Lot (Heb. LVT; Sept. Lot), son of Abraham‘s brother Aran (Gen., xi, 27), therefore Abraham‘s nephew (his “brother”: xiii, 8, 11; xiv, 14, 16) and grandson of Thare, father of Abraham (xi, 31). Lot was among those whom Thare took with him out of Ur of the Chaldees, to go to the land of Chanaan. When Thare died in Haran, Lot continued the journey with Abraham. It may be inferred that Lot accompanied his uncle to Sichem, to the mountain between Bethel and Hai, and then to the south (xii, 6, 8, 9). Whether Lot went to Egypt with Abraham at the time of the famine (xii, 10-20) is not explicitly stated, but is implied in xiii, 1: “And Abraham went up out of Egypt, he and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him into the south.” After their return, they once more settled between Bethel and Hai (xiii, 3). Lot and Abraham had numerous flocks and herds, so numerous that the pasture and watering places proved insufficient for them. Strife ensued between the herdsmen of Abraham and of Lot. Abraham, in the interest of peace, proposed to his nephew that they should live apart, and even allowed Lot to take his choice of the surrounding country. Lot chose the watered and fertile region “about the Jordan” (Kikkar), and fixed his abode in the city of Sodom, whereas Abraham dwelt in the land of Chanaan (xiii, 6-12). The next incident in the life of Lot is related in connection with the expedition of Chodorlahomor against the five cities “about the Jordan“, including Sodom (xiv, 1 sqq.). The kings of the Pentapolis were defeated, their cities pillaged, and among those carried away by the victorious kings was Lot, who lost all his possessions (xiv, 12). Lot’s predicament was made known to Abraham, who at once chose three hundred and eighteen of his best men and set out in pursuit of the retreating victorious kings. He overtook them in Dan, where he surprised them at night, and routed them completely. Lot and his possessions were rescued by Abraham, who brought all back safely to Sodom (xiv, 13-16; see Abraham).
Again we read of Lot in connection with the mission of the angels who had been sent by God to destroy the five cities in the valley of the Jordan. These angels, three in number, were first entertained by Abraham in the vale of Mambre (Gen., xviii, 2 sqq.), and then two of them made their way towards Sodom, where they arrived in the evening (xix, 1). Here they met Lot, who, sitting in the gateway of the city—a common place of meeting in the East—arose and greeted the strangers, at the same time offering them the hospitality of his house. The strangers at first refused, but finally accepted the pressing invitation of Lot, who then prepared a feast for them (xix, 2, 3). That night the men of Sodom revealed their degradation by, attacking Lot’s house and demanding his two guests for their vile purpose (4, 5). Lot interceded in behalf of his guests in accordance with his duties as host, which are most sacred in the East, but made the mistake of placing them above his duties as father by offering his two daughters to the wicked designs of the Sodomites (6-8). The latter, however, refused the substitution, and just as they were about to inflict violence upon Lot the two angels intervened, drawing Lot into the house and striking the men outside with blindness, thus preventing them from finding the door of the house (9-11). The angels then made known to Lot the object of their visit to Sodom, which they were sent to destroy, and advised him to leave the city at once with his family and belongings. Lot imparted the news to his prospective sons-in-law, who, however, refused to consider it seriously. The next morning, the angels once more admonished Lot to leave Sodom, and when he still hesitated they took him, his wife, and two daughters, and brought them out of the city, warning them not to look back nor to remain in the vicinity of the doomed city, but to flee into the mountains (12-17). The mountains, however, seemed too far distant to Lot, and he requested to seek shelter in a small city nearer by. The request was granted, and Lot fled to Segor (Heb. Zo’ar), which is also promised protection (18-23). Sodom, Gomorrha, and the other cities of the Pentapolis were then destroyed. Lot’s wife, disregarding the injunction of the angels, looked back, and was converted into a pillar of salt (24-26). Lot, seeing the terrible destruction of the five cities, feared for his own safety in Segor, and therefore fled with his two daughters into the mountains, where they dwelt in a cave (30). It was here, according to the Sacred Text, that Lot’s two daughters were guilty of incestuous intercourse with their father, the outcome of which was the birth of Moab and Ammon, the fathers of Israel’s future most bitter enemies (31-38). This last incident also closes the history of Lot. His name, however, occurs again in the expression “the children of Lot”, meaning the Moabites (Deut., ii, 9), and the Ammonites (Deut., ii, 19), and both (Ps., lxxxii, 9). In the New Testament, Christ refers to the destruction of Sodom “in the days of Lot” (Luke, xvii, 28, 29), and St. Peter (II Pet., ii, 6-8) speaks of the deliverance of the “just Lot”. The fate of Lot’s wife is referred to in Wis., x, 7; Luke, xvii, 32. According to Jewish and Christian tradition, the pillar of salt into which she was converted was preserved for some time (Josephus, “Antiq.”, I, xi, 4; Clement of Rome, “I Cor.”, xi, 2; Irenseus, “Adv. litter.”, IV, xxxi). Various explanations are given of this phenomenon. According to von Hummelauer (“Comment. in Gen.”, Paris, 1895, 417), Lot’s wife could easily have been overtaken by the salty waters of the Dead Sea and literally covered with salt. Kaulen had already advanced a similar explanation, accounting for the coating of salt by the heat of the flames releasing the salt fumes from the soil.
F. X. E. ALBERT