(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 28)

holy man with hope; lest he should tremble, or should be so possessed by
fear, and so desponding respecting his deliverance, as to be too slow to
depart. For they not only promise that he shall be safe, but also grant,
unasked, the life of his family. And truly, he ought not to have doubted
respecting his own life, when he saw others freely given him, as by a
superabundance of favour. It is however asked, 'Why was God willing to
offer his kindness to ungrateful men, by whom he knew it would be
rejected?' The same question may be put respecting the preaching of the
gospel; for God was not ignorant that few would become partakers of that
salvation, which nevertheless, he commands to be offered indiscriminately
to all. In this way, unbelievers are rendered more inexcusable, when they
reject the message of salvation. The chief reason, however, why Lot is
commanded to set before his own family the hope of deliverance, is, that
he may embrace, with greater confidence, the offered favour of God, and
may strenuously and quickly prepare himself to depart, not doubting of
his own preservation. It is, with probability, inferred from this place,
that he had, then, no sons in that city; for, in consequence of the
exhortation of the angels he would immediately have attempted to draw
them out of it. We have before seen, that he had an ample and numerous
band of servants; but no mention is made of them, since the freemen are
here only reckoned. It is, nevertheless, probable, that some servants
went forth with him, to carry provisions and some portion of furniture.
For, whence did his daughters obtain in the desert mountain, the wine
which they gave their father, unless some things, which Moses does not
mention, had been conveyed by asses, or camels, or wagons? It was however
possible, that, in so great a number, many chose rather to perish with
the men of Sodom, than to become associates and companions of their lord,
in seeking safety. But it is better to leave as we find them, those
things which the Spirit of God has not revealed.

13. "The Lord has sent us to destroy it." This place teaches us, that the
angels are the ministers of God's wrath, as well as of his grace. Nor
does it form any objection to this statement, that elsewhere the latter
service is peculiarly ascribed to holy angels: as when the Apostle says,
they were appointed for the salvation of those whom God had adopted as
sons. (Heb. 1: 14.) And the Scripture, in various places, testifies, that
the guardianship of the pious is committed to them, (Ps. 91: 11;) while,
on the other hand, it declares that God executes his judgments by
reprobate angels. (Ps. 78: 49.) For it must be maintained, that God
causes his elect angels to preside over those judgments which he executes
by means of the reprobate. For it would be absurd to attribute to devils,
the honour of presiding over the judgments of God, since they do not
yield him voluntary obedience; but rather, while raging contumaciously
against him, are yet reluctantly compelled to become his executioners.
Let us therefore know, that it is not foreign to the office of elect
angels, to descend armed for the purpose of executing Divine vengeance
and of inflicting punishment. As the angel of the Lord destroyed, in one
night, the army of Sennacherib which besieged Jerusalem, (2 Kings 19:
35;) so also the angel of the Lord appeared to David with his drawn
sword, when the pestilence was raging against the people. (2 Sam. 24:

16.) But, as I have before said, the angels repeat what they had
previously said to Abraham, concerning the cry of Sodomy that they may
the more urgently impel Lot, by a detestation of the place, to take his
flight, and may induce him by the fear of the wrath of God, to seek for

14. "And Lot went out." The faith of the holy man, Lot, appeared first in
this, that he was completely awed and humbled at the threatening of God;
secondly, that in the midst of destruction, he yet laid hold of the
salvation promised to him. In inviting his sons-in-law to join him, he
manifests such diligence as becomes the sons of God; who ought to labour,
by all means, to rescue their own families from destruction. But when
Moses says, 'he appeared as one who mocked;' the meaning is, that the
pious old man was despised and derided and that what he said was
accounted a fable; because his sons-in-law supposed him to be seized with
delirium, and to be vainly framing imaginary dangers. Lot, therefore, did
not seem to them to mock purposely or to have come for the sake of
trifling with them; but they deemed his language fabulous; because, where
there is no religion, and no fear of God, whatever is said concerning the
punishment of the wicked, vanishes as a vain and illusory thing. And
hence we perceive how fatal an evil security is, which son inebriates,
yea, fascinates, the minds of the wicked, that they no longer think God
sits as Judge in heaven; and thus they stupidly sleep in sin, till, while
they're saying, "Peace and safety," they are overwhelmed in sudden ruin.
And especially, the nearer the vengeance of God approaches, the more does
their obstinacy increase and become desperate. There is nothing more full
of fear, and even of terror, than wicked men are, when the hand of God
presses closely on them; but until, constrained by force, they perceive
their destruction to be imminent, they either reject all threats with
proud scorn, or contemptuously pass them by. But their indolence ought to
awaken us to the fear of God, so that we may be always careful; but more
especially when some token of the wrath of God presents itself before us.

15. "The angels hastened Lot." Having praised the faith and piety of Lot,
Moses shows that something human still adhered to him; because the angels
hastened him, when he was lingering. The cause of his tardiness might be,
that he thought he was going into exile: thus a multiplicity of cares and
fears disturb his anxious mind. For he doubts what would happen to him,
as a fugitives when, having left his house and furniture, naked and in
want, he should retake himself to some desert place. In the meantime, he
does not consider that he must act like persons shipwrecked, who, in
order that they may come safe into port, cast into the sea their cargo,
and every thing they have. He does not indeed doubt, that God is speaking
the truth; nor does he refuse to remove elsewhere, as he is commanded;
but, as if sinking under his own infirmity, and entangled with many
cares, he, who ought to have run forth hastily, and without delay, moves
with slow and halting pace. In his person, however, the Spirit of God
presents to us, as in a mirror, our own tardiness; in order that we,
shaking off all sloth, may learn to prepare ourselves for prompt
obedience, as soon as the heavenly voice sounds in our ears; otherwise,
in addition to that indolence which, by nature, dwells within us, Satan
will interpose many delays. The angels, in order the more effectually to
urge Lot forward, infuse the fear, lest he should be destroyed in the
iniquity, or the punishment of the city. For the word "awon" signifies
both. Not that the Lord rashly casts the innocent on the same heap with
the wicked, but because the man, who will not consult for his own safety,
and who, even being warned to beware, yet exposes himself, by his sloth,
to ruin, deserves to perish.

16. "And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand." The angels
first urged him by words; now seizing him by the hand, and indeed with
apparent violence, they compel him to depart. His tardiness is truly
wonderful, since, though he was certainly persuaded that the angels did
not threaten in vain, he could yet be moved, by no force of words, until
he is dragged by their hands out of the city. Christ says, 'Though the
spirit is willing, the flesh is weak,' (Matth. 26: 41:) here a worse
fault is pointed out; because the flesh, by its sluggishness, so
represses the alacrity of the spirit, that with slow halting, it can
scarcely creep along. And, indeed, as every man's own experience bears
him witness of this evil, the faithful ought to endeavour, with the
greater earnestness, to prepare themselves to follow God; and to beware
lest as with deaf ears, they disregard his threats. And truly, they will
never so studiously and forcibly press forward as not still to be
retarded more than enough, in the discharge of their duty. For what Moses
says is worthy of attention, that the Lord was merciful to his servant,
when, having laid hold of his hand by the angels, He hurried him out of
the city. For so it is often necessary for us to be forcibly drawn away
from scenes which we do not willingly leave. If riches, or honours, or
any other things of that kind, prove an obstacle to any one, to render
him less free and disengaged for the service of God, when it happens that
he is abridged of his fortune, or reduced to a lower rank, let him know
that the Lord has laid hold of his hand; because words and exhortations
had not sufficiently profited him. We ought not, therefore, to deem it
hard, that those diseases, which instruction did not suffice effectually
to correct, should be healed by more violent remedies. Moses even seems
to point to something greater; namely, that the mercy of God strove with
the sluggishness of Lot; for, if left to himself, he would, by lingering,
have brought down upon his own head the destruction which was already
near. Yet the Lord not only pardons him, but, being resolved to save him,
seizes him by the hand, and draws him away, although making resistance.

17. "Escape for thy life." This was added by Moses, to teach use that the
Lord not only stretches out his hand to us for a moment, in order to
begin our salvation; but that without leaving his work imperfect, he will
carry it on even to the end. It certainly was no common act of grace,
that the ruin of Sodom was predicted to Lot himself, lest it should crush
him unawares; next, that a certain hope of salvation was given him by the
angels; and, finally, that he was led by the hand out of the danger. Yet
the Lord, not satisfied with having granted him so many favours, informs
him of what was afterwards to be done, and thus proves himself to be the
Director of his course, till he should arrive at the haven of safety. Lot
is forbidden to look behind him, in order that he may know, that he is
leaving a pestilential habitation. This was done, first, that he might
indulge no desire after it, and then, that he might the better reflect on
the singular kindness of God, by which he had escaped hell. Moses had
before related, how fertile and rich was that plain; Lot is now commanded
to depart thence, that he may perceive himself to have been delivered, as
out of the midst of a shipwreck. And although, while dwelling in Sodom,
his heart was continually vexed; it was still scarcely possible that he
should avoid contracting some defilement from a sink of wickedness so
profound: being now, therefore, about to be purified by the Lord, he is
deprived of those delights in which he had taken too much pleasure. Let
us also hence learn, that God best provides for our salvation, when he
cuts off those superfluities, which serve to the pampering of the flesh;
and when, for the purpose of correcting excessive self-indulgence, he
banishes us from a sweet and pleasant plain, to a desert mountain.

18. "And Lot said unto them." Here another fault of Lot is censured,
because he does not simply obey God, nor suffer himself to be preserved
according to His will, but contrives some new method of his own. God
assigns him a mountain as his future place of refuge, he rather chooses
for himself a city. They are therefore under a mistake, who so highly
extol his faith, as to deem this a perfect example of suitable prayer;
for the design of Moses is rather to teach, that the faith of Lot was not
entirely pure, and free from all defects. For it is to be held as an
axiom, that our prayers are faulty, so far as they are not founded on the
word. Lot, however, not only departs from the word, but preposterously
indulges himself in opposition to the word; such importunity has,
certainly, no affinity with faith. Afterwards, a sudden change of mind
was the punishment of his foolish cupidity. For thus do all necessarily
vacillate, who do not submit themselves to God. As soon as they attain
one wish, immediately a new disquietude is produced, which compels them
to change their opinion. It must then, in short, be maintained, that Lot
is by no means free from blame, in wishing for a city as his residence;
for he both sets himself in opposition to the command of God, which it
was his duty to obey; and desires to remain among those pleasures, from
which it was profitable for him to be removed. He, therefore, acts just
as a sick person would do, who should decline an operation, or a bitter
draught, which his physician had prescribed. Nevertheless, I do not
suppose, that the prayer of Lot was altogether destitute of faith; I
rather think, that though he declined from the right way, he not only did
not depart far from it, but was even fully purposed in his mind to keep
it. For he always depended upon the word of God; but in one particular he
fell from it, by entreating that a place should be given to him, which
had been denied. Thus, with the pious desires of holy men, some defiled
and turbid admixture is often found. I am not however ignorant, that
sometimes they are constrained, by a remarkable impulse of the Spirit, to
depart in appearance from the word, yet without really transgressing its
limits. But the immoderate carnal affection of Lot betrays itself, in
that he is held entangled by those very delights which he ought to have
shunned. Moreover, his inconstancy is a proof of his rashness, because he
is soon displeased with himself for what he has done.

19. "Behold now, they servant has found grace in thy sight." Though Lot
saw two persons, he yet directs his discourse to one. Whence we infer,
that he did not rely upon the angels; because he was well convinced that
they had no authority of their own, and that his salvation was not placed
in their hands. He uses therefore their presence in no other way than as
a mirror, in which the face of God may be contemplated. Besides, Lot
commemorates the kindness of God, not so much for the sake of testifying
his gratitude, as of acquiring thence greater confidence in asking for
more. For since the goodness of God is neither exhausted, nor wearied, by
bestowing; the more ready we find him to give, the more confident does it
become us to be, in hoping for what is good. And this truly is the
property of faith, to take encouragement for the future, from the
experience of past favour. And Lot does not err on this point; but he
acts rashly in going beyond the word for the sake of self-gratification.
Therefore I have said, that his prayer, though it flowed from the
fountain of faith, yet drew something turbid from the mire of carnal
affection. Let us then, relying upon the mercy of God, not hesitate to
expect all things from him; especially those which he himself has
promised, and which he permits us to choose.
  "I cannot escape to the mountains." He does not indeed rage against
God, with determined malice as the wicked are wont to do; yet, because he
rests not upon the word of God, he slides, and almost falls away. For why
does he fear destruction in the mountain, where he was to be protected by
the hand of God, and yet expect to find a safe abode in that place, which
is both near to Sodom, and obnoxious to similar vengeance, on account of
its impure and wicked inhabitants? But this verily is the nature of men,
that they choose to seek their safety in hell itself, rather than in
heaven, whenever they follow their own reason. We see, then, how greatly
Lot errs, in seeing from, and entertaining suspicions of, a mountain
infected with no contagion of iniquity and choosing a city which,
overflowing with crimes, could not but be hateful to God. He pretends
that it is a little one, in order that he may the more easily obtain his
request. As if he had said, that he only wanted a corner where he might
be safely sheltered. This would have been right, if he had not declined
the asylum divinely granted to him and rashly contrived another for

21. "See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also." Some
ignorantly argue from this expression, that Lot's prayer was pleasing to
God, because he assented to his request, and gave him what he sought. For
it is no new thing for the Lord sometimes to grant, as an indulgence,
what he, nevertheless, does not approve. And he now indulges Lot, but in
such way, that he soon afterwards corrects his folly. Meanwhile, however,
since God so kindly and gently bears with the evil wishes of his own
people, what will he not do for us if our prayers are regulated according
to the pure direction of his Spirit, and are drawn from his word? But
after the angel has granted him his wish respecting the place, he again
reproves his indolence, by exhorting him to make haste.

22. "I cannot do any thing." Since the angel had not only been sent as an
avenger to destroy Sodom, but also had received a command for the
preservation of Lot; he therefore declares, that he will not do the
former act, unless this latter be joined with it; because it is not at
the option of the servant to divide those things which God has joined
together. I am not, however, dissatisfied with the explanation of some,
who suppose the angel to speak in the person of God. For although in
appearance the language is harsh, yet there is no absurdity in saying,
that God is unable to destroy the reprobate without saving his elect. Nor
must we, therefore, deem his power to be limited, when he lays himself
under any such necessity; or that anything of his liberty and authority
is diminished, when he willingly and freely binds himself. And let us
especially remember, that his power is connected by a sacred bond with
his grace, and with faith in his promises. Hence it may be truly and
properly said, that he can do nothing but what he wills and promises.
This is a true and profitable doctrine. There will, however, be less
ground of scruple if we refer the passage to the angels; who had a
positive commandment, from which it was not lawful for them to abate the
smallest portion.

24. "Then the Lord rained." Moses here succinctly relates in very
unostentatious language, the destruction of Sodom and of the other
cities. The atrocity of the case might well demand a much more copious
narration, expressed in tragic terms; but Moses, according to his manner,
simply recites the judgment of God, which no words would be sufficiently
vehement to describe, and then leaves the subject to the meditation of
his readers. It is therefore our duty to concentrate all our thoughts on
that terrible vengeance, the bare mention of which, as it did not take
place without so mighty concussion of heaven and earth, ought justly to
make us tremble; and therefore it is so frequently mentioned in the
Scriptures. And it was not the will of God that those cities should be
simply swallowed up by an earthquake; but in order to render the example
of his judgment the more conspicuous, he hurled fire and brimstone upon
them out of heaven. To this point belongs what Moses says, "that the Lord
rained fire from the Lord." The repetition is emphatical, because the
Lord did not then cause it to rain, in the ordinary course of nature;
but, as if with a stretched out hand, he openly fulminated in a manner to
which he was not accustomed, for the purpose of making it sufficiently
plain, that this rain of fire and brimstone was produced by no natural
causes. It is indeed true, that the air is never agitated by chance; and
that God is to be acknowledged as the Author of even the least shower of
rain; and it is impossible to excuse the profane subtlety of Aristotle,
who, when he disputes so acutely concerning second causes, in his Book on
Meteors, buries God himself in profound silence. Moses, however, here
expressly commends to us the extraordinary work of God; in order that we
may know that Sodom was not destroyed without a manifest miracle. The
proof which the ancients have endeavoured to derive, from this testimony,
for the Deity of Christ, is by no means conclusive: and they are angry,
in my judgment, without cause, who severely censure the Jews, because
they do not admit this kind of evidence. I confess, indeed, that God
always acts by the hand of his Son, and have no doubt that the Son
presided over an example of vengeance so memorable; but I say, they
reason inconclusively, who hence elicit a plurality of Persons, whereas
the design of Moses was to raise the minds of the readers to a more
lively contemplation of the hand of God. And as it is often asked, from
this passage, 'What had infants done, to deserve to be swallowed up in
the same destruction with their parents?' the solution of the question is
easy; namely, that the human race is in the hand of God, so that he may
devote whom he will to destruction, and may follow whom he will with his
mercy. Again, whatever we are not able to comprehend by the limited
measure of our understanding, ought to be submitted to his secret
judgment. Lastly, the whole of that seed was accursed and execrable so
that God could not justly have spared, even the least.

26. "But his wife looked back." Moses here records the wonderful judgment
of God, by which the wife of Lot was transformed into a statue of salt.
But under the pretext of this narrative, captious and perverse men
ridicule Moses; for since this metamorphosis has no more appearance of
truth, than those which Ovid has feigned, they boast that it is
undeserving of credit. But I rather suppose it to have happened through
the artifice of Satan, that Ovid, by fabulously trifling, has indirectly
thrown discredit on this most signal proof of Divine vengeance. But
whatever heathens might please to fabricate, is no concern of ours. It is
only of importance to consider, whether the narrative of Moses contains
anything absurd or incredible. And, first, I ask; Since God created men
out of nothing, why may he not, if he sees fit, reduce them again to
nothing? If this is granted, as it must be; why, if he should please, may
he not turn them into stones? Yea, those excellent philosophers, who
display their own acuteness, in derogating from the power of God, daily
see miracles as great in the course of nature. For how does the crystal
acquire its hardness? and--not to refer to rare examples--how is the
living animal generated from lifeless seed? how are birds produced from
eggs? Why then does a miracle appear ridiculous to them, in this one
instance, when they are obliged to acknowledge innumerable examples of a
similar kind? and how can they, who deem it inconsistent, that the body
of a woman should be changed into a mass of salt, believe that the
resurrection will restore to life, a carcass reduced to putrefaction?
When, however, it is said, that Lot's wife was changed into a statue of
salt, let us not imagine that her soul passed into the nature of salt;
for it is not to be doubted, that she lives to be a partaker of the same
resurrection with us, though she was subjected to an unusual kind of
death, that she might be made an example to all. However, I do not
suppose Moses to mean, that the statue had the taste of salt; but that it
had something remarkable, to admonish those who passed by. It was
therefore necessary, that some marks should be impressed upon it, whereby
all might know it to be a memorable prodigy. Others interpret the statue
of salt to have been an incorruptible one, which should endure for ever;
but the former exposition is the more genuine. It may now be asked, why
the Lord so severely punished the imprudence of the unhappy woman; seeing
that she did not look back, from a desire to return to Sodom? Perhaps,
being yet doubtful, she wished to have more certain evidence before her
eyes; or, it might be, that, in pity to the perishing people, she turned
her eyes in that direction. Moses, certainly, does not assert that she
purposely struggled against the will of God; but, forasmuch as the
deliverance of her, and her husband, was an incomparable instance of
Divine compassion, it was right that her ingratitude should be thus
punished. Now, if we weigh all the circumstances, it is clear that her
fault was not light. First, the desire of looking back proceeded from
incredulity; and no greater injury can be done to God, than when credit
is denied to his word. Secondly we infer from the words of Christ, that
she was moved by some evil desire; (Luke 17: 32;) and that she did not
cheerfully leave Sodom, to hasten to the place whither God called her;
for we know that he commands us to remember Lot's wife, lest, indeed, the
allurements of the world should draw us aside from the meditation of the
heavenly life. It is therefore probable, that she, being discontented
with the favour God had granted her, glided into unholy desires, of which
thing also her tardiness was a sign; for Moses intimates that she was
following after her husband, when he says, that she looked back from
"behind" him; for she did not look back towards him; but because by the
slowness of her pace, she was less advanced, she, therefore, was behind
him. And although it is not lawful to affirm any thing respecting her
eternal salvation; it is nevertheless probable that God, having inflicted
temporal punishment, spared her soul; inasmuch as he often chastises his
own people in the flesh, that their soul may he saved from eternal
destruction. Since, however, the knowledge of this is not very
profitable, and we may without danger remain in ignorance, let us rather
attend to the example which God designs for the common benefit of all
ages. If the severity of the punishment terrifies us; let us remember,
that they sin, at this days not less grievously, who, being delivered,
not from Sodom, but from hell, fix their eyes on some other object than
the proposed prize of their high calling.

27. "And Abraham got up early in the morning." Moses now reverts to
Abraham, and shows that he, by no means, neglected what he had heard from
the mouth of the angel; for he relates that Abraham came to a place where
he might see the judgment of God. For we must not suspect that (as we
have lately said respecting Lot's wife) he trusted more to his own eyes
than to the word of God; and that he came to explore, because he was in
doubt. But we rather infers from the text, that he, being already
persuaded that the angel had not spoken in vain, sought confirmation, by
the actual beholding of the event; which confirmation would be useful
both to himself and to posterity. And it is not to be doubted, that
during the whole night, he suffered severe anguish respecting the safety
of his nephew Lot. Whether he became satisfied on this point or note we
do not know; yet I rather incline to the conjecture, that he remained
anxious about him. And it is possible that, hesitating between hope and
fear, he went forward to meet him, in order that he might see whether he
wag delivered or not. And although he beholds nothing but the smoke,
which generally remains after a great fire; yet this sign is given him
from the Lord, for a testimony to posterity, of a punishment so
memorable. God indeed designs, that, in the very appearance of the place,
a monument of his wrath should exist for ever: but because, through the
readiness of the world to cast a doubt upon the judgments of God, it
might be easily believed, that such had been the nature of the place from
the beginning; or that the change had occurred accidentally; the Lord was
pleased to exhibit his act of vengeance before the eyes of Abraham, in
order that he might discharge the office of a herald to posterity.

29. "God remembered Abraham." Although Moses does not assert that the
deliverance of Abraham's nephew was made known to him; yet since he says,
that Lot was saved from destruction for Abraham's sake, it is probable
that he was not deprived of that consolation which he most needed; and
that he was conscious of the benefit, for which it became him to give
thanks. If it seems to any one absurd, that the holy man Lot should be
granted for the sake of another; as if the Lord had not respect to his
own piety: I answer, these two things well agree with each other; that
the Lord, since he is wont to aid his own people, cared for Lot, whom he
had chosen, and whom he governed by his Spirit; and yet that, at the same
time, he would show, in the preservation of his life, how greatly he
loved Abraham, to whom he not only granted personal protection, but also
the deliverance of others. It is however right to observe, that what the
Lord does gratuitously,--induced by no other cause than his own
goodness,--is ascribed to the piety or the prayers of men, for this
reason; that we may be stirred up to worship God, and to pray to him. We
have seen, a little while before, how merciful God proved himself to be,
in preserving Lot; and truly, he would not have perished, even if he had
not been the nephew of Abraham. Yet Moses says, it was a favour granted
to Abraham, that Lot was not consumed in the same destruction with Sodom.
But if the Lord extended the favour which he had vouchsafed to his
servant, to the nephew also, who now was as a stranger from his family;
how much more confidently ought every one of the faithful to expect, that
the same grace shall, by no means be wanting to his own household? And,
if the Lord, when he favours us, embraces others also who are connected
with us, for our sake, how much more will he have respect to ourselves?
In saying that Lot dwelt in those cities, the figure synecdoche, which
puts the whole for a part, is used, but it is expressly employed to make
the miracle more illustrious; because it happened, only by the singular
providence of God, that when five cities were destroyed a single person
should escape.

30. "And Lot went up out of Zoar." This narration proves what I have
before alluded to, that those things which men contrive for themselves,
by rash counsels drawn from carnal reason, never prosper: especially when
men, deluded by vain hope, or impelled by depraved wishes, depart from
the word of God. For although temerity commonly seems to be successful at
the beginning; and they who are carried away by their lusts, exult over
the joyful issue of affairs; yet the Lord, at length, curses whatever is
not undertaken with his approval; and the declaration of Isaiah is
fulfilled, 'Woe to them who begin a work and not by the Spirit of the
Lord; who take counsel, but do not ask at his mouth,' (Isaiah 30: 1.)
Lot, when commanded to retake himself to the mountain, chose rather to
dwell in Zoar. After this habitation was granted to him, according to his
own wish, he soon repents and is sorry for he trembles at the thought
that destruction is every moment hastening on a place so near to Sodom,
in which perhaps the same impiety and wickedness was reigning. But let
the readers recall to memory what I have said, that it was only through
the wonderful kindness of God, that he did not receive either immediate,
or very severe punishment. For the Lord, by pardoning him at the time,
caused him finally to become judge of his own sin. For he was neither
expelled from Zoar by force nor by the hand of man; but a blind anxiety
of mind drove him and hurried him into a cavern, because he had followed
the lust of his flesh rather than the command of God. And thus in
chastising the faithful, God mitigates their punishments so as to render
it their best medicine. For if he were to deal strictly with their folly
they would fall down in utter confusion. He therefore gives them space
for repentance that they may willingly acknowledge their fault.

31. "And the firstborn said." Here Moses narrates a miracle, which
rightly brings the readers to astonishment. For, how could that unchaste
intercourse come into the mind of the daughters of Lot, while the
terrible punishment of God of the Sodomites stood still before her eyes,
and while they knew that the scandalous and sinful lusts were the chief
causes thereof? True, they were not so much moved through sensual lusts,
as through a foolish desire for the procreation of their family;
nevertheless, this urge was too absurd, because it forces the nature to
forget all chastity and sense of shame, and, like the beasts, to destroy
all difference between scandalous and honourable. To understand the
better the whole of the case, I will deal with the separate parts, in
  In the first place, concerning the plan of Lot's oldest daughter, whom
the younger obeyed, concerning that I take for granted that none of both
is urged trough fleshy lust, but that they both have only thought about
the propagation of the family. For, what kind of passion would that have
been, to desire for intercourse with an already old father?
  That the oldest furtively comes in for but one night, and puts her
sister in her stead, the next night, and that they, being pregnant, not
think to return to the embrace of their father; from that we decide in
the second place, that they have had no other goal but to become mother.
But I do not approve of what some conjecture, who say that they were
mislead by a great error, thinking that the whole world had perished
together with Sodom. For, they had just dwelt in Zoar, also there were
sweet regions before their eyes, which were surely not without
inhabitants, and also they had learned from their father that a special
punishment was inflicted upon the Sodomites and the other neighbours.
They also were not ignorant of the family whence their father came, and
what kind of uncle he had followed out of his fatherland. So, what must
we think? That, because they were assured that families are maintained by
children, it was hard for them and it was a continual cause of grief,
that they were without children. Also the emptiness, when their father
would be dead, could seem to be unbearable for them, because they saw
that they then would be lonely, and without any help. So, hence their
impudent desire, and that absurd urgency to seek this unchaste
intercourse, as they were afraid of a lonely life, which was liable to
many concerns. Also I doubt not, that Moses not narrates what they have
used as a pretext, but what they have said in a sincere feeling of their
hearts. So, they wanted to bring forth seed, like the custom of all the
nations. They adduce the example of the entire world, because they would
deem it unfair when their state would be worse then that of the others.
Everywhere, they say, the young women are praised, who conceive children,
and thus build their families; why must we then be condemned to be always
childless? In the mean time, they well know that they commit a great sin.
For, why make they their father drunken? Is it not, because they guess,
that he cannot be made willing? When he has had an aversion to
unchastity, the daughters must necessarily have had the same notion in
their consciences. So, in no wise they are to be excused, that they lend
themselves to a scandalous intercourse, which all the nation abhor by
nature. While the people, with normal crimes, are forced to admit their
crimes; how will they plead themselves free with important crimes, as if
no fear for God's judgement prickled them? Therefore, with suppression of
the conscience, Lot's daughters devote themselves to that crime. The
reason to mislead their father was no other then this, that they knew the
disgrace, which they themselves necessarily had to condemn, because they
knew that it was against the order of the nature. From this appears,
whereto the people come when they follow their own will; for nothing can
be so absurd or bestial, that we not decay to that, when we give free
rein to our flesh. Let this, therefore, be the beginning of al our
desires, to examine what the Lord allows, in order that it comes not in

(continued in part 29...)

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