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    The case for Lot – Lech L’cha

    The pillar known as "Lot's wife", near the Dead Sea

    Abraham’s nephew Lot is not one of the Bible’s favourite people, and his wife is even worse.

    The name Lot probably means a cover (see Isa. 25:7), perhaps because he began his career under the protection of Abraham.

    What alarmed the sages was not merely his attempt to break away from his patron but the unsavoury episode of his sleeping with his daughters, leading to the emergence of the Moabites and Ammonites.

    But Lot was not all bad. He would not betray Abraham to the surrounding nations even though his uncle had deceived them.

    From Abraham he learnt the art of hospitality, even though he was wrong to protect his guests by telling the mob outside his house that they could have their way with his daughters.

    He was reluctant to see his hometown destroyed despite its wickedness and pleased that a nearby town was saved so that he could find shelter there.

    He was not the instigator of the sin with his daughters: they made him drunk so that he was unaware of what he was doing. Their action was motivated by the thought that their father was the only male still alive and if he did not father children, the human race would become extinct.

    Though Mrs Lot disobeyed God by slowing down and was caught up in a salty tornado and became a pillar of salt – according to the rabbis, as a punishment for not giving her guests salt with their meals – ever afterwards the animals in the desert licked the pillar and enjoyed the taste.

    Some Midrashim think that Lot was basically a good man: they know that there is no righteous person who does only good and never sins (Kohelet 7:20).

    They even believe that the Messiah will be one of his family since King David descended from Ruth, who was originally a Moabite.

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