What does Genesis 19 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
Chapter 19 is one of the most dramatic and shocking chapters in Genesis—which is saying something! The events recorded here reveal the utter wickedness of the people of Sodom. They display God's grace to Abraham in rescuing Lot and his family. They show God's readiness and ability to judge the sins of humanity. And, these verses display the lasting consequences of sin in the hearts of Lot and his daughters.

In the prior chapter, God humors Abraham by discussing the conditions which Sodom must meet in order to avoid destruction. While God has no need to justify His actions to anyone, this conversation is permitted for our benefit. By allowing Abraham to set a standard for God's justice, which Sodom abjectly fails, chapter 18 leaves no doubt that the fate of Sodom is unquestionably deserved.

In this chapter, two angels come to Sodom to destroy the city. These seem to be the same angels who had been speaking with Abraham in chapter 18. Lot greets them at the gates to the city and insists they stay in his house for the night. Based on what happens in the next few verses, Lot likely knows that travelling strangers will not be safe in the streets.

Even inside Lot's home, however, these strangers are not out of harm's way. The men of the city surround Lot's house and demand the "men" be sent out so the mob "may know them." The text is clear—both in terms of language, interpretation, and context—that a crowd of men from Sodom has gathered to homosexually rape these two strangers.

Lot pleads with them. He offers them his virgin daughters instead. Whether this is a symbolic gesture of middle-eastern hospitality, or an actual solution being proposed by Lot, the men of Sodom will not relent. The angels intervene and physically remove Lot and his family from the city. They give clear instructions to run for the hills and not look back. Lot says no, and they allow him to go to Zoar instead.

Then God's judgment falls in the form of sulfur and fire. God destroys Sodom, Gomorrah, the region around it, all the people, and all the vegetation. Lot's wife disobeys, looks back, and is turned into a pillar of salt. Lot and his two daughters have been spared, but they have lost everything. The following morning, Abraham sees the smoke rising from all the land of the valley as from a furnace. Everything has been utterly destroyed.

Though they are safe in Zoar, Lot is afraid to stay there. He takes his daughters and runs for the hills, settling in a cave. It's unclear why Lot didn't run to the household of his uncle Abraham.

In one of Scripture's most tragic embarrassments, Lot's daughters decide they have lost all hope of ever being married or having children. They take matters into their own hands. Reflecting the all-but-nonexistent morality of the Sodomite culture in which they were raised, they get their father blindly drunk on two consecutive nights, each having sex with him in his stupor.

Both daughters become pregnant, and the resulting sons become the fathers of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples, respectively. Lot's story, so far as the Bible is concerned, ends here, in ruin, shame, and humiliation.
Verse Context:
Genesis 19:1–22 describes what happens following the Lord's assurance to Abraham that He will not destroy Sodom if He finds ten righteous people there. Despite such a low standard, Sodom fails the test. Every man in the city attempts to rape two of the Lord's angels who are in human form. The angels intervene, eventually removing Lot and his family from the city by force, and out of God's mercy. The angels instruct the family to run to the hills, but Lot asks if they can flee to the tiny town of Zoar instead. The angels allow this.
Genesis 19:23–29 describes the utter destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah with sulfur and fire. Based on prior descriptions in the book of Genesis, this devastation is both overdue and well-deserved. The Lord's judgment wipes out the cities, all of the valley, all of the people, and all of the vegetation. God demonstrates that He will judge humans for their sinfulness when the time is right. He also demonstrates His grace and mercy, however, remembering His promises to Abraham in rescuing Abraham's nephew Lot.
Genesis 19:30–38 describes the humiliating, horrific fate of Lot and his daughters. Having lost everything and living in a cave in the hills with their aging father, the two daughters assume no man will ever marry them or give them children. Their plan to remedy the situation is shocking, but not impossible for children raised in a culture like that of Sodom. Lot's daughters get their father drunk on two consecutive nights, each having sex with him and becoming pregnant.
Chapter Summary:
Two angels, disguised as men, visit Abraham's nephew, Lot, in the city of Sodom. After the men of Sodom attempt to rape the angels in Lot's home, the angels rescue Lot and his family, forcibly removing them from the city. Then God sends fire and sulfur from heaven. This destroys all of the land and people in and around the cities. As stated in earlier verses, this is the result of their great and ongoing wickedness. Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt when she disobeys the angels by looking back on the destruction. Lot and his daughters flee first to Zoar, then to a cave in the hills. There, Lot's confused and frightened daughters get him drunk, have sex with him, and each become pregnant.
Chapter Context:
In the previous chapter, Abraham had bargained with God on behalf of his nephew Lot and the people of Sodom. The Lord assured Abraham He would not destroy the cities if He found ten righteous people there. Chapter 19 immediately demonstrates no righteous people are to be found. Every man of Sodom attempts to attack two visitors, who are God's angels in human form. As the angels rescue Lot, God's judgment falls, utterly destroying everything in the area around Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot and his daughters end up in a cave in the hills, where the daughters scheme to conceive children by making their father drunk. This ends Lot's role in the story of Genesis, with future chapters focusing exclusively on the life and descendants of Abraham.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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