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Character Studies

The man who bore the name Lot (lot; Lot) is mentioned for the first time in Ge 11:27, at the
beginning of that section of Genesis which is entitled "the generations of Terah." After
Terah's 3 sons are named, it is added that the third of these, Haran, begat Lot.

The reason for thus singling out but one of the grandsons of Terah appears in the next verse,
where we are told that "Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of
the Chaldees." For that period in the life of this family, therefore, which begins with the
migration from Ur, Lot represents his father's branch of the family (Ge 11:31). It is hardly
probable that the relation between Abraham and Lot would have been what it was, had not
Haran died; but be this as it may, we read this introduction of Lot into the genealogy of Terah
as an anticipation of the story to which it furnishes an introduction, and in which Lot is
destined to play an important part.

The sections of that story in which Lot appears are: in Ge 11:1-32, the migration from Ur to
Haran; in Ge 12:1-20, Abraham's wanderings; in Ge 13:1-18, the separation of Abraham and
Lot; in Ge 14:1-24, the campaign of the eastern kings against Sodom and Abraham's
recovery of the captives; and in Ge 19:1-38, the destruction of Sodom. …

In the Bible, Lot finds mention only as the father of Moab and Ammon (De 2:9,19; Ps 83:8),
and in the passage in 2 Pet already noticed; and, besides these places, in Lu 17:28-32. Here
Lot represents the central figure in the destruction of Sodom, as Noah in the flood in the
preceding context (compare the association of these two characters in 2 Pet and the Koran).
His deliverance is mentioned, the haste and narrowness of that escape is implied, and his
wife's fate is recalled. In Jewish and Mohammedan lore (including many passages in the
Koran itself), Lot is a personage of importance, about whom details are told which fancy has
added to the sober traditions of old Israel. But particularly for Mohammed there was point of
attachment in Lot's career, offered in Ge 19:7,14. Like Mohammed to the men of wicked
Mecca, Lot becomes a preacher of righteousness and a messenger of judgment to the men
of wicked Sodom. He is one of the line of apostles, sent to reveal God's will and purpose to
his contemporaries. …

Lot's Wife: This woman, unknown by name, figures in the narrative of Lot that relates his
escape from Sodom. She is mentioned in Ge 19:1-38 only in verses Ge 15:1-21-Ge 17:1-27,
where she is commanded to flee from the doomed city with her husband and daughters, and
is laid hold upon by the angelic visitors in their effort to hasten the slow departure; and in Ge
19:26, where she alone of the four fugitives disobeys the warning, looks back, and becomes
a "pillar of salt" This disobedience, with the moral state it implied and the judgment it
entailed, is held up as an example by Christ in Lu 17:32. In the Scriptures this is all that is
said of a person and event that furnished the basis for a great deal of speculation. Josephus
(Ant., I, xi, 4) adds to the statement derived from Gen, "She was changed into a pillar of salt,"
the words, "for I visited it, and it still remains even now" (see also The Wisdom of Solomon

Among Christian writers contemporary with and subsequent to Josephus, as well as among
the Jews themselves and other Orientals, the same assertion is found, and down to recent
times travelers have reported the persistence of such a "pillar of salt," either on the
testimony of natives or as eyewitnesses. The question of the origin and nature of these
"pillars" is a part of
the larger question of Sodom and its neighborhood (see SALT; SIDDIM,
VALE OF; SLIME; SLIME PITS); for that no one particular "pillar" has persisted through the
centuries may be regarded as certain; nor if it had, would the identification of Lot's wife with
it and with it alone be ascertainable. This is just an early, persistent and notable case of that
"identification" of Biblical sites which prevails all over the Holy Land. It is to be classed with
the myth-and legend-building turn of mind in simple peoples, which has e.g. embroidered
upon this Old Testament account of the destruction of Sodom such marvelous details and

The principal thing to observe is the vagueness and the simplicity of the story in Gen. For it
does not necessarily imply the "metamorphosis" popularly attributed to it, in the strict sense
of that word. And it lacks, even in a narrative like this, where the temptation would be
greatest, all indications of that "popular archaeology" or curiosity, which according to some
critics, is alleged to have furnished the original motive for the invention of the patriarchal
narratives. "She became a pillar of salt," and "Remember Lot's wife": this is the extent of
the Biblical allusions. All the rest is comment, or legend, or guess, or "science." …

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Accompanies Abram in the Departure from Ur
Genesis 12:4-5

Strife with Abraham’s Herdsmen
Genesis 13:5-13

Lot’s Capture & Rescue
Genesis 14-1-12, 16

Why Sodom & Gomorrah Were Destroyed
Genesis 18:16-33

The Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah …
Genesis 19:1-38

Other references
•        Deuteronomy 2:9, 19
•        Psalm 83:3
•        Luke 17:28-32
•        2 Peter 2:1-10



sod'-um (cedhom; Sodoma) One of the 5 CITIES OF THE PLAIN (which see), destroyed by
fire from heaven in the time of Abraham and Lot (Ge 19:24). The wickedness of the city
became proverbial. The sin of sodomy was an offense against nature frequently connected
with idolatrous practices (see Rawlinson, History of Phoenicia). See SODOMITE. The fate of
Sodom and Gomorrah is used as a warning to those who reject the gospel (Mt 10:15; 11:24;
2Pe 2:6; Jude 1:7). The word is used in a typical sense in Re 11:8. Sodom was probably
located in plain South of the Dead Sea, now covered with water. The name is still preserved
in Jebel Usdum (Mt. Sodom).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia


sod'-om-it (qadhesh, feminine qedheshah): Qadhesh denotes properly a male temple
prostitute, one of the class attached to certain sanctuaries of heathen deities, and
"consecrated" to the impure rites of their worship. Such gross and degrading practices in
Yahweh's land could only be construed as a flagrant outrage; and any association of these
with His pure worship was abhorrent (De 23:17 f): The presence of Sodomites is noted as a
mark of degeneracy in Rehoboam's time (1Ki 14:24). Asa endeavored to get rid of them (1Ki
15:12), and Jehoshaphat routed them out (1Ki 22:46). Subsequent corruptions opened the
way for their return, and Josiah had to break down their houses which were actually "in the
house of the Lord" (2Ki 23:7). The feminine qedheshah is translated "prostitute" in Ge 38:21-
22; Ho 4:14; in De 23:17 "prostitute" (the King James Version margin "sodomitess," the
Revised Version margin transliterates). The English word is, of course, derived from Sodom,
the inhabitants of which were in evil repute for unnatural vice.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia