Genesis 19:30-38

30 Now Lot went up out of Zoar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to live in Zoar. So he lived in a cave with his two daughters. 31 And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 33 So they made their father drink wine that night. And the firstborn went in and lay with her father. He did not know when she lay down or when she arose.

34 The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.” 35 So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. 38 The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day. [1]

These last eight verses of Genesis 19 are the last words Moses devotes to Lot. They tell of a sad ending to a tragic event. They fairly beg for us to rain down harsh judgment upon this man and his two daughters for their descent into the sexual vices of Sodom. A number of scholars simply skip over this last scene as unfit for our delicate eyes and ears. Old Testament scholar H.C. Leupold insisted this scene, though instructive, “cannot be a text for a sermon.”[2] Still other commentators who do not skip past the scene entirely give it only the briefest of mention, assuming it to be a picture of unbridled lust.

If this scene ought not to be mentioned, much less preached, it seems strange that Moses would have written about it. Stranger still would be the idea that this text is not inspired by the authorship of the Holy Spirit. Recall the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy:

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.[3]

Some might object this text is probably fine for adults to consider but contains facts of life too graphic for children. James Boice has written of this objection, “Children are going to know them sooner or later—and in our corrupt society it is probably going to be sooner rather than later—much sooner than you would imagine. Would you rather they learned such things from secular books and people or from the Word of God?”[4] But this scene is not a story of unbridled lust, as some Western minds have conjectured. Lot’s daughters are not bored and seeking some wicked entertainment as the mob of Sodomites had been at Lot’s house. As we will see, their scheming is more along the lines of their great aunt Sarah.


First, let’s try to understand Lot and his daughters’ frame of mind as best we can. It’s been said that Christians are the only army in the world that shoot their own wounded. From what I read in some of the commentaries on this passage, I can believe that to be true. I certainly hope you never have to experience the sudden violent death of an immediate family member. I have. But still, I’m not sure I can adequately describe what that particular kind of hell does to one’s mind. I wasn’t present to witness that violent death. But Lot and his daughters were smack dab in the middle of the catastrophic earthquake and firestorm that instantly changed Mrs. Lot from a living human being into a fried lump of minerals.

They were present as that massive pyroclastic flow of burning gasses and mineral debris overtook everyone and everything they knew. In a matter of moments, with the ground shaking beneath their feet and the screams of the cities barely audible over the groans of the earth, they lost absolutely everything and everyone that made their lives “normal” in any sense of the word.

Lot’s daughters, likely in their early teens, lost the men to whom they were to be married. They lost their mother, the center of their homelife. Lot lost his home, his livestock, his servants, his friends, and – most devastating of all – his beloved wife. Everything these three people could describe as their “world” was wasn’t simply damaged, it wasn’t simply devastated; it was totally obliterated, nuked.

There was nothing for them to salvage. Their family would always be hauntingly incomplete. One thing I remember from my brush with that kind of tragedy is how utterly numb one feels, how foggy one’s mind becomes in the aftermath. What was left of the Lot family were three terrified, emotionally devastated people overloaded with shock and grief. They were zombies, unable to process the flood of thoughts and emotions sweeping over them in wave after wave.

The little village of Zoar may have been spared from the pyroclastic blast, but it likely wasn’t spared from the earthquake that shook the entire Dead Sea Plain. This was to be Lot’s city of refuge. He promised God that he would downsize his life. The aftershocks from the quake would have posed even more danger for the damaged walls and foundations of Zoar. Anyone left alive would likely have fled the crumbling hamlet at their first opportunity, as Lot and his two daughters did. Even Abraham, in the western hills, some twenty to forty miles away from the epicenter, struck camp (which was no small undertaking) and moved from the region.

Likely, the inhabitants of the hills on the eastern side of the valley fled as well so that Lot’s oldest daughter did not believe she was exaggerating when she observed, “there is not a man on earth to come in to us.” One thing that helps the great shock of initial grief is the flood of friends and extended family who show up to minister to the bereaved. Lot and his daughters had no one to grieve with them, to comfort them, to minister to them, to help them process their flooded feelings. They are alone. They are living in a cave. They are without their wife and mother. We’re not going to excuse their sins, but we ARE going to put them in the right context. Luther wrote of them:

Lot and his daughters were in extreme fear and distress, not only because of the sad spectacle—that they saw such a great multitude of human beings suddenly perish—but also because of the misfortune in their family—that Lot had lost his very dear wife and that his daughters had lost their very lovely mother. If anybody is not crushed by this misfortune, he has a heart that is harder than [stone].[5]

Yet, Lot had refused to live the life of a sojourner. He rejected the pilgrim’s life in favor of putting roots down somewhere. First in Sodom; then in crumbling Zoar; now in the darkness of a cave. All the while he could have fled back to the Promised Land, back to the covenant community where his uncle would have ministered to the grieving trio. There WERE people left on the earth to minister to their hurts and provide for their needs. Was it shame that drove Lot to wander in the east? Was he too proud to return to church? Or did he simply convince himself that he was able to be a spiritual Lone Ranger? Whatever his motives, his choice triggers more sin. Making important decisions in the midst of grief is always a very poor choice.

THE PLAN (31-35)

Thinking themselves the only people left alive in their known world, Lot’s daughters hatch a plan. “31 And the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the earth. 32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.’” Lot was not an abusive father. He was dazed, confused, and grieving. He would have no recollection of what happened those two nights during his grieving drunken stupor. The abusers in this scene are Lot’s daughters, two young distraught women certain they are condemned to a life of childlessness in this new desolate land. The ESV translates their location as on earth. The phrase (weʾîš ʾên bāʾāreṣ) can also be translate “in the land” – meaning they are determined to put down roots in the eastern hills, rather than flee to their great uncle in the west.[6]There’s no men left in this land, this area.” Remember, this literary rule for Genesis: East bad; West good. The daughters focus is the East, not the West.

Their concern was the same as their great aunt Sarah’s had been when she gave Hagar over to Abram to produce an heir. They are worried there is no way to produce heirs for Lot and children for themselves other than to use their father as their personal stud service. One scholar writes:

Their lifeless womb matches the lifeless situation in Sodom. Also, the husbandless daughters mirror the wifeless Lot. The older daughter’s remark that ‘our father is advancing in age’ indicates that the daughters think their father will likely remain a widower. In his old age Lot emerges as a pathetic figure. By contrast, Abraham is blessed by God in his old age (24:1) and is able to start a second family (25:1–2). Furthermore, it is said of Abraham, but not of Lot, that ‘he died in a good old age, an old man, full of years’ (25:8).[7]

The daughters also know that even in his profound shock and grief, Lot would never consent to such an immoral act. He must be drugged. Fortunately for their scheme, Lot appears to have been a black-out drinker. The question arises at this point: where did the sisters get wine? I have no idea. I can only conjecture they managed to scavenge it from an abandoned camp, or that their cave had been someone’s storage pantry stocked with jars of wine and grain. The dead were buried in caves. Many pagan cultures left food and drink offerings for their dead in the burial caves for use in the afterlife. They left Sodom with nothing but the clothes on their backs. If they came across a well-stocked cave, they certainly had no more appreciation for God’s provision than they apparently had for God’s salvation.

Earlier, Lot had offered his daughters up for the use of the Sodomite men. Now, the older sister offers up her grieving father for her and her sister’s use. And sadly, both Lot and his daughters seem to have convinced themselves their actions were noble under such drastic circumstances. “33 So they made their father drink wine that night.” Notice the Lot family’s salvation had come at sunrise (23ff.). But now, it is night in their cave. To be in a cave at night is as dark a place as one could find. If this cave was a tomb, the irony of creating life in the darkness is even greater.

But the three cave dwellers believed themselves enlightened by their particular absolute moral virtues. Back in Sodom, Lot had absolutized the virtue of hospitality to the point where he was willing to sacrifice his daughters to save his guests. His daughters now absolutize the virtues of motherhood and preserving the family lineage. They are willing to sacrifice their purity and modesty and their father’s virtue to obtain their own moral absolute. When we raise any one particular moral virtue to the absolute, we sacrifice truth in the process. Commentators who pass over this passage sacrifice biblical truth for the sake of absolute sexual morality.

This pattern of salvation and judgment followed by sin continues to repeat in Genesis. We saw it with Adam and Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, and now Lot and his daughters. Immediately following this scene, we see Abraham repeat the ugly sin of pimping out his wife for the second time. The judgement on the cities of the Dead Sea Plain is a “republication” of the great flood judgment of Noah’s day (only not a worldwide event). And what does Lot’s eldest daughter say here? “32 Come, let us make….” Where have we heard that before? We heard it on the lips of the builders of the Tower of Babel – “Come, let us make…. Come let us build” (Gen 11:3-7).

In both instances the ultimate reason is to preserve a name for themselves. Moral virtues of work, artistic expression, and family become absolutes – idols – and sinful motives become rationalizations to excuse sinful actions. Why? Because we fail to trust our Creator who preserves us, who covenants with us, who saves us from destruction time and again. Christian parents struggle with the moral virtue of wanting to raise excellent children. When that becomes an idol, horrible things can happen. I wonder if Lot had not impressed upon his daughters the idea that their family was part of a special covenant line chosen by God.

At some point, even black-out drunks discover their sins. What must Lot have thought when it became apparent his daughters were pregnant? This kind of incest was considered a capital offense even to the pagans of Mesopotamia and Canaan. If there was anyone around to notice, these daughters would have been killed for their crimes. These girls went even further than the evil Sodomites would have tolerated. The devil loves to accuse parents of the sins of their children. Certainly, Lot rightly bares the guilt of his poor choices that culminated in this once wealthy family of Sodomites now living like troglodytes. But Lot’s false guilt over his daughters’ sins was likely far greater than his sense of true guilt over his own worldly choices. His worldly choices led to worldly sorrow rather than true repentance. True repentance would have led him back to the Promised Land.

When parenting becomes and idol, we live under the false guilt and shame of our adult children’s sins. And many never recover from that false guilt. Parents can grasp the shame of their children’s sins as if they are performing penance that somehow impresses the God of all grace. Satan dances with joy when he traps you in false guilt that flows from idolatry. Did Lot ever build an altar and flee to God’s sin sacrifice to end his guilt and shame? As far as Moses’ record is concerned, like some of you, righteous Lot never shed that terrible burden despite the fact that God’s mercies are new every morning.

Remember, Peter called Lot righteous (2 Pt. 2:7). Like you and me, he is simultaneously both saint and sinner. His rightness with God did not come through or depend upon his good works, or wise parenting, or sobriety. He was declared right with God by God because God had granted Lot trust into the saving work of the Promised Seed to come through Abraham. How could Peter call cave-dwelling Lot righteous? Look at how the apostle opened his second epistle. His opening address in 2 Peter 1:1 says, “Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ….”[8]

I want you to see this grieving family with the eyes of compassion. Many a true believer falls miserably. The Holy Spirit did not work any differently in the lives of Old Testament saints than he does now in you upon whom the end of the ages has come. So says Paul. Citing the weak faith of the people of Israel, the apostle Paul wrote to the struggling congregation of Corinth:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. [9]


Lot fell from wealth and importance in the City of Man. He tried to downsize his worldliness in crumbling Zoar. Now he lives in worldly sorrow like an austere medieval monk in a dark cave in pagan lands, as if he is trying to perform penance. His daughters have gone from two young women of wealth; from looking forward to leaving their father and cleaving to their husbands in their own new homes with their own new families, to barely surviving in a cave. All this because none of them would flee to Abraham, God’s prophet, to receive God’s revelation and God’s comfort in their time of tremendous turmoil and excruciating grief.

Their backbreaking burdens grow even heavier because their trust into the Promised Seed was so very small and they failed to return to the one place where their trust could grow. Maybe Lot reasoned that all he really needed was solitude and his morning quiet times to get back on the right path with God. Perhaps he reasoned that he was keeping his daughters safe from further moral compromise in their cloistered cave in the pagan East. Certainly, Moses tells us he lived in fear (v. 30). But there came the time when the fallout of the daughters’ rationalizing their grave sins by using moral absolutes in an immoral way caught up to them and to Lot. Lot’s sons were born.

And these two sons, like Abraham and Hagar’s son Ishmael, were enemies of the Promised Seed. The girls were blinded to their sin and so proud of their idolatry of motherhood and their family name. We infer that from the names Lot’s two sons/grandsons were given. One was called Moab, which is a word play that sounds like “from father” (môʾāḇ and mēʾāḇ) and literally means “seed of the father.” [10] The younger daughter names her son “Ben-ammi,” meaning “son of my kinsman” (close male relative). Moses adds these two men were the founding fathers of two nations (Moabites, Ammonites) that would plague Israel for over 1,000 years.

The two sons born of idolatry fathered idolatrous nations. Moab and Ammon refused to let the children of Israel pass through their territory on Israel’s journey to the Promised Land. God judged them by excluding them for ten generations from the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant (Deut. 23:3). Moabite women seduced the men of Israel, who began making sacrifices to the demon god Baal (the god of Sodom). Moabites raided the lands of Israel during the reign of Jehoshaphat and during the ministry of Elisha seeking to extinguish Abraham’s line from the land. The Ammonites hired the prophet Balaam to prophesy curses upon Israel, but YHWH filled his mouth with blessings and hopeful news of the Promised Seed to come. Solomon brought Ammonite women into his harem; they seduced him to worship their demon gods. Lot’s daughters, by doing what was right in their own eyes, left a legacy of opposition to Abraham’s seed.

Yet, Lot is an illustration of the Apostle Paul’s statement, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.[11] Hundreds of years after Moses finished writing this final sad scene of the Family Lot, a Moabite woman left behind her demon gods and her pagan people and came to the Promised Land with a despairing child of Abraham by her side. A descendant of Lot was drawn back to Abraham’s land. Her name was Ruth. She declared, “Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.[12] She married a man of Abraham’s line called Boaz. Their son, Obed, was King David’s grandfather. In the fulness of time, David’s greater son Jesus, the Promised Seed, came (Matt. 1; Lk 3). Jesus is a child of that idolatrous union in that cave east of the Promised Land. “…where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.

The Man of Sorrows could trace his human lineage back to a fearful, grieving father living in the darkness of a cave-tomb with is two despondent daughters at least 2,500 years before Jesus was buried in a cave-tomb after living the perfect life Lot and his daughters failed to live and dying the infinite death they deserved. So far as Moses’ account is concerned, Lot never rose up and came out of his cave. But the Promised Seed did. He rose to justify all Abraham’s seed, including righteous Lot. The Friend of Sinners was not ashamed of Lot, the grieving black-out drunk. He was not ashamed of David the adulterous murderer and descendant of Lot and Abraham. In the darkness of Lot’s cave, the light of the Promised Seed was shining.

He who was not afraid to be called a Friend of Sinners calls out to all those who grieve and despair over the state of their lives – no matter how vile and despicable their sins may be, no matter how heavy their load, no matter how weary their lives in the City of Man have made them – and bids them come and find rest in him:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.[13]


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ge 19:30–38.

[2] H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Genesis, 1:578.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Ti 3:16–17.

[4] Boice, 641–642.

[5] Luther, 3:308.

[6] Hamilton, 2:51.

[7] Hamilton, op. cit.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 2 Pe 1:1.

[9] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Co 10:6–14.

[10] Hamilton, 2:53.

[11] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ro 5:20.

[12] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Ru 1:16.

[13] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 11:28–30.