Story Of Lot Holds Many In­ter­pre­ta­tions

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - MISFIT SPIRIT Jay Sakashita

Fi­nally, af­ter a lit­tle more than 10 years, I can help my daugh­ter with her home­work again. The last time I was any good with her school­work was when she was in the sec­ond grade. I helped her with a math quiz. Not to boast, but I did pretty well. I scored seven out of 10.

daugh­ter’s col­lege fresh­man English class was this: Read the bib­li­cal story of Lot and dis­cuss the ways in which it can be in­ter­preted. Easy. For me, the ques­tion might as well have been to write the an­swer to 10 + 1. (The an­swer is 11. Luck­ily, I’m a boy, so I use for count­ing.)

First, a sum­mary of the story: God de­cided to de­stroy the cities of Sodom and Go­mor­rah for their wicked­ness. Abra­ham ar­gues with God and tries to per­suade God from do­ing so.

Later, two men — who are ac­tu­ally an­gels — travel to Sodom to visit the home of Abra­ham’s nephew, Lot. Lot of­fers them a lot, in­clud­ing food and lodg­ing.

Soon there is trou­ble, how­ever. All the men of Sodom sur­round Lot’s home and de­mand that Lot bring out his guests so that they can have sex with them.

Lot begs the men not to treat his vis­i­tors in this way and of­fers the men his two vir­gin daugh­ters in­stead, telling them that they can do to his daugh­ters as they please. The men don’t take Lot up on his of­fer and in­sist that Lot turn over his vis­i­tors to them. They try to break the house door down to get at Lot’s two an­gel guests.

The an­gels blind the men so that they can­not find the door and com­mand Lot and his fam­ily to leave the city as God will de­stroy it. They also in­struct Lot and his fam­ily not to look back at the city as they to take a look (one tra­di­tion says she wanted to be sure her daugh­ters were with them), and she is turned into a pil­lar of salt.

Lot and his daugh­ters es- cape and live in a cave in the moun­tains. Lot’s daugh­ters be­moan the fact that there is not a man left who can give them off­spring. They de­vise a plan to get their fa­ther drunk and have sex with him on suc­ces­sive nights.

They be­come preg­nant and give birth to sons, who will be­come the an­ces­tors of the Moabites and Am­monites. Lot had of­fered his daugh­ters for rape; now his daugh­ters rape him.

Why is such a story as this in the Bi­ble? Stu­dents of mine are some­times sur­prised to learn that there were no tele­vi­sion sets, in­ter­net or phones dur­ing bib­li­cal times. “How did t hey watch movies?” They didn’t.

Peo­ple in an­tiq­uity told sto­ries in­stead — sto­ries to en­ter­tain and sto­ries that ex­plain the world around them. The story of Lot ridiculed the Moabites and Am­monites, neigh­bors of the Is­raelites. The func­tion of the story is sim­i­lar to racist jokes I used to hear when I was in ele­men­tary school. It de­means other groups in or­der to bol­ster the stand­ing of one’s own.

The story has a moral as­pect as well. Hosts were ex­pected to pro­vide hos­pi­tal­ity and pro­tec­tion to strangers. The shame­ful be­hav­ior of the men of Sodom is con­demned.

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