Lot Offers His Daughters for Rape (Genesis 19:8) By Jack Kettler
“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 19:8)
How is this story to be understood? It seems shocking to contemplate.
The Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament summarizes the story:
Lot went out to them, shut the door behind him to protect his guests, and offered to give his virgin daughters up to them. “Only to these men (האל, an archaism for האלּה rof, occurs also in Genesis 19:25; Genesis 26:3-4; Leviticus 18:27, and Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 7:22; Deuteronomy 19:11; and אל for אלּה in 1 Chronicles 20:8) do nothing, for therefore (viz., to be protected from injury) have they come under the shadow of my roof.” In his anxiety, Lot was willing to sacrifice to the sanctity of hospitality his duty as a father, which ought to have been still more sacred, “and committed the sin of seeking to avert sin by sin.” Even if he expected that his daughters would suffer no harm, as they were betrothed to Sodomites (Genesis 19:14), the offer was a grievous violation of his paternal duty. But this offer only heightened the brutality of the mob. “Stand back” (make way, Isaiah 49:20), they said; “the man, who came as a foreigner, is always wanting to play the judge” (probably because Lot had frequently reproved them for their licentious conduct, 2 Peter 2:7, 2 Peter 2:8): “not will we deal worse with thee than with them.” With these words they pressed upon him, and approached the door to break it in. The men inside, that is to say, the angels, then pulled Lot into the house, shut the door, and by miraculous power smote the people without with blindness (סנורים here and 2 Kings 6:18 for mental blindness, in which the eye sees, but does not see the right object), as a punishment for their utter moral blindness, and an omen of the coming judgment.
How can Lot’s offer be understood? Surely Lot was in sin to make this offer. The Puritan Commentator does not gloss over this question.
Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible addresses this question: Behold now, I have two daughters, which have not known man, though some think they were espoused to men, but had not yet cohabited with them, see Genesis 19:14,
let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes; this was a very great evil in Lot to make such an offer of his daughters; it was contrary to parental love and affection, an exposing the chastity of his daughters, which should have been his care to preserve; nor had he a power to dispose of them in such a manner: and though fornication is a lesser evil than sodomy, yet all evil is to be avoided, and even it is not to be done that good may come: nothing can be said to excuse this good man, but the hurry of spirit, and confusion of mind that he was in, not knowing what to say or do to prevent the base designs of those men; that he might be pretty certain they would not accept of his offer, their lust burning more after men than women; that this showed his great regard to the laws of hospitality, that he had rather sacrifice his daughters to their brutal lusts, than give up the men that were in his house to them; and that he might hope that this would soften their minds, and put them off of any further attempt; but after all it must be condemned as a dangerous and imprudent action:
only unto these men do nothing; for as yet he knew them not to be angels; had he, it would not have given him the concern it did, since he must have known that they were able to defend themselves, and that the sin these men offered to commit could not be perpetrated on them: but he took them for mere men, and his request is, that no injury might be done to their persons in any respect, and especially in that way which their wicked hearts put them upon, and is so shocking to nature:
for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof; for though it was not their intention in coming, nor the design of Providence in bringing them into Lot’s house, to secure them from the violence of the men of Sodom, but for the preservation of Lot and his family, which as yet he knew nothing of, yet it was what Lot had in view in giving the invitation to them: and the laws of hospitality being reckoned sacred and inviolable, a man’s house was accounted an asylum for strangers when taken into it.
The next entry from the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary agrees with Gill: “4. men of Sodom, compassed the house—Appalling proofs are here given of their wickedness. It is evident that evil communications had corrupted good manners; otherwise Lot would never have acted as he did.”
Even though Lot was a believer, there is no imperative to try and find an excuse for his failure. The Scriptures portray the failure of men like King David committing adultery with Bathsheba. In addition, the Scriptures warn the believer not to surround themselves with non-believers. There is a very real danger of being contaminated by the actions and thinking process of non-believers. In this regard, Lot is a perfect case of someone who was corrupted by being surrounded by evil. His example should be one that strikes fear into the hearts of believers.
If it were not for the two angels, Lot and his family would have been destroyed along with the inhabitants of Sodom. Moreover, Christian fellowship is important because it strengthens our faith, and it helps us to concentrate on Christ and His teachings.
“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)
1. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for “Time” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 2981-2982.
2. Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor, Entry for “Calendar” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans, reprinted 1986), pp. 541-542.
Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at www. JackKettler .com