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In Genesis two angels visited Sodom and Gomorrah to check what's what. The residents of the town wanted to rape the angels (who had visited the most virtuous man in the town, Lot). Lot to protect the angels offered his two daughters for rape:

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”—Genesis 19:4-8 (ESV)

What kind of man offers his daughters for rape? How are we supposed to take this? What is the meaning?

  • 3
    Hi John and welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics. I've edited the question a little and removed a parenthetical about the nature of God. (That bit might make a separate question, but since it's got a heavy doctrinal element, it's probably better for Christianity if it's not already been asked there.) I'm not 100% sure what you are asking in this question. Are you asking if offering daughters for rape is sanctioned by the text? Do you see some sort of contradiction? – Jon Ericson Dec 11 '12 at 19:12
  • This has already been asked (here and here) on Christianity. I don't think the answers are very satisfactory but they do have some clues as to how Christians interpret the matter. – Caleb Dec 11 '12 at 22:21
  • I did not know there was a similar post in christianity. thanks – John Demetriou Dec 12 '12 at 11:36
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    A wicked man offers his daughters to be raped. But the Bible speaks of many wicked people who do horrific things. So I'm not sure the point of the question. (The question could be strengthened by bringing a NT citation that calls him righteous. At that point you could tag it with contradiction.) – Kazark Dec 21 '12 at 3:00
  • maybe they were ugly and/or sinfull.... later hints that – user8377 Feb 7 '16 at 18:30
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The same word in Hebrew וְנֵדְעָ֖ה ("wə·nê·ḏə·‘āh") is a derivative of יָדַע (yada) "To Know", (BDB) but the Context tells us that "To Know" means to have sexual intercourse-with or without permission.

In Gen. 4:1, Adam "yada" his wife, and she conceived. You don't get 'conception' by cognitive knowledge-something else had to happen.

In Jdgs 19:22-26, we see a similar passage as Gen. 19:4-8, but in this particular instance, there is no question of what "Yada" meant:

22 Now as they were making their hearts merry , behold, the men of the city, certain sons of Belial, beset the house round about , and beat at the door, and spake to the master of the house, the old man, saying , Bring forth the man that came into thine house, that we may know (וְנֵדָעֶֽנּוּ׃) (wə·nê·ḏā·‘en·nū) him. 23 And the man, the master of the house, went out unto them, and said unto them, Nay, my brethren, nay, I pray you, do not so wickedly ; seeing that this man is come into mine house, do not this folly. 24 Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vileth a thing. 25 But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring , they let her go . 26 Then came the woman in the dawning of the day, and fell down at the door of the man's house where her lord was, till it was light. 27 And her lord rose up in the morning, and opened the doors of the house, and went out to go his way: and, behold, the woman his concubine was fallen down at the door of the house, and her hands were upon the threshold.

There is no question that the men of the town intended to "Sodomize" the visitor, and when the old man who had given him hospitality objected, they 'accepted' the substitute of the man's concubine, who they abused until she was dead.

God did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah over some "gross misunderstanding" they had; He destroyed them because of their "Yada" ing, which in both the Gen. 19:4-8 and Jdgs. 19:22-26 meant attempting to force themselves sexually on those who visited their village or city. God called it "Abomination"(Lev. 18:22) and in vs 25, the land 'vomited out' it's inhabitants. In the Judges 19 account, the men of Israel rallied together and so destroyed the "Men of Belial" that there were none left of Benjamin to claim an inheritance in the land God gave them(Jdgs. 21:3).

Lot's offering of his daughters was a last ditch attempt to preserve the dignity of the travelers who were being threatened with homosexual rape. Unlike the traveler of Judges 19, the angels were well equipt to handle the Sodomites-striking them with physical blindness for their moral perversity. In both instances, the moral depravity reached the point where not only the perpetrators but also those complicit with them were destroyed.

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What follows is a reading of the Sodom narrative based on the commentary of Nachmanides which is drastically different from the way this story is commonly understood. No other reading of this story makes sense to me.

Progression of events:

The people of Sodom gather outside Lot's house and they make a request. The original Hebrew is highly ambiguous here:

וַיִּקְרְאוּ אֶל-לוֹט וַיֹּאמְרוּ לוֹ, אַיֵּה הָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר-בָּאוּ אֵלֶיךָ הַלָּיְלָה; הוֹצִיאֵם אֵלֵינוּ, וְנֵדְעָה אֹתָם.

5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him: 'Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.'

In both English and Hebrew, the word "know" can be understood here in a cognitive or sexual sense. Lot responds to this request by offering the people of Sodom his two daughters:

"do to them as is good in your eyes;"

The townspeople are infuriated by Lot's offer and they respond:

יט,ט וַיֹּאמְרוּ גֶּשׁ-הָלְאָה, וַיֹּאמְרוּ הָאֶחָד בָּא-לָגוּר וַיִּשְׁפֹּט שָׁפוֹט--עַתָּה, נָרַע לְךָ מֵהֶם

'This one fellow [Lot] came in to sojourn, and he will needs play the judge; now will we deal worse with thee, than with them.'

Implications:

It's clear from their response that the townspeople have no interest in Lot's daughters and that the offer was highly offensive to them. In my opinion, the Sodomites wanted to expel Lot's visitors from the city for any number of social/economic reasons and their justification: "that we may know them," is a thinly veiled threat, like saying: "we just want to talk." "That we may know them" also serves to highlight that these people are outsiders of the town that no one knows. Of course Lot understands the intentions of the mob and so he mocks them for their cruelty by intentionally misunderstanding their previous statement to suggest that the people want to engage in gang rape and sodomy:

ט,ז וַיֹּאמַר: אַל-נָא אַחַי, תָּרֵעוּ. יט,ח הִנֵּה-נָא לִי שְׁתֵּי בָנוֹת, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יָדְעוּ אִישׁ--אוֹצִיאָה-נָּא אֶתְהֶן אֲלֵיכֶם, וַעֲשׂוּ לָהֶן כַּטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם

7 And he said: 'I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters that 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;

Lot would never give over his daughters to the people of Sodom and he understands that these people have no interest in his daughters. Lot's offer is meant to be offensive and indeed the people of the town immediately recognize that they are being criticized - "This one fellow came in to sojourn and he will need play the judge [he's judging us]?" This attack by Lot on standard immigration procedure in Sodom makes him the target of their rage in the same way the illegal aliens were the target just a few verses earlier: "now will we deal worse with thee, than with them."

Why the sin of Sodom matters:

The sin of Sodom matters because the Later Prophets regularly compare the nation of Israel to Sodom (Isaiah 1:9-10, 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:41-56 and more.). If the sin of Sodom was sodomy than this comparison seems hyperbolic and inconsistent with all the common themes in the Later Prophets. However, if the sin of Sodom was xenophobia, insularity and a lack of social justice then this criticism is perfectly consistent with the messages that permeate the prophetic writings from that time.

tl;dr:

Lot had no intention of giving his daughters over to people of Sodom and their original request to Lot had nothing to with sex. There was no sodomy in Sodom.

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    "the Sodomites wanted to expel Lot's visitors from the city for any number of social/economic reasons and their justification: "that we may know them," is a thinly veiled threat, like saying: "we just want to talk."" This really seem far fetched and just a way to avoid the condemnation of the Sodomites' homosexual behavior that is the most common interpretation of this passage... – YoMrWhite Jan 13 '14 at 2:15
  • Lot offered his daughters without holding back. 'do to them whatever you wish'. It might be that the culture did indeed forbid the men of the city to 'do as they wish' with the women, but Lot is not really holding back here. Sorry for you, but 'know – user132193 Oct 16 '14 at 10:06
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I actually have no intellectual or difficulties of conscience with this story. It just seems good and right to me as it is told. In fact I have always found it very comforting and true to life.

Some have difficulty thinking Lot (a righteous man according to 2 Peter 2:7) sinned in this instance, so they come up with ideas on how even this action could be without guilt. For example, Luther, argues that Lot somehow knew these men had no interest in his daughters so it was more like an appeal something like, "Men, this is such a wicked idea, I would rather that you take my daughters and to prove it I even offer them to you (knowing you have no interest of course).

I do not deny that this is a possibility that by faith and internal prayers Lot may have perceived the situation that way, but I prefer to think of Lot as a man who was righteous but at the same time very much polluted by the wickedness of his surroundings. Notice the relationship to the world, he was salt and light but it blurred that salt and light which was in him. That makes him very righteous. Yet I think it is important to see Lot was not that righteous because of his poor choice in living location. Also Lot always seems portrayed as less righteous than Abraham which is partly why he may have chosen to live where he did. Also Abraham was not perfect either, so what are we to expect of Lot who was less righteous. We must not make saint 'saints' but must remember they are also sinners just as we are.

Therefore, I simply take the story to show that among vile sinners the righteous may seem vile also, but what makes them righteous in the unexplainable value they put on heaven through faith. In this case his righteous soul values his heavenly guests so much that he would rather see his loved daughters defiled before seeing his heavenly guests defiled. In a sense he is sacrificing himself in his daughters, as Abraham was willing to sacrifice himself in killing Isaac. However, unlike Abraham, I think his choice was very much still sinful. His sin of abandoning his beloved daughters from lack of faith, was conflicting with his holy desires from faith, so that his faith was very imperfect and in conflict with his flesh. So the message is even imperfect faith under trial, disguised by many sins, is very righteous still. The world is so wicked that it knows nothing about this. It does not value what God values. The value of faith is scoffed at by the world, but to God faith is righteous.

Lot was a holy man surrounded by sinners. Whatever he did, it was better than his neighbors. Many Christians are the same way - yet God is proud to call them righteous because they are very righteouss when compared to the world. The world scoffs at the righteousness of faith, hates God and despises heavenly things. God saved the stained and tarnished Lot, but destroyed the rest with fire. And so He will do the same thing in the last day.

I think these ideas dig into the underlying spirit of the passages. It's about weak faith.

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  • so I dont have to be good, just have to be better than the rest? – John Demetriou Jan 8 '16 at 15:46
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If you are totally heterosexual and a person of the same sex flirts with you, do you not feel some revulsion? Would it be too far-fetched to believe that the homosexual men of Sodom had no sexual desire for women, indeed were repulsed at the thought, and Lot knew this?

How was it, in a city so completely wicked, that Lot's daughters were still virgins, though of marriageable age? Is it possible that his daughters had been kept safe because 1) the majority of men were homosexual and not interested in virgin women, and 2) because even if most of the women of Sodom were lesbians, women are generally not as aggressive nor as lust-driven as men.

Lot's offering his daughters, though seemingly very wrong, may have been partly a judgment against the Sodomite men's total lack of normal desire of man for woman--the way God designed us. Certainly the men of Sodom were enraged at Lot's suggestion rather than greedily accepting it.

Is that because the Angels were not manifested as ordinary men but as extremely handsome, young and virile men? If the Angels were exceedingly desirable to look at, it's possible that their great 'beauty' incited the men's lust to fever point--after all, these were men with little or no morals.

It's interesting to note that the Angels did not just 'appear' in Lot's house-as they certainly could have!-but seemed to make a point of walking through the gates and into the city center. Indeed, they seemed quite adamant that they would sleep in the city center until Lot begged them to stay with him--thus 'cheating' the wicked plans being devised by the men of Sodom against two seemingly unprotected young and highly desirable men.

Were the Angels testing Lot? Were they purposely inciting the illicit lust of the men of Sodom in order to show Lot just how very wicked the people had become, so he would be more inclined to leave, less inclined to mourn the loss of the city? Remember Lot had met the Angels at the city gates and would have seen exactly how the men of Sodom reacted to them! Maybe that's why he was so adamant that they stay with him. Perhaps he did not realize at first that they were Angels but knew there would not be many places such beautiful men would be safe in such a city. It's one possible explanation of why he acted as he did.

What do you think?

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    I think you actually offers some very good points. You could use a little more direct reference at least to this and other passages to support your position, if not citing other third-party sources that agree. Also it's best not to end in a question. You are giving the answer. This is not meant to be a discussion for format. – Joshua Feb 7 '16 at 14:26
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How are we to take the fact that Lot offered his daughters for rape?

The Bible simply gives us an account of the event and does not tell us what motivated Job to offer his daughters. (Gen. 19:4-8)

Genesis 19:4-8 (NRSV)

4 "But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house; 5 and they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.” 6 Lot went out of the door to the men, shut the door after him."

7 "And said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8 Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”

Some may wonder, how could lot protect his guests by offering his daughters to the lustful mob? , and did Lot act cowardly?

Did Lot act cowardly ?

The answer is no, Lot did not act in a way to displease God, since under inspiration by the spirit of God ,Peter many centuries later wrote that Job was a righteous man.

2 Peter 2:7-8 (NRSV)

7 "And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard)".

Lot was not a coward, he was placed in a difficult situation, he offered hospitality to his guests and was thus compelled to offer refuge and protection to them, in fact he faced the lustful mob by going out of his house and closing the door behind him. Lot protected his guests , despite the fact that the two angelic beings (Gen.19:1) were capable of taking care of themselves, and as representatives of God, perhaps by giving his guests to the lustful mob , may have been tantamount to rejecting God himself.

Lot may have acted in faith,

Believing that God would protect him and his daughters. Abraham was Lot's uncle and was aware how God intervened to protect Sarah from being violated by Pharaoh:

Genesis 12:11-20 (NRSV)

11" When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know well that you are a woman beautiful in appearance; 12 and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife’; then they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say you are my sister, so that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared on your account.”

14 "When Abram entered Egypt the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 When the officials of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female slaves, female donkeys, and camels."

17" But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 So Pharaoh called Abram, and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife, take her, and be gone.” 20 And Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning him; and they set him on the way, with his wife and all that he had. "

Another possibility is that Lot tried to split the licentious mob, his daughters were engaged and perhaps he hoped that relatives and friends of his prospective sons in law , in the mob would speak in defense of his daughters, in the hope that this would divide the mob, making it less dangerous.

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Being righteous does not protect you from making stupid, irrational choices.

Let's take our mind ourselves away from Sodom and Gomorrah and imagine ourselves on a sinking ship. You are a passenger who accessed the last lifeboat. The lifeboat you are on is overcrowded. Suddenly, you see a group of thrashing men in the water trying to grab onto the lifeboat. The lifeboat shakes, frightening everybody and you fear that you are going to die.

Soon, someone in your lifeboat points out that these men have no good intentions and are greedily shaking your lifeboat, so that everyone onboard could be thrown off and drown and thus, they can take over the lifeboat themselves. You, in your utmost foolishness, believe that these men should deserve pity, since, like everybody else on the sinking ship, they are about to die. Just like Lot, who believed the would-be rapists of Sodom and Gomorrah needed "sexual relief" with his attractive daughters in order to be rehabilitated, in effect becoming the worst caricature of a bleeding-heart liberal that die-hard tough-on-crime conservatives love to despise.

So you decide to make room for these men, just to save day, even though by doing so, you achieve the opposite. You grab hold of your only partner, and you decide to throw him/her overboard, because you think that they wouldn't feel any pain dying. They're just adults and adults are disposable. Maybe they're taking too much room. Maybe they're just fat. You're sure that's it no big deal. At least the person isn't disabled or young.

That's exactly what the situation with Lot trying to make the foolish offer with his daughters looks like. Fortunately, we can count all on the two wise angels to save Lot's ass and the rest of his family. You may have good intentions, but intentions do not always equate with outcomes. It's a tendency we're all guilty of really.

"(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)"—2 Peter 2:8. Bad company corrupts character so be careful of the situations you place yourself in. The mind is fascinatingly yet dangerously malleable.

Thus, Lot's mistakes are heralded as clear examples of how we're not meant to act. Whoever thought God condoned everything Lot, or any other sinner in the Bible saved or unsaved, did must be on drugs. Get discernment. There's a reason why God is called a Teacher. The good and bad are both revealed and taught.

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  • He was characterized the only virtuous – John Demetriou Apr 19 '19 at 6:02
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Summary of Genesis 19:1-10

  1. Two angels/messengers arrived in the gate of the city of Sodom in the evening.

    Why in the evening?

    20... Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
    -- Genesis 18:20-21 (KJV)

    Clearly, the LORD sent the messengers/angels in the evening because it was the most opportune time to expose the gravity of the degeneration of this people (to Abraham and all who would hear/read of the account). Lot was sitting in the gate, acutely aware of the proclivities of the people of the town, to offer any newcomers the safety of his house.

  2. Lot invited the men to spend the night at his house, suggesting they get up early and be on their way -- not wishing them to spend any more time in the town than necessary. The men initially refused his hospitality, "Nay; but we will abide in the street all night."

  3. But such was Lot's concern for their safety that "he pressed upon them greatly", after which they relented and went with him to his house, where he offered them his hospitality.

  4. Before they retired for the night, the men of Sodom surrounded Lot's house.

  5. They called to Lot to bring out the men who were with him in the house, declaring their intent, "that we may know them".

  6. So Lot went out to meet them, shutting the door behind him. To me it seems obvious that Lot had done this before, and on previous occasions was able to talk them down.

  7. He pleaded with them as with family members, "I pray you, BRETHREN, do not so wickedly." What happened next was a gambit based on his perceptions of his standing in the community and his reckoning that the men of the town would not do anything to the daughters of a BROTHER.

  8. Lot offers them his two daughters instead of the two men, appealing to a familiar custom of the time, "... unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof."

  9. The men clearly had had their fill of Lot and his interference in their affairs, so they threatened him and pressed forward to break down the door.

  10. The two visitors rescued Lot, snatching him back inside the house, and shut the door.

The wickedness of the men of Sodom had been fully exposed -- clearly there were not ten righteous men in the entire town, which is the number at which Abraham had ceased to plead with the LORD on behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18:32).

Conclusion

Lot was not offering his daughters to be raped, but was gambling on the esteem the men of Sodom had for him as a BROTHER, that they might abandon their wicked intent. Lot was wrong about their esteem for him, but the LORD had foreseen the end of Lot's continued safety among the people of Sodom, and had organised a just-in-time intervention to rescue him.

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