Genesis 18–20: Son Promised, Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed, and Abraham Moves EGP Blog post from January 6, 2013

Genesis 18 starts out by saying that the Lord (“YHWH” or “Jehovah” [H3068]) appeared to Abraham with two other men (which we find are angels in Genesis 19:1). Abraham runs to them, calls Him “Lord” (“Adonay” [H136] pronounced ad-o-noy’). This term is used exclusively for God, even by Abraham up to this point (Genesis 15:2, 15:8). We see the generic form, “Adoniy” (“adon” [H113] pronounced aw-done’) used for Jesus in Psalm 110:1 (cp. Acts 2:32–35, Hebrews 10:1–13). Also, John 6:46 says, “Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God [Jesus]; He has seen the Father.” And in John 14:9, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” All this leads me to believe that Abraham is seeing the pre-incarnate Christ (i.e., before He was born of Mary).

In verse 10, the Lord said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Finally, they are given a date! Sarah laughed it off (not unlike Abraham did in Genesis 17:17). But He called her out, saying, “Is anything too difficult (or ‘wonderful’ [H6381]) for the Lord?” Then He reaffirms that it will happen as He said.

The Lord tells Abraham that He is going to Sodom and Gomorrah in order to see if the cities are as wicked as “the outcry” claims. It would seem that the outcry was from an angel assigned over that area, and/or from people’s prayers who had been there or know someone who had. Abraham gets the impression (rightly so) that they will destroy them all, so he catches up and pleads for the lives of the righteous (probably because Lot and family live there). Abraham got the Lord to say that he wouldn’t destroy them if ten righteous remained.

In Genesis 19, the two angels arrived in Sodom (it doesn’t say what happened to the Lord). Lot was at the gate of Sodom, ran up to them, and invited them to his home. They said that they must spend the night in the square, but Lot “strongly urged” that they should stay with him, so they did. Considering the things that ensued, I think that this may have been a common practice for him to basically sneak in visitors in order to protect them, and perhaps it was his outcry that the Lord heard. Lot provided a welcome feast similar to Abraham’s in the last chapter, but instead of bread cakes, he gave them unleavened bread (matstsah [H4682] pronounced mats-tsaw’)…a foreshadow of the Passover (Exodus 12:8).

Apparently, Lot’s ruse to sneak them into town didn’t work, because the townsmen of Sodom came and demand that they be given over to be raped by them (this is where we get the word “sodomize”). Lot offered them his two virgin daughters, saying that the men were his guests to protect. Offering his two daughters to that fate in order to protect two strangers seems unlikely, so this leads me to believe that he knew they weren’t mere men. Whatever the case, fortunately they didn’t take him up on it and the angels protected them all.

Lot sneaks out to warn his sons-in-law that the angels are about to destroy all the cities of the valley, but they didn’t listen. As Lot escapes with his wife and daughters to a nearby town, his wife looks back (though the angels warned them not to) and turns into a pillar of salt (which can also be translated “a statue of dust” [H5333] [H4417]). We are told in Genesis 13:10 that this area had been very fertile before its destruction with fire and brimstone, but another interesting fact is that this valley was next to the Dead Sea, which is often called the Salt Sea (33% salinity) and is 8 times saltier than the ocean.

With all the destruction, Lot and his daughters were afraid fled to the mountains (ironically, where the angels originally told them to go, but Lot said they couldn’t make it in time). Next comes a very controversial passage. Lot’s daughters fear that his lineage will die out, so they get him drunk, sleep with him (without him being aware), and both get pregnant. I’m not saying that it’s right, but they had just lost their fiancés, everything they own, and everyone they knew (including their mother). Plus, the Levitical law hadn’t been given yet, so this wasn’t expressly forbidden yet (Leviticus 18:6).

In Genesis 20, we find Abraham moving away (toward Egypt, which would later enslave his descendants). It doesn’t really provide a reason here, but in Genesis 19:27–28, Abraham went and saw the destruction. He never specifically pleaded for Lot’s life, but Lord did say that it wouldn’t be destroyed if ten righteous were found, and no indication is given that Abraham knew Lot was spared. This leads me to believe that he moved away in sorrow.

We also find out that even though Sarah is 90 years old and supposedly past the birthing age (so probably the modern-day equivalent of being in her 50’s), she’s still hot enough to kidnap for a harem. You’d also think that Abraham would have learned that saying “she’s my sister” doesn’t work out well. This time we find out that she actually IS Abraham’s half sister. Plus, Abraham might say it’s “mission accomplished”, since this is the second time this sister ruse has kept him alive, her unharmed, and them leaving with more than they arrived with.

Tomorrow’s reading for the Bible in a year: Genesis 21–23