Genesis 19:17
And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
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(17) Abroad.—Heb., outside—that is, of the city.

Look not behind thee.—This was not merely to prevent delay, but also showed that God demanded of them a total abandonment in heart and will of the condemned cities, and hence the severity with which the violation of the command was visited.

Plain.—The Ciccar or circle of Jordan. So also in Genesis 19:25; Genesis 19:28-29; see Note on Genesis 13:10.

Genesis 19:17. Look not behind thee — He must not loiter by the way; stay not in all the plain — For it would all be made one dead sea; he must not take up short of the place of refuge appointed him; escape to the mountain — Such are the commands given to those who, through grace, are delivered out of a sinful state. 1st, Return not to sin and Satan, for that is looking back to Sodom. 2d, Rest not in the world, for that is staying in the plain.

3d, Reach toward Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which we must not take up.

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 visitors now take steps for the deliverance of Lot and his kindred before the destruction of the cities. All that are related to him are included in the offer of deliverance. There is a blessing in being connected with the righteous, if men will but avail themselves of it. Lot seems bewildered by the contemptuous refusal of his connections to leave the place. His early choice and his growing habits have attached him to the place, notwithstanding its temptations. His married daughters, or at least the intended husbands of the two who were at home ("who are here"), are to be left behind. But though these thoughts make him linger, the mercy of the Lord prevails. The angels use a little violence to hasten their escape. The mountain was preserved by its elevation from the flood of rain, sulphur, and fire which descended on the low ground on which the cities were built. Lot begs for a small town to which he may retreat, as he shrinks from the perils of a mountain dwelling, and his request is mercifully granted.15-17. The kindly interest the angels took in the preservation of Lot is beautifully displayed. But he "lingered." Was it from sorrow at the prospect of losing all his property, the acquisition of many years? Or was it that his benevolent heart was paralyzed by thoughts of the awful crisis? This is the charitable way of accounting for a delay that would have been fatal but for the friendly urgency of the angel. Either one of the angels said this, or the third person, the Lord himself, who having parted from Abraham, after some time came to Lot, as appears both by the change of the number; for before this he speaks of them in the plural number, but from hence in the singular number, as Genesis 19:19,21,22; and by the variation of the phrase, for the other two speak with submission, and as servants, Genesis 19:13,

The Lord hath sent us, & c.; but this speaks with more authority, as is evident from Genesis 19:21,22.

Escape for thy life, i.e. as thou lovest thy life. See Deu 4:15 Joshua 23:11 Jeremiah 17:21. Or, escape with thy life, for the Hebrew particle al is sometimes taken for with, as Exodus 35:23 Leviticus 2:2 14:31 Deu 22:6. So the sense is, Stand not lingering in hopes to save thy goods, them thou shalt lose as a punishment of thy sin and folly in choosing to dwell with so wicked a people; and be thankful that thou hast thy life given thee for a prey, as it is expressed, Jeremiah 38:2.

Look not behind thee, like one that grieves either for the loss of thy pleasant habitation or vast estate, or for those cursed miscreants justly devoted to this destruction. And this command, though given to Lot alone, yet was directed also to his companions, to whom doubtless he imparted it, as is evident both from all the other commands, which equally concern all, and from the following event. See Matthew 24:18 Luke 9:62.

And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad,.... Into the fields of Sodom, or the suburbs of it:

that he said, escape for thy life; not one of the two men or angels that had been with him all the night past, for they had now left him, and were gone back to the city: but Jehovah the Son of God, who had been communing with Abraham, and now came to Sodom, and appeared to Lot, just at the time the two angels left him, and bid him escape with all haste, if he had any regard for his life, and that of those with him:

look not behind thee; as showing any concern for his goods and substance he had left behind him, or for his sons-in-law, who refused to come with him, and much less for the wicked inhabitants of the city; and this command was not given to Lot only, but to his wife and daughters, as appears by the sequel:

neither stay thou in all the plain: in the plain of Jordan, for the whole plain, and the cities in it, were to be destroyed:

escape to the mountain, lest thou be destroyed, lest thou be consumed; the same mountain the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, and they that were with them after the battle of the kings, fled to, Genesis 14:10; here only he and his could be safe from the conflagration of the plain.

And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; {i} look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

(i) He willed him to flee God's judgments and not to be sorry to leave that rich country, full of vain pleasures.

17. he said] One of the men is spokesman, as in Genesis 19:21; but the plural “they said” is found in the LXX and Lat.

look not behind thee] The meaning of this direction, which recalls the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, is not quite obvious. It may be a prohibition either of irresolute lingering, or of regretful curiosity. It is, probably, also, a test of obedience, combined with the thought that man could not look upon Jehovah and live. Cf. Genesis 16:13; Exodus 19:21.

the Plain] i.e. the kikkar: see Genesis 13:10.

the mountain] i.e. the mountainous region on the east of the Dead Sea, “the mountains of Moab.”

Verse 17. - And it came to pass, when they had brought them (i.e. Lot and his family) forth abroad (literally, without; sc. the city), that he - one of the angels (Rabbi Solomon, Jarchi, Rosenmüller, Lange, 'Speaker's Commentary'); the one that had taken Lot's hand (Inglis); Jehovah speaking through the angel (Delitzsch); the angel speaking in the name of God (Keil, Kalisch); Jehovah himself, who, though not mentioned, had now appeared upon the scene (Ainsworth, Candlish) - said, Escape for thy life (literally, for thy soul; and clearly in this case the loss of the soul in the higher sense must have been involved in the destruction of the life); look not behind thee. From the event it may be inferred that this injunction was also given to Lot's wife and daughters; perhaps to hide God's working in the fiery judgment from mortal vision (Knobel), but more likely to express detestation of the abhorred city (Bush), to guard against the incipience of any desire to return (Lange), and to stimulate their zeal to escape destruction. Neither stay thou in all the plain - or "circle" (vide Genesis 13:10). Once so attractive for its beauty, it must now be abandoned for its danger. Escape to the mountain (the mountain of Moab, on the east of the Dead Sea), lest thou be consumed. Genesis 19:17When they left him here (הנּיח, to let loose, and leave, to leave to one's self), the Lord commanded him, for the sake of his life, not to look behind him, and not to stand still in all the plain (כּכּר, Genesis 13:10), but to flee to the mountains (afterwards called the mountains of Moab). In Genesis 19:17 we are struck by the change from the plural to the singular: "when they brought them forth, he said." To think of one of the two angels - the one, for example, who led the conversation - seems out of place, not only because Lot addressed him by the name of God, "Adonai" (Genesis 19:18), but also because the speaker attributed to himself the judgment upon the cities (Genesis 19:21, Genesis 19:22), which is described in Genesis 19:24 as executed by Jehovah. Yet there is nothing to indicate that Jehovah suddenly joined the angels. The only supposition that remains, therefore, is that Lot recognised in the two angels a manifestation of God, and so addressed them (Genesis 19:18) as Adonai (my Lord), and that the angel who spoke addressed him as the messenger of Jehovah in the name of God, without its following from this, that Jehovah was present in the two angels. Lot, instead of cheerfully obeying the commandment of the Lord, appealed to the great mercy shown to him in the preservation of his life, and to the impossibility of his escaping to the mountains, without the evil overtaking him, and entreated therefore that he might be allowed to take refuge in the small and neighbouring city, i.e., in Bela, which received the name of Zoar (Genesis 14:2) on account of Lot's calling it little. Zoar, the Σηγώρ of the lxx, and Segor of the crusaders, is hardly to be sought for on the peninsula which projects a long way into the southern half of the Dead Sea, in the Ghor of el Mezraa, as Irby and Robinson (Pal. iii. p. 481) suppose; it is much more probably to be found on the south-eastern point of the Dead Sea, in the Ghor of el Szaphia, at the opening of the Wady el Ahsa (vid., v. Raumer, Pal. p. 273, Anm. 14).
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