Lot's Wife

Lot's wife is not named in the Scriptures. She is simply the wife of Lot, who was the nephew of Abraham. But some things can be inferred from reading the Book of Genesis. That text states that Lot moved his family from Ur to Canaan with Abraham (Genesis 11:31, 12:4–5). The herds of Abraham and Lot increased to the point that the animals encroached on the living space of the herdsman, provoking disputes among them. Abraham, in a great gesture of generosity, allowed Lot to select an area of land to occupy. Lot chose the Jordan valley near Sodom, where the land was fertile and well watered. By that time, Lot was already prosperous.

The exact location of Sodom remains unknown, but in ancient times it was the principle town of five nearby communities: Sodom, Gomorrah, Zovoiim, Admah, and Tzoar. The five cities, collectively called a Pen-topolis, became known as “The Cities of the Plain.” Many scholars place them on the plain of the Jordan River, south of the Dead Sea.

Looking for Ten Righteous Sodomites

Lot moved his family to Sodom because the grazing for his flocks was exceptional there. But God told Abraham that he would no longer tolerate the depravity and sinfulness of the Sodomites, and intended to destroy the city. Abraham pleaded with God not to rain destruction upon Sodom. The Lord agreed not to destroy the city if Abraham could find ten righteous people, but God's angels found only one person — Lot.

Hearing the Outrageous Demand

The two angels of God went to Lot's house to warn him. The Bible says Lot prepared a feast “… and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat it” (Genesis 19:3), but it seems more likely that Lot's wife prepared and served the food. Since it was evening, Lot pressed them to remain at his house and rest. Even before the angels lay down, the people of Sodom made their way to Lot's house and clamored for the two male visitors so they might have sex with them.

Offering another Option

Lot was outraged, and went out the door, “And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof” (Genesis 19:7–8).

For many readers, this passage is troubling: Why would Lot offer his virgin daughters to be raped by the village men? Some sources say the passage just shows the value of women in that society at the time.

Seeking Understanding

But even Lot's offering of his daughters in place of the angels was not enticing to the village men. What was the reaction of Lot's wife to the sexual depravity of the men whose lust knew no bounds? Was she trying to understand the sudden turn of events? Had her maternal instincts kicked in? Whether it had or not, the Bible doesn't say.

An episode similar to Lot's is described in Judges 19:20–25. An old man in Gilbeah offered lodging and food to Levite. The men of Gilbeah wanted to be intimate with the male guest. Instead the old man offered his daughter and concubine, but the Gilbeahans refused them. The Levite then sent out his concubine, who was raped all night.

As you may recall in reading about Lot's daughters in Chapter 2, the angels again told Lot to leave the city with his family. Lot wanted to warn his sons-in-law first, but they didn't believe him. The angels decided that Lot had been given enough time, so they took hold of his hand and the hand of his wife and two daughters, and escorted them from Sodom, telling them not to look back.

Seeing Sodom for the Last Time

Perhaps Lot's wife felt sad to be leaving. Maybe she had learned to accept and even tolerate the wickedness of the town. Perhaps she and Lot had found suitable men for their daughters to marry. With the arrival of the angels, her life had changed drastically. The male angels told her not to look back, but she couldn't help herself. She stole one last glimpse, and was instantly transformed into a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26). The Bible says that Abraham got up the next day and, looking toward Sodom and Gomorrah, saw “…the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace…” (Genesis 19:27–28). Sodom burned as God destroyed the Cities of the Plain.

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