Monday, June 15, 2015

Salt by any other name (history first)

Sodium Chloride

Na Cl

Salt

Salt is one of the most common and most utilized chemical compounds in God's creation.

 
 
I expect that you already know which lady in the Bible we will study this week, but before we get to her, we need to go back a little for a history lesson. We might find her easier to understand, and the principles we learn easier to apply, if we know the background.
 
Ready? Let's dive in!
 
Way back in Genesis chapter 13, Abram and Lot had a problem. Don't get me wrong, it was a great problem to have . . . they were so prosperous, that they had to split up! Lot was Abram's nephew, and usually families of that era stuck pretty close. The problem was that each of the men had huge herds of oxen, goats, and other animals. If they all were in one area, the vegetation would be munched down to nothing. It would also tax the water resources. Their herdsmen were in conflict, because they were all tasked with keeping their boss's animals healthy. So, they had to split up. Abram was awfully gracious -- he gave his nephew the first choice. He told him that if he went one direction, Abram would move in the other direction.
 
Lot looked around and saw green, fertile valleys and pastures of the lush Jordan region (and a couple of cities that we'll talk about later) and chose his path. Abram, bless his heart, was left with the more desert-like area of Canaan. So, Lot pitched his tents in the valley . . . and then later moved those tents closer to Sodom.
 
Lot is captured in a war between kings who wanted to control a trade route, and Abram hears about it, and comes with his hand-picked men to rescue him.  After that, we don't hear much about Lot until chapter 18, and even then we don't hear his name. We just know that Abram is thinking of his nephew as he pleads with his visitors to spare Sodom if just ten righteous souls can be found within its walls.
 
Just ten . . .
What do we think of, when we hear the name of those cities? Especially Sodom? It was a cesspool. It was known for unspeakable immorality and abominations. There are many places in the scripture where it is held up as an example of sin, and as an example to be avoided.
 
But we find in chapter 19 of Genesis that Lot has moved his family from the tents outside the city to a nice condominium inside the walls . . . Seriously, though, he is a part of the city now, and perhaps a figure of some authority, for in verse 1 we see that Lot is sitting in the gateway of the city. Elders and judges of the city sat in the gate, and conducted business and legal affairs. So, Lot is a leader now in Sodom.
 
The two angels that spoke with Abram in the previous chapter had arrived in Sodom. It was common for travelers in that time to spend the night in the town square. That part of the city had many uses; as an open area usually in the center of town, it was their market square, the place they gathered for festivals, and more. It may have been that they decided to sleep in the square to appear like mortal travelers. Lot wouldn't hear of it. He insisted that they come to his house. Surely, he must have been thinking of the horrible fate that would have been theirs, if they'd stayed in the square and become prey to those in the city that would abuse them. As a city dweller, he was well aware of the condition of the city, and may even have witnessed attacks on other strangers, so he probably feared for their safety. 
 
Lot's wife would have been involved in making the preparations for the strangers' meal, for hospitality was a sacred thing back then. She would have used her finest ground flour, perhaps pulled out some special dried fruits that she was saving for an occasion just like this, and placed it all on their best plates for their guests. Later, as she went to bed, she would have heard the muffled voices at the door . . .
 
 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”
Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

What? Her daughters? The two young women who were engaged to be married soon? What was Lot thinking?  She had raised them so carefully, preparing them to be wives and mothers, dreaming in her days in the tents about how they would have a much more prosperous life -- and now he was offering her babies to the mob?

Stick with us . . . we'll explore this more next time.

2 comments:

Lisa said...

So interesting!

Austin Towers said...

You bring it to life!! :)