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What is up with Lot?

Discussion in 'Judaism DIR' started by Dingbat, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. Dingbat

    Dingbat Avatar of Brittania

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    Hello everyone Tarheeler suggested I bring my questions here and I figured I would ask about clarification of the story of Lot. I do not consider myself a complete dullard but I feel like I am missing something in regard to the narrative of Lot.

    For example I do not understand the reasoning of Lot offering up his daughters to be raped while sparing the messengers from God. Many have used this as a claim against homosexuality but that doesn't fly with me because I highly doubt the Lord considers rape a lesser sin than Homosexuality if he even considers it a sin in the first place. The only thing I could come up with is that they were messengers of God but that still doesn't explain Lot offering his daughters to the mob.

    I do understand or at least think I do about Lot's wife being killed. If you take it literally it is because she disobeyed God's commandments or if you take it figuratively she was still in the midset of the people of Sodom and Gomorra.

    Why do they leave the next town out of fear of the same thing happening? There is no indication of such behavior and it is rather glossed over. All I can assume is there is some tale railing against urbanization and the advent of agriculture.

    Finally how is what Lot's daughters do to him which is basically rape any better than what happened in the two destroyed towns? At this point it seems to completely defeat any point the narrative was trying to portray or I am obviously missing it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    Lot's story is problematic, there's no question. He is not a particularly bright specimen, and there's no way he comes off well in the story.

    In any case, the sin of Sodom is not homosexuality, as some non-Jews claim it is. The sin of Sodom is utter lack of respect for other people, and the institutionalization of cruelty as the law of the place. Or so the Rabbis of the Talmud teach us.

    Lot himself may have been better than his neighboring Sodomites in that he wished to take in the angels as guests, rather than abandon them to the mercies of the townspeople; but he wasn't much better, since offering his daughters up for rape is neither charitable nor kind. What it seems like is that Lot realizes that he's supposed to be a good man, but either by inherent stupidity, or-- more likely-- by moral erosion after having lived in Sodom for so long, he simply doesn't know how. So he tries to do the right thing by rescuing the angels, but mucks it up by then offering up his daughters to the crowd.

    If there is a lesson here, it's probably to be careful of who you associate with: because if a basically decent person lives among wicked people for long enough, their wickedness will rub off on him, and he will lose track of how to be decent. A wiser person chooses to live amongst decent people, knowing that his decency and theirs will reinforce each other. It is only the fool who lives amongst the wicked without care or caution, presuming that their wickedness cannot or will not touch him.

    But what his daughters do to him is nothing but poetic justice. Just as he would have abandoned his own flesh and blood to rape, so he himself is raped by his own flesh and blood. This story is also a national polemic: the two children that Lot's daughters have by him are the forefathers of the two nations who were the chiefest competitors of the ancient Israelites, the Moabites and the Amonites. A story that makes the ancestors of those nations the illegitimate products of incest-- and incestuous rape of a man by daughters, done out of sheer stupidity, no less-- is great insult to them, and thus a strong jab at their reputations.

    As for Lot's wife, it's unclear why she died. Some say that it was because she could not let go of the culture of Sodom, and her "looking back" was a desire to preserve that culture of cruelty. Some say that it was because even when the wicked are destroyed, we should not watch it happening, because while justice may demand their executions, no one ought to glory in death, or gloat over someone else's destruction, even if deserved. Others say that it was not a punishment, but simply that in turning back, she slowed, and the rain of sulfur caught her, and so she died. And there are other explanations as well. But none are universally agreed upon.

    As for why he would not stay in Tzo'ar, the usual answer I have heard is that all the towns nearby to Sodom were contaminated to one degree or another with the same evilness of culture. Tzo'ar was less bad than most of them, enough that God would preserve it while Lot was there, if not longer. But they were not paragons, and Lot reasonably feared that they were not sufficiently less wicked than the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah for God to hold back finishing what He started there forever.

    It is a problematic story all around, and there are a large number of midrashim that have been written around it, offering ideas and speculation about the Sodomite culture and Lot's own failings.
     
    #2 Levite, Jul 14, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012
  3. BSM1

    BSM1 What? Me worry?

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    One problem I have with the story is where did the daughters get all that wine?
     
  4. Dingbat

    Dingbat Avatar of Brittania

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    Thank you so much for the response Levite it pretty much falls in line with what I thought. I always thought Lot was kind of a ******* but Christians and Muslims do not seem to take that view. It is rather nice to see the Jews see him as the idiot he was. Honestly that cleared up the story better than I could have ever hoped for.

    My thoughts as well BSM1 seems they were holding out and doing quite well for refugees.:p
     
  5. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    Presumably they took it with them. Wine was extremely strong in the ancient times, which is why it usually had to be drunk mixed with a fair amount of water. So one assumes they wouldn't have needed an inordinate amount to get him good and drunk a couple of times.
     
  6. Absolute Zero

    Absolute Zero fon memories

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    Wait so Lots daughters had sex with him ? Wouldnt God do something about that ? So Lot was a.dumb *** ?
     
  7. Levite

    Levite Higher and Higher

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    Yeah, it's in the nineteenth chapter of Genesis.

    And God didn't do anything about it, probably because it's too minor an incident for God to personally intervene in the world because of it.

    And while Lot may or may not have been trying his best to be a decent person, he was, indeed, a dumb a**.
     
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