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The Evil City of Sodom

19 That evening the two angels[a] arrived in Sodom, while Lot was sitting near the city gate.[b] When Lot saw them, he got up, bowed down low, and said, “Gentlemen, I am your servant. Please come to my home. You can wash your feet, spend the night, and be on your way in the morning.”

They told him, “No, we’ll spend the night in the city square.” But Lot kept insisting, until they finally agreed and went home with him. He baked some bread,[c] cooked a meal, and they ate.

Before Lot and his guests could go to bed, every man in Sodom, young and old, came and stood outside his house and started shouting, “Where are your visitors? Send them out, so we can have sex with them!”

Lot went outside and shut the door behind him. Then he said, “Friends, please don’t do such a terrible thing! I have two daughters who have never been married. I’ll bring them out, and you can do what you want with them. But don’t harm these men. They are guests in my home.”

“Don’t get in our way,” the crowd answered. “You’re an outsider. What right do you have to order us around? We’ll do worse things to you than we’re going to do to them.”

The crowd kept arguing with Lot. Finally, they rushed toward the door to break it down. 10 But the two angels in the house reached out and pulled Lot safely inside. 11 Then they struck everyone in the crowd blind, and none of them could even find the door.

12-13 The two angels said to Lot, “The Lord has heard many terrible things about the people of Sodom, and he has sent us here to destroy the city. Take your family and leave. Take every relative you have in the city, as well as the men your daughters are going to marry.”

14 Lot went to the men who were engaged to his daughters and said, “Hurry and get out of here! The Lord is going to destroy this city.” But they thought he was joking, and they laughed at him.

15 Early the next morning the two angels tried to make Lot hurry and leave. They said, “Take your wife and your two daughters and get out of here as fast as you can! If you don’t, every one of you will be killed when the Lord destroys the city.” 16 At first, Lot just stood there. But the Lord wanted to save him. So the angels took Lot, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city. 17 When they were outside, one of the angels said, “Run for your lives! Don’t even look back. And don’t stop in the valley. Run to the hills, where you will be safe.”

18-19 Lot answered, “You have done us a great favor, sir. You have saved our lives, but please don’t make us go to the hills. That’s too far away. The city will be destroyed before we can get there, and we will be killed when it happens. 20 There’s a town near here. It’s only a small place, but my family and I will be safe, if you let us go there.”

21 “All right, go there,” he answered. “I won’t destroy that town. 22 Hurry! Run! I can’t do anything until you are safely there.”

The town was later called Zoar[d] because Lot had said it was small.

Sodom and Gomorrah Are Destroyed

23 The sun was coming up as Lot reached the town of Zoar, 24 and the Lord sent burning sulfur down like rain on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He destroyed those cities and everyone who lived in them, as well as their land and the trees and grass that grew there.

26 On the way, Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a block of salt.

27 That same morning Abraham got up and went to the place where he had stood and spoken with the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and saw smoke rising from all over the land—it was like a flaming furnace.

29 When God destroyed the cities of the valley where Lot lived, he remembered his promise to Abraham and saved Lot from the terrible destruction.

Moab and Ammon

30 Lot was afraid to stay on in Zoar. So he took his two daughters and moved to a cave in the hill country. 31 One day his older daughter said to her sister, “Our father is old, and there are no men anywhere for us to marry. 32 Let’s get our father drunk! Then we can sleep with him and have children.” 33 That night they got their father drunk, and the older daughter got in bed with him, but he was too drunk even to know she was there.

34 The next day the older daughter said to her sister, “I slept with my father last night. We’ll get him drunk again tonight, so you can go to bed with him, and we can each have a child.” 35 That night they got their father drunk, and this time the younger sister slept with him. But once again he was too drunk even to know she was there.

36 That’s how Lot’s two daughters had their children. 37 The older daughter named her son Moab,[e] and he is the ancestor of the Moabites. 38 The younger daughter named her son Benammi,[f] and he is the ancestor of the Ammonites.

Abraham and Sarah at Gerar

20 Abraham moved to the Southern Desert, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur. Later he went to Gerar, and while there he told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him. But God came to Abimelech in a dream and said, “You have taken a married woman, and for this you will die!”

4-5 Abimelech said to the Lord, “Don’t kill me! I haven’t slept with Sarah. Didn’t they say they were brother and sister? I am completely innocent.”

God spoke to Abimelech in another dream and said:

I know you are innocent. That’s why I kept you from sleeping with Sarah and doing anything wrong. Her husband is a prophet. Let her go back to him, and his prayers will save you from death. But if you don’t return her, you and all your people will die.

Early the next morning Abimelech sent for his officials, and when he told them what had happened, they were frightened. Abimelech then called in Abraham and said:

Look what you’ve done to us! What have I ever done to you? Why did you make me and my nation guilty of such a terrible sin? 10 What were you thinking when you did this?

11 Abraham answered:

I did it because I didn’t think any of you respected God, and I was sure that someone would kill me to get my wife. 12 Besides, she is my half sister. We have the same father, but different mothers. 13 When God made us leave my father’s home and start wandering, I told her, “If you really love me, you will tell everyone that I am your brother.”

14 Abimelech gave Abraham some sheep, cattle, and slaves. He sent Sarah back 15 and told Abraham that he could settle anywhere in his country. 16 Then he said to Sarah, “I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver as proof to everyone that you have done nothing wrong.”[g]

17-18 Meanwhile, God had kept Abimelech’s wife and slaves from having children. But Abraham prayed, and God let them start having children again.

Sarah Has a Son

21 The Lord was good to Sarah and kept his promise. Although Abraham was very old, Sarah had a son exactly at the time God had said. Abraham named his son Isaac, and when the boy was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, just as the Lord had commanded.

Abraham was a hundred years old when Isaac was born, and Sarah said, “God has made me laugh.[h] Now everyone will laugh with me. Who would have dared to tell Abraham that someday I would have a child? But in his old age, I have given him a son.”

The time came when Sarah no longer had to nurse Isaac,[i] and on that day Abraham gave a big feast.

Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away

9-10 One day, Sarah noticed Hagar’s son Ishmael[j] playing,[k] and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that Egyptian slave woman and her son! I don’t want him to inherit anything. It should all go to my son.”[l]

11 Abraham was worried about Ishmael. 12 But God said, “Abraham, don’t worry about your slave woman and the boy. Just do what Sarah tells you. Isaac will inherit your family name, 13 but the son of the slave woman is also your son, and I will make his descendants into a great nation.”

14 Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

They wandered around in the desert near Beersheba, 15 and after they had run out of water, Hagar put her son under a bush. 16 Then she sat down a long way off, because she could not bear to watch him die. And she cried bitterly.

17 When God heard the boy crying, the angel of God called out to Hagar from heaven and said, “Hagar, why are you worried? Don’t be afraid. I have heard your son crying. 18 Help him up and hold his hand, because I will make him the father of a great nation.” 19 Then God let her see a well. So she went to the well and filled the skin with water, then gave some to her son.

20-21 God blessed Ishmael, and as the boy grew older, he became an expert with his bow and arrows. He lived in the Paran Desert, and his mother chose an Egyptian woman for him to marry.

A Peace Treaty

22 About this time Abimelech and his army commander Phicol said to Abraham, “God blesses everything you do! 23 Now I want you to promise in the name of God that you will always be loyal to me and my descendants, just as I have always been loyal to you in this land where you have lived as a foreigner.” 24 And so, Abraham promised.

25 One day, Abraham told Abimelech, “Some of your servants have taken over one of my wells.”

26 “This is the first I’ve heard about it,” Abimelech replied. “Why haven’t you said something before? I don’t have any idea who did it.” 27 Abraham gave Abimelech some sheep and cattle, and then the two men made a peace treaty.

28 Abraham separated seven female lambs from his flock of sheep, 29 and Abimelech asked, “Why have you done this?”

30 Abraham told him, “I want you to accept these seven lambs as proof that I dug this well.” 31 So they called the place Beersheba,[m] because they made a treaty there.

32 When the treaty was completed, Abimelech and his army commander Phicol went back to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree[n] in Beersheba and worshiped the eternal Lord God. 34 Then Abraham lived a long time as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines.

Footnotes

  1. 19.1 two angels: The two men of 18.22.
  2. 19.1 near the city gate: In a large area where the people would gather for community business and for meeting with friends.
  3. 19.3 bread: The Hebrew text has “bread without yeast,” which could be fixed quickly when guests came without warning.
  4. 19.22 Zoar: In Hebrew “Zoar” sounds like “small.”
  5. 19.37 Moab: In Hebrew “Moab” sounds like “from (my) father.”
  6. 19.38 Benammi: In Hebrew “Benammi” means “son of my relative.”
  7. 20.16 as proof. . . wrong: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  8. 21.6 God has made me laugh: In Hebrew “Isaac” sounds like “laugh.”
  9. 21.8 no longer had to nurse Isaac: In ancient Israel mothers nursed their children until they were about three years old. Then there was a family celebration.
  10. 21.9,10 Ishmael: The son of Abraham and Hagar, who was Sarah’s slave woman (see 16.1-16).
  11. 21.9,10 playing: Hebrew; one ancient translation “playing with her son Isaac.”
  12. 21.9,10 Get rid. . . son: When Abraham accepted Ishmael as his son, it gave Ishmael the right to inherit part of what Abraham owned. But slaves who were given their freedom lost the right to inherit such property.
  13. 21.31 Beersheba: Meaning “Well of Good Fortune” or “Peace Treaty Well.”
  14. 21.33 tamarisk tree: A tall shade tree that has deep roots and needs little water.

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