Lot's daughters

Jan Matsys, Lot and His Daughters, 1565.

Lot's daughters are two people in the Hebrew Bible. Their names are not given. They are mentioned in Genesis 19, while Lot and his family are in Sodom. Two angels arrive in Sodom, and Lot shows them hospitality. However, the men of the city gather around Lot's house and demand that he give them the two guests so they could rape them. In response, Lot offers the mob his two daughters instead, noting that they are virgins (verse 19:8). The mob refuses Lot's offer, but the angels strike them with blindness, and then warn Lot to leave the city before it is destroyed.

Genesis 19:14 indicates that Lot has sons-in-law. The Hebrew text indicates that they are married to Lot's daughters, while NIV interprets the expression as "pledged to marry" his virgin daughters. Robert Alter suggests that verse 19:15 ("your two daughters who remain with you") indicates that Lot's two virgin daughters left with him, but that he had other, married daughters who stayed behind with the sons-in-law.[1]

Lot's wife turns into a pillar of salt, but Lot and his daughters escape to Zoar, and end up living in a cave in the mountains. Lot's daughters realise that they are not going to find men to have sex with them, so that they may have children and continue the family line. They get their father drunk, and over two consecutive nights have sex with him without his knowledge. They both get pregnant. The older daughter gives birth to Moab, while the younger daughter gives birth to Ammon.

Many scholars have drawn a connection between the episodes of Lot's daughters. Robert Alter suggests that this final episode "suggests measure-for-measure justice meted out for his rash offer."[2]

A number of commentators describe the actions of Lot's daughters as rape. Esther Fuchs suggests that the text presents Lot's daughters as the "initiators and perpetrators of the incestuous 'rape'."[3] Ilan Kutz suggests that today it would be called "drug rape", but concludes that it was actually Lot who abused his daughters, and this was covered up by the biblical narrators.[4]

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  1. Alter, Robert (2008). The Five Books of Moses: A Translation with Commentary. p. 93.
  2. Alter, Five Books of Moses, p. 92.
  3. Fuchs, Esther (2003). Sexual Politics in the Biblical Narrative: Reading the Hebrew Bible as a Woman. p. 209. ISBN 9780567042873. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  4. Kutz, Ilan (2005). "Revisiting the lot of the first incestuous family: the biblical origins of shifting the blame on to female family members". BMJ. 331 (7531): 1507–1508. doi:10.1136/bmj.331.7531.1507. PMC 1322245Freely accessible. PMID 16373732.
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