Incestuous lot

Lot was afraid to stay too long in Zoar, so he and his daughters settled in a cave in the hill country.

“Father’s old,” the older daughter said to her sister. “Consider the fact that we’re hiding out in a cave. No man will come and take us for wives.”

The older daughter said, “Let’s get him drunk and sleep with him. This way we can keep our family tree going.”

That night, they served their father more wine than usual, and when he was barely conscious, the older daughter went to bed with him. Lot never knew a thing.

The next day, she said to the younger daughter, “It’s your turn tonight.” Again they served too much wine, and Lot became very drunk. The younger daughter went in and had sex with him. Once again, Lot knew nothing about it.

Both daughters conceived sons with their father. Moab, the patriarch of Moabites, was born of the older daughter, and Ben-Ammi, the patriarch of Ammonites, was born of the younger.

Inspiration: Genesis 19

Fiery end

The two visiting angels asked Lot, “What other family do you have in Sodom? Round everyone up and get out of here. We’re on a mission from God to annihilate the whole place.”

Lot ran to the houses of his future sons-in-law by the light of a pale moon and warned them about what was about to happen. They thought he was joking and didn’t pay any attention to him.

The next morning, the angels jostled Lot from sleep and said, “Wake up! Take your wife and daughters and go, unless you want to die with the wicked.”

Lot was moving too slowly, and his wife was frantic, trying to pack everything they owned.

“There’s no time for any of this!” the angels beckoned. “It’s now or never.”

The angels literally took Lot and his immediate family by the wrists and forced them out of the city.

“What about my sons-in-law?” Lot protested.

“They’re toast. Now, run for your lives and don’t look back,” they warned with a stern countenance. “Don’t stop anywhere in the plains. Run until you reach the hill country or you’ll be swept into oblivion.”

Lot argued, “Please, masters, you’ve shown favorable kindness by saving my family and me, but I can’t go to the hills. I wouldn’t survive a week in the wild.” Lot motioned over to the other side of Gomorrah and said, “Look, that small town is close enough to escape God’s wrath.”

“Fine,” one of the angels answered. “I’ll spare this small area for your sake, but hurry. I can’t bring down fire until you get there.”

Lot, his wife, and his daughters arrived at Bela by daybreak. (Afterward, the town was renamed Zoar, or “Little.”)

As fire rained from the sky over Sodom, Gomorrah, and the rest of the plains, Lot’s wife, who was straggling behind, turned to look at the devastation behind them. At that moment, her body changed into a salt mound.

Meanwhile that morning, Abraham exited his tent at Mamre Oaks and stood on the road where he and the Master had spoken before. Looking out to the southeast, he saw smoke rising like a smoldering fire pit from the sear-marked plains of Jordan.

Inspiration: Genesis 19

Welcoming committee

The two angels arrived at Sodom during the night and encountered a man sitting at the city gate.

When Lot saw the two men approaching, he bowed low to the ground. “Please, masters,” he said. “Come stay the night with your servant and wash your feet. You can get up early and be on your way if you wish.”

“No,” they said. “We’ll spend the night on the market square.”

Lot knew better than to let the men fend for themselves in Sodom after dark, so he pressed them until they relented and followed him home. He presented a feast before his guests, and seeing from their manner that they were righteous and noble, he served bread made without yeast to symbolize the purity of their assembly.

As they were turning in for the night, they heard the shouting of an approaching mob. All the men of Sodom, young and old, surrounded every side of Lot’s house and began rattling the walls.

“Where are your guests?” one of the Sodomites shouted. “Bring them out so we can give them a proper welcome.”

A roar of laughter followed, and the banging grew louder.

Lot went outside and latched the door behind him. He said, “Please, brothers, curb your evil for one night.”

The men advanced at the threshold and Lot’s back pressed hard against the door.

“I have two daughters,” he suggested in a panic. “They’re virgins, and you can do whatever you want with them. Please spare my guests, whom I have sworn to protect.”

One of the Sodomites reached and grabbed Lot by the nape of his neck. “Down, dog!” he said.

Lot faltered, and his knees crunched on the solid ground.

Another Sodomite chimed in. “This man came to Sodom as an outsider, and now he’s playing magistrate.”

Then another, “Suppose we tie you up naked and invent new ways to violate your laws.” And yet another, “That’ll teach him to judge us by his high moral standard.”

The crowd pressed harder, some clamoring for Lot’s tunic and others shaking the latch of the door.

Suddenly, the angels appeared from inside and pulled Lot back into the house and barred the door. Those who were clawing at the threshold were struck blind and could no longer find the latch.

Amid the deafening silence that followed, the mob dispersed in confusion, assisting the blind men back to their sordid dens.

Inspiration: Genesis 19

Salem’s visit

So Lot and his family settled at Sodom, where King Bera, along with the kings of Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela, was growing tired of paying tribute to Chedorlaomer, King of Elam.

Chedorlaomer and his band of loyal kings went down to the Valley of Siddim to quell the rebellion and to force tribute, if only by the tip of the sword.

The valley was peppered with tar pits. As Bera and the other rebel kings fled the imposing wrath of Elam, some fell prey to these holes while the rest found safety in the hills. Chedorlaomer went and claimed the spoils of Sodom and Gomorrah, including Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions.

One of the Sodomite rebels who escaped by the skin of his teeth fled to Mamre Oaks for help. When Abram learned of his nephew’s capture, he rallied all his blood relations together, those who had been trained in the art of war and the fledgling Hebron religion. They totaled 318 Hebrews, an impressive mob but a paltry turnout for a menacing army.

So Abram called on his allies, Mamre, Eshcol, and Aner, and together they pursued the armies of Chedorlaomer as far as Dan. There they hung back and regrouped. At nightfall, Abram ordered the men to divide their ranks and attack Elam at Hobah.

This strategy brought Chedorlaomer and his mighty armies to their knees. Abram rescued Lot and all his possessions. Although he was under no obligation, he liberated the Sodomite captives along with their goods as well.

Abram and his men were camped down at King’s Valley when the king of Sodom came out to meet him. Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, also came and presented refreshments of bread and wine to Abram and his men.

Melchizedek blessed Abram, saying, “God Most High, maker of all things, blesses you, Abram. May God Most High be blessed for delivering your enemies to you.”

As a token of his gratitude, Abram gave King Melchizedek a tenth of all the spoils of war.

King Bera of Sodom pulled Abram aside and said, “As long as you’re divvying up the spoils, give me the people, and you can have the goods.”

Abram grimaced. In a sharp tone, he answered, “I swore to my Lord, God Most High, maker of all things, that I’d not take a single thread or shoe. I’ll not have it said by anyone, ‘I have made Abram rich.’”

The king slumped, and Abram left him in a blank stare.

Abram concluded the kings’ conference. “I’ll take nothing except what my men have eaten. Let my allies, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

When they had finished dividing everything, the men disbursed.

Inspiration: Genesis 14

Parting ways

Abram now had an uncounted inventory of gold, silver, and livestock. He and Sarai, along with his nephew Lot resumed their circuit of travel, making their way back around to Shechem, where God first promised Abram he’d bring forth blessed nations from his family. The first altar he had built remained unblemished, so he conversed with God there in the evenings.

Lot was also getting wealthy, and soon the land couldn’t support both estates. The shepherds of both clans bickered more frequently, but when Lot’s herders started a turf war against the other, Abram intervened.

He met with his nephew by a creek one day. The smell of sun-soaked soil and rock was pleasant, and the water trickling over the pebbles altered their otherwise collectively foul mood. “Look,” Abram said, his jaw set,  “I’m not going to fight with you, and I’m certainly not going to allow our herders to go to blows. We’re all family here.”

Abram put an arm around Lot and gave him a quarter turn from where he stood. “Elevate your gaze, man. All this land is ours,” he said, making a sweeping gesture across the vast horizon. “Let’s agree that if you go east, I’ll go west. If you go west, I’ll go east.”

Lot looked around, his eyes narrowed. To the east, he saw the lush plains of Jordan, with her natural irrigation systems and cascading rivers, reminiscent of the fables of Eden.

“I’ll go east,” Lot said, biting his lip.

“And so it will be,” Abram concluded.

Lot spread his estate among the cities of the plains. He purchased property within the city limits of Sodom, a town known for its pride, laziness, and sexual appetite.

Abram moved westward, bringing his people and possessions to the beating heart of Canaan.

“Look up from the spot you’re standing on,” God said. “Look north, south, east, and west. These wide, open spaces will be yours forever.” And he promised, “I’ll make your children as numerous as the stars.”

The more he heard the promise, the more God added to it, and the more real it seemed. Abram settled down in Hebron at a place called Mamre Oaks where he built another altar to await the fruition of all that God had promised him.

Inspiration: Genesis 13

Abram’s call

The brawny shepherd hoisted himself onto the peak of the highest hill in Haran and surveyed the modern trading mecca. On the horizon, an imposing castle of great basaltic blocks overshadowed the temple of the moon-god.

From Shem’s family line had come the so-called Semites, and one such shepherd, Abram, considered the Babylonian city of Ur his first home.

He and his wife Sarai had migrated north to the sprawling metropolis of Haran with his father’s tribe.

As Abram stood overlooking the vast expanse of Haran, the ancient Semitic legend rang in his ears.

Canaan will bow to Shem.

Then God suddenly spoke.

“Take your herds and head south. You’ll settle in a place I’ve designated for you, and for the fulfillment of a promise I’m making to save all humankind.”

Abram listened as God’s voice echoed in his dreams.

“You’ll become a nation of glory,” God told him, “blessed and renowned. Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed. Because of your dominion, Abram of Ur, every family in the world will have reason to celebrate.”

Abram took God at his word. When he was seventy-five years old, he straightened his spine, packed his bags, and loaded up his wife, his nephew Lot, their livestock, and all the servants they had acquired in Haran. Together they journeyed voluntarily into dust-swirled chaos.

Traveling through Canaan, they stopped at Moreh Grove in Shechem. God said, “This will be the land of your children.”

Abram had no children and knew his wife was barren, but he built an altar anyway, willing to stretch himself beyond his personal limits, believing that God’s word was His bond.

From Shechem, he and his entourage continued trekking south, living off the fruit and fat of the land. All along the route, Abram would order his surroundings by building one altar after another. His confidence was a magnificent stone castle in its own right, and his resolve to take possession of a new kingdom was fueled by a God who would show up indiscriminately to repeat his promise of wide, open spaces and endless descendants.

Inspiration: Genesis 10-12; I Chronicles 1