Tuesday, December 05, 2017

A child is born 5: The daughters of Lot

“Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father”.

Anyone under the impression that the Bible is a boringly respectable book clearly hasn’t read it. Today’s story is a shocking tale of incest and disgrace. Lot, who was Abraham’s nephew, had travelled with him to Canaan. Warned by God, he had fled from Sodom and Gomorrah just before they were destroyed by a rain of sulphurous fire. His wife, however, had been turned to a pillar of salt when she looked back at the burning cities. Now Lot and his two daughters were alone in a foreign land. The daughters realised they had no hope of finding husbands. Unless they took drastic action they were doomed to remain unmarried and childless. Their father’s name would die out, which seemed to them a terrible thing – Lot’s views are not recorded. So they got Lot drunk and, one after another, while he was unconscious, had sex with him. Each conceived and bore a child. The child of the oldest daughter was called Moab, the child of the second Ben-ammi. The end of the story explains that these were the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites, tribes which later became bitter enemies of Israel.

The story is told, in part, to heap scorn on tribes with which Israel had long running feuds. In a society which regarded incest with horror, this was the worst insult that the Biblical writers could throw at them (though later a Moabite would become the grandmother of their greatest king – see Dec 18 )

·         What do you think of Lot’s daughters’ actions? What alternatives would they have had?
·         What might Lot have felt when he realised what had happened?
·         Logically, no one is to blame for the circumstances in which they are conceived, yet children have often suffered because they were illegitimate, or because their families weren’t considered respectable in some way. What might it feel like to grow up in the shadow of some sort of family disgrace?

·         Pray for those whose childhoods are blighted through no fault of their own.

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