Reflections on Lot’s Wife

Remember that story? It’s the one all the homosexual-haters spout as to the reason for the decline of society. That’s not the real reason the cities were destroyed. I’ll explain in a little bit …

In Genesis 19, when Sodom and Gomorrah were being destroyed by God because of their sin, Lot was allowed to take his wife and daughters out before the destruction. The only rule was that they couldn’t look back. But Lot’s wife, feeling the pain of all the souls she had known, looked back. Just a quick glance, but it was enough. She was immediately turned into a pillar of salt.

I always thought that was a pretty dramatic consequence for simply looking back at the destruction. I’m getting a better take on that now, though.

There are stories trying to justify Edith’s fate. (The name of Lot’s wife is not in that story, but the Jewish Midrash calls her Edith.) One story says Edith looked back to make sure her daughters were coming. Another says that what turned her to a pillar of salt was the sight of God appearing as he struck down the evil.

But I’ve been thinking about this lately. I wonder if there’s more to it than the scholars have been able to unearth. This is purely my reflection, so take it at face value – a blogger’s interpretation.

Ezekiel 16:49-50 declares, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me…” The Hebrew word translated “detestable” refers to something that is morally disgusting…” (Read more at http://www.gotquestions.org/Sodom-and-Gomorrah.html#ixzz3cHXYHsPr)

When the story of Sodom begins, two disguised angels approach the city with a task. They had just left the home of Abraham, who, although still recovering from his self-circumcision, welcomed three angels into his home and was a courteous host. They told Abraham that the cities would be destroyed. He knew the town, where his nephew, Lot, lived, and believed there were good souls there. God (one of the visiting angels) promised if there were ten righteous people in the town, it would be spared.

But in Sodom, a wealthy city, their welcome was not as generous as Abraham’s had been. The Sodomites didn’t like strangers, and the people were self-righteous and judgmental. They did not like outsiders affecting the wealth of their city. Kind of reminds me of when Miami hosted a Super Bowl and made certain to clear the homeless off the streets so that the city wouldn’t be poorly judged, but I digress.

The story we’re told explaining Sodom’s destruction is the rampant homosexuality, but several sources agree that Sodom’s main destruction was not because the Sodomites were threatening to rape the visiting angels, rather that God could not find ten people to save the city’s final judgment. The hatred and xenophobic behavior of the residents doomed them, and when Lot and his family showed the visitors hospitality, the mob went after them, as well.

Let me say this again, because the truth behind this story opened my eyes to many things. Sodom was doomed because of their treatment of strangers. They were elitists who could not find enough goodness in themselves to welcome needy strangers into their homes. True Charity was missing.

So, let’s go back to Edith. She had welcomed these guests into her home and she learned of the impending doom. Her family lived there. She had neighbors and friends there who were probably very friendly toward her. She probably had trouble understanding how her best friends or her neighbors could be so good to her but not be good enough to save.

To make it easier to understand, I put myself in her place. So, as Lot’s wife, there’s this understood rule in my town that strangers are not desired because they could possibly bring about a downfall to our society. I imagine Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island scrunching up her face at a visiting native.

So my hubby, Lot, brings these two strangers into my house. I run to the window to make sure no one saw, but someone did. I’m embarrassed, but I sneak back into my house to do my duty and cook for my guests. The next day, after a mob dragged my visitors into the street and threatened to rape them, my family and I escape with the angels. The angels tell Lot that we must not look back at the destruction. I do.

BOOM, I’m a pillar waiting for an ocean to fall into!

But this story is a metaphor. I believe Edith didn’t get cursed because she casually looked back to make sure her daughters were with her or because she was curious about the destruction. Looking back is symbolic, I believe.

A runner who is at the head of the pack looks back to keep ahead of the runners at his heels, but a winner, one who has several gold medals to his name, doesn’t look back because he knows he will win. He looks ahead, toward the finish line, having faith in himself. One who looks back, questions himself. He may still win, but in looking back, he acknowledges there is either doubt or a sense of superiority, neither of which is a healthy feeling to boast.

Edith, in looking back, may have been doubting the angels or fearing for her friends or feeling relieved. We will never know. She has been cursed in our stories for disobeying God by looking back. I imagine she escaped with Lot and her daughters because they were her family, not necessarily because she was worthy. Instead of keeping her eyes on the future the angels had allowed her, she longed for her Sodom family.

See, it’s all about INTENT, as a license plate I saw Tuesday declared. But what does this really mean? If you truly believe something, would the voice of society still ring in your head? Would you be able to go ahead blindly? Would you say, “God told me this, so it is truth” or “God told me this, but is it really God? I mean, maybe I’m going crazy and they’ll have to put me away in a sanatorium.”

When I put it this way, I guess the correct answer is obvious.

I ask you to reflect on this yourself. I’m just a humble writer trying to make sense of a crazy world.

The Dragonfly’s Student

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