What does Genesis 19:26 mean?
ESV: But Lot 's wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
NIV: But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
NASB: But Lot’s wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.
CSB: But Lot’s wife looked back and became a pillar of salt.
NLT: But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
KJV: But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
NKJV: But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
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.
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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