husband and daughters out of Sodom, and brought forth by the angels’ own hands. Then she was warned that she should not look back, nor abide in all the plain, lest she perished, which was a fair warning. Thirdly, even hard by, as it were, there was appointed a city to them whither they might easily go, and should be most safe. Fourthly, she had going with her husband and children, whom, both for wife’s affection and mother’s, she should joyfully have accompanied. But all this she neglecteth, and therefore justly perisheth. This biddeth us to-day to beware, and, hearing the word of the Lord, not to harden our hearts. Without doubt, if we perish, we perish justly, and it is not the Lord’s blame, but our own fault that it is so. “Remember Lot’s wife,” saith our Saviour Christ, in Luke, “and let him that is in the field not turn back to that he has left behind”; and remember Lot’s wife say I to you, to continue in safety without revolting, and the Lord grant that her salt may season our lives for ever. (Bishop Babington.)

    Lessons from the history of Lot’s wife

    I. First, RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES DO NOT CONSTITUTE SALVATION. Never forget that. Some of us rest too much on our religious privileges. I read of Pharaoh being nine times brought under conviction, and yet he perished. I read of Judas being associated with the Christ of God for more than three years, listening to words that angels came down to listen to, and contemplating the model of human and Divine perfection, witnessing Him opening the eyes of the blind, unstopping the ears of the deaf, cleansing the lepers, raising the dead, and yet he perished. And here I read of Lot’s wife, for thirty years associated with the people of God, almost pressed by angels to the very gates of Zoar, and yet she perished; and God made her a pillar of salt, to be an everlasting monument of the fact that religious privileges and associations cannot save.

    II. Religious privileges, when they are not made a blessing to us, WHEN THEY DO NOT EFFECT THE END INTENDED BY THEM, INCREASE OUR CONDEMNATION AND AGGRAVATE OUR RUIN. That is a solemn passage in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. I would far rather stand before the judgment-seat of God by-and-by a poor African from the barren waste of Africa, where the gospel message was never known, and the story of the blood of Christ never told, and throw myself upon His mercy, than I would take the stand of one of you professing Christians! who, in that day, will have nothing to answer when the King shall say, “Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment?”

    III. TO LOOK BACK FROM THIS POSITION OF KNOWLEDGE IS TO GO BACK, and so the Lord interprets it. To he outside Sodom is not enough, to he disentangled from the world is not enough, you must be in Christ, or you are Hot saved. Mechanical obedience, bodily exercise is not salvation; her body was near to Zoar, but her affections were in Sodom, and she perished--“Remember Lot’s wife.” (M. Rainsford, B. A.)


    1. The time of vengeance on the wicked may be that of severe judgment upon the righteous who haste not from it.

    2. Nearest relations may be sometimes the greatest crosses to God’s saints.

    3. Rebellion against God’s express commands and threatenings is a provoking evil.

    4. It is very evil to have withdrawing hearts from God’s salvation and inclining to the wicked’s destruction.

    5. God sometimes meets with rebellion and apostasy in the very act, and judgeth it.

    6. Eminent sins are answered sometimes with eminent judgments.

    7. God can turn flesh into salt and stones, and He alone.

    8. God maketh some of His severe acts of punishment to be perpetual examples against sin in all ages. (G. Hughes, B. D.)

    The sin and punishment of Lot’s wife; or, the sinner under conviction still in danger

    Here let me tell you that conviction for sin and conversion to God are two very different things. A sinner under conviction is a sinner waked up to his guilt and danger. A sinner converted is a sinner who has hasted away to Christ for pardon and mercy, who is made safe in the strong mountain of God’s love and grace.

    I. LOT’S WIFE SAW HER DANGER, AND SET OUT TO ESCAPE FROM IT. So the Holy Spirit of God makes many a man see his danger as a sinner, and strives with him, and urges him to flee away from his sins. Many a man, under the warnings of the spirit, sets off in a way to the mount of God, and yet, like Lot’s wife, perishes in the way. Pharaoh; Herod; Felix; Agrippa. I called to see a faithful servant once who was lying and trembling on the verge of death. He was greatly alarmed at the thought of dying unprepared to meet God. He said that the thought of his sins gave him the deepest distress, and that all he wanted was to be a Christian. Before I left him he solemnly promised that if ever he was raised up from that bed of sickness, he would be a Christian the rest of his days. Had he died then, his master and all of us who were there would have said that he died a Christian, and was saved in heaven. But he recovered; and, as he had always been a good and faithful servant, we expected to see the light of a good Christian shining in his life. And he did not altogether forget his promises. I went often to the house of his master, and would sometimes talk with him as he would light me to my room at night. As often as the books were brought out, and the bell rang for prayers, James would be there to join with us in family worship. This practice he kept up for several months. His master told me that during all that time he had been faithful to his promises. He seemed to be a Christian indeed, and all of us thought he would soon join the church. But at last he gradually gave up coming in to prayer. As I had not seen him for a good while, I asked one of the other servants what had become of James. He told me that, but a few days before, he was talking to him about his promises, and that James had said ha did not see the use of so much religion--so much praying--and so much reading the Bible--and so much going to church--and so much hearing sermons read. In fact, James had given up all pretensions to religion. He was just the same wicked man he was before he was sick. Now, this man was like Lot’s wife. He set out in the way to heaven, but he “looked back.” He turned back. He did not, indeed, become a pillar of salt; but he became (what is just as bad) hardened in sin. Two years passed away, and James was taken dangerously ill again. As soon as I heard of it I went to see him. I read the Bible to him; I prayed for him; I talked to him. I did not distress him by reminding him of his old promises. I told him of Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. I begged him to remember that He was able and willing to forgive all sins. I read and explained the parable of the prodigal son. I entreated him to give up his heart to that Saviour, and put all his trust in Him. But his heart seemed to be turned to stone. “No, no,” said he, “I have most wickedly broken my promises to God; I have sinned away my day of grace; He will not now have mercy on me; I have no hope; I do not and cannot feel as I did before; my mind is so dark, and my heart is so hard!” I shall never forget that scene. His fellow-servants stood round the room in silent and solemn fear. They heard his short, heavy breathing, and watched his ghastly countenance until he gave up in the death struggle, saying, with his last breath, “There is no mercy for me.” He had once been keenly sensible of his guilt as a sinner; he had mourned and wept as a sinner; he had promised before God to give up his sins. Like Lot’s wife, he had set off in the way to heaven. He had put his hand to the plough, but looked back. He was hardened in sin, and perished in impenitence. Then let every sinner under conviction take warning, and not rest in his fears or sorrows.


    1. Do not linger in sin, as they did in Sodom. If you are anxious about religion, why should you remain any longer in sin? Why not rise up now, and with firm resolution escape from it? If you will not do this, you can never reach the mountain of salvation.

    2. When once you have set out in religion, do not look back. Our Saviour Himself has said, “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Bp. Meade.)

    Looking back

    Could God, in showing so much love, not expect faith and reliance? The trial of obedience was small and easy indeed; but it involved the proof whether the rescued family believed the angel, or required personal certainty, before they would follow his guidance; and it was a trial deemed sufficient by ancient nations under similar circumstances. When Orpheus had descended into the lower world in order to ask back his beloved wife Eurydice, Pluto, moved by the magic of his harmonies, gave him the promise that she would be restored to him under condition that he did not turn round to her till he had passed the Avernian valley; and when he disobeyed, she fell back into the regions of hell. Sacred actions, performed in reliance on the omnipotent assistance of the gods, were done with the face averted, as if symbolically to express that the believing mind requires no ocular evidence. We have, therefore, to explain the command here given to Lot from the same notions; it was a proof of faith. (M. M. Kalisch, Ph. D.)

    The fate of Lot’s wife

    There was a great difference between the feelings of the elder and the younger branches of Lot’s family on leaving their home. His sons and daughters left it in apparent obedience, but with the spirit of the inhabitants of the plain; it was not so with Lot’s wife. It is not the character of age to accommodate itself readily to fresh circumstances. The old man does not feel inclined to launch himself afresh on the great ocean of the universe to seek new fortunes. He does not easily make fresh acquaintances, or transplant himself quickly from old haunts and homes. To youth there is a future; to old age there remains nothing but the present and the past. Therefore, while youth went on with its usual elastic step of buoyancy and hope, Lot’s wife lingered; she regretted the home of her vanity and luxury, and the lava flood overwhelmed her, encrusted her with salt, and left her as a monument. The moral we are to draw from that is not left us to choose. Christ says, “Remember Lot’s wife.” It is worse to turn back, when once on the safe path, than never to have served God at all. They who have once tasted of the power of the world to come, let them beware lest they turn again. Sin is dangerous, but relapse is fatal. That is the reason why God so marvellously smooths the way for youth. Early joy enables the young man to make his first steps surely, with confidence in his Maker; love, gratitude, and all his best emotions are thus called forth. But if afterwards he falls, if he sinks back again into the world of evil, think you that his feelings will spur him on again in God’s cause? Nay, because at the first time there was hope, the next all the hope is washed out; the stimulus of feeling is weaker because experience has broken down hope; he knows now what those resolves were worth! There is great difficulty in quitting evil after long habit. It becomes a home, and holiness is dull, and cheerless, and dreary. Youth, then, is the time for action--earnest, steady advancement, without looking back. St. Paul says, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, “Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it”; and again he shows us the evil of drawing back--“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, My soulshall have no pleasure in him.” (F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

    Lot’s wife

    The phenomenon of her transformation remains to this day a mystery. It is believed that she was smothered and stiffened as she stood, looking back, and was overlaid with saline incrustations. Such a result is not at all incredible, apart from the sacred narrative. An atmosphere heavily charged with the fames of sulphur and bitumen might easily produce suffocation, as was the case with the elder Pliny in the destruction of Pompeii. And as no dead body would ever decompose on the shores of this salt sea, if left in such an atmosphere it would become incrusted with salt crystals. Pillars of salt are found in the vicinity, which have formed from the spray, mist, and saline exhalations of the Dead Sea, and are constantly growing larger. Indeed, Josephus attempted to identify one of these with the wife of Lot. The spiritual phenomenon, however, presents no mystery. Lot’s wife looked back. The command was explicit; it forbade looking behind, and the word for “look” implies a deliberate contemplation, steady regard, the look of consideration, desire. She looked back wistfully, longingly. The fact was, her heart was yet in Sodom, where all her treasures were. She had become identified with her home there, and even the wrath of God, poured out in a storm of fire, could not avert her eyes or quicken her steps. Abraham also “looked” toward Sodom, but the word signifies a rapid, and even unintentional or casual, glance. He glanced with grief and awe; she gazed with lodging and regret. She doubtless looked back, as the Israelites did toward Egypt, longing to return, more willing to stay there amid the sins of Sodomites than to abide apart with God. And so her heart’s wish became a fact; her real prayer was strangely answered; where she lingered, there she should stay. She would look back, and henceforth should never look ahead. So sins become habits, and habits encrust us with fixedness, and transform us into immovable pillars, monuments of wrath. God fixed and rooted her where she was; his curse transfixed her, as it blighted, blasted, withered, the barren fig tree; and so Lot’s wife, to this day, is herself the personification of Sodom, its sins and its punishment. The only safe obedience is a prompt, implicit, and exact conformity to God’s command. No part of His word can be unheeded without risk; we may run from one peril only to fall a prey to another. A divided heart is like the “double” eye, and singleness of aim is as important as singleness of vision. A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways. (A. T.Pierson, D. D.)

    Followers of Lot’s wife

    Lot’s wife has always had more followers than God’s angels have. Look at the worldly-minded disciples in the Church to-day. Roused by fear to flee from the wrath to come, stirred by the warning of some special providence, or by the pressing entreaty of grace, they profess to leave Sodom behind. But they linger about the edge of destruction. They look back with longing, and linger and loiter on the way.

    And you may see them all about you, mere pillars of salt, without life or action, motion or emotion. The world has encrusted them with the salt, not of the saving and savouring sort, but that which represents sterility. If they are saved from the fire, it is so as by fire, and their works are burned up. They have lost their testimony for God, and have become only a warning to backsliders. (A. T. Pierson, D. D.)

    Lot’s wife’s tomb

    Her backward look must have been more than momentary, for the destruction of the cities did not begin till Lot was safe in Lear. She must have lingered far behind, and been overtaken by the eruption of liquid saline mud, which, as Sir J. W. Dawson has shown, would attend or follow the outburst of bituminous matter, so that her fate was the natural consequence of her heart being still in Sodom. As to the “pillar of salt,” which has excited cavils on the one hand and foolish legends on the other, probably we are to think rather of a heap than of a pillar. The word does not occur in either meaning elsewhere, but its derivation implies something raised above the level of the ground; and a heap, such as would be formed by a human body encrusted with salt mud, would suit the requirements of the expression. Like a man who falls in a snow-storm, or, still more accurately, just as some of the victims at Pompeii stumbled in their flight, and were buried under the ashes, which still keep the outline of their figures, so Lot’s wife was covered with the half-liquid slimy mud. Granted the delay in her flight, the rest is perfectly simple and natural. She was buried in a horrible tomb; and, in pity to her memory, no name has been written upon it. She remains to all generations, in a far truer sense than superstition dreamed of when it pointed to an upright salt rock as her prison and her monument, a warning of the danger of the backward look, which betrays the true home of the heart, and may leave us unsheltered in the open plain when the fiery storm bursts. “Remember Lot’s wife.” (A Maclaren, D. D.)

    Lot’s wife as a type

    She is the type of a large class--persons who are convinced of the danger of their position, but not converted to God: professors who occupy a position half-way between Sodom and Lear, thinking it enough to have got away from the corruptions of the world without having got into Christ; thinking it enough to have been brought, as it were, outside the suburbs of Sodom, without having taken refuge in the blood. She looked back from her half-way position and “became a pillar of salt.” (M. Rainsford, B. A.)

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    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Genesis 19:26". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    "But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."

    All kinds of reasons are alleged for the action of Lot's wife here, and even what she did is grossly misunderstood. God's command to "look not behind thee" is not to be understood as any prohibition whatever against merely "glancing backward." It referred to a purposeful "returning back" to the doomed city. This is perfectly clear from the use that Jesus made of this episode in the passages quoted at the head of the chapter. Therefore, we must reject as nothing short of ridiculous the rendition of these words in The Anchor Bible: "As Lot's wife glanced backward, she turned into a pillar of salt."[16] We hope we are wrong, but it seems to us that such "translations" are for the purpose of making the narrative unreasonable.

    Referring again to the use Jesus made of this episode (Luke 17:31,32), our Lord mentioned the conduct of Lot's wife as an example of what NOT to do, having just admonished his hearers, "He that shall be on the housetop, and his goods in the house, let him not go down to take them away." The inference is clear enough that the "looking back" done by Lot's wife was that of interrupting her flight long enough to return to their house in order to remove something she had left behind. It was a fatal mistake. The terrible destruction of the cities fell upon her also.

    "She became a pillar of salt ..." It is a mistranslation to make this read, "She was changed into a pillar of salt." Such a rendition turns the event into a vengeful retribution executed upon this poor woman, but it was no such thing. God was doing everything He could to save her, even sending angels to take her by the hand and lead her out of the place. The awful destruction, having already been commanded and in progress, was not sent upon Lot and his wife, but upon Sodom. Lot's wife entered the disaster zone contrary to the will of God and against His specific commandments. Thus, God did not "change her" into a pillar of salt, as in some magical tale; "she BECAME a pillar of salt," as a result of her own rash decision to enter the disaster zone. There are enough miracles in this episode without making another one out of this. We believe Keil's analysis of this is correct:

    "Lot's wife, having been killed by the fiery and sulfurous vapour with which the air was filled, was afterward encrusted with salt, resembling an actual statue of salt; just as, even now, from the saline exhalation of the Dead Sea, objects near it are quickly covered with a crust of salt.[17]"

    For ages, there was a specific "pillar of salt" in the area that was designated "Lot's Wife," and it continued to exist until the times of Jesus Christ and his personal ministry. Josephus declared, "I have seen it, and it remains at this day."[18] That it still stood in those times is also attested by Clement of Rome and later by Irenaeus.[19]

    REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE (Luke 17:32)

    1. She is a warning to all who are tempted to sacrifice their safety in order to win or keep more of this world's goods.

    2. If we strive to possess the best of both worlds, we are likely to lose both.

    3. She is a reminder that being "near safety" is not enough.

    4. She is a warning that having begun to follow the Lord's Word, one may still turn back from the way and be lost.

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    Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

    John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

    But his wife looked back from behind him,.... That is, the wife of Lot, whose name the Jewish writersF24Pirke Eliezer, c. 25. say was Adith, or as others IrithF25Baal Hatturim in loc. ; and, according to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, she was a native of Sodom: now, as they were going from Sodom to Zoar, she was behind Lot, his back was to her, so that he could not see her; this was a temptation to her to look back, since her husband could not see her; and this she did, either, as the above paraphrases suggest, that she might see what would be the end of her father's house and family, or whether her married daughters, if she had any, were following her, after whom her bowels yearned; or being grieved for the goods and substance left behind, and for the people of Sodom in general, for whom she had too much concern; however, be it on what account it may, she was severely punished for it:

    and she became a pillar of salt; was struck dead at once, either by the immediate hand of God, or by the shower of fire and brimstone; and her body was at once changed into a metallic substance, a kind of salt, hard and durable, such as PlinyF26Nat. Hist. l. 31. c. 7. speaks of, cut out of rocks, with which houses were built, and hardened with the sun, and could scarcely be cut with an iron instrument; so that she did not fall to the ground, but stood up erect as a pillar, retaining very probably the human form, JosephusF1Antiqu. l. 1. c. 11. sect. 4. says, this pillar continued to his times, and that he saw it; IrenaeusF2Adv. Haeres. l. 4. c. 51. and TertullianF3In Carmine Sodoma. speak of it as in their times, a thing incredible; and Benjamin of Tudela saysF4ltinerarium, p. 44. , it stood in his times two parsas from the sea of Sodom; and though the flocks were continually licking it, yet it grew again to its former size. RauwolffF5Travels, par. 3. c. 21. p. 313. by Ray. relates something of the same kind by information, but not on his own testimony; that the pilgrims who visit it used to beat off some small pieces, and yet was found whole again; nay, which is beyond all credit, that they once knocked off a whole hand and took it away, and when they returned found it whole again: and oneF6Baumgarten. Peregrinatio, l. 3. c. 12. p. 96. that travelled in those parts in the beginning of the sixteenth century affirms, that almost in the midway to Zoar is seen to this day the pillar of salt into which Lot's wife was turned; he does not say indeed that he saw it, but leaves his reader to think so; and the Jerusalem Targum says, it will remain until the resurrection; but modern travellers of credit and intelligence could never see it; and when they have inquired of the country people about it, they either tell them there is no such thing, or say it stands in the mountains, where it cannot be come at, because of the Arabs, or because of wild beastsF7Universal History, ib. p. 124. Witsii Miscellan. Sacr. tom. 2. p. 195. : but no doubt there was such a statue, but how long it continued cannot be said; nor should it be thought incredible, when there are similar facts affirmed by authors of the best credit and reputation: AventinusF8Annal. Bojor. apud Heidegger. Hist. Patriarch. tom. 2. exercitat. 8. p. 270. & Witsii Miscellan. tom. 2. exercitat. 7. p. 201. reports, that in Bavaria, in 1348, more than fifty peasants, with the cows they had milked, at the time of an earthquake were struck with a pestilential air, and stiffened into statues of salt, and which he himself saw, and the chancellor of Austria: and Bisselius relatesF9Argonaut. Americ. l. 14. c. 2. apud Witsium, ib. p. 202. , that Didacus Almagrus, who was the first person that with his army penetrated through the cold countries from Peru into Chile, lost abundance of his men, through the extremity of the cold and a pestiferous air; and that, returning to the same place five months afterwards, he found his men, horse and foot, standing unmoved, unconsumed, in the same situation, form, and habit, the pestilence had fastened them; one lying on the ground, another standing upright, another holding his bridle in his hand, as if about to shake it; in short, he found them just as he left them, without any ill smell or colour, common to corpses: indeed, the very fables of the Heathens, which seem to be hammered out of this history, serve to confirm the truth of the whole of it: as the fable of Jupiter and Mercury coming to a certain place in Phrygia, where they were hospitably entertained by Baucis and Philemon, when the doors were shut against them by others; wherefore they directed their guests, after being entertained by them, to leave the place and follow them to the mountains, when they turned the town into a standing lakeF11Ovid. Metamorph. l. 8. fab. 8. : and also that of Niobe being changed into a marble stone while weeping for the death of her children: and of Olenus and Lethaea, turned into stones alsoF12Ib. l. 6. fab. 4. & l. 10. fab. 1. Apollodor. de Deorum Orig. l. 3. p. 146. . But, leaving these, and passing by other instances that might be observed, we are directed to remember this wonderful case by our Lord himself, Luke 17:32; and it should be an instruction to us not to look back nor turn back from the profession of the true religion we have made, but to follow Christ, and abide by his truths and ordinances.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

    Geneva Study Bible

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a n pillar of salt.

    (n) Concerning the body only: this was a notable monument of God's vengeance to all who passed that way.

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    Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    Lot was accompanied by his wife and two daughters. But whether it was from irresistible curiosity or perturbation of feeling, or that she was about to return to save something, his wife lingered, and while thus disobeying the parting counsel, “to look not back, nor stay in all the plain” [Genesis 19:17 ], the torrent of liquid lava enveloped her so that she became the victim of her supine indolence or sinful rashness.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

    Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible


    This also is written for our admonition. Our Saviour refers to it (Luke 17:32), Remember Lot's wife. As by the example of Sodom the wicked are warned to turn from their wickedness, so by the example of Lot's wife the righteous are warned not to turn from their righteousness. See   Ezekiel 3:18,   Ezekiel 3:20. We have here,

    I. The sin of Lot's wife: She looked back from behind him. This seemed a small thing, but we are sure, by the punishment of it, that it was a great sin, and exceedingly sinful. 1. She disobeyed an express command, and so sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, which ruined us all. 2. Unbelief was at the bottom of it; she questioned whether Sodom would be destroyed, and thought she might still have been safe in it. 3. She looked back upon her neighbours whom she had left behind with more concern than was fit, now that their day of grace was over, and divine justice was glorifying itself in their ruin. See   Isaiah 66:24. 4. Probably she hankered after her house and goods in Sodom, and was loth to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin (Luke 17:31,   Luke 17:32); she too much regarded her stuff. 5. Her looking back evinced an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our Christian profession. We have all renounced the world and the flesh, and have set our faces heaven-ward; we are in the plain, upon our probation; and it is at our peril if we return into the interests we profess to have abandoned. Drawing back is to perdition, and looking back is towards it. Let us therefore fear,   Hebrews 4:1.

    II. The punishment of Lot's wife for this sin. She was struck dead in the place; yet her body did not fall down, but stood fixed and erect like a pillar, or monument, not liable to waste nor decay, as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance which would last perpetually. Come, behold the goodness and severity of God (Romans 11:22), towards Lot, who went forward, goodness; towards his wife, who looked back, severity. Though she was nearly related to a righteous man, though better than her neighbours, and though a monument of distinguishing mercy in her deliverance out of Sodom, yet God did not connive at her disobedience; for great privileges will not secure us from the wrath of God if we do not carefully and faithfully improve them. This pillar of salt should season us. Since it is such a dangerous thing to look back, let us always press forward,   Philippians 3:13,   Philippians 3:14.

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    Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https: 1706.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

    But his wife looked back from behind him — Herein she disobeyed an express command. Probably she hankered after her house and goods in Sodom, and was loath to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin, Luke 17:31,32, she too much regarded her stuff. And her looking back spoke an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our Christian profession.

    And she became a pillar of salt — She was struck dead in the place, yet her body did not fall down, but stood fixed and erect like a pillar or monument, not liable to waste or decay, as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance, which would last perpetually. Our communion with God consists in our gracious regard to him, and his gracious regard to us. We have here therefore the communion that was between God and Abraham in the event concerning Sodom, as before in the consultation concerning It; for communion with God is to be kept up in providences as well as in ordinances.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    26.But his wife looked back. Moses here records the wonderful judgment of God, by which the wife of Lot was transformed into a statue of salt. But under the pretext of this narrative, captious and perverse men ridicule Moses; for since this metamorphosis has no more appearance of truth, than those which Ovid has feigned, they boast that it is undeserving of credit. But I rather suppose it to have happened through the artifice of Satan, that Ovid, by fabulously trifling, has indirectly thrown discredit on this most signal proof of Divine vengeance. But whatever heathens might please to fabricate, is no concern of ours. It is only of importance to consider, whether the narrative of Moses contains anything absurd or incredible. And, first, I ask; Since God created men out of nothing, why may he not, if he sees fit, reduce them again to nothing? If this is granted, as it must be; why, if he should please, may he not turn them into stones? Yea, those excellent philosophers, who display their own acuteness, in derogating from the power of God, daily see miracles as great in the course of nature. For how does the crystal acquire its hardness? and — not to refer to rare examples — how is the living animal generated from lifeless seed? how are birds produced from eggs? Why then does a miracle appear ridiculous to them, in this one instance, when they are obliged to acknowledge innumerable examples of a similar kind? and how can they, who deem it inconsistent, that the body of a woman should be changed into a mass of salt, believe that the resurrection will restore to life, a carcass reduced to putrefaction? When, however, it is said, that Lot’s wife was changed into a statue of salt, let us not imagine that her soul passed into the nature of salt; for it is not to be doubted, that she lives to be a partaker of the same resurrection with us, though she was subjected to an unusual kind of death, that she might be made an example to all. However, I do not suppose Moses to mean, that the statue had the taste of salt; but that it had something remarkable, to admonish those who passed by. It was therefore necessary, that some marks should be impressed upon it, whereby all might know it to be a memorable prodigy. Others interpret the statue of salt to have been an incorruptible one, which should endure for ever; but the former exposition is the more genuine. It may now be asked, why the Lord so severely punished the imprudence of the unhappy woman; seeing that she did not look back, from a desire to return to Sodom? Perhaps, being yet doubtful, she wished to have more certain evidence before her eyes; or, it might be, that, in pity to the perishing people, she turned her eyes in that direction. Moses, certainly, does not assert that she purposely struggled against the will of God; but, forasmuch as the deliverance of her, and her husband, was an incomparable instance of Divine compassion, it was right that her ingratitude should be thus punished. Now, if we weigh all the circumstances, it is clear that her fault was not light. First, the desire of looking back proceeded from incredulity; and no greater injury can be done to God, than when credit is denied to his word. Secondly we infer from the words of Christ, that she was moved by some evil desire; (Luke 17:32;) and that she did not cheerfully leave Sodom, to hasten to the place whither God called her; for we know that he commands us to remember Lot’s wife, lest, indeed, the allurements of the world should draw us aside from the meditation of the heavenly life. It is therefore probable, that she, being discontented with the favor God had granted her, glided into unholy desires, of which thing also her tardiness was a sign; for Moses intimates that she was following after her husband, when he says, that she looked back from behind him; for she did not look back towards him; but because by the slowness of her pace, she was less advanced, she, therefore, was behind him. And although it is not lawful to affirm any thing respecting her eternal salvation; it is nevertheless probable that God, having inflicted temporal punishment, spared her soul; inasmuch as he often chastises his own people in the flesh, that their soul may he saved from eternal destruction. Since, however, the knowledge of this is not very profitable, and we may without danger remain in ignorance, let us rather attend to the example which God designs for the common benefit of all ages. If the severity of the punishment terrifies us; let us remember, that they sin, at this days not less grievously, who, being delivered, not from Sodom, but from hell, fix their eyes on some other object than the proposed prize of their high calling.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

    James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary


    ‘But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.’

    Genesis 19:26

    This is the whole of the record. The offence consisted only in a look; and that a look directed towards a city which may have been her birthplace, and which contained many that were dear to her by relationship and by friendship. The vengeance taken was most signal and appalling. Here is a case in which there seems a want of proportion between the sin and its recompense. But the fact that our Lord uses the admonition ‘Remember Lot’s wife’ shows that a moral end was to be subserved by the Divine interference. Lot’s wife was meant to be an example to the men of every generation.

    I. God’s moral government required the interference.—The punishment took its measure, not so much from the greatness of the sin, as from the nature of the lessons to be given.

    II. Consider the sin committed by Lot’s wife.—She looked back; it may be she attempted to turn back. She, a rescued one, had no right to pause and grieve for such sinners as were left behind in Sodom. She was guilty of a positive act of disobedience, for the parting injunction of the angel had been ‘Look not behind thee.’

    III. Her fate teaches a great lesson as to the duty of decision in religion.—Deliverance is conditional. If we flee as those who hear behind them the tramp of the destroyer, if we rush as those who see the daylight hastening away, we shall be saved; but if our heart is with the stuff, or the friends that remain behind in Sodom, then ‘Remember Lot’s wife.’ ‘No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of heaven.’

    —Canon H. Melvill.


    (1) ‘The moral lessons which this narrative suggests are of deepest interest and importance. The world in which we live presents to us the same attractions which the well-watered plains of Jordan presented to the eyes of Lot; and beguiled, like him, by its fair external aspect, we refuse to take heed of the wickedness in which it lies. Too readily those who profess to be “not of the world” adopt its customs, and become conformed to its spirit. Like Lot’s wife, they see no symptoms of its impending doom, and if when warned of the speedy advent of the Judge, and the dissolution which then awaits the earth and its inhabitants, they refrain from mocking openly with their lips, they say in their hearts, “My Lord delayeth His coming”; and having once put their hands to the plough, they look back with envious gaze upon the world.’

    —Canon C. J. Elliott.

    (2) ‘In the East, when men or women leave their house, they never look back, as “it would be very unfortunate.” Should a husband have left anything which his wife knows he will require, she will not call on him to turn or look back; but will either take the article herself, or send it by another. Should a man, on some great emergency, have to look back, he will not then proceed on the business he was about to transact. When a person goes along the road (especially in the evening), he will take great care not to look back, “because the evil spirits would assuredly seize him.” When they go on a journey they will not look behind, though the palankeen or bandy would be close upon them; they step a little on one side, and then look at you. Should a person have to leave the house of a friend after sunset, he will be advised in going home not to look back: “As much as possible keep your eyes closed; fear not.” Has a person made an offering to the evil spirits? he must take particular care, when he leaves the place, not to look back.’

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    Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". Church Pulpit Commentary. https: 1876.

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    Genesis 19:26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

    Ver. 26. But his wife looked back.] Whether out of curiosity, or foolish pity, or as loath to leave so sweet a country, she turned her about, and she was turned. Some think she was a Sodomite, and some tell us her name was Tytea. (a) Her sin, seem it never so light, was a compound of many sins. And her punishment was part of the plague of Sodom, which was "brimstone and salt," [Deuteronomy 29:23] so that it became a sea of salt. And all this to season us, saith Augustine; to caution us, saith our Saviour, that we look not back. The fable of Eurydice, lost by her husband’s looking back upon her, was devised by the devil to elude this holy history. The "pillar of salt," into which Lot’s wife was turned, stands yet, saith Benjamin in his "Itinerary," about two miles from the Dead Sea; and if, by the rubbing or licking of cattle, it be any whit diminished, it groweth again forthwith, to its former size.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

    Sermon Bible Commentary

    Genesis 19:26

    This is the whole of the record. The offence consisted only in a look; and that a look directed towards a city which may have been her birthplace, and which contained many that were dear to her by relationship and by friendship. The vengeance taken was most signal and appalling. Here is a case in which there seems a want of proportion between the sin and its recompense. But the fact that our Lord uses the admonition "Remember Lot's wife" shows that a moral end was to be subserved by the Divine interference. Lot's wife was meant to be an example to the men of every generation.

    I. God's moral government required the interference. The punishment took its measure, not so much from the greatness of the sin, as from the nature of the lessons to be given.

    II. Consider the sin committed by Lot's wife. She looked back; it may be she attempted to turn back. She, a rescued one, had no right to pause and grieve for such sinners as were left behind in Sodom. She was guilty of a positive act of disobedience, for the parting injunction of the angel had been "Look not behind thee."

    III. Her fate teaches a great lesson as to the duty of decision in religion. Deliverance is conditional. If we flee as those who hear behind them the tramp of the destroyer, if we rush as those who see the daylight hastening away, we shall be saved; but if our heart is with the stuff, or the friends that remain behind in Sodom, then "Remember Lot's wife." "No man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of heaven."

    H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 2445.

    References: Genesis 19:26.—R. M. McCheyne, Additional Remains, p. 249; R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, p. 30; Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 99.

    Gen. 19


    I. Sodom's sinfulness. Her sins were committed amidst an unbounded flush of prosperity; they were committed amidst scenes of much natural loveliness, Nature being outraged before the eye of her most beautiful forms; and they were committed not only in opposition to Nature's silent, but to God's spoken, warnings.

    II. Notice Sodom's warnings. One was given by the entrance of Lot within its gates; another was given by the advent of Chedorlaomer and the invaders from the east. Abraham and Melchizedek cast their sublime and awful shadows from the King's Dale southward upon Gomorrah's walls; but the sinners within felt not the hallowing sense of their presence, trembled not at the steps of their majesty.

    III. Notice Sodom's intercessor. Abraham's prayer shows: (1) the confidence that existed between himself and God; (2) it shows God's personal knowledge of evil; (3) it shows God's great reluctance to punish; (4) it gives proof of the tremendous guilt of Sodom.

    IV. This terrible catastrophe lies in a bye-path of the Divine procedure; it did not relate immediately to the general course of the patriarchal dispensation, and yet what an awful "aside" did the fall of these cities utter! It must have struck Abraham with a new sense of the evil of sin and of the holiness and justice of God. In the Dead Sea, Israel felt, and we should feel too, that God's anger was, so to speak, sunk and slumbering on the outskirts of the land, and might at any moment awake and march out in all its fury on the impenitent.

    G. Gilfillan, Alpha and Omega, vol. ii., p. 1.

    References: Gen 19—F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 43p; R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 313; Expositor, 2nd series, vol. i., p. 443; Expositor, 3rd series, vol. ii., p. 203, vol. iii., p. 69; J. Foster, Lectures, vol. i., p. 103. Genesis 19:12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 601. Genesis 19:12, Genesis 19:13.—W. Harris, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 399. Genesis 19:12, Genesis 19:26.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iii., p. 107. Genesis 19:12-30.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 91, and vol. xxii., p. 156. Genesis 19:14.—Weekly Pulpit, vol. i. (1877), p. 264; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 120. Genesis 19:15.—Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes (1884), p. 9. Genesis 19:16.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 789; Bishop Ryle, Holiness, its Nature, etc., p. 212. Genesis 19:16, Genesis 19:17.—S. Leathes, Truth and Life, p. 40. Genesis 19:17.—A. W. Hare, Sermons to a Country Congregation, vol. i., p. 201; S. A. Brooke, The Unity of God and Man, p. 143; F. O. Morris, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 251; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 119. Genesis 19:17-19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 550. Genesis 19:20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. v., No. 248; Homiletic Magazine, vol. xii., p. 81. Genesis 19:24, Genesis 19:25.—Parker, vol. i., p. 222. Genesis 19:26.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. xiv., p. 171. Genesis 19:27, Genesis 19:28.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. x., No. 602. Genesis 19:27-29.—R. S. Candlish, Book of Genesis, vol. i., p. 330. Genesis 19:29.—E. Cooper, Fifty-two Sermons, p. 93.

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    Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https:

    Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

    Genesis 19:26. But his wife looked back, &c.— The angels, Genesis 19:17 commanded Lot, and consequently those with him, not to look back, which, I apprehend, cannot be understood to mean, a mere turning of the eyes only, but a delay in the plain about to be destroyed, from a love of the things left behind, which delay might be attended with imminent danger. Lot's wife, disregardful of the angel's charge, or disbelieving his threatenings, looked back, and not only so, but delayed and loitered, to see what would become of her city and kindred, for very probably she was of that city. Her mind was towards Sodom, which she left not but with regret. Shuckford is of opinion, that after the departure of the angel, she returned some part of the way, in order to have saved some of her goods, and that in returning she was overtaken with a storm of thunder and lightning: and he grounds this opinion upon what our Saviour says in foretelling, the destruction of Jerusalem, Luke 17. for after admonishing his disciples not to return back, Luke 17:31 he adds, remember Lot's wife, thereby intimating, that she had returned back. But perhaps it may be sufficient to understand, that she turned back in mind and inclination only. She was not thankful to Providence for her own deliverance, and hankered after the wicked city, so justly doomed to perdition. Henry says, that her sin consisted, 1st, in a disobedience to an express command: 2nd, in unbelief; she doubted whether Sodom would be destroyed according to the declaration of the angels: 3rdly, in a greater regard to such sinners as the Sodomites, than was due to a people so justly abominable: 4thly, in a worldly attachment to her house and goods, which she was loth to leave, to which Christ refers, Luke 17:31-32: 5thly, in an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostacy.

    And she became a pillar of salt As she looked back, or delayed, the storm overtook her; the lightning struck her dead, and stiffened her in the place where she stood (no uncommon effect of lightning); while the nitro-sulphureous matter, which descended, wrapt her body so thick around, as to candy it into a substance hard as stone, and left it like a pillar, or statue of metallic salt, which some affirm they have seen between Mount-Engedi and the Dead-sea. This seems an easy solution of the matter, and, I humbly think, far more consentaneous to the letter of the Sacred History, than that of others, who would understand by a pillar of salt, "a lasting monument," as a perpetual covenant is called "a covenant of salt," Numbers 18:19 in allusion to the quality of salt, which preserves from corruption. But if we understand it, she looked back, and became a lasting, or perpetual monument, it may reasonably be asked, how did she become so? and is there not, on this supposition, a manifest deficiency in the historian, who omits to inform us, in what respect, or by what manner, she thus became a lasting monument? Whereas all is clear, if we take him as his words seem plainly to imply, (and in my judgment the plainest interpretation of Scripture words is always the best,) she looked back, disobedient and unbelieving, and, struck with the sulphureous fire from heaven, was killed, and became a pillar of salt; and thus, indeed, a lasting memorial to many generations. For this pillar, as Dr. Delaney has observed, subsisted in the time of that author who wrote the Wisdom of Solomon, see Wisd. ch. 10: Numbers 18:7. And Josephus (who himself saw it) and later writers, attest the same thing of their times. Maundrell's guides told him, that some remains of the monument were still extant. I am sensible that this is a point upon which the learned men are much divided: but thus much, I think, is clear and evident, that the inspired Writer's account of this matter is true, not figuratively, (as some understand it,) but according to the very letter of the text; that Lot's wife became a real statue, and that this statue lasted many ages; lasted at least, till a new revelation from heaven, the revelation of Jesus Christ, made this monument less necessary. And as to the difficulty of salt's continuing undissolved in the open air so long, it is well known to naturalists, that rocks of salt are as lasting as any other rocks, nay more so; and that houses are built of them. Now there is reason to believe, from Deuteronomy 29:23 that much salt as well as sulphur fell down from heaven upon that devoted region: nor perhaps is the great saltness of the sea of Sodom, beyond that of any other sea in the known world, without the least change from the perpetual influx of fresh water (of water remarkably sweet, as Diodorus Siculus observes) into it, a small presumptive proof of this. And as lightning stiffens all animals, which it strikes, in one instant, and leaves them dead in the same posture in which it found them alive, there is no sort of difficulty in conceiving how this unhappy woman's body, being prepared by heat, and penetrated and incrusted with salt, might long continue as a statue of salt, in the very posture in which this judgment from heaven found her. Nor are we without examples of such changes in other writers* and historians of undoubted credit. Give me leave again to observe, that this change of Lot's wife was not occasioned barely by her looking back, but by her loitering unseasonably behind her husband: for it is clear enough, from Deuteronomy 29:22 that this vengeance from heaven did not begin till Lot was entered into Zoar: consequently his wife could not have been affected by it, had she not both looked back and stayed unseasonably in the plain, contrary to the express command given by the angel. And as this unseasonable delay of Lot's wife was in part occasioned, probably by her solicitude for her children left behind, (her sons-in-law, &c.) the celebrated story among the heathens, of Niobe weeping for her children, and being stiffened into stone with grief, is most likely founded upon this history. Probably too the fable of Orpheus's being permitted to redeem his wife from hell, and losing her afterwards by looking unseasonably back, contrary to the express command given him, and then, through grief, deserting the society of mankind, and dwelling in desarts, might be also derived from some obscure tradition of this history. Sodom was now the liveliest emblem of hell that can be imagined: it was granted to Lot, by a peculiar privilege, to deliver his wife therefrom: he was expressly commanded, Look not behind thee: his wife was lost: after which he quits the city, and dwells in a cave on the mountains. Here are all the main circumstances of the fable, and the poets had nothing to do but to vary and embellish, as they liked best. So well hath Infinite Wisdom provided, that the sacred truths of Divine revelation shall not only be supported by the attestation of enemies, but likewise preserved in the vanity and extravagance of fables.

    * See particularly Aventinus Boian Annuals, seventh book, Basil edit.

    REFLECTIONS.—But four came out of Sodom, and one was lost by the way. Behold, and tremble. Remember Lot's wife.

    1. Her sin: looking back. Disobedient to the command, and distrustful of the threatening, with unsubdued affection to her worldly enjoyments, she was drawn out by violence, but her heart was behind. Note; (1.) They who make profession of religion, out of complaisance to their friends, or by mere constraint, will soon make shipwreck of it to their shame. (2.) If we think of leaving our sin, we must make no reserve, either in practice or affection: once on the way to heaven, we must persevere: to look back, is to return unto perdition. Let us fear then, lest we fall.

    2. Her punishment: a pillar of salt; a lasting memorial to warn succeeding ages. Note; (1.) Many a saint of God goes to heaven, and leaves his wife, through her perverseness, on the plain: and the wife, I believe, full as often leaves her husband behind her. (2.) No inducement must tempt us to stay, or look back on them: if they will not go with us, we must leave them to their ruin.

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    Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    His wife looked back, through curiosity, or unbelief, or desire of what she left, or from all these causes; from behind her husband, whom she followed. Which circumstance seems to be mentioned as the reason of this presumption, because she could do it without her husband’s observation or reproof, to which she had a greater regard than to the all-seeing eye of God.

    And she, i.e. her body, by a very common synecdoche,

    became a pillar of salt; either metaphorically, i.e. a perpetual durable pillar, as an everlasting covenant is called a covenant of salt, Numbers 18:19; or properly, for there is a kind of metallic salt which resists the rain, and is hard enough for buildings, as Pliny, Solinus, and others witness. And that salt was here mixed with brimstone, may be gathered from Deuteronomy 29:23. Add to this, that Josephus, Antiq. i. 12, affirms that this pillar remained in his time. And the like is witnessed by others after him.

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

    Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

    26. His wife looked back — Prompted by her longing for what she had left behind, and a curiosity to witness the destruction. Her example is given as a warning against desire and effort to take one’s goods when God calls away. Luke 17:32.

    She became a pillar of salt — Looking backwards and lingering behind, she was probably smitten by the fire and brimstone, and afterwards covered over by a deposit of salt, and became a mound, or pillar, like those which may even now be seen at the southern end of the Dead Sea. The apocryphal Book of Wisdom (x, 7) says that in that waste land to this day “a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an unbelieving soul,” and accordingly many a traveller has sought to identify this pillar. The… following cut represents a column, called by the Arabs Bint Sheik Lot, which was visited by Palmer, and described as “a tall, isolated needle of rock, which really does bear a curious resemblance to an Arab woman with a child upon her shoulder.” But he observes, “the rock discovered by us does not fulfil the requirements of the Scripture story, but there can be no doubt that it is the object which has served to keep alive for so many ages the local tradition of the event.”

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    Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

    Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

    Genesis 19:26. But his wife looked back from behind him — Herein she disobeyed an express command. Probably she hankered after her house and goods in Sodom, and was loath to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin, Luke 17:31-32; she too much regarded her stuff. And her looking back spoke an inclination to go back; and therefore our Saviour uses it as a warning against apostacy from our Christian profession. And she became a pillar of salt — She was struck dead in the place, yet her body did not fall down, but stood fixed and erect, like a pillar or monument, not liable to waste or decay, as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance, which would last perpetually.

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    Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https: 1857.

    George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

    And his wife. As a standing memorial to the servants of God to proceed in virtue, and not to look back to vice or its allurements. (Challoner) --- His, Lot's wife. The two last verses might be within a parenthesis. --- Remember Lot's wife, our Saviour admonishes us. Having begun a good work, let us not leave it imperfect, and lose our reward. (Luke xvii; Matthew xxiv.) --- A statue of durable metallic salt, petrified as it were, to be an eternal monument of an incredulous soul, Wisdom x. 7. Some say it still exists. (Haydock) --- God may have inflicted this temporal punishment on her, and saved her soul. (Menochius) --- She looked back, as if she distrusted the words of the angel; but her fault was venial. (Tirinus)

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    Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

    Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

    ‘But his wife looked back from behind him and she became a pillar of salt.’

    The final footnote increases the tragedy for Lot and warns against complacency. His wife was possibly a native Sodomite and could not bear to leave her home and family. As they hurry on she lingers behind, refusing to stay with them, and perhaps even turns back to return to her family home (‘looked back’ is a euphemism. It is not to be taken strictly but as signifying a heart that looks back resulting in further action). She does not believe Yahweh and she does not want to leave her people. We are to understand that Sodom is still in her heart for Yahweh allows it to happen. He knows the thoughts of the heart. Had she been like Lot she would have been spared for Abraham’s sake. Whatever the case her delay means that she is caught in the conflagration and is overwhelmed by a deluge of bitumen.

    “She became a pillar of salt.” By being overwhelmed with a deluge of bitumen which would soon dissolve her body.

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    Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https: 2013.

    E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

    wife. Compare Luke 17:32.

    looked back: i.e. curiously. Compare Isaiah 63:5 and Genesis 19:28. Same word as in Genesis 19:17.

    became. Same word as Genesis 1:2, "the earth became. "

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    Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. This phrase, "pillar of salt," is perhaps to be accounted for by the peculiarity of oriental metaphor. Salt, which was variously emblematical, was, with eastern people, especially a symbol of incorruptibility, and hence, to denote the validity and continuance of a covenant, it is frequently called in Scripture a covenant of salt (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5). Conformably to this interpretation, "a pillar of salt" will signify a perpetual pillar. It is deserving of notice, that the text does not say she was metamorphosed into a pillar of salt, but that she became a pillar of salt - i:e., having not only 'looked behind,' but actually turned back (our Lord's admonition, Luke 17:32, is founded on the fact of her attempting to retrace her steps) - she was suffocated and then overwhelmed by the torrent of bituminous and sulphureous matter; which, as it formed an increasing incrustation over her body, rendered her a lasting monument of the fatal effects of a too deeply rooted affection for worldly attractions, and of wilful disobedience to the divine instructions. Josephus asserts ('Antiquities,' b. 1:, ch. 12, ˜4) that this pillar was still standing in his day. Clement of Rome, a contemporary of Josephus, bears a similar testimony, as also does Irenaeus, who lived in the century following (Whiston's Josephus, note).

    Many travelers in succeeding ages also attested the sight of this archaic monument; and the mystery was not cleared up until the American Expedition, under Captain Lynch-during their explorations of the Dead Sea-discovered an immense pillar near the base of the salt mountain ridge of Usd-m. This salsuginous pillar, which was cylindrical in front, and pyramidical behind, being attached to the rock by a prop, was 40 feet in height, and stood on a pedestal which was about 40 or 50 feet above the level of the sea. It was one entire mass of crystallization.

    The following year it is described by De Saulcy, who saw it as greatly changed, until it disappeared. But numerous pyramidical columns of salt appeared in many other places of this region, the original formation and mutable appearances of which, as they are detached from the general mass of the salt mountain, are now well known; but which, in an earlier and less observant age, might easily be mistaken for the pillar into which Lot's wife, the victim of her supine indolence or sinful temerity, was supposed to be transformed.

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https: 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (26) His wife looked back from behind him.—In Oriental countries it is still the rule for the wife to walk behind her husband. As regards the method of her transformation, some think that she was stifled by sulphureous vapours, and her body subsequently encrusted with salt. More probably, the earthquake heaped up a mighty mass of the rock-salt, which lies in solid strata round the Dead Sea, and Lot’s wife was entangled in the convulsion and perished, leaving the hill of salt, in which she was enclosed, as her memorial. Salt cones are not uncommon in this neighbourhood, and the American Expedition found one, about forty feet high, near Usdum (Lynch, Report, pp. 183 et seq.). Entombed in this salt pillar, she became a “monument of an unbelieving soul” (Wisdom of Solomon 10:7).

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
    This unhappy woman, says the Rev. T. Scott, "looked back," contrary to God's express command, perhaps with a hope of returning, which latter supposition is favoured by our Lord's words, "Let him not return back: remember Lot's wife." She was, therefore, instantaneously struck dead and petrified, and thus remained to after ages a visible monument of the Divine displeasure.
    17; Proverbs 14:14; Luke 17:31,32; Hebrews 10:38
    Numbers 16:38

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Genesis 19:26". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

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