Genesis 19:26 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 19:26, NIV: "But Lot's wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

Genesis 19:26, ESV: "But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

Genesis 19:26, KJV: "But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."

Genesis 19:26, NASB: "But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt."

Genesis 19:26, NLT: "But Lot's wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt."

Genesis 19:26, CSB: "But Lot's wife looked back and became a pillar of salt."

What does Genesis 19:26 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Even after they had been told by actual angels that God's judgment was coming on Sodom, Lot and his family did not leave easily. Still, God was merciful; the angels forcibly rescued Abraham's relatives from the city. After they were out, one of the angels gave them very specific instructions: "Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley" (Genesis 19:17). Even then, Lot insisted on being allowed to stop in a tiny, nearby town, a request the angels granted (Genesis 19:20).

Lot's wife disobeyed this order from God through the angels. She "looked back," and was punished by being turned into a pillar of salt. Whether this is a literal, supernatural transformation, or a poetic way of indicating that she was caught up in the destruction due to her delay, the text gives no further details. In either case, God does not let her sin stand.

The language used here might suggest Lot's wife gazed intently; the point is not that she merely allowed her eyes to take in the catastrophe. The implication of the passage is that in looking back, Lot's wife was expressing her continuing affection for the sinful culture of Sodom (Luke 17:31–32). Later in this chapter, Lot's daughters will also act in a way consistent with a lack of faith in God and reflective of the morality of the godless culture in which they were raised.

Some traditions point to an odd rock formation near the Dead Sea as the remnants of Lot's wife, though we have no biblical evidence for this.