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Genesis 19-21 Listen
1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
8 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.
9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.
11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:
13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.
14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.
16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:
19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
20 Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.
21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken.
22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD:
28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.
29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.
The two angels that accompanied the LORD while visiting Abraham in Genesis 18 (see notes) show up in Sodom and Gomorrah; Lot's sitting at the gate of the city and greets them. He prevails upon them to dwell with him instead of on the street. Shortly after taking advantage of Lot's extended hospitality, the house is surrounded by all the men (verse 4) of the city who demand of Lot that he send the two men out for the purpose of having sexual relations with them (verses 5-7). Righteous Lot offers his two virgin daughters for sexual purposes to the men of the city if they will just leave the two angels alone. That's right; I said righteous Lot: Peter even says so in II Peter 2:7 (see notes), "And delivered just (means "righteous") Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:" You must remember that righteousness is based upon a covenant relationship with God then and now (Genesis 15:6, see notes), not on works. However, Lot gets zero points for good parenting.
The wicked entourage of homosexual men are not really a problem for the angels; they just strike the men with blindness. But can you believe what we see in verse 11? They kept trying...even in their state of blindness; that's one wicked, hedonistic city! That's when Lot knew it was time to go. He subsequently speaks to his sons-in-law about evacuating with them, but they decline. Two possibilities exist here regarding the identity of these sons-in law. Perhaps they were in the betrothal period of marriage, which was the custom in the Old Testament, prior to the consummation of the relationship; verse 8 plainly states that Lot's daughters were virgins. Betrothal periods often lasted as long as one year. For more information regarding betrothals in the Mosaic Law, click here to read the stipulations from Deuteronomy 22. A second possibility regarding these sons-in-law is that they were married to two of Lot's other daughters, and both daughters and husbands failed to heed Lot and were subsequently destroyed with the city. Even in the face of imminent destruction of the city, Lot has trouble tearing himself away from that wicked city life (verse 16); he and his family are miraculously transported outside the city.
You'd think that Lot would be grateful to have avoided destruction, but he's still negotiating with the angel in verse 18 about his new home. Incidentally, you will notice that only the "L" in "Lord" is capitalized in verse 18, while Abraham was talking to the "LORD" (all capitals) in the previous chapter (Genesis 18, see notes) when he was addressing the "LORD" who was accompanying these angels. In the Old Testament, "LORD" is always a translation of the Hebrew word "Jehovah." That's the special name for the God of Israel sometimes pronounced "Yahweh" instead. "Lord" is a translation of the Hebrew word, "Adonai," which means "master," a common term of respect in the Old Testament.
Lot and his daughters escape to Zoar before God destroys the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire. Lot's wife can't resist the urge to look back at what's happening, even though commanded by the Lord not to do so; she becomes a salt sculpture. So, back to Abraham's negotiations in Genesis 18 (see notes), were there 10 righteous people in the city? No...not even 10! One more point of distinction here regarding Lot's rescue is worth noting in verse 29: Lot was delivered because "God remembered Abraham."
30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
Lot decides not to remain in the city of Zoar as he had initially requested, but instead leaves and moves into a cave in the hills above the city. His two daughters wonder how they're going to bear children if they can't associate with any men. Notice the exchange in verse 31, "And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth." The Hebrew word for "earth" in both occurrences there is "eretz" which is often translated "land." In other words, "not a prospective suitor in sight!" Therefore, these creative, perverted siblings devise a wicked plan to each conceive a child; they conspire against their father, get him drunk and on successive nights have sexual relations with him. Subsequently they each bear a child out of this incestuous relationship which results in the tribes of the Ammonites and Moabites. By the way, verses 33 and 35 are most curious. How drunk does one have to be that he "perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose." And this happens on two successive nights! But you know, when you raise your girls in an environment like Sodom and Gomorrah, what else can you expect? Actually...do you see any mention of outrage on Lot's part regarding these two perverted transactions? And the resulting tribes of people, the Ammonites and Moabites, become enemies of Abraham's seed, the Hebrews.
Incidentally, Ruth, King David's great grandmother, was a Moabite, and King Solomon's son and heir, Rehoboam, was born of an Ammonite woman.
1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.
2 And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife.
4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?
5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.
7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.
9 Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done.
10 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?
11 And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.
12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.
13 And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.
14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.
15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee.
16 And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.
17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children.
18 For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.
Abraham is very fortunate to have God overlooking his life. Apparently he and Sarah just like to travel. They pick up and move south in what today would be southern Israel. The big man in the area is King Abimelech, and Abraham once again instructs Sarah to tell everyone there that she is Abraham's sister (technically, half true). Sarah must have been a very unusual 90-year-old woman. Well, come to think of it, the fact that she was expecting her first child makes that so, doesn't it? Incidentally, 90 was considered too old to have children, as we saw back when they got the news of the imminent birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:11-12, see notes). So, are the people in this new land going to desire Sarah for her attractiveness at 90 years of age? Yup! King Abimelech takes her right in.
God does Abimelech a great favor. He reveals to him that the reason none of the other women in his house can get pregnant is because of the presence of Sarah. You will notice in verse 6 that no intimate relationship had taken place between Abimelech and Sarah - NO THANKS TO ABRAHAM! God also tells him that Abraham is a prophet. Subsequently, Abimelech makes it right by giving Sarah back to Abraham and showering them with gifts. Thanks to God's supernatural intervention, Abraham lands on his feet again!
Isn't it notable how that God protected Abraham even though Abraham wasn't exactly...shall we say...cooperative? What can I say? A promise is a promise. And it was an unconditional promise. With or without Abraham's cooperation, God would accomplish exactly what he had covenanted with Abraham, and Sarah would have Abraham's baby just as God had said. Click here to read the article entitled, "The Abrahamic Covenant."
Here's a question to ponder: How long must this living arrangement in the household of Abimelech have been ongoing for them to realize that none of the other women were able to bear children? Or let me state it like this: How long, do you suppose, Abraham and Sarah propagated this lie regarding their brother-sister relationship? My point is this: Abraham and Sarah weren't making it easy for God to fulfill his promise regarding Isaac, but it was God's faithfulness at stake here, not Abraham's. LESSON: Even when Believers are disobedient, our God is always faithful to his Word.
Isaac is born. (Genesis 21:1-7)
1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.
2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.
3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.
4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.
6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.
7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.
That's right; Abraham is 100 years old, and Sarah is 90 or 91. Sarah thinks a 91-year-old having a baby is a hoot! Just look at verses 6 and 7. Who's laughing now? Of course circumcision on the eighth day is in order per God's command (Genesis 17:10-27, see notes).
8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.
11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.
12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.
13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.
14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.
16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.
17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.
18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.
19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.
20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.
21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.
Hagar had apparently been on her best behavior towards Sarah since that incident back right after Ishmael's conception (Genesis 16, see notes), but now the teenaged Ishmael engages in a little teenager-type "mocking" (verse 9). The occasion is at the party Abraham hosts celebrating the completion of Isaac's period of nursing from his mother. Does that seem like a strange reason to host a party to you? Well...teens will be teens...right? Sarah doesn't see it that way. That's it, Hagar! You're out of here...and take your son with you! Abraham is a little hesitant to do such a thing as cast Hagar and Ishmael out as Sarah demands, but he is assured by God that Ishmael will be blessed as the father of a great nation (as it turns out, the father of many Arab tribes). God's promise in the last part of verse 12 is very significant here, "...for in Isaac shall thy seed be called." Literally, the "seed" promises made in Genesis 12-17 (see "The Abrahamic Covenant") are to be fulfilled specifically through Isaac, not Ishmael.
Hagar and Ishmael are expelled from their home. Out of water and at the point of death, Hagar and her son are miraculously delivered by God in the wilderness when an angel speaks to Hagar and directs her to water. In addition, he made a promise to Hagar regarding the descendants of her son; they will be a "great nation." We then see in verse 20, "God was with the lad." Ishmael goes on to take a wife from the Egyptians and settles in Paran down on the Sinai Peninsula. Incidentally, when you look at verse 15, "...she cast the child under one of the shrubs," you're left with the impression that Ishmael was a baby or small child, but we know that Ishmael was, in fact, around 14 to 16 years old. He must have been in a severely weakened condition and obviously too heavy to carry.
Abraham and Abimelech make a treaty (Genesis 21:22-34)
22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.
After a little property dispute over a well, Abraham and Abimelech make a peace treaty at Beersheba, about 50 miles southwest of Bethel, near where Abraham first settled in Canaan. Abimelech seems pretty happy to make a treaty with Abraham after denying any knowledge of what had been done by his people regarding the well. I'm sure the events of chapter 20 (see above) were still fresh in his mind.