Genesis 19:11
And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Blindness.—This word occurs elsewhere only in 2Kings 6:18, and in both cases it is plain that actual blindness is not meant. Had the men here been struck with blindness they would not have wearied themselves with trying to find the door, but would either have gone away in terror at the visitation, or, if too hardened for that, would have groped about till they found it. So, if the Syrian army had been made actually blind, they would have surrendered themselves; nor would it have been practicable to guide an army of blind men on so long a march as that from Dothan to Samaria. In both cases the men were unaware that anything had happened to them. The people of Sodom thought they saw the door; the Syrians supposed that the locality was one well known to them, and only when the confusion was removed did they become conscious that they were at Samaria. The word really means a disturbance of vision caused by the eye not being in its proper connection with the brain. And so the men of Sodom ever seemed just upon the point of reaching the door, and pressed on, and strove and quarrelled, but always failed, they knew not how, but as they always supposed by one another’s fault. It is a strange picture of men given over to unbelief and sin, and who “seeing see not,” because they reject the true light.

Genesis 19:11. And they smote the men with blindness — This was designed to put an end to their attempt, and to be an earnest of their utter ruin the next day.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.The wicked violence of the citizens displays itself. They compass the house, and demand the men for the vilest ends. How familiar Lot had become with vice, when any necessity whatever could induce him to offer his daughters to the lust of these Sodomites! We may suppose it was spoken rashly, in the heat of the moment, and with the expectation that he would not be taken at his word. So it turned out. "Stand back." This seems to be a menace to frighten Lot out of the way of their perverse will. It is probable, indeed, that he and his family would not have been so long safe in this wicked place, had he not been the occasion of a great deliverance to the whole city when they were carried away by the four kings. The threat is followed by a taunt, when the sorely vexed host hesitated to give up the strangers. "He will needs be a judge." It is evident Lot had been in the habit of remonstrating with them. From threats and taunts they soon proceed to violence. His guests now interfere. They rescue Lot, and smite the rioters with blindness, or a wandering of the senses, so that they cannot find the door. This ebullition of the vilest passion seals the doom of the city.4. men of Sodom, compassed the house—Appalling proofs are here given of their wickedness. It is evident that evil communications had corrupted good manners; otherwise Lot would never have acted as he did. They smote the men, Heb. with blindness, i.e. with a blindness both of body and mind. It was not a total blindness, as if they quite lost the use of their eyes, for they saw the house, though not the door, but it was a great dimness and confusion of their sight, and a disturbance in their common sense, by which they were made unable to distinguish between differing persons or places; as it was also with the Syrians, 2 Kings 6:18; as it is in some measure with some drunkards, who, though their eyes be open, cannot distinguish between things that differ. And this was very easy for angels to do by a small alteration either in their sight, or in the air, whereby either the door might appear like the solid wall, or the several parts of the wall like so many doors. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great,.... with "blindnesses" (n); with extreme blindness, with blindness both of eye and heart, as Aben Ezra interprets it; and indeed had they not been given up to a judicial blindness and hardness of heart, such a stroke upon them might have convinced them that their ways were evil, and their works not right, and that by them they had incurred the displeasure of God, and would desisted from their enterprise; but, on the contrary, they went on with it, and sought with all diligence and labour as much as possible to effect it. The word for "blindness" is only used here and in 2 Kings 6:18, and denotes a peculiar sort of blindness; not an entire blindness with respect to every object, but only with regard to that they were intent upon; for otherwise they would not have continued about Lot's house, or fatigued themselves with searching for the door of it, but would rather have been glad to have groped to their own houses as well as they could: and thus it was with the Syrians, when they were smitten at the prayer of Elisha, it was not total, for they could follow the prophet in the way he went and led them, but they could not see their way to the place where they intended to go; and so these men of Sodom could see other objects, but not the door of Lot's house, their heads were so confused, and their imaginations so disturbed as in drunken men; or the medium of the visive faculty, the air, so altered, or the form of the object to be seen so changed, that they could not discern it; when they saw the door, it looked like the wall, and that which seemed to them to be the door, proved to be the wall:

so that they wearied themselves to find the door; went backwards and forwards, fancying the door was here, and then it was there, and when they came to it, they perceived it was not; and thus they went to and fro, until they were quite weary of seeking it, and despaired of finding it, and left off.

(n) "caecitatibus", Pagninus, Montanus, &c.

And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11. blindness] An unusual word for “blindness,” inflicted as a sudden temporary visitation, used here and 2 Kings 6:18. LXX ἀορασία.Verse 11. - And they smote the men that were at the door - the pethaeh, or opening (vide Ver. 6) - of the house with blindness, - סַגְוֵרִים (sanverim), from an unused quadrilateral signifying to dazzle, is perhaps here intended not for natural blindness, but for confused or bewildered vision, involving for the time being loss of sight, and accompanied by mental aberration; what Aben Ezra calls "blindness of eye and mind" (cf. 2 Kings 6:18) - both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door - which they would hardly have done bad it been natural blindness only (Augustine).

CHAPTER 19:12-28 The messengers (angels) sent by Jehovah to Sodom, arrived there in the evening, when Lot, who was sitting at the gate, pressed them to pass the night in his house. The gate, generally an arched entrance with deep recesses and seats on either side, was a place of meeting in the ancient towns of the East, where the inhabitants assembled either for social intercourse or to transact public business (vid., Genesis 34:20; Deuteronomy 21:19; Deuteronomy 22:15, etc.). The two travellers, however (for such Lot supposed them to be, and only recognised them as angels when they had smitten the Sodomites miraculously with blindness), said that they would spend the night in the street - בּרחוב the broad open space within the gate - as they had been sent to inquire into the state of the town. But they yielded to Lot's entreaty to enter his house; for the deliverance of Lot, after having ascertained his state of mind, formed part of their commission, and entering into his house might only serve to manifest the sin of Sodom in all its heinousness. While Lot was entertaining his guests with the greatest hospitality, the people of Sodom gathered round his house, "both old and young, all people from every quarter" (of the town, as in Jeremiah 51:31), and demanded, with the basest violation of the sacred rite of hospitality and the most shameless proclamation of their sin (Isaiah 3:9), that the strangers should be brought out, that they might know them. ידע is applied, as in Judges 19:22, to the carnal sin of paederastia, a crime very prevalent among the Canaanites (Leviticus 18:22., Leviticus 20:23), and according to Romans 1:27, a curse of heathenism generally.
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