Lesson 26: Genesis 19

“Lesson 26: Genesis 19,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 26,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 26

Genesis 19


After three messengers of the Lord visited Abraham, they traveled to Sodom and insisted that Lot and his family leave before the city was destroyed. Lot’s wife disobeyed counsel from God’s servants and perished. After the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, Lot’s oldest daughter devised a wicked plan to preserve posterity for her father.

Suggestions for Teaching

Genesis 19:1–29

Holy messengers remove Lot’s family from Sodom before God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah

Write the following question on the board before class begins:

Have you ever heard of someone who had something bad happen to them because they were in the wrong place or with people who were making inappropriate choices?

Ask students to think about the question on the board as they study Genesis 19.

Remind students that three holy messengers had visited Abraham on their way to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their wicked inhabitants. Invite students to read Genesis 19:1 silently and look for who these three messengers met when they arrived in Sodom. After students read, ask them to report what they have found. (The messengers met Lot, Abraham’s nephew.) Explain that according to the Joseph Smith Translation (see Genesis 19:1, footnote a), there were three messengers, not two.

As a brief review, ask students to explain what they know about Lot and his family from their study of Genesis 13–14 and what they know about Sodom from Genesis 18.

Summarize Genesis 19:2–3 by explaining that Lot invited the three messengers to stay at his home for the night so they would not have to remain in the streets of Sodom. Invite students to ponder how they treat those whom the Lord sends to help us forsake sin and unrighteous influences.

Invite a student to read Genesis 19:4–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the men of Sodom did that evening.

  • What did the men of Sodom request of Lot? (You might need to explain that the phrase “that we may know them” means they wanted to participate in sexual activities with Lot’s visitors [see Genesis 19:5, footnote a; see also Genesis 4:1].)

Explain that Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:9–15 (in the Bible appendix) clarifies the events recorded in Genesis 19:8–10. Summarize Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:9–15 by explaining that the men of Sodom became angry with Lot when he refused their evil intentions toward his guests. The men of Sodom then threatened to take by force not only Lot’s visitors (the holy men) but also his daughters for immoral purposes. When Lot tried to reason with the men of Sodom, they attempted to force their way into his house. The holy messengers miraculously protected Lot and his family by smiting the men with blindness (see Genesis 19:11).

  • How do the actions of the men of Sodom help demonstrate the wickedness of the people in this city?

Invite a student to read Genesis 19:12–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the holy men instructed Lot to do with his family. Ask students to report what they find.

Ask a student to read Genesis 19:14–16 aloud. Invite the class to follow along and look for how Lot and his family responded to the instructions from the holy men.

  • What evidence do you see in these verses that Lot and his family were reluctant to leave Sodom?

Invite a student to read Genesis 19:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify additional instructions the holy men gave to Lot and his family.

Invite a student to read Genesis 19:24–26 aloud, and ask the class to look for what happened as Lot was leaving Sodom with his wife and daughters. Ask students to report what they find.

To help the class understand why Lot’s wife was turned into a “pillar of salt” (verse 26), invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Apparently what was wrong with Lot’s wife was that she wasn’t just looking back; in her heart she wanted to go back. …

“It is possible that Lot’s wife looked back with resentment toward the Lord for what He was asking her to leave behind” (“Remember Lot’s Wife” [Brigham Young University devotional address, Jan. 13, 2009], 2;

  • According to Elder Holland, what are some possible reasons why Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt?

Explain that it is also possible that Lot’s wife may not have merely looked back but may have returned to Sodom (see Luke 17:28–32).

Point out that this account of Lot and his family leaving Sodom can be compared to our own experience of forsaking sin and evil influences.

  • What principles can we learn from the example of Lot’s wife about forsaking sin and evil influences? (Students’ responses may vary. You may want to emphasize the following principle: To forsake sin and evil influences, we must leave them entirely and not look back.)

  • What are some ways a person might be tempted to “look back” upon sins or evil influences that were previously a part of his or her life? Why is it dangerous to do so?

  • What are some things a person can do to leave sins or evil influences entirely behind?

Genesis 19:30–38

Lot’s daughters devise a wicked plan to ensure the continuation of Lot’s posterity

Summarize Genesis 19:30–38 by explaining that after Sodom, Gomorrah, and other cities were destroyed, Lot and his two daughters went to a nearby mountain to live in a cave. In an effort to preserve the seed of their father, the firstborn daughter proposed a wicked and deceptive plan to intoxicate their father and lie with him so they could each become pregnant (see Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:37 [in Genesis 19:31, footnote a]; see also Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:39 [in Genesis 19:35, footnote a]). As a result of this wickedness, each daughter had a son. The sons’ descendants became the Moabite and Ammonite nations. There is no justification for Lot’s daughters’ choice to break the law of chastity.

Point out that the actions of Lot’s daughters may provide another example of how the wickedness in Sodom had negatively influenced members of Lot’s family. Although Lot was not a wicked man, his decision to bring his family to live among evil influences resulted in serious consequences.

  • What are some consequences Lot and his family experienced for choosing to live in Sodom?

  • How do you think life might have been different for Lot and his family if he had not chosen to associate with Sodom and the other wicked cities in the plains?

  • What principles can we learn from Lot’s decisions to place himself and his family close to unrighteous influences? (Students may identify principles such as the following: If we choose to associate with unrighteous influences, then we may experience consequences we will regret. Our choices may affect not only ourselves but others as well.)

Invite students to list on the board examples of unrighteous influences that some young people choose to associate with in our day. Then ask the following questions:

  • What are some consequences that can come to us personally from associating with these unrighteous influences? What are some consequences that might affect others?

To help the class feel the truth and importance of the principles they have identified, invite a student to read aloud the following account by Bishop Gary E. Stevenson of the Presiding Bishopric:

Bishop Gary E. Stevenson

“Some years ago, John was accepted at a prestigious Japanese university. …

“Soon after John’s arrival, word of a party to be held on the rooftop of a private residence spread among the foreign student population. That evening, John and two friends made their way to the advertised address.

“Following an elevator ride to the top floor of the building, John and his friends … began mingling with the others. As the night wore on, the atmosphere changed. The noise, music volume, and alcohol amplified, as did John’s uneasiness. Then suddenly someone began organizing the students into a large circle with the intent of sharing marijuana cigarettes. John grimaced and quickly informed his two friends that it was time to leave. Almost in ridicule, one of them replied, ‘John, this is easy—we’ll just stand in the circle, and when it is our turn, we’ll just pass it along rather than smoke it. That way we won’t have to embarrass ourselves in front of everyone by leaving.’ This sounded easy to John, but it did not sound right. He knew he had to announce his intention and act. In a moment he mustered his courage and told them that they could do as they wished, but he was leaving. One friend decided to stay and joined the circle; the other reluctantly followed John down the stairs to board the elevator. Much to their surprise, when the elevator doors opened, Japanese police officers poured out and hurried to ascend the stairs to the rooftop. John and his friend boarded the elevator and departed.

“When the police appeared at the top of the stairs, the students quickly threw the illegal drugs off the roof so they wouldn’t be caught. After securing the stairway, however, the officers lined up everyone on the roof and asked each student to extend both hands. The officers then walked down the line, carefully smelling each student’s thumbs and index fingers. All who had held the marijuana, whether they had smoked it or not, were presumed guilty, and there were huge consequences. Almost without exception, the students who had remained on the rooftop were expelled from their respective universities. …

“… As for John, the consequences in his life have been immeasurable. His time in Japan that year led him to a happy marriage and the subsequent birth of two sons. He has been a very successful businessman and recently became a professor at a Japanese university. Imagine how different his life would have been had he not had the courage to leave the party on that important evening in Japan. …

“… There will be times when you, like John, will have to demonstrate your righteous courage in plain view of your peers, the consequence of which may be ridicule and embarrassment. … Be courageous! Be strong!” (“Be Valiant in Courage, Strength, and Activity,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 51–52).

To conclude, invite students to testify of the principles they have discovered today. Share your testimony as well, and encourage students to entirely leave behind any sins or evil influences that may be influencing them.

Commentary and Background Information

Genesis 19:8–10 or Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:9–15 (in the Bible appendix). Lot reasons with the men of Sodom

Note: Not all of the Joseph Smith Translation additions or corrections are contained in the footnotes or appendix of the Latter-day Saint edition of the King James Version of the Bible. Many of these changes were not included because of limited space.

Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:9–15 clarifies the events recorded in Genesis 19:8–10. (Below, the bold-italic text represents material added by the Prophet Joseph Smith; the crossed-out text represents material he removed.)

“And they said unto him, Stand back. And they were angry with him.

“And they said again among themselves, This one fellow man came in to sojourn among us, and he will needs be now make himself to be a judge; now we will deal worse with thee, him than with them.

Wherefore they said unto the man, We will have the men, and thy daughters also; and we will do with them as seemeth us good.

“Now this was after the wickedness of Sodom.

“And Lot said, Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do ye to unto them as is seemeth good in your eyes;

“For God will not justify his servant in this thing; wherefore, let me plead with my brethren, this once only, that unto these men ye do nothing, that they may have peace in my house; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

“And they pressed sore upon the man, even were angry with Lot and came near to break the door, but the angels of God, which were holy men, put forth their hand and pulled Lot into the house unto them, and shut to the door” (Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 19:9–15; bold, italics, and strikethrough added).

Genesis 19:26. “His wife looked back”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how to look to the future with faith instead of doubt:

“I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. So a more theological way to talk about Lot’s wife is to say that she did not have faith. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. Apparently she thought—fatally, as it turned out—that nothing that lay ahead could possibly be as good as those moments she was leaving behind” (“Remember Lot’s Wife” [Brigham Young University devotional address, Jan. 13, 2009], 2–3;

President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles related the following experience of President Joseph Fielding Smith:

“President Joseph Fielding Smith told me of a repentant woman struggling to find her way out of a very immoral life. She asked him what she should do now.

“In turn, he asked her to read to him from the Old Testament the account of Lot’s wife, who was turned to a pillar of salt [see Genesis 19:26]. Then he asked her, ‘What lesson do you gain from those verses?’

“She answered, ‘The Lord will destroy the wicked.’

“‘Not so!’ President Smith said that the lesson for this repentant woman and for you is ‘Don’t look back!’ [see Boyd K. Packer, The Things of the Soul (1996), 116].

“Strangely enough, it may be that the simplest and most powerful prevention and cure for pornography, or any unclean act, is to ignore and avoid it. Delete from the mind any unworthy thought that tries to take root. Once you have decided to remain clean, you are asserting your God-given agency. And then, as President Smith counseled, ‘Don’t look back’” (“Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 76–77).

President Joseph F. Smith declared:

“True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them [sins], a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, from vice to virtue, from darkness to light” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 61).

Genesis 19:26. Lot’s wife and the pillar of salt

For a discussion of whether Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt was a literal event or a figurative expression, see the material in the Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. (Church Educational System manual, 2003), 76–77.