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QUESTION: Re Lot & His Daughters’ Incest


I was reading a part of Bible  in Genesis where Lot’s daughters slept with their father and they had children – Ammonites and Moabites. That is disturbing. What is the meaning behind that? Did they go to Heaven?

You are right. This is disturbing. There are many disturbing things in the Bible. God wants to disturb us enough that we are shaken from our complacency and really seek to know His heart.

Lot, the nephew of Abraham, “pitched his tent toward Sodom” when Abraham offered to let him go where he would because the land was not able to support the vast herds of cattle they had between them. Lot saw that the plain of the Jordan was well watered, and chose to go in that direction, leaving his uncle to contend with more barren regions. (Genesis 13)

God blessed Abraham, but Lot ended up in Sodom, a city so wicked that God determined to destroy it. Ezekiel 16:49-50 gives the full reason for that decision. We usually think of Sodom only in terms of sodomy, the sin of homosexuality that is named for the city. You can read about this part of their sin in Genesis 19:5-10.

Lot does not acquit himself well in that episode either, as he offered his virgin daughters to that sex-crazed mob instead of the guests (messengers of God, or angels) the men of the city wanted to have sex with and to whom Lot gave lodging in his home.

It was the next day that these “men” from God practically dragged Lot and his daughters out of the city. His wife did not make it, as she looked back with yearning and turned into a pillar of salt.

Lot and the daughters eventually ended up in a cave where the final chapter of this ugly story took place. There, the daughters got their father drunk and slept with him. They became pregnant with sons who became the fathers of the two nations, Moab and Amnon.

Ever since, students of the Word of God have puzzled over this. Peter referred to Lot as a “righteous man” (2 Peter 2:7-8) because of Lot’s distress over the ungodliness of Sodom. But we wonder how could a righteous man (1) offer his daughters to the men of Sodom or (2) get so drunk he could impregnate his own daughters and not even know he had done it? We also wonder how his daughters could have concocted their plot to do this.

I wish I knew the answer to these questions, but I do not. I can make the following observations, however:

  • One of the “evidences” that the Bible is really from God and not man is that men would not likely include such disgusting stories about their heroes. This is not the only one. Abraham lied about his wife by saying she was his sister – to save his own life. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed to cover it up when Bathsheba was pregnant. God tells the truth about us, and the truth is not always pretty. The full story of my life is not pretty – and I suspect that if the full tale of your life were told, there would be some parts of it that you would not want anyone else to know, lest you be shamed.
  • One of the reasons for this is so that we can see how desperately all of us need a Savior, without whom none of us can find fellowship with our Creator.
  • Our choices and actions have consequences. Lot chose to pitch his tent toward Sodom. He took his family into that wicked city. The consequence was that his wife came to love the city and looked back. His daughters were tainted, as one writer said,” with “the scent of the city.” While God’s messengers brought them out of the city, they did not get the city out of Lot’s daughters. We need to be careful about choices we make that may affect our families in ways we have difficulty countering.
  • We do not know what finally happened to Lot and his unnamed daughters. Their sons became the progenitors of two nations, both of which were at times enemies of God’s chosen people. What will be their fate in eternity? We just do not know.

In spite of these things, we can know that our God is merciful and forgiving. Did Lot, once he realized what he had done, repent with bitter tears and beg God for His forgiveness? I like to think that he did – but I do not know. God is certainly capable of forgiving one for a sin, even as heinous as the one committed by Lot and his daughters.

This gives hope to us as well. Certainly, this should not encourage us to sin, thinking that we may blithely go out and sin in terrible ways and just trust God to forgive. That is a distortion of the good news of salvation in Christ (see Romans 3:7-8 & Romans 5:20 – 6:2). We can never say, though, that we have sinned so grievously we cannot find pardon in Christ. If Lot is spoken of as a righteous man, there is hope for all of us!

Does God approve of what Lot and his daughters did? No, He does not. Nor does He approve of many things I have done.

Will God’s disapproval of Lot’s actions keep Lot out of Heaven? If Lot persisted in his sinful ways without seeking God, then it well might keep him from Heaven. We need to remember, though, that God always seeks a way to bring the estranged person home (2 Samuel 14:14).

I hope that these few words may be of some help to you. If you would like to read further on this matter, you may find some excellent comments at http://www.zianet.com/maxey/reflx292.htm.


10 Responses

  1. I am on this website About Christians,and it all started when i said the bible was one the most contradictory books ever written,because there are thousands of people(Including Scholars)that disagree about thousands of things in the bible. The alarm bells went off when i said that God allowed Incest. I was just curious one day when i thought about this. I asked who was the other woman in the bible who was not related to Adam and Eve to avoid incest.When the answer came back that God allowed it earlier on, then he forbid it not long after.I was in shock. I stumbled on your site,and i read your column. I agreed with what you said,and you spoke in simple terms that i could understand. I am a simple man,and lack the knowledge to understand, especially the Old Testament. A priest ages ago said just read the New Testament.
    I am 63yrs old,and i left the Catholic Church just last year. Jesus opened my eyes to see, what they were all about. I live alone,and i am bad with my nerves. Now can you tell me that God allowed incest with the prove to back it up,that God said this?

    • Anthony,

      Thank you for your comment.The only alternative to allowing incest in the very early days after creation would be for God to have created an entire population of people. If He started with one couple, then their children would have to have married each other to be able to have another generation.

      The ban on incest that is in the Levitical code in the time of Moses comes many hundreds, or even thousands, of years after creation. That ban is more for medical reasons than as an inherent moral issue. When people “inbreed,” many genetic problems can follow. These were not an issue in the generations soon after creation. However as time went on, the human genome (like everything that is material) began to deteriorate. You see, when there are mutations, (contrary to what is demanded by the theory of evolution) things happen to either make the mutant die or at the least to be weaker than the parent. You see, when you make a random change in a highly complex system, which the human body is, you do not improve it. You either make it inoperable (so it miscarries before birth or dies soon after birth) or at best makes the offspring less fit for survival. When parents have the same mutant gene conceive, the likelihood of their offspring having the mutation are much, much higher.

      So, to avoid this danger, by the time of Moses God banned certain relationships in ways that we call “incest”. There is, also, another form of incest that is not with a blood-relative. This would involve a marriage (or other sexual relations) among relatives by marriage. There would be no genetic problems by such a marriage, but there would be relationship problems. Even at a time when polygamy was allowed, marriage to two sisters or to a mother and her daughter or to the daughter of your grandchildren would have presented tangled relationship about like we see on some the “soap operas” on T.V. today. These are not healthy in any way, not meaning physical health but health of the family unit and of the emotional stability of everyone concerned. If a mother and daughter or two sisters must compete for the attention of their common husband, tragic consequences will almost always follow. For an example of this in the Bible, read the story of Jacob and his two wives Leah and Rachel who were sisters. You can find this in Genesis chapters 29 – 34, & 37. The rivalry between the sisters translated into rivalry between their sons.

      • Thanks for your email first, to my comment.
        I have just recently found this out from exactly what you have said,but i am on this site called About Christians,and they are all jumping on me about this topic,saying that God did not allow incest.
        I researched the Topic using Google,and the answers are there,but these people,just will not accept these answers.
        I also said that the bible is one of the most contradictory books ever to be written.
        A simple case i put to them was the two versions about Judas 1. Judas hung himself from a tree. 2. That his bowels gushed open all over.
        I said therefore one is wrong and the other right. Therefore it is a contradiction, to me anyway. I said evan scholars cannot agree with thousands of things in the bible. Would you agree with this.
        I trust you straight away, with what you have written.
        I am not very good at finding the meanings that are in the bible.
        I am learning that from you,that you are gifted to know these issues that happened in the bible. I am just a simple man.
        Thanks for your help to try to make me understand this.

      • So based on your doctrine God changed his moral code? I thought God was an unchanging God. I thought sin was the transgression of God’s law. So, according to you, god didn’t have a law to begin with and only decided he needed one when people began to do things he never called sin to to begin with. Does that about sum it up?

        According to you,

        “The ban on incest that is in the Levitical code in the time of Moses comes many hundreds, or even thousands, of years after creation. That ban is more for medical reasons than as an inherent moral issue.”

        Where is this stated in scripture? if it’s not, who told you this? Do you have a direct line to God? Did God share this tidbit with you alone?

        You claim,

        “So, to avoid this danger, by the time of Moses God banned certain relationships in ways that we call “incest”.”

        The danger of mutating genomes. Hmm? Where at in scripture did you find this?

        Where at in all of scripture is father daughter sex called incest, or sin for that matter? Leviticus 18 is the only place in scripture that deals with this issue and I assure you that father daughter sex isn’t prohibited in that text, any where.

        Where do you get off calling Lot a sinner based on your own views of what is incest?

      • I would like to add that if God’s law was non-existent before Moses why was Judah practicing the Levirate marriage in regards to his daughter in law Tamar? Why do we read of Cain and Able offering sacrifices to God? When Tamar was found to be pregnant Judah called for her burning, per God’s law. The very one you claim didn’t yet exist.

        The apostle Paul tells us that sin is the transgression of God’s law. You claim that law didn’t exist prior to Moses. That said sin could not have existed prior to Moses being given the law. Therefore all peoples who lived prior to this law were guiltless of sin. However, you’ll claim that they were guilty of sin through Adam’s transgression. As Paul does. I agree that Paul taught this as well. However, if sin is the transgression of God’s law, then that law must have existed prior to Sinai.

        I would be indebted to you if you could answer both my questions.

  2. Most of the apparent contradictions are not really contradictions when you research them more fully. For example, the one about Judas.

    And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:5)

    (Now this man acquired a field with the reward of his wickedness, and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out. (Acts 1:18)

    Where did he hang himself? The text does not say. From where did he fall headlong? Again, the text does not say. Suppose he hanged himself from a high tower – and the rope broke? Would it be possible that both statements are accurate, but that each only tells a part of the story?

    In my study, most of the alleged contradictions are not really that; the story is told more than once – and each provides separate details. These are not contradictions; they are different perspectives on the same event.

    I understand what you mean about people not wanting to accept what the Bible says. The incest that I pointed to, specifically the children of Adam and Eve, had to be that way (although the Bible does not actually say that they married brother & sister), unless God created more than one man and one woman. Of course, Genesis 1 & 2 do not say he created more than one couple. In fact, it speaks of the man and the woman – as if there were only one of each. In fact, the word Adam simply means Man – and Eve’s first name was Woman (see Genesis 2:23). She was later called Eve, which means Mother (see Genesis 3:20).

    However, the “incest” of those early days was not sin, for God had not given instructions about whom you could marry. When the number of people grew large, then (for the two reasons I suggested earlier) God did give instructions that made some marriages incestuous.

    • In short we do not exactly know the facts about what Judas did.
      I cannot lap this around my head,has you say they are not contradictions they are different perspectives on the same event.How do we know that,and you say that the text does not say.
      How can you get different perspectives of anything that is in the bible.
      Has the word contradict means Deny-Be at Variance, or Inconsistent. To me this applies in Judas`s case,and also in many other cases in the bible.
      You mention later on that God allowed incest,and i agree with you.
      The site i am on, i said God did not allow incest,and i was attacked verbally from three people saying that where does it say that,and that i should be ashamed of myself to say such a thing. So what you and me agree on they do not, evan that it is in the bible. So again we are contradicting ourselves,or they are.
      So are we right and they are wrong,if so then one of us is contradicting each other from that site,and what we agree with each other on this site.
      I am just a simple man,and that you, i can see you are very well versed on the bible,and you know what you are talking about.
      You are a scholar,and i know that scholars contradict each other,they themselves say this to one another,and use the word contradict Why?

  3. I can best explain what I meant with a story about 4 blind men who went to see an elephant.

    The first one reached out his hand and grasped the tail of the elephant. He decided the elephant was like a rope. The second one first touched the elephant’s front leg – and thought it was like a tree trunk. One touched the side of the elephant – and believed it was like a house. The fourth man felt of the elephant’s trunk and his thought was that the elephant was like a snake.

    Each of them was “right” but not one of them had the full story about the elephant. Each was “right” about one piece of the story of the elephant.

    I suggested to you one scenario where Judas could have indeed hanged himself and also fallen headlong and burst open so that his bowels gushed out. After all, it is entirely possible that he had been hanging long enough to have begun decaying – or even to have had vultures begin to pick at his body. If the rope broke – or someone decided to cut it down and dispose of it – he could easily have fallen and his guts spill out. To say that one of those statements makes the other impossible is to go beyond the evidence that we have.

    For two statements to be a contradiction would, as I understand it, mean that both could not possibly be true. No where does the Bible claim to tell us everything. In fact, it says the opposite. Consider, for example, this statement at the end of the gospel of John:

    Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:25, ESV)

    With not every detail being recorded, when we begin to “guess” and “speculate” about what is NOT said, even honest and honorable men can disagree. When men, however, become so wedded to their guesses and speculations that they insist that what they guess and speculate is as important as what God has revealed to us, something is terribly wrong.

    After all, Deuteronomy 29:29 does say “The secret things belong to God, but the things He has revealed belong to you and your children that you may do them.” God has given us what we need to be able to know Him and His will for us. We may speculate about many other things – and we may even convince ourselves and some others that our speculations are true – but we cannot know those things about which we speculate. Furthermore, they do not become true just because we think they are true.

    • The first story about the elephant i can pull apart.
      When you talked about Judas again, i can get it now Jesus has opened my eyes i see what you mean now,yes i can see all this could of happened now. I sat and stared at the Judas scenario for quite some time. The words “Honest” and “Honourable” also stuck out has you wrote further on i could see what you meant.
      I think thats where all the confusion could happen when you mentioned about John`s gospel.
      I evan went downstairs and had a cup of tea,thinking about it.
      You do not know what you have done to me that Jesus has used you has a tool, to make me see. This is very profound, now i know there are no contradictions in the Bible thanks to you Jerry. I am still stunned that this topic has been revealed to me. The other big thing is you could have been like the people on that site,and called me,and left me with an insult,but you did not. I am still amazed by this. God bless you Jerry for helping me see the light.

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