Reading through the Bible: day 18

Genesis 19 – 21

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah has been the focal point of much criticism, and when you read it, it isn’t hard to see why.

Lot’s Daughters

Lot offers his virgin daughters to a bunch of rapists in Genesis 19:8, and he’s supposed to be the good guy, so you can probably see why people criticise this part of the Bible. Lot was trying to protect the strangers in his house, which is noble, but what doesn’t seem so noble to us is the fact that he’d offer his virgin daughters in the place of strangers. The Seventh Day Adventist Commentary (Vol 1: p 333) states:

“[Lot’s] belief in the solemn duty of hospitality, so highly regarded among Eastern nations, explains, though it does not justify, his decision. He who had taken a stranger under his protection and care was bound to defend them even at his own life.

Incidentally it wasn’t only Lot’s daughters he’d put on the line, but himself too (19:9 “we will deal with you worse than with them” – NKJV). This still doesn’t excuse what Lot did, as stated in the commentary, but it explains it, and shows the danger of following human customs and ideas of morality which don’t always conform to God’s way. We have no way of knowing what the Angels would have done had the people at the door accepted the young ladies, but they did reach out and save Lot, so it’s quite possible that they’d have done the same for his daughters. The thing is, God doesn’t endorse the action, and we shouldn’t just assume that this is counted among Lot’s righteous deeds.

A further problem involving Lot’s daughters is that they were married, and married virgin sounds a little absurd. In Genesis 91:14, Lot approaches the sons-in-law “who had married his daughters.” It doesn’t specify that they were the same two girls who had been offered to the mob. In the following verse when the angels wake Lot, they tell him to take his wife and his two daughters, “who are here,” which seems to imply that there were other daughters, who were likely living with their husbands (the aforementioned sons-in-law).

The chapter ends with Lot fleeing and his daughters essentially using liquor to rape him, thus producing future enemies of Israel, the Moabites and Ammonites. There is a question as to whether the daughters thought everyone had been destroyed, or just the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19:31 certainly implies they didn’t, but this could have been fear of other men after the issues in Sodom. I think a more likely explanation is that they did think that all men within a reasonable distance had been killed (not all men in the Earth, but those in a position to impregnate them), and that Lot had not told them that the Angels had said they’d spare Zoar, and once they fled Zoar for the mountains, the daughters just assumed it had suffered the same fate as the other cities in the valley of Sodom.

Abraham, again???

In Genesis 20 we see a repeat of Abraham’s Egyptian shenanigans. Again fear drives him to tell them that Sarah was his sister. This time though, we’re informed of God revealing to Abimelech why there was an issue in his house. The fact that due to Abraham’s lie, in both cases, people were stricken doesn’t sound like a benevolent God. The thing is, it was the problems in the household that led to the discovery of the problem (perhaps through prayer). So God used this to protect the men involved from sinning (as attested in 20:6), and all health was restored once things where resolved. Abraham was quite clever here, his deception was not by means of an overt lie, but rather by omission, Sarah was his sister (half sister), he simply didn’t mention they were married, obviously this is still deception though, and Abraham likely repented for his deeds once he realised that Abimelech was a Godly man. I will cover incest later, as it is addressed in the Mosaic law.

Ishmael

Ishmael had to be over 14 by this stage:

  • Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born, Genesis 16:16.
  • Abraham was ±99-100 when the covenant concerning Isaac was made, Genesis 17:1,17. Obviously this was before Isaac’s birth.

The gripe some have is that Genesis 21:14-21 implies that Ishmael was an infant.

  • “…gave it and the boy to Hagar…” v14.
  • “…she placed the boy under…” v15.
  • “…lift up the lad and hold him…” v18.

Obviously none of these really imply that he was an infant, or that he was being carried. She could have lifted his torso; put him to rest under the tree, and Abraham could have simply sent the child with her. The complaint seems somewhat unfounded, but if you still have an issue, please comment and we’ll talk about it.

This is a long post, and it is late, I’m off to bed. Enjoy your reading, and let me know what you think in the comments section.

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