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Lot (Bible)

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Lot (Bible)

Lot (Hebrew: לוֹט, Modern Lot Tiberian Lôṭ ; "veil" or "covering"[1]) is a person mentioned in the biblical Book of Genesis chapters 11–14 and 19. Notable episodes in his life include his travels with his uncle Abram (Abraham) and his flight from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Christians and Muslims revere Lot as a righteous man of God.[2]

According to the Christian Bible, Jesus is a descendant of Lot through David's great-grandmother Ruth, who is descended from Moab, Lot's son from an incestuous union with one of his daughters.[3] The Qur'an does not include any references to Lot's drunkenness nor his incestuous relations since any suggestion of such behavior by a prophet of Islam is considered false.

Lot in Genesis

Lot's background

Generation Genealogy of Terah and Lot (Genesis 11:26–32; 19:37–38)
Father Terah
2nd Gen Abram Nahor Haran Sarai
3rd Gen Lot Milcah Iscah
4th Gen 1st Daughter 2nd Daughter
5th Gen Moab Ben-Ammi (Ammon)
See also Haran#Family tree chart

Lot and his father Haran were born and raised in Genesis 11:28)


En route to Canaan, the family stopped in the Genesis 11:32)

south of Canaan. [v.9]]

After dwelling in the land of Canaan for a little while, there was a famine, and they journeyed further south into Egypt. [v.10-20]] After having dwelt in Egypt for some time, they acquired vast amounts of wealth and livestock, and returned to the Bethel area. [Gen.13:1-5]]

Lot in the plain of Jordan

Negev to the hills of Bethel. [v.1,3]] With their sizeable numbers of livestock and always on the move, both families occupying the same pastures became problematic for the herdsmen who were assigned to each family's herd. [v.6,7]] The conflicts between herdsmen had become so troublesome that Abram lovingly recommended to Lot that they should part ways, lest there be conflict amongst "brethren". [v.8,9]]

Although Abram gave Lot the choice of going north (the left hand), in which case he would go south (the right hand), or if Lot chose south, Abram would go north, Lot instead looked before him beyond Jordan and saw a well watered plain, and chose that land, for it was like "the garden of the LORD", before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the formation of the salt sea. (Genesis 13:12,18)

Lot had encamped on the green Jordan plain among the cities of the plain and initially pitched his tent toward Sodom. About eight yearsGenesis 14:1–4) The following year the four armies with Chedorlaomer returned and at the Battle of the Vale of Siddim, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell in defeat. [v.5–10]] Chedorlaomer spoiled the cities and took captives as he departed, including Lot, who by then "dwelt" in Sodom. [v.11,12]]

When Abram heard what had happened to his "brother" Lot, he armed a rescue force of three hundred and eighteen of his trained servants and pursued and caught up to the armies of the four kings in the area of Dan. [v.13,14]] He divided his forces and attacked at night from more than one direction, and the kings fled northeast. The pursuit continued and the "slaughter of Chedorlaomer", and the other kings was completed at Hobah north of v.15–24)

Lot flees Sodom

Twenty four years after Abram and Lot began their sojourning, the LORD changed Abram's name to Abraham, and gave him the covenant of circumcision. [Genesis 17]] Not long afterward, "the LORD appeared" to Abraham, for "three men" came to visit and have a meal with him, and after two left to go to Sodom, "Abraham stood yet before the LORD." [Gen.18:1-22]] Abraham boldly pleaded on behalf of the people of Sodom, where Lot dwelt, and obtained assurance the city would not be destroyed if fifty righteous were found there. He continued inquiring, reducing the number to forty five, forty, thirty, twenty, and finally if there were ten righteous in the city, it would be spared. [18:23-33]]

Genesis 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;
2 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.

After supper that night before bedtime, the men of the city, young and old, gathered around Lot's house demanding he bring his two guests out that they might "know" them. Lot went out and closed the door behind him and prayed that they not do such wicked things, and offered them his virgin daughters, that had not "known" man, that they might know them instead, and do with as they pleased. His response infuriated the men of Sodom who accused him of being judgmental and they threatened to do worse to him than they would have done to the men. [Gen.19:4–9]]

Before they could harm Lot and break into the house, the "men" pulled Lot back in and struck the intruders with blindness, and revealed to Lot that they were angels sent to destroy the place. This allowed a window of opportunity for Lot to make preparations for him and his family to leave. When he went out to his sons in law that married his daughters, to warn them to flee, they treated him as one that mocked. [Gen.19:10–14]]

As the day began to dawn, the angels urged him to hasten and leave, and when he yet lingered, the angels took hold of the hands of Lot, his wife and two daughters and transported them beyond the city and set them down, and the angel told Lot: "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed." [Gen.19:15–17]] Lot argued that if he went to the mountain some evil would cause his death, and he requested to be allowed to flee instead to the "little" city which was closer. (The city of Bela was later called Zoar because it was little.) His request was accepted, and they headed for Zoar instead. [Gen.19:18–22]]

Genesis 19:23 ¶ The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
24 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.
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

From where Abraham was that morning, in an elevated region, he could see the dense smoke billowing up into the heavens from the ruined cities. [v.27,28]]

Instead of both brimstone and fire, Josephus has only lightning as the cause of the fire that destroyed Sodom: "God then cast a thunderbolt upon the city, and set it on fire, with its inhabitants; and laid waste the country with the like burning, as I formerly said when I wrote the Jewish War."[7]

Lot and his daughters

An account of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19:30-38

Genesis 19:30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.

The older daughter conceived Moab (Hebrew, lit., "from the father" [meh-Av]), father of the Moabites; [v.37]] the younger conceived Ben-Ammi (Hebrew, lit., "Son of my people"), father of the Ammonites. [v.38]]

The presumptive incest between Lot and his daughters has raised many questions, debates, and theories as to what the real motives were, who really was at fault, and the level of bias the author of Genesis Chapter 19 had. However, such biblical scholars as Jacob Milgrom,[9] Victor P. Hamilton,[10] and Calum Carmichael[11] postulate that the Levitical laws could not have been developed the way they were, without controversial issues surrounding the patriarchs of Israel, especially regarding incest. Carmichael even attributes the entire formulation of the Levitical laws to the lives of the founding fathers of the nation, including the "righteous" Lot (together with Abraham, Jacob, Judah, Moses, and David), who were outstanding figures in Israelite tradition.

According to the scholars mentioned above, the patriarchs of Israel are the key to understanding how the priestly laws concerning incest developed. Incest amongst the patriarchs includes Abraham's marriage to his half-sister Sarai; [Gen.20:11,12]] the marriage of Abraham's brother, Nahor, to their niece Milcah; [Gen.11:27–29]] Isaac's marriage to Rebekah, his first cousin once removed; [Gen.27:42–43;29:10]] Jacob's marriages with two sisters who are his first cousins; [Gen.29:10,Ch.29]] and, in the instance of Moses's parents, a marriage between nephew and aunt (father's sister). [Exod.6:20]] Therefore, it surely mattered to the lawgiver how the issues of incest pertained to these patriarchs and they are the basis for the laws of the Book of Leviticus, chapters 18 and 20.[12]

Other scholars also state that the Levitical laws against incest were created to separate the lifestyle of the Israelite from the sinful lifestyle of the cursed people of Canaan, [Gen.9:22–28]] despite any incestual involvements the patriarchs had had in the past.[13] The Levitical laws were needed for a developing nation who needed to be seen as different from the world, cleansed and blameless: The first step starting with circumcision. [Gen.17:1,10;Ch.17]] So nothing could be held against the patriarchs for incestuous behavior because this was part of progressive development, from the ways of the world (coming out of Chaldea) to becoming blameless before their God. [Gen.17:1]][13]

Some feminists have argued that Lot's behavior in Genesis 19:30–38 constitutes sexual abuse of his daughters.[14]

Religious views

Jewish view

In the Bereshith of the Torah, Lot is first mentioned at the end of the weekly reading portion, Parashat Noach. The weekly reading portions that follow, concerning all of the accounts of Lot's life, are read in the Parashat Lekh Lekha and Parashat Vayera. In the Midrash, a number of additional stories concerning Lot are present, not found in the Tanakh, as follows:

  • Abraham took care of Lot after Haran was burned in a gigantic fire in which Nimrod, King of Babylon, tried to kill Abraham.
  • While in Egypt, the midrash gives Lot much credit because, despite his desire for wealth, he did not inform Pharaoh of Sarah's secret, that she was Abraham's wife.

Christian view

Despite Lot's flaws, Christians view him as a righteous man and draw upon New Testament scriptures that make direct references to his day, such as:

  • In Son of Man". In his discourse, he likened this time to the days of Lot and reminded his followers about what happened to this man's wife, saying, Remember Lot's wife.
  • Simon Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, reminded his readers about Sodom and Gomorrha and spoke of Lot as being a righteous man amongst the wicked:
"2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making [them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 2:7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 2:8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;)"
—2 Peter 2:6–8

Islamic view

Main article: Lot in Islam

Lut (Arabic: لوط‎) in the Quran is considered to be the same as Lot in the Hebrew Bible. He is considered to be a messenger of God and a prophet of God.[15]

In Islamic tradition, Lut lived in Ur and was a nephew of Ibrahim (Abraham). He migrated with Ibrahim to Canaan and was commissioned as a prophet to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.[16] His story is used as a reference by Muslims to demonstrate Islam's strong disapproval of homosexuality. He was commanded by Allah to go to the land of Sodom and Gomorrah to preach monotheism and to stop them from their lustful and violent acts. Lut's messages were ignored by the inhabitants, prompting Sodom and Gomorrah's destruction. Though Lut left the city, his wife stayed behind and was destroyed.[16]

See also

  • Bani Na'im
  • Biblical narratives and the Qur'an
  • Lekh-lekha
  • Vayeira



External links

  • Our People: A History of the Jews - Abram and Lot at
  • -logo.svg 

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