|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
19:1-29 Lot was good, but there was not one more of the same character in the city. All the people of Sodom were very wicked and vile. Care was therefore taken for saving Lot and his family. Lot lingered; he trifled. Thus many who are under convictions about their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, defer that needful work. The salvation of the most righteous men is of God's mercy, not by their own merit. We are saved by grace. God's power also must be acknowledged in bringing souls out of a sinful state If God had not been merciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin. Lot must flee for his life. He must not hanker after Sodom. Such commands as these are given to those who, through grace, are delivered out of a sinful state and condition. Return not to sin and Satan. Rest not in self and the world. Reach toward Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not stop. Concerning this destruction, observe that it is a revelation of the wrath of God against sin and sinners of all ages. Let us learn from hence the evil of sin, and its hurtful nature; it leads to ruin.
Verse 24. - Then the Lord rained - literally, and Jehovah caused it to rain; καὶ κύριος ἔβρεξε (LXX.), which latter term is adopted by Luke in describing this event (Genesis 17:29) - upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah - and also upon Admah and Zeboim (Deuteronomy 29:23; Hosea 11:8), Bela, or Zoar, of the five cities of the Jordan circle (Genesis 14:2, 8) being exempted - brimstone and fire - גָּפְרִית; properly pitch, though the name was afterwards transferred to other inflammable materials (Gesenius); וָאֵשׁ, and fire, which, though sometimes used of lightning, as in 1 Kings 18:38; 2 Kings 1:10, 12, 14; Job 1:16, may here describe a different sort of igneous agency. Whether this Divinely-sent rain was "burning pitch" (Keil), of lightning which ignited the bituminous soil (Clericus), or a volcanic eruption which overwhelmed all the region (Lynch, Kitto), it was clearly miraculous in its nature, and designed as a solemn punitive infliction on the cities of the plain - from the Lord - i.e. Jehovah (the Son) rained down from Jehovah (the Father), as if suggesting a distinction of persons in the Godhead (Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Athanasius, et alii, Delitzsch, Lunge, Wordsworth); otherwise the phrase is regarded as "an elegancy of speech" (Aben Ezra), "an emphatic repetition" (Calvin), a more exact characterization of the storm (Clericus, Rosenmüller) as being out of heaven.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then the Lord rained upon Sodom, and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. And not upon those two cities only, but upon Admah and Zeboiim also, see Deuteronomy 29:23; this was not a common storm of thunder and lightning, with which often there is a smell of sulphur or brimstone; but this was a continued shower of sulphurous fire, or of burning flaming brimstone, which at once consumed those cities and the inhabitants of them; and the land adjacent being bituminous, or however some parts of it, full of slimepits, or pits of bitumen, a liquid of a pitchy quality, Genesis 14:10; this flaming sulphur falling thereon, must burn in a most fierce and furious manner; and which utterly consumed not only houses, goods, and everything upon the land, but the land itself, and turned it into a bituminous lake, called to this day, from thence, the Lake Asphaltites, the Greek word for bitumen being "asphaltos". Of this conflagration some Heathen writers speak, as particularly Tacitus (f) who says, some large and famous cities, or, as some copies have it, Jewish ones, not far from Jordan, were struck with thunderbolts, and were fired "igni ceolesti", with fire from heaven, and were consumed; and so Solinus (g) relates, that,"at some distance from Jerusalem, a sorrowful lake appears, which the black ground testifies was stricken by heaven and turned into ashes; where were two towns, the one called Sodomum, the other Gomorrum.''This was a righteous judgment on those cities, and a just retaliation for their sin; their sin was an unnatural one, and nature is inverted to punish them, fire comes down from heaven, or hell from heaven, as Salvian's words are, to consume them; they burned with lusts one against another, and flaming sheets of sulphurous fire fall upon them, burn and destroy them; and, in allusion to this terrible conflagration, hell is called the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, Jde 1:7 Revelation 20:14; and this destruction was brought upon them by Jehovah the Son of God, who had appeared to Abraham in an human form, and gave him notice of it, and heard all he had to plead for those cities, and then departed from him to Sodom, and was the author of this sad catastrophe; this amazing shower of fire and brimstone was rained by him from Jehovah his Father, out of heaven; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem both call him, the Word of the Lord.
(f) Hist. l. 5. c. 7. (g) Polyhistor. c. 48.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
24. Then the Lord rained … brimstone and fire from … heaven—God, in accomplishing His purposes, acts immediately or mediately through the agency of means; and there are strong grounds for believing that it was in the latter way He effected the overthrow of the cities of the plain—that it was, in fact, by a volcanic eruption. The raining down of fire and brimstone from heaven is perfectly accordant with this idea since those very substances, being raised into the air by the force of the volcano, would fall in a fiery shower on the surrounding region. This view seems countenanced by Job [Job 1:16; 18:15]. Whether it was miraculously produced, or the natural operation employed by God, it is not of much consequence to determine: it was a divine judgment, foretold and designed for the punishment of those who were sinners exceedingly.
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