Genesis 19:1-38 . LOT'S ENTERTAINMENT.
1. there came two angels--most probably two of those that had been with Abraham, commissioned to execute the divine judgment against Sodom.
Lot sat in the gate of Sodom--In Eastern cities it is the market, the seat of justice, of social intercourse and amusement, especially a favorite lounge in the evenings, the arched roof affording a pleasant shade.
2. turn in, I pray you . . . tarry all night--offer of the same generous hospitalities as described in Genesis 18:2-8 , and which are still spontaneously practised in the small towns.
And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night--Where there are no inns and no acquaintance, it is not uncommon for travellers to sleep in the street wrapped up in their cloaks.
3. entered into his house--On removing to the plain, Lot intended at first to live in his tent apart from the people [ Genesis 13:12 ]. But he was gradually drawn in, dwelt in the city, and he and his family were connected with the citizens by marriage ties.
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.
12, 13. Hast thou here any besides? . . . we will destroy this place--Apostolic authority has declared Lot was "a righteous man" ( 2 Peter 2:8 ), at bottom good, though he contented himself with lamenting the sins that he saw, instead of acting on his own convictions, and withdrawing himself and family from such a sink of corruption. But favor was shown him: and even his bad relatives had, for his sake, an offer of deliverance, which was ridiculed and spurned ( 2 Peter 3:4 ).
15-17. The kindly interest the angels took in the preservation of Lot is beautifully displayed. But he "lingered." Was it from sorrow at the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years? Or was it that his benevolent heart was paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis? This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that would have been fatal but for the friendly urgency of the angel.
18, 19. Lot said . . . Oh, not so, my Lord . . . I cannot escape to the mountain--What a strange want of faith and fortitude, as if He who had interfered for his rescue would not have protected Lot in the mountain solitude.
21. See, I have accepted thee concerning this . . . also--His request was granted him, the prayer of faith availed, and to convince him, from his own experience, that it would have been best and safest at once to follow implicitly the divine directions.
22. Haste . . . for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither--The ruin of Sodom was suspended till he was secure. What care God does take of His people ( Revelation 7:3 )! What a proof of the love which God bore to a good though weak man!
24. Then the Lord rained . . . brimstone and fire from . . . heaven--God, in accomplishing His purposes, acts immediately or mediately through the agency of means; and there are strong grounds for believing that it was in the latter way He effected the overthrow of the cities of the plain--that it was, in fact, by a volcanic eruption. The raining down of fire and brimstone from heaven is perfectly accordant with this idea since those very substances, being raised into the air by the force of the volcano, would fall in a fiery shower on the surrounding region. This view seems countenanced by Job [ Job 1:16 , 18:15 ]. Whether it was miraculously produced, or the natural operation employed by God, it is not of much consequence to determine: it was a divine judgment, foretold and designed for the punishment of those who were sinners exceedingly.
26. Lot was accompanied by his wife and two daughters. But whether it was from irresistible curiosity or perturbation of feeling, or that she was about to return to save something, his wife lingered, and while thus disobeying the parting counsel, "to look not back, nor stay in all the plain" [ Genesis 19:17 ], the torrent of liquid lava enveloped her so that she became the victim of her supine indolence or sinful rashness.
27. Abraham gat up early in the morning, &c.--Abraham was at this time in Mamre, near Hebron, and a traveller last year verified the truth of this passage. "From the height which overlooks Hebron, where the patriarch stood, the observer at the present day has an extensive view spread out before him towards the Dead Sea. A cloud of smoke rising from the plain would be visible to a person at Hebron now, and could have been, therefore, to Abraham as he looked toward Sodom on the morning of its destruction by God" [HACKETT]. It must have been an awful sight, and is frequently alluded to in Scripture ( Deuteronomy 29:23 , Isaiah 13:19 , Jude 1:7 ). "The plain which is now covered by the Salt or Dead Sea shows in the great difference of level between the bottoms of the northern and southern ends of the lake--the latter being thirteen feet and the former thirteen hundred--that the southern end was of recent formation, and submerged at the time of the fall of the cities" [LYNCH].
29. when God destroyed the cities, &c.--This is most welcome and instructive after so painful a narrative. It shows if God is a "consuming fire" to the wicked [ Deuteronomy 4:24 , Hebrews 12:29 ], He is the friend of the righteous. He "remembered" the intercessions of Abraham, and what confidence should not this give us that He will remember the intercessions of a greater than Abraham in our behalf.