Genesis Chapter 19
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Go to Bible: Genesis 19
“was sitting in the gate.” This is more than just a “fact,” it reflects a biblical custom and part of the culture. Kings, judges, and local elders sat in the gate. The phrase, “in the gate” is usually accurate. Many of the towns that had a gate had a “double gate” for protection. An enemy would have to break down the first gate to get to the second, but then could be attacked from above. Archaeological excavations have revealed some very well-fortified double gates. The text is telling us that Lot has taken a position of authority in the city, which is why the people said he appointed himself as a judge (Gen. 19:9). The reason Wisdom can be found at the city gates is the city elders and judges were there (Prov. 1:21. Cp. Deut. 21:19; 22:15; 25:7; Josh. 20:4; Ruth 4:11; Lam. 5:14).
“bowed down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body and face to the earth, as we see here.
[For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20.](top)
“my lords.” This is the use of “lord” as a customary greeting of respect, like we would say, “Sir,” when we do not know the person.
“city square.” The open place associated with the gate complex of the city, if the city was a walled city, which Sodom was since it had a gate. It would be customary for these strangers to not accept such an invitation immediately, but to wait until they were pressed upon to accept.(top)
“pressed...hard.” Lot pressed the angels to come into his house. Later in the story, the men of the city would “press hard” (same words in Hebrew) to get to the men. The double use of the word in these two contrasting situations highlights the different motives of the men involved.(top)
“all the people even from the outskirts.” The word “outskirts” is the Hebrew for “end, extremity,” and some translators think it means, “to the last man” (ESV; NAB), but we feel “to the end of the city” is the more logical meaning (CJB; NASB; NET; NIV; YLT). In either case, this verse explains why God could not find ten righteous people in the city, especially after Lot and his family left Sodom (Gen. 18:32).(top)
“know.” This is the common idiomatic use of “know” for sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse gives the most intimate and personal “knowledge” of the other, so “know” was used throughout the biblical world as an idiom for sexual intercourse, including rape, as here and in Judges 19:25 (Gen. 4:1, 17, 25; Matt. 1:25).(top)
|Gen 19:6||- (top)|
|Gen 19:7||- (top)|
“not known a man.” Idiomatic: have not had sexual relations with a man. See commentary on Genesis 19:5.
“what is good in your eyes.” An idiomatic phrase meaning whatever seems good to you.(top)
“he appoints himself as a judge.” Lot demonstrated this when he sat in the gate of the city (cp. Gen. 19:1; Prov. 1:21).(top)
|Gen 19:10||- (top)|
“blindness.” This is a kind of mental blindness. Mental blindness manifests itself in different ways. A bribe “blinds” the mind of a judge so he cannot think clearly (Exod. 23:8; Deut. 16:19). Similarly, a person bent on following false doctrine is “blind” to the truth. He cannot see it (Isa. 6:10; 43:8; Matt. 15:14). There are two cases in the Word of God where the blindness is not physical, it is mental, but it is a different quality of mental blindness than simply being blind to the truth of something.
Here in Genesis 19:11, and in 2 Kings 6:18, people were struck with a kind of blindness that blinded them to their physical surroundings. The blindness was not physical, for in that case in both Genesis and 2 Kings the people would have been so debilitated that they would have discontinued what they were doing. Instead, the blindness was a kind of mental confusion such that they continued what they were attempting to do, but completely without success or any real awareness of what they were actually doing.
The blindness of these men of Sodom here in Genesis, and the Aramean soldiers in 2 Kings, is somewhat similar to what is referred to as “highway hypnosis.” Highway hypnosis occurs when a person is so stupefied by driving for a long time without a break, or so mentally distracted, that he drives right past the place he wanted to go and never “saw” it. Usually in the case of highway hypnosis, after a while, the person “wakes up” mentally and notices that something is wrong, and then has to figure out where he is and what has happened. Although the Bible never specifically says the men of Sodom came out of their stupor before being consumed in the fire, the Aramean soldiers “woke up” and realized they were actually in the city of Samaria.(top)
|Gen 19:12||- (top)|
|Gen 19:13||- (top)|
|Gen 19:14||- (top)|
|Gen 19:15||- (top)|
“merciful.” The Hebrew word is chemlah (#02551 חֶמְלָה), and it means “mercy, pity, compassion.”(top)
“one of them.” Literally, “he,” referring to one of the angels.
“look.” The word “look” in this verse does not refer to a passing glance, but rather to a fixed gaze. Given Lot’s hesitation to leave, the angels were warning the family not to stop and take time to longingly look back; after all, they were leaving their home and possessions.(top)
“my lord.” Lot spoke to the two angels, thus the word “them,” but spoke directly to the one who had spoken to him, thus the singular “lord.”(top)
“overtake.” The Hebrew is more literally, “cling to, stick to, cleave to.” The essence is that Lot will not be able to escape the destruction and it will cling to him and destroy him too.(top)
“my soul will live.” The meaning is, “my life will be spared. The rhythm of the verse suggests the begging nature of Lot’s request.(top)
“I will lift up your face.” The Hebrew is more literally, “I have lifted up your face,” but understood as a request that will be granted, “I will lift up your face” is perhaps clearer in English. The Hebrew language is very concrete and graphic, and this is a perfect example. Lot was sad and hurt over the destruction of his city and his house, and the loss of the men who were engaged to his daughters. His face was downcast and sad. The angels, in granting his request, “lifted up his face,” a beautiful idiom. The simple meaning is, “I have granted your request.”(top)
“Zoar.” The Hebrew means “little, tiny” and perhaps “insignificant.”(top)
“sun had just risen over the earth.” Genesis 19:15 says it was dawn when the angels told Lot to leave, so it was an hour or perhaps a little more before the sun came up. When Lot and his daughters reached Zoar, the sun was up upon the earth, but not very high in the sky. Thus Lot had indeed hurried and Zoar was quite close to Sodom, so God did spare Zoar in His mercy. The sense of the sun “just” rising over the earth is in the structure of the Hebrew text, which reads more literally, “The sun, he had gone forth over the earth; Lot, he had reached Zoar.”(top)
(Rotherham) “And, Yahweh, rained, upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire,—from Yahweh, out of the heavens.” Some Trinitarians say this verse proves that “Yahweh” is a compound God made of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It does not. Yahweh is the one God of Israel, and the form of the verse is typically Semitic in saying something two different ways for clarity and emphasis. The fire and sulfur came from Yahweh. This verse is similar to 1 Kings 8:1 (Rotherham) “Then, did Solomon call together the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, chiefs of the fathers of the sons of Israel, unto King Solomon in Jerusalem.” “Solomon” is mentioned twice for emphasis.(top)
|Gen 19:25||- (top)|
“looked back from behind him.” It was customary for the woman to walk behind her husband, so it is quite possible that Lot never noticed that his wife was not following, but had stopped to reminisce over all they had left behind, and she was caught up in the destruction.(top)
|Gen 19:27||- (top)|
|Gen 19:28||- (top)|
|Gen 19:29||- (top)|
“lived in a cave.” Southern Judea is hilly and has many caves, and Lot chose one rather than build a house. The Bible never says why he did not rejoin Abraham, who had haggled so earnestly so that he would be spared.(top)
“not a man on the earth.” The daughter uses hyperbole (exaggeration) to make it seem like she and her sister were being forced to have incest. Her exaggeration is a lie. At a time when a man could have multiple wives, the city of Zoar that they had just left no doubt had men. Furthermore, there were many other men available, such as in Abraham’s camp, which was not very far away—perhaps about a day’s journey. Life in Sodom had apparently skewed the daughter’s morality. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (1 Cor. 15:33).
“come into us.” The graphic but common way of speaking of sexual intercourse.(top)
|Gen 19:32||- (top)|
|Gen 19:33||- (top)|
|Gen 19:34||- (top)|
|Gen 19:35||- (top)|
|Gen 19:36||- (top)|
“Moab.” Or Mo-ab; sounds like “From [my] father.”(top)
“Ben-ammi.” “Son of my people.”(top)