Genesis 19:30-20:18 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. After escaping Sodom, what happens to Lot and his two daughters (see Genesis 19:30, printed below?) What concern do the daughters express in Genesis 19:31 (printed below?)

Lot left Zoar and lived in the mountains with his two daughters; because he was afraid to stay in Zoar. So he lived in a cave, he and his two daughters. (Genesis 19:30)

Then the older said to the younger, Our father is old, and there is no man on the earth with whom we may have sexual relations according to the practice of all the earth. (Genesis 19:31)

After Lot and his two daughters escape from Sodom they take refuge in the mountains. They feared to stay in the town of Zoar, so they fled to the mountains and live in a cave. Lot’s daughters have become convinced that they and their father are the only people left on the earth (19:31). They think that the Lord’s judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah is on the same universal scale as was the Flood. Note: they did not remember God’s promise as recorded in Genesis 8:21-22, and they did not seek God’s assessment of the situation.

2. How do the daughters decide to solve their problem? See Genesis 19:32-36 (printed below) What were the consequences of their actions? See Genesis 19:37-38 (printed below)

Come, let us make our father drunk with wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve a family line for our father. (33) So they made their father drunk with wine that night; and the older daughter went in and lay with her father. He was unaware of when she lay down or when she left. (34) The next day the older said to the younger, Last night I lay with my father; again tonight let us make him drunk with wine; and this time you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve a family line for our father. (35) So that night also they made their father drunk with wine; and the younger went in and lay with him. He was unaware of when she lay down or when she left. (36) Thus both of Lot’s daughters were pregnant by their father. (Genesis 19:32-36)

The older daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today. (38) And the younger daughter also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi; he is the father of the Ammonites of today. (Genesis 19:37-38)

Confronted with what appears to them to be an insurmountable problem (continuing the human race and the covenant line with no prospect of having a husband), they resort to their own wisdom. They may have thought themselves abandoned by God—forgetting that He by His angels was the One who delivered them from the judgment that befell Sodom. Neglecting to take account of God and His Word, and neglecting to seek His counsel, the two daughters propose their own solution: incest. The two daughters carry out their plan, only to produce more problems and greater problems than they could have imagined: the descendants of their two sons (Moab and Ben-Ammi) become the perpetual enemies of God’s covenant people Israel.

3. When Abraham arrives in Gerar, how does he introduce Sarah and what happens? See Genesis 20:1-2 (printed below) Has this same thing happened before?

Now Abraham moved from there toward the land of the South, and stayed between Kadesh and Shur. Then he moved to Gerar. (2) And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister. Then Abimelech the king of Gerar sent for Sarah and brought her to himself. (Genesis 20:1-2)

We are told that Abraham journeyed south as far as the city of Gerar, where he and Sarah now took up their residence. Abraham introduces Sarah as his sister. It is a partial truth (she was his half-sister), but because of their marital relationship, it is a lie and it has the potential of creating immoral consequences. Here is a case of Abraham resorting to his own ingenuity rather than seeking either God’s counsel or God’s protection. Before long Abimelech, the king of Garar, seeks to bring Sarah into his harem, either for her beauty, or because he sought to form an alliance with Abraham who was himself a wealthy nomadic prince. This is the second time Abraham has done this; he did it once before when he and Sarah went down to Egypt (cp. Genesis 12:11-13).

4. What happens when Abimelech learns who Sarah really is? See Genesis 20:8-11,14-16 (printed below)

Abimelech rose early in the morning and called all his servants. He told them all these things privately; and they were greatly afraid. (9) Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, What have you done to us? In what way have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done things to me that ought not to be done. (10) And Abimelech said to Abraham, What did you see, that you have done this thing? (11) Then Abraham replied, I did this because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; they will kill me because of my wife…(14) Then Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and menservants and maidservants, and gave them to Abraham, and he restored Sarah his wife to him. (15) And Abimelech said, Look, my land is before you, settle wherever it pleases you. (16) And to Sarah he said, Listen, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. This money shall pay for the offense against you before your whole household; you are completely vindicated. (Genesis 20:8-11,14-16)

When Abimelech learns the true state of affairs he summons Abraham. He accuses Abraham of doing “things…that ought not to be done” (verse 9). Abraham’s only defense is his false perception that these people do not fear God and consequently his life would be in danger (verse 11). Ironically, Abimelech shows himself to be more righteous than Abraham in this situation, note Genesis 20:4-6—and Genesis 20:14-16. Abimelech bestows upon Abraham possessions worth one thousand pieces of silver (verse 14). He then declares to Sarah that this payment “shall pay for the offense against you before your whole household” (verse 16). That is to say, the payment is the acknowledgment that an offense was committed against Sarah (she is innocent of adultery) and the payment makes restitution to her and her whole household for that offense.

5. As you consider these two accounts, what do Lot’s daughters and Abraham have in common?

At first glance, Genesis 19:30-38 and Genesis 20:1-18 do not appear to have anything in common, but upon closer inspection they have two things in common. In both passages we are given insight into the thinking of the main characters, and in both cases we find that they neglected God in their thinking. Furthermore, we are made aware of the detrimental effects such thinking inevitably produces. As noted, Lot’s two daughters in carrying out their plan, produce more problems and greater problems than they could have imagined: the descendants of their two sons (Moab and Ben-Ammi) become the perpetual enemies of God’s covenant people Israel. Furthermore, Abraham, who was supposed to be the source of blessing to the nations (Genesis 12:3b), almost brought the curse of death upon Abimelech and his people (Genesis 20:7).