Who was Lot in the Bible?

Lot was the grandson of Terah and the nephew of Abraham. Terah had three sons: Abraham, Nahor, and Haran. Haran fathered Lot but then died unexpectedly, so Lot was taken in by Terah and Abraham (Genesis 11:27–32). When Terah set out from their homeland of Ur to go to Canaan, Abraham and Lot went with him. Instead of reaching Canaan, the family settled in Haran. Eventually, God called Abraham to leave that land and continue the journey to Canaan. Abraham obeyed and Lot went along with him (Genesis 12:1–4).

By this time, Lot was fully grown and owned his own flocks and livestock. Both he and Abraham settled between Bethel and Ai, but the land there could not support both their households. So Abraham decided they should separate and allowed Lot to choose which land he wanted to claim. Lot chose the Jordan Valley next to the river and close to the city of Sodom, presumably so that he would have the benefits of city life as well as fertile land (Genesis 13:5–11). Unfortunately, this choice backfired when Lot got caught up in a war between the local kings. The king of Sodom was defeated and Lot and his family were captured as part of the plunder (Genesis 14:11–12). When Abraham heard of Lot's predicament, he rallied his own men, defeated the enemy king, and rescued Lot and his family (Genesis 14:14–16).

Later, angels came to Sodom to bear witness to the city's sinful ways. When these strangers entered the city, Lot invited them into his house, offering them a safe place to stay in the dangerous city. The men of Sodom came to Lot's house demanding that he release his guests so they could rape them. Lot begged them to stop their wicked ways and instead offered his daughters. The men of Sodom then attacked Lot, but the guests pulled Lot safely inside with his daughters and then struck the other men with blindness (Genesis 19:1–11).

Having witnessed the wickedness of the city, the angels warned Lot to take his family and flee the city. God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, as He'd earlier indicated to Abraham (Genesis 18). Lot's future sons-in-law refused to leave and Lot lingered in the city. Therefore the angels took Lot, his wife, and his daughters by the hand and rushed them outside the city, telling them to escape to the hills. Lot asked if he could, instead, go to the nearby city of Zoar. The angels agreed. When Lot and his family reached Zoar, the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and sulfur. But Lot's wife looked back and was turned to a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:12–26). After losing his wife and watching Sodom and Gomorrah be destroyed, Lot was too afraid to settle in another city. Instead he chose to live in a cave in the hills (Genesis 19:30).

Lot's daughters, having lost their prospective husbands in Sodom and living in exile alone in the hills, decided to get their father drunk and use him to impregnate themselves. Thus, one daughter bore a son named Moab who became the father of the Moabites and the other daughter bore Ben-Ammi who became the father of the Ammonites (Genesis 19:31–38). When the Israelites made their way to the Promised Land they were instructed to spare both these tribes due to their shared ancestry and God's promise to Lot (Deuteronomy 2:9, 19).

Despite Lot's choosing the best land for himself, offering his daughters to rapists, and living in fear at the end of his life, he is remembered as a righteous man who grieved over the wickedness of the people of Sodom and tried to turn them from their ways (2 Peter 2:7–9). Peter points to Lot as an example of someone God rescued and calls believers to have hope that God will also rescue them as well. In Lot's story we see the effects of greed and how sinful environments can negatively influence us. But we also see the mercy and faithfulness of God.

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