FIRE AND BRIMSTONE Gen 19
CONTEXT: Of Avraham’s three visitors, one turned out to be Yahh. Following the negotiation over how many righteous ones it would take to merit sparing the community, Yahh walked away. The other two, now identified as angels, head downhill to follow his plan: investigate S’dom and Amorah, and if guilty, punish the towns. In verse 18, the kamats vowel (secondary, supplied by the Masoretes) suggests that Lot considers one of these two to be Yahh. (Cf. the note to Gen 18) Perhaps he addresses them as one. Hebrew for “your,” in v. 19 is singular, “thy” made the point in the old days.
The story of S’dom and Amorah was familiar enough for prophets to cite when they warned their listeners about the consequence of sin. Amos, in the 8th century, uses the expression “Like God’s overturning of S’dom and Amorah,” (4:11) and so do Y’shayahu, Yirm’yahu, and Ts’fanyah. Y’chezkel speaks of S’dom as metaphor, feminine. Plausible circumstantial argument–lacking material evidence–can be found that towns on the plain at the south of the Dead Sea were overtaken by that deadly salt, giving rise to legend. In any event, Lot replies to the unprecedented demand of the townspeople with his own unprecedented gesture of hospitality. And, to pick up the theme of untoward nativity (following from Yishmael), we learn the origins of two enemies of Yisrael.
1The two angels arrived at S’dom that evening. Lot was sitting at the S’dom gate. He saw and rose to meet them and bowed, face to the ground. 2Then he said, “Here, please, my lords, turn aside to the house of your servant. Lodge. Wash your feet. Then you can rise early and go on your way.”
“No,” they said, “for we’ll lodge in the street.”
3He much pressed them and they turned aside to him and came to his house. He made them a drinking party and baked unleavened bread. They ate. 4They had yet to lie down when the townsmen, the men of S’dom surrounded the house–from young to old, the whole people, from the edge.
5They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us and we’ll know them.”
6Lot went out to them in the entrance and shut the door behind him. 7He said, “Don’t do bad, my brothers. 8Here, please, I have two daughters who have not known a man. Let me please bring them out to you. Do to them as is good in your eyes. Only don’t do a thing to these two men, for that’s why they entered the shade of my roof beam.”
9“Come closer,” they said. “One comes to sojourn only to pass judgement?! Now we’ll do worse to you than to them.”
They much pressed the man, Lot, and approached to break the door. 10The men sent out their hands and brought Lot to themselves into the house. They closed the door. 11The men at the entrance of the house, from small to large, they struck with blindings such that they were unable to find the entrance.
12The men said to Lot, “Who else do you have here? Son-in-law? Your sons? Daughters? Any of yours in the town get out of the place. 13For we are destroying this place. Their outcry has grown to before Yahh and he sent us to destroy it.”
14Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, takers of his daughters. “Get up. Get out of this place for Yahh is destroying the town.” But he was as a kidder in the eyes of his sons-in-law.
15When dawn rose, the angels hurried Lot, “Up! Take your woman and your two daughters who are present, lest you be swept away with the sin of the city.” 16He tarried so the men seized his hand, and his woman’s hand and the hand of his two daughters. In Yahh’s mercy for him, they brought him out and set him outside the city. 17As they were getting them out one said, “Escape for your life. Don’t look behind you. Don’t stand still in all the plain. Escape to the mountain lest you be swept away.”
18“Please don’t, my Lord,” Lot said to them. 19“Please note, your servant has found favor in your eyes so that you enlarged your love and acted on my behalf, in keeping me alive. But I, I can’t escape to the mountain lest the badness cling to me and I die. 20Please note this town close by to flee there. It’s tiny, but let me escape there. It’s indeed tiny but I can stay alive.”
21He said, “Here, I bear with you on this thing too: I won’t overturn the town of which you have spoken. 22Hurry! Escape there, for I can’t do a thing till you enter there.” (Therefore he called the name of the town: Tsoar/Tiny.)
23The sun came out over the land as Lot arrived at Tsoar. 24Yahh rained from the sky brimstone and fire on S’dom and Amorah. 25He overturned these towns and the entire plain and all the residents of the towns and the vegetation of the ground. 26Lot’s woman looked behind and became a pillar of salt.
27Avraham rose early in the morning to the place where he had stood in the presence of Yahh. 28He looked down on the face of S’dom and Amorah and on the entire face of the land of the plain. What he saw was steam from the earth rising like from the oven.
(29It happened, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Avraham, and he sent Lot from within the overturn, in the overturning of the towns in which Lot had resided.)
30Lot went up from Tsoar and resided at the moutain, his two daughters with him, for he feared to reside in Tsoar. He resided in the cave, he and his two daughters.
31The first born said to the younger, “Our father is old. There isn’t a man in the land to come unto us in the way of all the land. 32Come on, we’ll have our father drink wine and we’ll lie with him so that from our father we’ll keep seed alive.”
33That night they had their father drink wine and the first born came and lay with her father. He knew of neither her lying nor her rising.
34It happened on the next day that the first born said to the younger, “Well, last night I lay with my father. Let’s have him drink wine tonight, too, and you come lie with him, so that from our father we’ll keep seed alive.”
35That night, too, they had their father drink wine and the younger rose and lay with him and he knew of neither her lying nor her rising.
36The two daughters of Lot conceived from their father. 37The first born bore a son and named him Moav. He is the father of Moav to this day. 38The younger also had a son, and named him BenAmi/Son of my People. He is the father of b’neyAmon to this day.
© Rabbi David L. Kline http://good-to-be-a-jew.blogspot.com/