1

In the following passage in Genesis 19:2-3 i marked a specific part

2 And he said, “Now behold, my lords, please turn aside into your servant’s house, and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.” They said, “No, but we shall spend the night in the public square.” 3 Yet he strongly urged them, so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he prepared a feast for them and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

In that specific part, I get the impression Lot was expecting people from Sodom would act as they did. It's of no surprise since they're known for wickedness (Ezekiel 16:49). Then, in Genesis 19:30

Now Lot went up from Zoar with his two daughters and stayed in the mountains, because he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters.

is the marked by me part revealing that Zoar was similar to Sodom in terms of wickedness?

1
  • 1
    God destroyed the 'cities of the plain', being at least Sodom and Gomorrah and possibly more (unnamed). Molten lava fell on all of it. So, yes. Wise to say out of the cities, I would say. – Nigel J Jan 10 at 1:21
3

Yes, Zoar was one of the five "cities of the plain" mentioned in Gen 14, along with Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim. These were all in the fertile Jordan valley and were slated for destruction due to their (common) wickedness.

And it happened that in the days of Amraphel, the king of Shinar, Arioch, the king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer, the king of Elam, and Tidal, the king of Goiim, made war with Bera, the king of Sodom, and Birsha, the king of Gomorrah, Shinab, the king of Admah, and Shemeber, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar). Gen. 14.1-2 (LEB)

According to the Babylonian Talmud, it is five miles distance from Sodom:

The Master said: “From the time the morning star appears until sunrise a man can traverse five miles.” Whence does he adduce this? From the passage [Gen. 19:15]: “And as the morning dawn arose, the angels urged Lot,” etc.; and further, it is written [ibid. 23]: “The sun rose over the earth, when Lot entered into Zoar”; and R. Hanina said: “I saw the distance between Sodom and Zoar, and found it to be five miles.” Rodkinson, M. L. (Trans.). (1918). The Babylonian Talmud: Original Text, Edited, Corrected, Formulated, and Translated into English (Vol. 5, p. 194). Boston, MA: The Talmud Society.

God promises to spare Zoar when Lot pleads for it, because it is a small city:

'"Behold, this city is near enough to flee there, and it is a little one. Please, let me flee there. Is it not a little one? Then my life shall be saved.”' And he said to him, “Behold, I will grant this favor as well; that I will not overthrow the city of which you have spoken. Escape there quickly, for I cannot do this thing until you get there.” Therefore, the name of the city was called Zoar. Genesis 19:20-22 (LEB)

Note the parallel with Abraham pleading for Sodom. But by tradition Zoar was destroyed along with the other four cities, supposedly because Lot, after begging God to spare it, didn't trust God's promise to do so and fled into the caves. Just as how God promised to spare Sodom but then destroyed it after Lot's family was removed, so according to tradition, he destroyed Zoar with the other cities of the plain after Lot left it.

Here is Josephus:

It was of old a most happy land both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that divine fire; and the traces [or shadows] of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits, which fruits have a color as if they were fit to be eaten; but if you pluck them with your hands, they will dissolve into smoke and ashes. Josephus, F., & Whiston, W. (1987). The works of Josephus: complete and unabridged (p. 687). Peabody: Hendrickson."

And here is the Wisdom of Solomon, 10.6-7:

When the ungodly perished, she delivered the righteous man, who fled from the fire which fell down upon the five cities. Of whose wickedness even to this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony, and plants bearing fruit that never come to ripeness: and a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an unbelieving soul. The Apocrypha: King James Version. (1995)

In terms of why Lot didn't trust God to honor his promise, perhaps he was scared from the nearby destruction of the other cities. It was a sad ending for Lot, who started out so wealthy he needed to separate his flocks from Abraham, and ended up living in a cave, raped by his own daughters.

1
  • Well answered. Welcome! – Dave Jan 10 at 17:37
1

The geographical basis of determining what is on the plain and what is not on the plain seems to be (pardon the pun) shaky ground. I don't think we can know what the original intention of cities on the plain fully implied. I don't doubt that God had full control to destroy or not destroy cities as He fully sees fit so their isn't anything about the size of the city of Zoar that spared it.

(Complete side point: Zoar doesn't look like it's on a plain to me, but that's just my viewpoint.)

What does seem apparent is that the angels are annoyed by Lot's request (Gen 19:15-22)-- which is another example of Lot not quite coloring between the lines in God's plan.

To reference the OP though, what would be interesting to consider is this: The destruction of the cities of the plain would have been BIG NEWS of the day. Big news. Think the 9/11 event of the times.

Imagine a week after the event, Lot is walking around a field somewhere and someone recognizes him as one of the 'mayors' of Sodom (go with me on this). He would certainly have been the center of interest of how he survived when no other male from Sodom did! (Ref: Moses, Ref. Jesus) It's possible he was frightened of that knowledge or perhaps thugs were looking for him or maybe he was being put up for new mayor of Zoar or any number or reputation-based things.

The evil of these cities was incredible and far-reaching. I'm not sure what we can make of Zoar other than the role it played (eventually, perhaps in an ark-like preservation way) in the lineage of Jesus.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.