Jewish Lords' Witness
Lot and His daughters
Peter Paul Rubens
Even though many others before me have written learned papers on Lot and his family, two factors have led me to consider that the scriptures on this topic may still provide a rich hunting ground for further understanding of God’s thinking on the matter. I was originally affected by Lot’s 'unusual' relationship with his two daughters in the context of my earlier paper on ‘Male Chauvinism’. Given its potential complexity, I decided this was not a suitable topic for that paper but considered that it might merit its own dedicated research. Having put it on the back burner for a while, the topic then raised its head (not at my behest I might add) at a subsequent LW bible research session. It was during that session that I thought that I am now being given a signal to move it to the front of the queue. So here we are!
Lot was the grandson of Terah and son of Haran who was Abram’s brother and was therefore the nephew of Abram (Abraham). Lot’s father Haran had died an early death so Lot was taken in by the rest of his family:
27 Now these [are] the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. (Genesis 11 KJV)
Subsequent to Haran’s death, Terah left Ur and took Abram and Lot to Canaan but decided to live in Haran prior to completing their journey. (NB. While I absolutely believe there is no such thing as a coincidence in the scriptures I cannot, for the life of me, comprehend anything other than a coincidence with a town named as Lot’s father. If any of my dear readers can perceive the connection, please send me your answers in a sealed envelope to the usual address!):
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. (Genesis 11 KJV)
After Terah’s death the Lord spoke to Abram and told him to resume the journey to Canaan, promising to make him into a great nation. Abram set out on this journey, and Lot went with him:
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11 KJV)
1 And Jehovah proceeded to say to Abram: Go your way out of your country and from your relatives and from the house of your father to the country that I shall show you;
2 and I shall make a great nation out of you and I shall bless you and I will make your name great; and prove yourself a blessing.
3 And I will bless those who bless you, and him that calls down evil upon you I shall curse, and all the families of the ground will certainly bless themselves by means of you.
4 At that Abram went just as Jehovah had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was 75 years old when he went out from Haran.
5 So Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot the son of his brother and all the goods that they had accumulated and the souls whom they had acquired in Haran, and they got on their way out to go to the land of Canaan. Finally they came to the land of Canaan. (Genesis 12 NWT)
When they came to Bethel, Abram’s and Lot’s sheepherders quarrelled because there was not enough land to support the number of livestock both man owned. So, Abram presented an offer to Lot: they would part company, and Lot could have first pick of the land he would occupy. Perhaps selfishly, Lot chose the land near the Jordan River, as it was rich and lush. Abram took other land, and Lot left his uncle and settled his family near the sinful city of Sodom:
8 Hence Abram said to Lot: Please, do not let any quarreling continue between me and you and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we men are brothers.
9 Is not the whole land available to you? Please, separate from me. If you go to the left, then I will go to the right; but if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.
10 So Lot raised his eyes and saw the whole District of the Jordan, that all of it was a well-watered region before Jehovah brought Sodom and Gomorrah to ruin, like the garden of Jehovah, like the land of Egypt as far as Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose for himself the whole District of the Jordan, and Lot moved his camp to the east. So they separated the one from the other.
12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, but Lot dwelt among the cities of the District. Finally he pitched tent near Sodom. (Genesis 13 NWT)
As we know, Sodom was a very wicked city although it is not clear if that was apparent to Lot or Abram at that time since no warning was given to Lot either by Abram or Jehovah to advise him against such a move. According to Peter, Lot was counted as a righteous man, although he clearly allowed his family to become involved in the city and its culture. God resolved to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain for their great sin but, in doing so, enabled Lot to escape the destruction as its sole survivor together with his family. I think it noteworthy that Peter compares Lot to Noah, so clearly Jehovah held Lot in high esteem:
5 and spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly;
7 and delivered righteous Lot, sore distressed by the lascivious life of the wicked
8 (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] lawless deeds):
9 the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment; (2 Peter 2 ASV)
In order to rescue Lot and his family from the fate of the city, God in His grace sent two angels to Sodom. As Lot sat in the gateway of the city, he saw the two angels. It is not clear from scripture whether Lot realised they were angels but he seems to have treated them with some deference as men of some rank or bearing. I guess one’s first reaction on seeing two angels would not be to invite them in for a meal and a bed for the night as one would for two weary travellers? This especially since the angels accepted the invitation without giving any inkling at that time of their divine mission:
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
Before the angels settled in for the night, a crowd of men from all over the city gathered outside of Lot’s house. They demanded access to Lot’s guests in order to have homosexual relations with them:
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
Now, as you may already have gathered, this is where my curiosity was originally sparked while writing my Male Chauvinism paper. In an effort to protect the men under his roof, Lot offered the Sodomites his two virgin daughters instead:
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
Why did Lot make this offer? Did he value the men of bearing, as his guests, greater esteem than his virgin daughters? I think the answer to this must be ‘yes’. This was clearly an horrific alternative, demonstrating poor judgement by Lot! There are some schools of thought that the protection of one’s guests in those times was of paramount importance. So let us give Lot the benefit of the doubt; perhaps he really was acting out of the best of intentions given an extremely difficult situation that he had to deal with. However, I wonder what Lot’s daughters made of the offer?
Now we were told in verse 1 above that Lot sat in the gate of Sodom. Many commentators consider this demonstrated that Lot had some official standing in the city. This seems to be confirmed by the gang of homosexuals at his door who, in refusing Lot’s offer, accused him of sitting in judgement:
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
So, if Lot really was a judge in Sodom what does that tell us about Lot’s character? At first sight this would seem like a strange position for a righteous man to take, in a city of sin. However, perhaps he thought it would be appropriate to be a judge in a sinful city to see if he could bring some justice into an evil environment? Perhaps this brought him even more closely into the evil workings of that place which prompted Peter’s words on his righteousness. Clearly Lot’s being a judge did not sit well with the ’gay’ crowd so perhaps he was doing a fine job in that evil place.
God’s Promise To Abraham
Some time after Lot’s parting from Abraham, three men appeared to the latter. As in the case of Lot, it is not entirely clear that Abraham recognised the men to be angels:
1 And Jehovah appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
2 and he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood over against him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, (Genesis 18 ASV)
Again, Abraham’s actions towards the ‘men’ were similar to that of Lot in that he went out of his way to welcome them into his home as honoured guests:
3 And [he] said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, I beg You, do not leave from near Your servant.
4 Please allow a little water to be taken and You wash Your feet, and rest under the tree.
5 And I will bring a bite of bread and will sustain Your heart. Then You may pass on, for this is why You have passed over to Your servant. And they said, Do so, as you have said.
6 And Abraham ran into the tent to Sarah and said, Hurry, [prepare] three measures of fine meal, knead it and make cakes.
7 And Abraham ran to the herd and brought a son of the herd, tender and good, and gave [it] to a youth. And he hurried to prepare [it].
8 And he took curds and milk and the son of the herd which he had prepared, and he set before them. And he stood by them under the tree. And they ate. (Genesis 18 GLT)
Thinking it through again, would your first thought on meeting an angel be to feed him? I don’t think so! I think both Abraham and Lot initially thought their visitors to be human and treated them as was the custom in those days. After entertaining his guests, Abraham then escorted them on their way towards Sodom. God clearly intended engaging Abraham on his nephew’s sojourn in Sodom:
16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; (Genesis 18 KJV)
20 And Jehovah said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
21 I 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.
22 And the men turned from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before Jehovah. (Genesis 18 ASV)
(N.B. A side note for those that may be interested. Those three men leaving Abraham became two men going to visit Lot. What are we to make of that? Understanding  Genesis 19: Armageddon, and the greater destruction of Sodom by volcanic fire, the greater flood of Noah (under the heading: 'The 3 men, all of whom were angels, who met Abraham in Genesis 18 were Jehovah, Michael and Gabriel') demonstrates that Jehovah Himself was one of the three men and was the one that did not go towards Sodom in the guise of a man.)
We then have that wonderful Q&A session between Abraham and Jehovah where clearly Abraham is pleading for God to save his ‘righteous’ nephew from the destruction of Sodom starting with fifty righteous ones:
23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou consume the righteous with the wicked?
24 Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
26 And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake. (Genesis 18 ASV)
And finishing with ten righteous ones to cover Lot and his family:
32 And he said: 'Oh, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there.' And He said: 'I will not destroy it for the ten's sake.'
33 And the LORD went His way, as soon as He had left off speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place. (Genesis 18 JPS)
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
So, I think if we were still in any doubt as to Lot’s righteousness, we also have both Abraham and Jehovah referring to him as righteous, so who are we to doubt their view on Lot’s character?
Incest and Abraham’s Line
In the run-up to Lot's family being lead out of Sodom, we see that Lot's prospective sons-in-law thought he was joking about Sodom's upcoming demise. As a result his daughters were forced to leave the city without their betrothed. If that had not been the case, this whole account would have had a very different outcome:
12 Then the men said to Lot: Do you have anyone else here? Son-in-law and your sons and your daughters and all who are yours in the city, bring out of the place!
13 For we are bringing this place to ruin, because the outcry against them has grown loud before Jehovah, so that Jehovah sent us to bring the city to ruin.
14 Hence Lot went on out and began to speak to his sons-in-law who were to take his daughters, and he kept on saying: Get up! Get out of this place, because Jehovah is bringing the city to ruin! But in the eyes of his sons-in-law he seemed like a man who was joking.
15 However, when the dawn ascended, then the angels became urgent with Lot, saying: Get up! Take your wife and your 2 daughters who are found here, for fear you may be swept away in the error of the city!
16 When he kept lingering, then in the compassion of Jehovah upon him, the men seized hold of his hand and of the hand of his wife and of the hands of his 2 daughters and they proceeded to bring him out and to station him outside the city.
17 And it came about that, as soon as they had brought them forth to the outskirts, he began to say: Escape for your soul! Do not look behind you and do not stand still in all the District! Escape to the mountainous region for fear you may be swept away! (Genesis 19 NWT)
Despite the angels' warning, we have the famous event of Lot's wife turning back to look at the destruction of Sodom and. as a consequence, being turned into a pillar of salt. Many commentators have made many arguments as to why she did that. However, scripture is silent on her motivation. I am not sure that it actually really matters. What I think does matter is that the wife of a righteous man disobeyed the direct instruction of the God's messengers and was made to pay the price. Lot's righteousness did not get factored into any mediation of his wife's punishment:
24 And Jehovah rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from Jehovah out of the heavens.
25 And He overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all those living in the cities, and the produce of the ground.
26 And his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. (Genesis 19 GLT)
After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar. So, he settled in the mountains with his daughters, living in a cave. The destruction had covered all the cities in the plain so they had gone into hiding away from any townships, including Zoar where they first went after leaving Sodom. Given the level of destruction 'in all the district', it may not have been surprising for Lot’s daughters to have thought that they were the last people left on Earth. It was there and then that Lot’s daughters devised a disturbing plan to continue the family line; they would get Lot so drunk that he didn’t know what was happening and then sleep with him for the purposes of procreating with the only man they thought had been left alive after all the destruction in the plain:
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.
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
This act is clearly repugnant both to us and to God:
6 None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover [their] nakedness: I [am] the LORD.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she [is] thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. (Leviticus 18 KJV)
But wait a minute, the Law of Moses did not come in until well after Lot’s generation. So, whatever we may think of this act, they probably carried it out with the best of intentions to preserve the race and, most importantly, did not break God’s Law simply because they were not under it. That is why no punishment was forthcoming to them and they were blessed, as Abraham’s kinfolk, with the birth of two sons. These two boys would become the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites:
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. (Genesis 19 KJV)
This was clearly in keeping with God’s plan for Abraham’s wider family:
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant [is] with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. (Genesis 17 KJV)
Many years later, when the Israelites were on their way to the Promised Land, the Lord ordered His people to preserve the Moabites and the Ammonites on Lot’s behalf:
9 And Jehovah said to me, Do not besiege Moab, nor stir yourself up against them in battle, for I will not give their land to you [for] a possession. For I have given Ar [as] a possession to the sons of Lot. (Deuteronomy 2 GLT)
19 and you shall draw near, across from the sons of Ammon. You shall not besiege them nor be stirred up against them, for I have not given of the land of the sons of Ammon to you [for] a possession. For I have given it [for] a possession to the sons of Lot. (Deuteronomy 2 GLT)
So, once again we have very clear evidence that it was God’s opinion that Lot was a righteous man, so who are we to say anything different? Going one step further, we see from scripture that Jesus’ genealogy was not only in a line from Abraham but also from Lot via his son, Moab through Ruth according to the Gospel of Matthew:
5 and Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab; and Boaz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; (Matthew 1 ASV)
The Hebrew scriptures confirm the marriage of Boaz to Ruth:
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife; and he went in unto her, and Jehovah gave her conception, and she bare a son. (Ruth 4 ASV)
And confirmation that Ruth was a Moabite:
22 So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter in law, with her, which returned out of the country of Moab: and they came to Bethlehem in the beginning of barley harvest. (Ruth 1 KJV)
So, what further evidence can one need of Lot’s righteousness other than he, with the able ‘assistance’ of his elder daughter, gave birth to a son who proved to be in the line of our saviour Jesus Christ!
As a footnote to the whole question of incest, while this is repugnant whichever way we care to think about it, there is the question of inbreeding and the strength therefore of the Moabite and Ammonite DNA. According to the understanding of the Lords' Witnesses, we believe that the maximum lifespan of mankind has reduced progressively since Adam's time down to 120 years today. This must indicate a reducing strength in our DNA down through the ages. However, in Lot's day, the maximum lifespan would still have been 240 years, although his contemporaries, e.g. Isaac, actually only lived for 180 years. I think this must suggest that the weakness in inbred DNA today was not reflected in those days given mankind's lengthier stay on the planet at that time. Interestingly, it would appear that today's maximum lifespan of 120 years did not come into play until after mankind had received God's Law via Moses; make of that what you will! For the full story on all this please read: Introduction  - 120, 240, 480, 960 and indefinite lifespan humans!
Much of Lot’s life is a picture of the consequences of selfishness and the negative influence of a sinful environment. Lot knew God, but he chose to live among people who would likely lead his family into sin and complacency. But Lot’s story is also an illustration of God’s great mercy. Despite Lot’s poor choices, God saved him and his daughters from a violent end in Sodom and preserved his line throughout the ages. Living in an imperfect world, we all have to make decisions that may be the lesser of several evils. The righteous man is the one that can choose what seems to be the right decision at the time given all the impacting circumstances, even if that decision requires a seemingly otherwise sinful act.
As I stated at the beginning of this paper, many have written on this subject before me. I should like to give credit to the following webpages that gave me much good food with which to write my own notions on Lot’s life and family: https://www.gotquestions.org/Lot-in-the-Bible.html; https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/sobering-lessons-from-the-tragic-tale-of-lots-daughters.html; https://www.gotquestions.org/Lots-daughters.html.
Addendum - Judges 19:24
Well I do not think that I have a precedent for this, but while I was in the process of finalising this paper, I came across some notes that I had made with the recommendation to read Judges Chapter 19 Verse 24. I got a bit of a shock when I read it. It has turned out to be a massive comparison with the foregoing account of Lot with a number of additional lessons to be learned. So here goes, bearing in mind that this is the first addendum that is to be published at the same time as the intended original paper.
A Levite's Wife
This is a very long account that takes up the whole of the last three chapters of Samuel's book of Judges. Whilst only I intended to reproduce and comment on the verses that convey the gist of the subject matter, I have found it quite difficult to exclude too many verses since there is much referencing between them. Q - Why am I researching these chapters within this paper? A - Notwithstanding the importance of the account of Lot and his daughters, in the Book of Judges we have a highly disturbing account that would appear to treat Lot and his daughters as a precedent for these later machinations. So let us make a start. From the very first verse of this long account one point is made clear; it covers a period when Israel had no King and, therefore, would seem to indicate a sense of lawlessness existing as a result within God's people from the off:
1 And it came to pass in those days, when [there was] no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah. (Judges 19 KJV)
The scene is further set by describing the Levite's concubine as playing the whore, a serious transgression in those days (and also these for those of faith!):
2 And his concubine played the whore against him, and went away from him unto her father's house to Bethlehemjudah, and was there four whole months. (Judges 19 KJV)
The Levite, nonetheless, appears to want to become reconciled with his wife and so goes to visit with her at her father's house:
3 And her husband arose, and went after her, to speak friendly unto her, [and] to bring her again, having his servant with him, and a couple of asses: and she brought him into her father's house: and when the father of the damsel saw him, he rejoiced to meet him. (Judges 19 KJV)
The man stayed with them four days, being made very welcome by his father-in-law. Eventually he left with his wife and towards the end of that day he determined to lodge at Gibeah, being a town inhabited by fellow Israelites of the House of Benjamin:
14 And they passed on and went their way; and the sun went down upon them [when they were] by Gibeah, which [belongeth] to Benjamin. (Judges 19 KJV)
Now here is where we start to see some similarities with the account of Lot in Sodom. If, in this part of the account, we think of the Levite as equating to Lot's angels, he enters the town of Gibeah and stays in the street as the angels were intending to do in Sodom:
15 And they turned aside thither, to go in [and] to lodge in Gibeah: and when he went in, he sat him down in a street of the city: for [there was] no man that took them into his house to lodging. (Judges 19 KJV)
Then an old man, playing the equivalent role to Lot as a long term visitor himself to Gibeah, comes out and offers them lodging for the night to take them off the street:
16 And, behold, there came an old man from his work out of the field at even, which [was] also of mount Ephraim; and he sojourned in Gibeah: but the men of the place [were] Benjamites.
17 And when he had lifted up his eyes, he saw a wayfaring man in the street of the city: and the old man said, Whither goest thou? and whence comest thou?
18 And he said unto him, We [are] passing from Bethlehemjudah toward the side of mount Ephraim; from thence [am] I: and I went to Bethlehemjudah, but I [am now] going to the house of the LORD; and there [is] no man that receiveth me to house.
19 Yet there is both straw and provender for our asses; and there is bread and wine also for me, and for thy handmaid, and for the young man [which is] with thy servants: [there is] no want of any thing.
20 And the old man said, Peace [be] with thee; howsoever [let] all thy wants [lie] upon me; only lodge not in the street.
21 So he brought him into his house, and gave provender unto the asses: and they washed their feet, and did eat and drink. (Judges 19 KJV)
Now the story really gets scary as a parallel to the account of Lot. The local inhabitants of Gibeah, men of the Benjamite tribe, are described as sons of Belial (aka wicked ones) and surround the old man's house wishing to have homosexual intercourse with the visiting Levite. Sound familiar?
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 him. (Judges 19 KJV)
The next step in the story has some similarities but also some key differences to the account of Lot. The young women in the house are offered up as a sop to the homosexual crowd by the householder. However, they do not seem to be interested in the old man's daughter but decide that they would accept the offer of the Levite's concubine instead of the Levite himself. Perhaps they thought that, since the couple were of one flesh, by abusing his concubine they were effectively carrying out a homosexual rape on the Levite himself by proxy? Anyway this rape took place with lethal consequences for the concubine who died as result of her treatment at the hands of the lawless crowd:
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 vile 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.
28 And he said unto her, Up, and let us be going. But none answered. Then the man took her [up] upon an ass, and the man rose up, and gat him unto his place. (Judges 19 KJV)
Wow, there's a lot to take in from the above section of the account. As far as the old man was concerned we can consider him as acting out Lot's role to protect his honoured guest at all costs. But what was in the Levite's head as he took his apparently contrite wife out to the crazed mob outside? As a minimum he knew she would be raped and otherwise abused. Was he not as forgiving for her earlier adulterous transgressions as he had previously appeared or was he trying to stick to the letter of the Law to save his own skin? Well the Law is unequivocal in determining that a death sentence be carried out on an unfaithful wife. As compared with the case of a betrothed virgin, who would be stoned to death, the method in which the sentence of death is carried out is unspecified:
22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, [both] the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel. (Deuteronomy 22 KJV)
I suspect that some sitting in judgement in those days would consider being raped to death an appropriate sentence deserving of an adulterous wife. Mind you, the Levite did not expect that his wife would die from her abuse so quite what their married life would have been like had she survived we can only ponder upon. Perhaps he thought she might have enjoyed such treatment!! However such was not the case. Perhaps his attitude towards his dead wife's body might give us a clue as to his thinking:
29 And when he was come into his house, he took a knife, and laid hold on his concubine, and divided her, [together] with her bones, into twelve pieces, and sent her into all the coasts of Israel. (Judges 19 KJV)
Regardless of his main intention in this act, he clearly had little regard for his wife's earthly remains which, I think, confirms our view of his relative disregard for her welfare whilst still alive. This, together with the wicked behaviour witnessed from the Benjamite tribe, certainly gives rise to the following verse which I could not better in any way:
30 And it was so, that all that saw it said, There was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt unto this day: consider of it, take advice, and speak [your minds]. (Judges 19 KJV)
In the following Chapter we discover the Levite's motivation and the main point of this account. He was sending a message to the rest of Israel of the evil residing in the Tribe of Benjamin in the town of Gibeah:
1 Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was assembled as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto Jehovah at Mizpah.
2 And the chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.
3 (Now the children of Benjamin heard that the children of Israel were gone up to Mizpah.) And the children of Israel said, Tell us, how was this wickedness brought to pass?
4 And the Levite, the husband of the woman that was murdered, answered and said, I came into Gibeah that belongeth to Benjamin, I and my concubine, to lodge.
5 And the men of Gibeah rose against me, and beset the house round about me by night; me they thought to have slain, and my concubine they forced, and she is dead.
6 And I took my concubine, and cut her in pieces, and sent her throughout all the country of the inheritance of Israel; for they have committed lewdness and folly in Israel.
7 Behold, ye children of Israel, all of you, give here your advice and counsel. (Judges 20 ASV)
The story thus far effectively compares the behaviour of the Benjamites in Gibeah to that of the evil ones in Sodom. This time, however, it would be Israel that would set out to destroy the Benjamites following God's lead in His treatment of the Sodomites. So they laid their plans against Gibeah:
9 But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah: [we will go up] against it by lot;
10 and we will take ten men of a hundred throughout all the tribes of Israel, and a hundred of a thousand, and a thousand out of ten thousand, to fetch victuals for the people, that they may do, when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, according to all the folly that they have wrought in Israel.
11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, knit together as one man. (Judges 20 ASV)
However, compared to Sodom, the Tribe of Benjamin were not about to be punished so easily:
12 And the tribes of Israel sent men through all the tribe of Benjamin, saying, What wickedness is this that is come to pass among you?
13 Now therefore deliver up the men, the base fellows, that are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death, and put away evil from Israel. But Benjamin would not hearken to the voice of their brethren the children of Israel.
14 And the children of Benjamin gathered themselves together out of the cities unto Gibeah, to go out to battle against the children of Israel.
15 And the children of Benjamin were numbered on that day out of the cities twenty and six thousand men that drew sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah, who were numbered seven hundred chosen men.
Despite the prospect of a battle against Benjamin, this action by the tribes of Israel still came with God's approval:
18 And the children of Israel arose, and went up to Beth-el, and asked counsel of God; and they said, Who shall go up for us first to battle against the children of Benjamin? And Jehovah said, Judah [shall go up] first.
However, this was not going to be easy for the Tribes of Israel. They failed in their first battle against the Benjamites, so again they sought Jehovah's counsel:
23 And the children of Israel went up and wept before Jehovah until even; and they asked of Jehovah, saying, Shall I again draw nigh to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother? And Jehovah said, Go up against him.
And, again, the Benjamites won the second day of battle, Israel once again seeking God's blessing which He gave unequivocally:
27 And the children of Israel asked of Jehovah (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days,
28 and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, stood before it in those days), saying, Shall I yet again go out to battle against the children of Benjamin my brother, or shall I cease? And Jehovah said, Go up; for to-morrow I will deliver him into thy hand.
This time Israel, with a cunning battle plan, succeeded against Benjamin with God's help and destroyed Gibeah by fire akin to the destruction of Sodom and only a small remnant of Benjamite men of war were left that fled to the Rock of Rimmon:
35 And Jehovah smote Benjamin before Israel; and the children of Israel destroyed of Benjamin that day twenty and five thousand and a hundred men: all these drew the sword.
36 So the children of Benjamin saw that they were smitten; for the men of Israel gave place to Benjamin, because they trusted unto the liers-in-wait whom they had set against Gibeah.
37 And the liers-in-wait hasted, and rushed upon Gibeah; and the liers-in-wait drew themselves along, and smote all the city with the edge of the sword.
38 Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the liers-in-wait was, that they should make a great cloud of smoke rise up out of the city.
39 And the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to smite and kill of the men of Israel about thirty persons; for they said, Surely they are smitten down before us, as in the first battle.
40 But when the cloud began to arise up out of the city in a pillar of smoke, the Benjamites looked behind them; and, behold, the whole of the city went up [in smoke] to heaven. (Judges 20 ASV)
47 But six hundred men turned and fled toward the wilderness unto the rock of Rimmon, and abode in the rock of Rimmon four months.
48 And the men of Israel turned again upon the children of Benjamin, and smote them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city, and the cattle, and all that they found: moreover all the cities which they found they set on fire. (Judges 20 ASV)
Despite this judgement upon Benjamin, this 'victory' came at a heavy price for Israel in that they lost many men in the three battles. Why was this? Other commentaries suggest that Israel as a whole had sinful issues for which they needed to repent. This is a view that I share and we see this in action in the final Chapter of the Book of Judges to follow.
Whilst the final Chapter of the Book of Judges is not a literal parallel to Lot's incest it does, nonetheless, demonstrate a desire for procreation to maintain God's people into the following generations. This, I would ague, provides further evidence for the best of intentions by Lot's daughters for their incestuous act. First off we see the sorrow in Israel for having wiped out their Benjamite brethren and their consequent repentance to God:
1 Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.
2 And the people came to Beth-el, and sat there till even before God, and lifted up their voices, and wept sore.
3 And they said, O Jehovah, the God of Israel, why is this come to pass in Israel, that there should be to-day one tribe lacking in Israel?
4 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the people rose early, and built there an altar, and offered burnt-offerings and peace-offerings.
Immediately, as part of their penitent thinking, the people of Israel started being concerned about how the remnant of the Tribe of Benjamin would be able to recover their large loss of life. Their thoughts went to that tribe's ability to procreate to increase their numbers. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, they determined that this would have be done at the expense of the lives of more of their brethren in the partial tribes residing in the town of Jabesh-Gilead. This was as a result of an oath they had made before God when they determined to destroy the sinful Benjamites. This clearly represented further punishment from Jehovah:
5 And the children of Israel said, Who is there among all the tribes of Israel that came not up in the assembly unto Jehovah? For they had made a great oath concerning him that came not up unto Jehovah to Mizpah, saying, He shall surely be put to death.
6 And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day.
7 How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing we have sworn by Jehovah that we will not give them of our daughters to wives?
8 And they said, What one is there of the tribes of Israel that came not up unto Jehovah to Mizpah? And, behold, there came none to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly.
9 For when the people were numbered, behold, there were none of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead there.
10 And the congregation sent thither twelve thousand men of the valiantest, and commanded them, saying, Go and smite the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones.
11 And this is the thing that ye shall do: ye shall utterly destroy every male, and every woman that hath lain by man.
12 And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead four hundred young virgins, that had not known man by lying with him; and they brought them unto the camp to Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.
13 And the whole congregation sent and spake to the children of Benjamin that were in the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace unto them.
14 And Benjamin returned at that time; and they gave them the women whom they had saved alive of the women of Jabesh-gilead: and yet so they sufficed them not.
15 And the people repented them for Benjamin, because that Jehovah had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.
The number of wives found thus for the Tribe of Benjamin still did not suffice the procreative need, so a subterfuge was devised to find them further wives from within Israel but without their breaking their oath to Jehovah. Whilst all this is certainly not incestuous, it nonetheless demonstrates some seriously focussed thinking on how to promote the procreative strength of their Benjamite brothers. In this way Israel was able to restore the Tribe of Benjamite back to its former strength over the next generation without breaking their earlier vow to Jehovah on the subject:
16 Then the elders of the congregation said, How shall we do for wives for them that remain, seeing the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?
17 And they said, There must be an inheritance for them that are escaped of Benjamin, that a tribe be not blotted out from Israel.
18 Howbeit we may not give them wives of our daughters, for the children of Israel had sworn, saying, Cursed be he that giveth a wife to Benjamin.
19 And they said, Behold, there is a feast of Jehovah from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north of Beth-el, on the east side of the highway that goeth up from Beth-el to Shechem, and on the south of Lebonah.
20 And they commanded the children of Benjamin, saying, Go and lie in wait in the vineyards,
21 and see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in the dances, then come ye out of the vineyards, and catch you every man his wife of the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin.
22 And it shall be, when their fathers or their brethren come to complain unto us, that we will say unto them, Grant them graciously unto us, because we took not for each man [of them] his wife in battle, neither did ye give them unto them, else would ye now be guilty.
23 And the children of Benjamin did so, and took them wives, according to their number, of them that danced, whom they carried off: and they went and returned unto their inheritance, and built the cities, and dwelt in them.
This account ends as it started by reminding us that Israel had no king in those days. I think this is showing us that lawlessness will always come into a nation without a king to govern it under God's ultimate rulership. This would seem to be a portent to the Kingdom of God in which we will have perfect governance in Heaven and on Earth under the Kingship of our Lord Jesus Christ:
25 In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21 ASV)
So what can we draw from this dreadful account in the last three Chapters of the Book Judges? To start with we see that there are some significant comparisons with the equally dreadful story of Lot and his daughters. Scripture here is deliberately drawing a comparison between Gibeah and Sodom to show us that even God's people, Israel, were not impervious to sin. In this latter case, however, we see that repentance ultimately saved the day for the Benjamites and Israel, as it did for Nineveh after God's warning. So today none of us should be over-confident in our faith; we must maintain our steadfastness against evil to prevent it overcoming us by reconfirming our allegiance to Christ each and every day.
And what about the comparison between Lot and the Levite in offering their respective ladies to the madding crowd? Well I think we previously commented that, in Lot's case, it was a sense of desperation to protect his visitors. As for the Levite, it was likely more to protect his host's virgin daughter whilst clearly having fallen out of love with his unfaithful concubine who he presumably thought was deserving of an appropriate punishment under the Law. In neither case, however, are we informed as to the state of mind of the women of the two accounts. That is for us to ponder over methinks!
Then we have the apparently primary importance to Lot's daughters and the nation of Israel to preserve the line of God's people albeit through some dubious acts in both accounts.
As I commented in the previous section, it is noteworthy that the absence of a king ruling over Israel is commented on as both the first and last verses of the account in the Book of Judges. Today, we see the whole world in turmoil; many nations are revolting against their evidently evil worldly rulers right across the globe. Clearly the world is without a king. God's people today are looking forward to the day when our King, Jesus Christ, reigns supreme over us all. Amen.
Date of Publication: 30th September 2022