|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 28. - And he looked toward - literally, towards the face, or visible side (cf. Genesis 18:16 where the same phrase is employed to describe the act of the angels on leaving Mamre) - Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, or Jordan circle. The cities of the plain are commonly believed to have been situated at the southern extremity of the Dead Sea, The principal reasons assigned for this conclusion may be stated.
1. Josephus and Jerome, the one representing Jewish, and the other Christian, tradition, both speak of a Zoar as existing in that locality.
2. The difference of level between the northern and southern ends of the lake, the one according to Lynch being 1300 feet, and the other not more than 16 feet, seems to favor the idea that the latter is of recent formation, having been, in fact, submerged at the time of the overthrow of the cities.
3. A ridge of rock-salt on the west of the Yale of Salt is called by the name Jebel Usdum, in which a trace of the word Sodom is by some detected; and the pillars of salt that in that region have from time to time been detached from the salt cliffs have been designated by the name of Lot's wife (Bint Sheikh Lot).
4. The statement of Genesis 14:3 appears to imply that the Salt Sea now covers what was originally the vale of Siddim.
5. The expression "like the land of Egypt as thou comest to Zoar" (Genesis 13:10) is suggestive rather of the southern than of the northern extremity of the lake as the site of the Pentapolis. It may be added that this opinion has received the sanction of Robinson, Stanley, Porter, Thomson (The Land and the Book), and other eminent geographers. On the other hand, there are reasons for believing that the true site of the cities was at the north, and not the south, of the Dead Sea.
1. The circle of the Jordan was visible from the Bethel plateau (Genesis 13:10); the southern extremity of the Dead Sea is not.
2. From the heights above Hebron or Mature, though the actual circle is not visible, "yet the depression between the nearer hills and those of Gilead can be perceived, and Abraham could at once identify the locality whence the smoke arose," after Sodom's burning.
3. Chedorlaomer's route (Genesis 14:7-14) was from Kadesh to Hazezon-tamar, midway up the western shore of the Dead Sea, from Hazezon-tamar to the vale of Siddim, and from Siddim to Dan, the natural conclusion being that on reaching Hazezon-tamar he did not turn southward, but continued marching northwards.
4. Moses from Mount Nebo (Deuteronomy 34:3) beheld"' the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar," which was certainly possible if Zoar was in the line of vision with the plain and the city of Jericho, but as certainly impossible if it was at the southern extremity of the lake This view has been advocated by Grove (Smith's 'Biblical Dictionary,' art. ZONE) and by Tristram ('Land of Israel,' pp. 354-358, and 'Land of Moab,' pp. 330-334), and has been adopted by Drew ('Imp.' 'Bible Dict.,' art. Sodom), Dykes ('Abraham, the Friend of God,' p. 185), and Inglis ('Genesis, p. 168). And beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a (literally, of the) furnace. Thus the appalling catastrophe proclaimed its reality to Abraham; to subsequent ages it stamped a witness of its severity
(1) upon the region itself, in the bleak and desolate aspect it has ever since possessed;
(2) upon the page of inspiration, being by subsequent Scripture writers constantly referred to as a standing, warning against incurring the Almighty s wrath (Deuteronomy 29:22; Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 49:18; Lamentations 4:6; Amos 4:11; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7); and
(3) upon the course of ancient tradition, which it powerfully affected. Cf. Tacitus, 'Hist.,' 5:7: "Hand procul inde eampi, quos ferunt olim uberes, magnisque urbibus habitatos, fulminum jaetu arsisse; et manere vestigia; terramque ipsam specie torridam vim frugiferam perdidisse; nam cuncta atra et inania velut in cinerem vanescunt. Ego, sicut inelitas quondam urbes igne celesti flagrasse concesserim." For traditional notices of this event by Diodorus Siculus, Strabo, Pliny, Ovid, &c. vide Rosenmüller (Scholia I. Genesis 19:25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain,.... To see how it fared with them: very probably the Lord had hinted it to him, that the destruction would be that morning, and therefore he rose early, got to the place bearly, and being on an eminence, looked wistly to see if he could observe any sign of it:
and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace; after the fiery shower was over, and the cities burnt down, the smoke ascended toward heaven, as the smoke of mystical Babylon will do, Revelation 19:3; like the reek of a boiling cauldron; or, as Jarchi, like the smoke of a lime kiln always burning.
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