When Angels Arrived in Sodom

The Sodom Series, #3

God told Abraham He had heard a grievious outcry against the people of Sodom. The Lord sends two angels to investigate.

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground.
–Genesis 19:1 NRSV

Disguised as ordinary traveling men, the two angelic visitors need lodging. They meet Abraham’s nephew Lot at the city gateway, which indicates that Sodom was fortified—it was surrounded by walls.

Ancient city gateways also served as administrative and judicial centers where legal matters were discussed and prosecuted. Lot may have been courting Sodom’s ruling council.

Regardless of his position, how did Lot act when he encountered these sojourning strangers?

Lot shows the strangers righteous hospitality

1 … When Lot saw [the two angels], he rose to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2 He said, “Please, my lords, turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you can rise early and go on your way.” They said, “No; we will spend the night in the square.”
3 But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.
–Genesis 19:1–3 NRSV

When Lot sees the visitors, he rises and bows to them as Abraham did (Gen. 18:2). The word means to prostrate oneself (Strong’s, H7812).

Lot shows these visitors the respect and hospitality his uncle offered them earlier. He addresses them deferentially as “my lords” and calls himself their “servant” as Abraham did. He asks them to sojourn at his home, where he will refresh them and give them lodging for the night.

They decline, saying they want to spend the night in the public square. “Where there are no inns and no acquaintance, it is not uncommon for travelers to sleep in the street wrapped up in their cloaks” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Bible Commentary, Gen. 19:2).

Lot, however, insists they come home with him, perhaps because the open square is an unsafe place after dark or he knows they will find no hospitality elsewhere.

“Urged them strongly” is the Hebrew word pasar, meaning “to peck at, press, push” stubbornly (Strong’s, H6484). Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible translates it: “he became exceeding urgent with them.”

So the two angels accompanied him home.

As his uncle did earlier, Lot prepares a banquet for them. We see more divine hospitality—righteousness in action—Near Eastern style.

It is Lot’s hospitality to strangers that sets him apart from the other citizens of Sodom. This is important to understand the rest of the story.

Meanwhile, outside the walls of Lot’s house, trouble is brewing.

What happens to the divine visitors? We’ll find out next time.

More information:

To read the full story, get my book, The Sin of Sodom: What the Bible Really Says About Why God Destroyed the Cities of the Plain, for Kindle and in trade paperback.
The Sin of Sodom cover

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