Sunday, September 14, 2008

Genesis 19:30-38 What a Difference A Night Makes

Genesis 19:30-38: And Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the first-born said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night, and the first-born went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. And it came about on the morrow, that the first-born said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And as for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.

Here we have an interesting scenario. God tells lot to flee to the mountains and he requested special permission to go to Zoar. On his way there, his wife turns to a pillar of salt because of her disobedience and the next thing we know is that Lot leaves Zoar and heads to the mountains. God’s way is best after all. The text indicates that Lot left Zoar because he was afraid to stay there. It is possible that the locals might have started putting everything together and figured out that he had a part to play in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, albeit perhaps indirect, and they weren’t going to take any chances having him around alive. Little did they know that it was because of him that they were spared in the first place. Men, both believers and unbelievers, often miss the real reasons why God has blessed them. So Lot with his two daughters ends up living in a cave in the mountains. Perhaps not unlike what Osama Bin Laden has been doing since September 11, 2001 after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington that killed almost 3,000 individuals that infamous day.

So what do two daughters of age living alone with their father in the mountains do to make life more interesting? They plot to have a child through their father Lot by getting him drunk and sleeping with him.

I struggle with this considerably. It would not be acceptable behavior in our society today and most likely frowned upon even then. However, and without appearing to be in support of Lot’s daughters in any way, we need to notice that this was not a spur of the moment “let’s get drunk and have a wild incestual orgy with our father” type of rationale that led them to take the action. The daughters realized that they lived near no other man, their father was getting on in age and soon would likely not be able to impregnate a woman any longer, and they needed a family and a purpose to continue their own life after that. The text says they said they did this in order to “preserve our family”. They also realized that what they wanted to do was an unnatural thing and thus something that could only be brought about while their father was under the influence of alcohol.

Here was Lot thinking he was having just a great old father-daughters evening after dinner drinking wine reminiscing perhaps about the good old days when mom was alive and all the while his daughters were getting him drunk in order to sleep with him. The text says, perhaps in Lot’s defense, “he did not know when (either of them) lay down or arose”. Perhaps then we can only fault him for allowing himself to get drunk. In any case, both daughters get pregnant in just one attempt each and they both ultimately bore sons. That, based on probability, is a spectacular occurrence in itself. The name of the eldest daughter’s son was Moab and the name of the younger daughter’s son was Ben-ammi. Moab was the father of the Moabites and Ben-ammi the father of the sons of Ammon. Hebrew lexicographers tell us that Moab is interpreted “of the father” given that the daughter bore her father a son. Ben-ammi is interpreted as “son of my people” as again this daughter bore him through ‘her own people’ and in this case, her father Lot.

We need to wait to see what became of these two sons and how at least one of them played a role in a lineage that was the most significant in the history of mankind. But for now let’s focus our attention on Lot. This is the last time we hear about him. No one knows how he really felt as the first recorded combined “father-grandfather” of two baby boys and later young men. Did he realize his sin? Did he even know the boys were his? I would think so as he and his daughters lived in constant hiding and fear and likely no one else every came near them.

As I think of Lot I think of the myriads of men and women whose lives are impacted so dramatically by one mere moment or night of sin; one mere relaxing of morals or standards; one mere giving in to the senses rather than to following the mind God gave us to do right and the soul that longs for Him.

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