Genesis Segment 14 (18:1-19:29)

Originally Published 7/31/2001

(Gen 18:1) And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Mamre is on a plateau or rise located about twenty miles south of Jerusalem (the city did not exist at the time of Abraham; at that time there was a small town named Jebus) within sight of Hebron and the cave of Machpelah. The KJV translation indicated there were plains round and about Mamre. The Hebrew word rendered ‘plains’ in the KJV is actually the word for trees (usually translated plains or oaks but are actually Terebinth trees). There are currently terebinth trees in that location. The actual reading is the trees of “Mamre.”

There are ruins of stone buildings at Mamre beneath which pottery has been unearthed that dates back to Abraham. The modern name of the town is Elonei Mamre (Oaks/Terebinths of Mamre). The plateau is up at about 4000 feet above sea level, so it was probably pleasant during the heat of the day to sit out of doors. The word rendered “plains” here is ‘elown meaning oak trees. Abraham dwelt at the oaks of Mamre. The oaks would have added shade making it even more pleasant to sit outside.

Apparently Jerome translated the Hebrew word ‘elown’ into the Latin ‘convalle,’ which can mean plain or valley, in the Vulgate (apparuit autem ei Dominus in convalle Mambre sedenti in ostio tabernaculi sui in ipso fervore diei, or the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day). Apparently the King James translator consortium decided to follow the Vulgate in this place, instead of the Hebrew texts. Mamre (ממרא) means strength or fatness. It was also the name of an Amorite who had helped Abraham defeat Chedorlaomer (Gen 14).

The LORD is Yehovah who came to Abram’s dwelling walking with two other “men.” This was another face to face visit that Abraham had with Yehovah. Many teach that every appearance of God to man in the Old Testament (Theophany) was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. I cannot object to that. Where Theophanies occurred, Hebrew scribes would substitute the word “memra” or Word for Yehovah. Christ is the Living Word, so it stands to reason that these appearances were Christ (know as a Christophany).

(Gen 18:2) And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

One was the Angel of the LORD (or a Christophany). We know this from v. 13. In this verse we have three men but in verse 13, we find that one of them was the LORD. We can learn something here about the Angel of the LORD. He is Yehovah God come to earth. He may be manifest in several ways. One is in the image of a mortal man, which we have here. The three men here are not ‘adam or ‘ish, but ‘enosh, which means a mortal. Both ‘adam and ‘ish mean man but ‘enosh means mortal. The Angel of the LORD may also appear in other forms. He appeared to Abram as a voice from heaven. He appeared to Moses in a burning bush. He appeared to Balaam’s ass but not immediately to Balaam. But in most places He appears in the image of a man.

It would appear that Abraham recognized something different in them by the way he reacted. Evidently they did not appear as normal men. The word rendered ‘looked’ has as a connotation, ‘perceived.’ Thus he perceived that this was a divine appearance. Abraham bowed down to the ground in an attitude of worship. Now Abraham had been in the presence of kings as well as Melchizedek and he never prostrated himself. But he did here. He must have recognized them as angels. Perhaps they looked to him as the Angel of the LORD did to Manoah’s wife (Samson’s mother): “Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name:” (Judg 13:6). The Angel of the LORD looked glorious or awesome to her. This is probably the same appearance the three men had.

Angels have a very definite appearance that is different from normal men. Here is a New Testament description of the Angel of the LORD in Mat 28:2-4: “And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. {3} His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: {4} And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” He was so bright and glorious that the keepers could not stand. Here is another look at angels: “And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: {5} And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:4-5). Again they were shining and glorious and frankly, quite frightening to the women at the tomb of Jesus. This is how Abraham knew they were not ordinary men. Like those mentioned in these verses, Abraham fell on his face in their presence.

We know that two of the men visiting Abraham were angels because they are identified as such in 19:1. Again the other was the Angel of the LORD or Yehovah himself.

(Gen 18:3) And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

In this instance, the word Adonai, or Lord in English, is not one of the places where the Hebrew scribes substituted Adonai for Yehovah, the ineffable name of God. Abraham called Him Lord (not Yehovah) out of respect for His majesty. Since there were no hotels, inns, or motels in that time, hospitality to strangers was considered indispensable in that day. To refuse refreshment to a weary traveler that crossed one’s path was a cultural faux pas.

The ‘if’ does not imply that Abraham had lost God’s favor. The statement, “If I have found favor in your sight,” is simply a way of saying “please” (See Gen 30:27; 1 Sam 16:22; Neh 2:5; Esther 7:3; et al). Abraham was saying, in effect, “If it pleases you, I pray you will stop here with your servant for a while.”

(Gen 18:4-5) Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: {5} And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

A good host will always want to serve his guests. Abraham was a good host. Abraham was saying, “Since you have honored me, your servant, by visiting me, let me serve you and refresh you before you pass on.”

(Gen 18:6) And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

Sarah would have directed her servants to do the actual food preparation. Three measures of flour was a large amount; a seah (measure in this translation) was equal to about thirteen and a half liters. There would have been plenty of bread. The bread was cooked on a hearth of hot stones.

(Gen 18:7) And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

This was one of Abraham’s best, a fit offering for God Almighty.

(Gen 18:8) And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Abraham stood while they ate. He was a good host and a good servant. Abraham had to fetch the proper calf for his servants to kill, dress, and cook. Sarah had to supervise as her servants baked bread from scratch. The meal accompaniments had to be prepared. This would have taken a good while. The three were more than likely there through the hottest part of the day. It would be normal for travelers to stop for refreshment during the hottest part of the day and to travel in cooler hours.

(Gen 18:9) And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

This question was further proof that this was a divine visit, for they knew Abraham and his family as no true stranger would have done. After finishing the refreshment that Abraham was socially responsible to provide, they asked for Sarah. It is likely that they asked where she was so that she would hear her name and listen to their conversation.

(Gen 18:10) And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

In a year’s time, in the same season, Sarah would deliver a son. According to the Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), כעת חיה (kaeth chayah), literally, “at the time of life,” connotes “next year at this time.” When the LORD made this statement it was meant for Sarah’s ears.

(Gen 18:11) Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Sarah’s child-bearing age had passed. Since she had passed the change of life, a miracle would be needed for her to conceive. It is apparent Abraham was stile virile for he later had children with his second wife, Keturah, and with other concubines (Gen 25:1-6).

(Gen 18:12) Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Remember that Abraham also laughed and the LORD seemed to overlook it (Gen 17:17). These laughter episodes show us that both Abraham and Sarah were indeed past the years of fertility and knew it. The birth of Isaac was a miracle. God caused Abraham to be fertile at his great age (99 here) and caused Sarah to conceive at her great age (89 at this point). Yet we do find that Abraham married again and had more children (see previous verse).

(Gen 18:13) And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

God asked, “Why did Sarah laugh?” He brought this to the attention of Abraham because of the next verse.

(Gen 18:14) Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

God wanted Abraham and Sarah to know that He is omnipotent–all-powerful, and that He can do anything He chooses to do. God chose Isaac’s birth as the vehicle to bring this knowledge to them.

(Gen 18:15) Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

You cannot lie to God; He knows everything, including your thoughts. You cannot find any place where you can get out of reach of the LORD. He is all-seeing and all-knowing.

(Gen 18:16) And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

We now change to a new subject: Sodom and Gomorrah. The two angels and the Angel of the LORD left Abraham’s dwelling and headed off toward Sodom, which was some 40-50 miles away. Abraham went with them part of the way to see that they got a good start. This was a part of his hospitality.

(Gen 18:17-19) And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; {18} Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? {19} For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

God was not seeking the advice of the two angels, not was he surmising what would occur for He is omniscient. This statement is recorded so that we, the readers of this Scripture would know what was going on. Remember also that because of his nephew Lot, Abraham had rescued the people of Sodom from king Chedorlaomer. Certainly Abraham had some affinity with some of the people of Sodom. Thus Abraham would have to be depended on follow God’s and not allow any such affinity to dishonor that dependence. This is the rationale behind Yehovah telling Abraham his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. It was to give Abraham and understanding of the plan. Because Abraham could be depended upon to “keep the way of the LORD” God could also depend upon him to handle the information with insight and wisdom. Moreover, it gave Abraham the opportunity to plead for his nephew, Lot. We can learn much from Abraham’s pleading of Lot’s case.

(Gen 18:20-21) And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; {21} I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

We immediately have a problem with this statement. Isn’t God omniscient (all-knowing)? If so, why did he have to go down to those cities to know if their sin warranted destruction? The reason is twofold. First, this is to prove to men that God does not act capriciously, but with reasoned response. His visit to Sodom to see for Himself their condition would show that He had actually seen the evidence to try them judiciously and render a correct verdict. In other words, His visit was to show us, mere humans with limited knowledge, that he is holy and just and fair.

The second reason is that God is also merciful. He came to Abraham because He knew that Lot was a righteous man and did not deserve destruction. He came to allow Abraham to plead for Lot. Lot was to be redeemed from destruction by Abraham’s intercession. Abraham entreated the LORD with much supplication. An earthly King would most likely have lost his patience with Abraham the second or third time he returned to him with a more specific plea. God did not become impatient; He allowed Abraham to return to the subject six times, reducing the number of the righteous each time. And each time, God answered Abraham patiently.

(Gen 18:22) And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

They had stopped in verse 20, to tell Abraham their plans. Now they resumed their journey, but Abraham got before the LORD’s face and stood in intercession for Lot. It must be noted here that the Massorah shows this verse to be one of the 134 places where the scribes (the sopherim) in Ezra’s day substituted the word adonai (lord) for Yehovah. They did out of extreme reverence for the sacred name of Yehovah (YHVH). Even today, many Jews will not complete the word God or Lord when writing them. They will use G-d for God and L-rd for Lord. This is the same reverence afforded the name by the scribes (the Sopherim–Ezra 2:55) of Ezra’s day. This can be found in Ginsburg’s edition of the Massorah (107-115).

The Massorah is the collection of small writings found in the margin of many Hebrew manuscripts that enable copyists to transcribe the manuscripts correctly. The Massorah helped to transmit the scripture through the ages with an absolute minimum of copyists’ errors. This is why there are so few differences between ancient manuscripts and more modern ones. This would explain how the fragments of Isaiah found at Qumram (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found) are almost an exact match for current copies of Isaiah.

(Gen 18:23) And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

This is a good question. Let us try to find some corresponding scripture. In Mat 5:45, from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” What happens to the unrighteous sometimes also happens to the just. Let me cite an example. I believe that mankind has brought the STD epidemic on itself. STD is transmitted through sexually promiscuous behavior. Unfortunately, a person participating in a one of those promiscuous behaviors that passes along the virus may perhaps give blood at the local blood bank. That blood may perhaps be given to an innocent victim, passing the virus on to that innocent victim, perhaps a small child. The child who is completely innocent of the promiscuity then contracts the AIDS disease. The innocent child may die from the disease. In fact, in the early nineties a young lady was allegedly given the virus by her dentist, while performing oral surgery on her. She was allegedly innocent of the promiscuity, yet died of the disease. I use the term ‘allegedly’ because there are some who claim this story to be a fabrication. Though that case is controversial, it does help illustrate that what happens to the unjust may also happen to the just.

God, however, is also innocent of this injustice. He did not pass the virus to the person. The person who participated in the promiscuity is guilty of that. Abraham is asking God if He will destroy the righteous with the unrighteous. No, but if the just do not get away from the site of the destruction, they too will perish. Though God will not rain destruction directly on the innocent, the innocent may get caught in the crossfire. So Abraham stands in the gap.

(Gen 18:24-25) Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? {25} That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

Abraham presents his argument very well. Today’s English Version puts it this way: “Surely you won’t kill the innocent with the guilty. That’s impossible! You can’t do that. If you did, the innocent would be punished along with the guilty. That is impossible. The judge of all the earth has to act justly.” It is a persuasive argument. It is a fervent prayer. God says “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas 5:16) This is an effective (for it succeeded) and fervent prayer of a righteous man. When you pray fervently and effectively, your prayer will avail much.

(Gen 18:26) And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

God consented to Abraham’s prayer.

(Gen 18:27-28) And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: {28} Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

Abraham humbled himself. He was correct; men are dust and ashes or just plain earth or dirt (Gen 2:7). God would not destroy the city if there were only forty five righteous there.

(Gen 18:29-32) And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. {30} And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. {31} And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. {32} And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

It is all right to keep asking God for something again and again. Paul said to pray without ceasing. Jesus told the parable of the ungodly judge who gave in to the widow who was petitioning the court because she kept returning and returning until the judge finally gave in to her request because she troubled him. This parable, in Luke 18:2-5, was prefaced by this statement: “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). It is good to pray and not faint. Pray fervently and unceasingly to God.

(Gen 18:33) And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Satisfied, Abraham went back home. It is implied by the next verse that God returned to His Heaven.

(Gen 19:1) And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

The Angel of the LORD is no longer mentioned in this narrative, giving rise to the implication that He, Yehovah, had returned to His throne.

The two angels came to the city gate of Sodom. To sit at the gate means to be a part of the city government. The gate is the equivalent of today’s city hall. Lot was a respected member of the community in Sodom else he would not be sitting in the gate. Lot recognized them as no ordinary men just like Abraham did. They were obviously different. He fell into a worshipful position.

(Gen 19:2-3) And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. {3} And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

It is obvious that Lot knew what kind of men inhabited this city. He did not want the angels to remain outside in the city alone at night. Of course, his social obligation to provide them hospitality was in play here, to. He would shirk his responsibility to travelers if he let they sleep outside in the town square, especially if there was room is his house. He also knew that many of the men of the community would turn out to harass and abuse these men. He therefore entreated them mightily until they went with him to his house. Like Abraham, Lot prepared them a filling meal.

(Gen 19:4) But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:

After nightfall but before bedtime, the house was surrounded. Lot must have known this would happen. He trusted his own ability to persuade these men who he knew. He was unable to do so.

(Gen 19:5) And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

Don’t let anyone try to convince you that this was not a homosexual act they were speaking of. The Hebrew idiom, to know, means many things. In this context it means to know them sexually or to have sexual intercourse with them. There is only one thing that sexual intercourse between men means–homosexuality. They want to have forced homosexual relations (rape) with the two men. Like Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.

Homosexuality is wrong; like any other form of fornication, is it a sin. Lev 18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.”  (KJV). Fornication is sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Marriage is defined by God in Genesis 2:24 as between one man and one woman. Sexual intercourse outside of marriage is fornication. Adultery is fornication. Fornication is a sin, but it is not the unforgivable sin. Sin can be forgiven by having faith in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Theft is a sin, lying is a sin, dishonoring your parents is sin, and fornication is a sin. All those sins can be forgiven. Homosexual acts are a form of fornication. Just in case you don’t think homosexuality is a sin, let me list a few other translations.

You are not to sleep with a man as with a woman; it is detestable. (HCSB)

No man is to have sexual relations with another man; God hates that. (TEV)

And with a male thou dost not lie as one lieth with a woman; abomination it [is]. (YLT)

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (NRSV)

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It [is] an abomination. (NKJV)

Homosexuality is absolutely forbidden, for it is an enormous sin. (TLB)

And thou shalt not lie with mankind as one lieth with a woman: it is an abomination. (DBY)

A man shall not lie with a man [for sexual relations] as a man lies with a woman [for sexual relations]. It is an abomination to God. It is sinful to have homosexual relations. It is not an unforgivable sin. A homosexual can repent and be forgiven for the sin of homosexuality. If you try to say that this scripture does not apply to homosexuality, you are guilty of twisting the scripture.

The next passage is a little difficult to comprehend.

(Gen 19:6-8) And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, {7} And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. {8} Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

This shows that females in Lot’s day had not status and their worth was less that that of men. Things are much like this in Islamic countries today. I would quickly become a murderer if a bunch of men tried to take my daughters and abuse them as Lot suggested. I cannot even fathom this statement. But there it is so we must look at it. Of course this offer was rejected by the men of Sodom and the daughters were not abused. There is a similar story in Judges 19:13-27.

Lot was not thinking. He was so preoccupied with protecting his houseguests that he was willing to sacrifice his own daughters. Houseguests came under the protection of the master of the house. Their comfort and security were the homeowner’s prime consideration. Women had no status as citizens; they were the property of their fathers or husbands. Only men had citizenship and only men were entitled to the rights of citizenship. Lot’s guests, being men, had rights that Lot had to protect because they were his guests. Lot’s daughters had no rights so Lot felt obliged to offer his daughters in the place of his guests. In our society there is no way for us to understand this and I in no way condone it. Lot was influenced by those around him—the men of Sodom. The Sodomites were not righteous men. Lot’s act was not righteous. He was wrong for even suggesting that the Sodomites abuse his daughters in the place of Lot’s houseguests. When the concubine of the man from Bethlehemjudah was abused in a like manner in Judges 19:25, the entire tribe of Benjamin suffered the wrath of God through the other tribes of Israel (Judges 20:35). It was wrong there as it is wrong here.

(Gen 19:9) And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.

The Sodomites told Lot to get out of the way. They said, in essence, “This guy isn’t even a native of this place and now he wants to be a judge. Lot, it is going to be worse for you that it is for them.” Now they were going to know and abuse Lot as well as the men, whom they did not know were angels. So they stormed the door.

(Gen 19:10-11) But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. {11} And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

They may have been called men, but it is obvious that they are much more powerful than men.

(Gen 19:12-13) And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: {13} For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

God had said that he would not destroy the city even if there were ten righteous there. The angels are giving Lot the chance to get his family together before they destroyed Sodom, thus keeping God’s promise to Abraham.

Another way to look at this verse is to say that Lot did not find ten righteous people there so the city was destroyed. He only found six: he, his wife, his two daughters, and his two sons in law. The sons in law refused to go so there were only four.

(Gen 19:14) And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

In other words, they thought Lot was joking and they did not believe him.

(Gen 19:15) And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.

They gave Lot the night to get his family together but they hastened him before sunrise (see Gen 19:23).

(Gen 19:16) And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.

Sermons have been preached on this verse. As bad as Sodom was, and as badly as the men of Sodom had treated Lot, yet Lot hesitated. Lot had made his home among the men of Sodom and had even become a leading citizen of Sodom. He hesitated because of all the temporal things he had gained there in Sodom. God was being merciful to him by thrusting him out of Sodom.

This verse is an allegory for our sin state before becoming believers. Many of us were so enthralled with the world and its distractions that we had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the world and into Christ.

(Gen 19:17) And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

There are mountains very near the southern end of the Dead Sea. It is not known what mountain the angels meant. But it does not matter. Lot did not want to go there.

(Gen 19:18-19) And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: {19} Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

Lot is afraid that he cannot make it to the mountain before the evil comes on Sodom. Perhaps he was afraid that the evil would catch up to him before he got to the mountain. Or, since he had desired the fertile valley for his herds, perhaps he wanted to stay in the plain so he asked to go to Zoar, (which was called Bela in Lot’s day) in order to stay in the plain.

(Gen 19:20-22) Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. {21} And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. {22} Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.

Zoar was a city of the plain along with Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim. All five were slated for destruction. But Zoar, being a small city (its name means little), was spared so Lot and his family could go there. It had been known as Bela (Gen 14:2), but was apparently later changed to Zoar because Lot said it was little.

Gen 19:23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

Lot arrived just after sunrise. He had been thrust out of the city that morning before sunrise. It took until after the sun had fully risen for Lot to finally get to Zoar.

(Gen 19:24-25) Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; {25} And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.

Brimstone or sulfur is burns at a very hot temperature. It is difficult to quench when it is burning. The heat produced by burning sulfur is enough to burn bricks and mortar. Perhaps an earthquake threw up molten sulfur and it rained down on the cities. However it happened, God did it.

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

Did Lot’s wife really turn to salt? Why not? Nothing is impossible for God. But there is another possibility. A “pillar of salt” is a Hebrew idiom meaning stricken dead. Looking back is also an idiom meaning to hesitate or go back to a former thing. Is it possible that she turned around and went back toward Sodom not wanting to leave her life there and got close enough to be stricken dead by the sulfur that fell upon the other four cities of the plain? Yes, it is.

(Gen 19:27-28) And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: {28} And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

The smoke from the cities of the plain was visible by Abraham in Mamre, some 40-50 miles away.

(Gen 19:29) And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

This verse reiterates that God kept his promise to Abraham. God keeps His promises, do you?

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