So, here we are. Yep, this is it. Most people tend to focus on what we’ve already covered when it comes to Sodom and Gomorrah. Bad city, attacking the angels, the angels level things, Lot escapes, the wife becomes a salty statue. The end, right?
Wrong. So very, very wrong. Monumentally wrong. Not the assumption, the acts that are to follow. See, this is where the story goes completely off the rails. Yes, that’s right, the story up to now is okay. I’d be happy if it ended here, but it didn’t.
Lot, sans wife and sans future sons-in-law, escapes with his daughters. They don’t make it to the next city, and just kind of hole up in a cave in the hills. As housing went, it was a good deal: low rent, good insulation, no construction costs. The guy had just lost everything but what they could bring with them, so he took what he could get. And that would have been fine, except that his daughters had a notion.
They realized that Lot was an old man and that there was no one to carry on his name and bloodline after he died. They also thought that they might end up as spinsters because there were no men readily available to father their children. So they hatched a plan to kill two birds with one stone.
Lot could father their children.
Okay, we pause to let that sink in and allow time for prolonged “ewwwwwwwwwwww” and involuntary shudders of revulsion.
Go ahead, take your time. I need to pause, too.
Right, so we got that out of the way.
So, now we have the alluded to incest. Lot’s daughters will sleep with him, get pregnant by him, and have his children. And it raises a very important question:
Is incest allowed?
Seriously, we have to ask this. We know that the attempted rape of the angels was bad, especially since it violated hospitality, but what’s the message here? Is it okay for daughters to sleep with their fathers?
They had a noble intention. They wanted to “preserve offspring through [their] father” (Gen 19:34). Lineage was a big deal in the ancient world. There was a lot riding on people’s names in those days, and the only way a name continue don is through the male siring of children. If Lot’s wife had survived, it may be that the daughters wouldn’t have felt the pressure to do this. It’s a small maybe.
They are still as keen because “there is not a man on earth to come in to [them] after the manner of all the world” (Gen 19:31). They are not only looking to preserve Lot’s bloodline, but feel the need to have children themselves, and with the destruction of the cities, they are short on suitors.
So does this mitigate the situation? Do noble intentions count?
The answer is a short, unequivocal no.
We know this because of how they pulled it off. Lot, we know, is a fine, upstanding guy. He stood with Abraham and was the only good person found in Sodom. We know his credentials. And this is what prompts us to ask the question in the first place. If he is okay with incest, then it must be allowed since he’s the example of a good, upstanding person.
But he wasn’t okay with it. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and his daughters knew this because their plan was to “make [their] father drink wine, and [they] will lie with him” (Gen 19:32).
So they applied a social lubricant to make it all happen because they knew he wouldn’t be okay with this. This escalates the crime even further, especially since the daughters took turns on subsequent nights: “Look, I [the oldest] lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you [the youngest] go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father” (Gen 19:34).
Reading between the lines, this is, simply, rape.
Lot’s daughters raped their father.
On successive nights.
I need to take a moment.
Okay, I’m all right.
His daughters knew what they were doing was wrong. That is unequivocal because they knew they had to get him drunk. Now, if anything, this part of the story reinforces a couple of different things. First, Lot really was the only good person in this city. For his daughters to rationalize their behavior as good only goes so far since they knew they had to get him drunk. They knew that he would not approve of their idea, and so took steps to take what they wanted, anyway. This is the legacy of Sodom, and it shows that even his daughters were subjected to the city’s corruption. Now, they most likely did not learn this kind of behavior from him given his behavior in the story. This leaves two sources of influence, first, their mother, who turned back to the city and paid the penalty. Second is the city itself, which would convey its own lessons.
Here we have a final metaphor for the city, which I’ll go into next week.