Lot's daughters

MooMoo Kerygmania Host
Genesis 19 :30-38

Now Lot went up out of Zoar and settled in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; so he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. On the next day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Look, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and named him Ben-ammi; he is the ancestor of the Ammonites to this day.
Why is this included in the Bible? Is it simply to tell what disgraceful people the Moabites and Ammonites are?

And what, if anything, can modern Christians gain from reading this?

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Comments

  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I always think that's a strange passage as well. Biblical scholars and practicers of higher criticism think that the story is mainly used to denigrate the Moabites and Ammonites. In their view, scripture does this pretty often, but I can't think of a similar example of length, detail, and unusualness off the top of my head.

    The story is just utterly bizarre, though. Lot didn't notice that his daughters were pregnant? Or did he just not care that they were pregnant? Or did he know that they were and suspected how they had come to be, but didn't care?

    How an allegorical reading can be pulled out of this I don't know. Perhaps it could be read as saying something about the Eucharist, or maybe just a straight temperance story.
  • One of the daughters was called Camilla. Or Cami for short.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    There is, I think, midrash saying that this was (1) payback, or even divine retribution, for Lot’s willingness earlier on to offer his daughters up to the men of Sodom, and/or (2) the fruit of Lot’s licentiousness that had led him to Sodom to start with. In other words, the midrash sees Lot as the bad guy and his daughters as sympathetic figures.

    The midrash also consider that the daughters and Lot thought they were the last people alive, so they saw themselves as needing to preserve the human race, and by doing so, they prepared the way for Ruth, David and the Messiah.

  • A lesson upon the creative spark in humanity and it's corrupted nature in sin perhaps?
  • Moo wrote: »
    Genesis 19 :30-38

    Now Lot went up out of Zoar and settled in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; so he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. On the next day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Look, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and named him Ben-ammi; he is the ancestor of the Ammonites to this day.
    Why is this included in the Bible? Is it simply to tell what disgraceful people the Moabites and Ammonites are?

    And what, if anything, can modern Christians gain from reading this?

    The obvious one is that it's an origin story--and before we go calling it a smear on the people, we should consider that the royal, messianic line of David and Jesus springs from Judah and Tamar via prostitution, concealment and quasi-incest (Genesis 38).

    As for what we can learn from it--well, the first thing I take from it, rightly or wrongly, is that it would have been good if Lot had paid closer attention to the spiritual welfare of his family and household when he made the fateful choice to move to Sodom. You'll recall that Abraham gave him the choice of the land, once their households were too large for the land to support living together--and Lot chose the direction that appeared to have richer, well-watered land (at that time), leaving his uncle the more barren. Not many years later he had left the nomadic life behind entirely and had moved into a house in Sodom, and even began intermarrying his children with the locals! Which was doubtless the road to economic prosperity, but based on what we know about the locals, he should have expected damage to his family's spiritual life. Perhaps he thought he'd do some good? But that so rarely works out: "They shall come to you, but you shall not go to them" and all that. Lot apparently stayed faithful to God in his own heart, but what happened to everybody else--probably over 100 people in all?
    By the end of the story, his wife is dead (what was that looking backward about? simple disobedience, but there's a suggestion that she longed after something she was losing way out of proportion, given the warning they'd been given). His sons-in-law and any biological children of his who had married into Sodom are also dead. His household servants are God knows where, but it's not looking good. His daughters have become focused entirely on their own pragmatic wishes, regardless of incest taboos, which suggests some significant warping. And Lot himself fails to take refuge with Abraham, although that possibility still existed, and he had no reason to think otherwise. Abraham would certainly have helped--in fact, he'd hauled him out of trouble before. I'm suspecting despair, myself.
    As for the question of "there is not a man on earth to come in to us", I don't think the daughters truly believed all life on earth had ended. They did after all live in Zoar for a while, which was probably not an all-female village. And then there's the wine they give their father, which must have been purchased, and probably not from women alone. It seems more likely that they meant "Dad will never, ever, EVER allow us to leave him and marry, now that he's so totally soured on life." And so they took steps to provide families for themselves, even if they could not face running away (which would probably have just ended in prostitution or slavery, anyway).

    I pity the whole family. It's a horrible thing to watch, knowing that you could so easily make the same mistake. (I'm watching a loved and respected relative go down this path right now, with knock-on effects on his family, and it sucks, and he won't listen, and it's all about the money now. It's pretty devastating.)
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I wonder if it isn't just a campfire story denigrating Moab and Ammon, that then got affixed to Lot and Daughters.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Could be. The simplest explanation is that it's there to denigrate the Moabites and Ammonites. To LC's point, the lineage of David and Jesus has its unsavory moments, but it's allowed a full development. From an Ancient perspective, the Moabites and Ammonites are here summed up as the result of over-sexed woman fucking their drunk father. Perhaps it's to be instructive about a family's spiritual health, but that's a reach for me.
  • But wait a sec. You even reference my point, but then blow it off. How is Moab not allowed a full development, when they end up supplying an ancestor of Jesus?

    If you want to denigrate any nation, there are far easier ways of doing it than by messing with their origin myth. Look to the prophets for examples. Call them on their current behavior--it is rarely the sort of thing one would be proud of!

    And we can't claim Israel's origin myth is any better, can we? An old man married to his half-sister, who takes a wrong turn and produces another rival nation through sexual congress with his slave before producing the rightful heir--who grows up to produce twin nations, one of whose founders cheats and betrays the other one in order to gain preeminence--and whose own children go down into slavery not so long afterward. For four hundred years.

    Really, if any of these nations is to be considered fortunate in its origin myth, I think it would be Edom. Their ancestor was a bit thoughtless and later rightfully angry, but showed a big heart and willingness to forgive afterward--and they were never slaves.

    tl; dr: to reduce the Lot story to "neener neener on you, bad Moabites and Ammonites" is to miss the richness of the narrative for an insult that could have been delivered in a much more straightforward manner.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    ECraigR wrote: »
    Could be. The simplest explanation is that it's there to denigrate the Moabites and Ammonites.
    It seems to me that the simplest explanation is the explanation the rabbis saw in it—that it’s part of a larger story about Lot and is about the denigration of him.

  • ECraigR wrote: »
    The story is just utterly bizarre, though. Lot didn't notice that his daughters were pregnant? Or did he just not care that they were pregnant?

    That's not what the text says. It says
    So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose.

    I'm reminded of the bit in Lost in Translation where Bill Murray wakes up in a woman's bed and has no idea how he got there.

    Otherwise, I've always read this the way @Nick Tamen says the midrash read it: the daughters in a sympathetic light.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    ECraigR wrote: »
    The story is just utterly bizarre, though. Lot didn't notice that his daughters were pregnant? Or did he just not care that they were pregnant?

    That's not what the text says. It says
    So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose.

    Right but I took @ECraigR to be saying: For the 9 months after that, did he not wonder how they managed to get pregnant?
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited June 12
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the text says that anywhere. And I don't think he'd be the first man not to be very curious about that. Or to be enough in denial about the incest not to consciously put two and two together.

    (Against my mum's clear memory, in not quite such sordid but nonetheless humiliating circumstances, my grandma constantly and strenuously denied ever having been pregnant with one of my uncles - who was adopted immediately after he was born - until he came in search of his family roots over 60 years later, at which point she instantly 'forgot' she'd denied being pregnant).
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Moo wrote: »
    Genesis 19 :30-38

    Now Lot went up out of Zoar and settled in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; so he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. On the next day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Look, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and named him Ben-ammi; he is the ancestor of the Ammonites to this day.
    Why is this included in the Bible? Is it simply to tell what disgraceful people the Moabites and Ammonites are?

    And what, if anything, can modern Christians gain from reading this?

    Modern Christians stand to gain more than any that have gone before: what we stand to gain is a remorselessly post-Enlightenment Christianity. It's only taken 400 years so far, so I imagine it will take that again and more.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    But wait a sec. You even reference my point, but then blow it off. How is Moab not allowed a full development, when they end up supplying an ancestor of Jesus?

    If you want to denigrate any nation, there are far easier ways of doing it than by messing with their origin myth. Look to the prophets for examples. Call them on their current behavior--it is rarely the sort of thing one would be proud of!

    And we can't claim Israel's origin myth is any better, can we? An old man married to his half-sister, who takes a wrong turn and produces another rival nation through sexual congress with his slave before producing the rightful heir--who grows up to produce twin nations, one of whose founders cheats and betrays the other one in order to gain preeminence--and whose own children go down into slavery not so long afterward. For four hundred years.

    Really, if any of these nations is to be considered fortunate in its origin myth, I think it would be Edom. Their ancestor was a bit thoughtless and later rightfully angry, but showed a big heart and willingness to forgive afterward--and they were never slaves.

    tl; dr: to reduce the Lot story to "neener neener on you, bad Moabites and Ammonites" is to miss the richness of the narrative for an insult that could have been delivered in a much more straightforward manner.

    They aren't given a full development because this part of the text doesn't say anything about the coming Messiah. The text here just says they descend from women who got their father drunk and violated the incest taboo. If we read it in dialogue with the other canonical texts of scripture, then sure, you could argue that Moab has a very, very minor role in the development of the savior. But then you have to read this text in conversation with the numerous prohibitions against incest. Would that then mean that incest is okay in exceptional circumstances?

    There may be easier ways of denigrating a nation, sure, but sometimes there are very complicated expressions of nation denigrating. Ancient Greek literature is full of examples of this.
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the text says that anywhere. And I don't think he'd be the first man not to be very curious about that. Or to be enough in denial about the incest not to consciously put two and two together.

    (Against my mum's clear memory, in not quite such sordid but nonetheless humiliating circumstances, my grandma constantly and strenuously denied ever having been pregnant with one of my uncles - who was adopted immediately after he was born - until he came in search of his family roots over 60 years later, at which point she instantly 'forgot' she'd denied being pregnant).

    Right, the text leaves out anything about Lot's state of mind once his daughters were pregnant. We don't know one way or the other how he felt after the incest took place.

    As for both your and Nick's position, that's only one part of the midrash. There are many other voices in the midrash, some of which read this passage as being indicative of the general shamefulness of Moabite woman. A quick search on Safaria.org reveals this Rabbi pointing to this as the origin story of the loose ways of the Moabites. "The one who had begun with the whoredom at first, finished with it in the end." That's only one Rabbi, but reading this as an origin story denigrating a whole people has been common for millennia.
  • Well for this question I went to my Stone chumash with Rashi's commentary. It does appear that this story is a setup for the later antipathy of the Hebrews for the Moabites and the Ammonites, though the Ammonites get off somewhat lighter because the younger sister was less culpable than her older sister who put her up to it.

    Rashi's commentary is interesting. His analysis of the Hebrew indicated that Lot was aware of his elder daughter getting up from the bed, but on the second night, instead of maintaining sobriety, he got drunk again.
    Heb. וּבְקוּמָהּ, mentioned in conjunction with the elder, is dotted (i.e., there is a dot over the second “vav”), to denote that when she arose, he did know, but nevertheless he was not careful not to drink on the second night (Nazir 23a). (Said Rabbi Levi: Whoever is inflamed by the lust for illicit relations, will ultimately be made to eat his own flesh (i.e., to commit incest). - [from Gen. Rabbah 51:9]

    I just ind the entire story to be strange. Here's Lot, a righteous but wealthy salt merchant, who is spared the destruction of those cities on account of his righteousness (even though he offered his virgin daughters to the mob in place of his two guests, which is pretty shitty if you ask me).

    And so what's the first thing that he does once he's up the mountain and safe? He diddles his daughters. Or rather his daughter diddles him and then he doesn't mind if his other daughter does as well.

    Whole story is kind of effed up if you ask me.



  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Well for this question I went to my Stone chumash with Rashi's commentary. It does appear that this story is a setup for the later antipathy of the Hebrews for the Moabites and the Ammonites, though the Ammonites get off somewhat lighter because the younger sister was less culpable than her older sister who put her up to it.

    Rashi's commentary is interesting. His analysis of the Hebrew indicated that Lot was aware of his elder daughter getting up from the bed, but on the second night, instead of maintaining sobriety, he got drunk again.
    Heb. וּבְקוּמָהּ, mentioned in conjunction with the elder, is dotted (i.e., there is a dot over the second “vav”), to denote that when she arose, he did know, but nevertheless he was not careful not to drink on the second night (Nazir 23a). (Said Rabbi Levi: Whoever is inflamed by the lust for illicit relations, will ultimately be made to eat his own flesh (i.e., to commit incest). - [from Gen. Rabbah 51:9]

    I just ind the entire story to be strange. Here's Lot, a righteous but wealthy salt merchant, who is spared the destruction of those cities on account of his righteousness (even though he offered his virgin daughters to the mob in place of his two guests, which is pretty shitty if you ask me).

    And so what's the first thing that he does once he's up the mountain and safe? He diddles his daughters. Or rather his daughter diddles him and then he doesn't mind if his other daughter does as well.

    Whole story is kind of effed up if you ask me.



    The Jews had hundreds of years to remove this and other dubious stories but they decided to keep things in warts and all.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    That's actually what I like about the Bible; it's raw and gritty. Amazingly good deeds are done but so are amazingly depraved ones. Life hasn't changed that much; very few characters are squeaky clean. Good characters have dark and light, and God uses them as he finds them.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Agreed, @Lyda. And I always like the question Rob Bell posits: “Why did people keep telling this story.”

    And yes, @ECraigR. I purposely phrased my initial post as “there is midrash saying” rather than “midrash says.” I’m not sure there’s any passage of Hebrew Scripture for which conflicting midrash can’t be found, which is generally seen as a positive.

  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    I really enjoyed your post, AFF. A couple of small things that drew my attention:

    Rashi's commentary is interesting.<SNIP>
    Heb. וּבְקוּמָהּ, mentioned in conjunction with the elder, is dotted (i.e., there is a dot over the second “vav”), to denote that when she arose, he did know, but nevertheless he was not careful not to drink on the second night (Nazir 23a).
    I have seen rabbis make points like this before (e.g., "Beresheit" means "In [a] beginning": It would have to be "Baresheit" to be "In the beginning." Queue rabbinical riff...) But the vowel markings were not in the original text and were only added between the sixth and tenth century A.C.E. -- not too long before Rashi was writing. I am always surprised by the mixture of extreme deference to the text and complete indifference to its provenance that this approach to midrash seems to embody.
    I just find the entire story to be strange. Here's Lot, a righteous but wealthy salt merchant, <SNIP>

    Was Lot a salt merchant? Is that Biblical or part of the folklore that has grown up around the story? Do you have any insight into how and when that idea arose?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Was Lot a salt merchant? Is that Biblical or part of the folklore that has grown up around the story? Do you have any insight into how and when that idea arose?
    I guess he had to do something with his wife’s remains.

  • tclune wrote: »
    I have seen rabbis make points like this before (e.g., "Beresheit" means "In [a] beginning": It would have to be "Baresheit" to be "In the beginning." Queue rabbinical riff...) But the vowel markings were not in the original text and were only added between the sixth and tenth century A.C.E. -- not too long before Rashi was writing. I am always surprised by the mixture of extreme deference to the text and complete indifference to its provenance that this approach to midrash seems to embody.

    There are those who would gasp in shock and horror at the idea that a diaresis could be added at ANY TIME during the copying of the Torah - considering that individual letters of Torah scrolls need to be sponsored and that entire scrolls must be destroyed if one letter is misshapen or out of place.

    But ... shit happens.

    tclune wrote: »
    Was Lot a salt merchant? Is that Biblical or part of the folklore that has grown up around the story? Do you have any insight into how and when that idea arose?

    Just commentary that came up during one of the readings of the Tanya that I recalled. Lot greeted the two angels (strangers) at the city gate. This was his station, where all the commerce took place and justice was dispensed. The fact that Lot was sitting at the gate meant that he was someone highly placed and influential in his community. Salt was currency in that time. It's inferred, and makes sense to me.

    AFF

  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Agreed, @Lyda. And I always like the question Rob Bell posits: “Why did people keep telling this story.”

    And yes, @ECraigR. I purposely phrased my initial post as “there is midrash saying” rather than “midrash says.” I’m not sure there’s any passage of Hebrew Scripture for which conflicting midrash can’t be found, which is generally seen as a positive.

    Of course. A fellow before the law like yourself knows their words. I was replying to Eutychus's "the midrash" comment, which I probably took too literally. Apologies.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the text says that anywhere.

    EXACTLY THE POINT. Yes.
  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I'd also like to point out that why stories continue to get told is quite complicated. Us in America have many stories we'd rather not tell, but they continue to be told. Why a story was told at one point and continues to be told may not make sense to a later generation.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    tclune wrote: »
    Was Lot a salt merchant? Is that Biblical or part of the folklore that has grown up around the story? Do you have any insight into how and when that idea arose?
    I guess he had to do something with his wife’s remains.

    Well played, sir.

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    I have seen rabbis make points like this before (e.g., "Beresheit" means "In [a] beginning": It would have to be "Baresheit" to be "In the beginning." Queue rabbinical riff...) But the vowel markings were not in the original text and were only added between the sixth and tenth century A.C.E. -- not too long before Rashi was writing. I am always surprised by the mixture of extreme deference to the text and complete indifference to its provenance that this approach to midrash seems to embody.

    There are those who would gasp in shock and horror at the idea that a diaresis could be added at ANY TIME during the copying of the Torah - considering that individual letters of Torah scrolls need to be sponsored and that entire scrolls must be destroyed if one letter is misshapen or out of place.

    But ... shit happens.

    tclune wrote: »
    Was Lot a salt merchant? Is that Biblical or part of the folklore that has grown up around the story? Do you have any insight into how and when that idea arose?

    Just commentary that came up during one of the readings of the Tanya that I recalled. Lot greeted the two angels (strangers) at the city gate. This was his station, where all the commerce took place and justice was dispensed. The fact that Lot was sitting at the gate meant that he was someone highly placed and influential in his community. Salt was currency in that time. It's inferred, and makes sense to me.

    AFF

    And I suppose that would add a bit of extra symbolism to the aforementioned fate of his wife: looking back in probable longing for the the wealth and comfort of her life in Sodom, she is transformed into the material that served as the basis for that wealth and comfort.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the text says that anywhere.

    EXACTLY THE POINT. Yes.

    An argument that isn't based on what the text says is based on speculation, as you are often among the first to point out.

    If speculative arguments are being admitted, then there's no reason not to admit alternative speculative arguments supporting different conclusions, as I did.
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Fathers and daughters, such powerful and challenging stories. I've often thought of this taboo-breaking narrative as pointing to the desperation of the daughters to bear children when their society had been destroyed and they are living in a cave in isolation. Lot is variously presented as someone comfortable enough with the lax morality of Sodom and offering his virgin daughters as substitutes to a rape mob who wanted the visiting angels. Lot in his obliviousness and drunkenness is more to be condemned than the daughters. The power of the strongest of cultural taboos can be broken if there is no other way to ensure the survival of the family or clan.

    My favourite counter-myth and one that also involves a daughter breaking a taboo is Rachel stealing her father's sacred objects (household gods, teraphim) in Genesis 31, hiding them in her camel's saddlebags and then refusing to get up or dismount in front of her father because she is menstruating. She uses the taboo of uncleanliness and the need for men to avoid women who are menstruating to conceal the theft. For a woman to speak of menstruating to her father is akin to broaching the rule against incest, a violation of decency.

    In her long poem Drafts, the poet Rachel Blau DuPlessis goes back to this theft and lie by Rachel as symbolic of the creative taboo-breaking of women trapped in father-daughter bondage, needing to break away or defy their fathers and a patriarchal God. A violating of core patriarchal values that allows for new life and freedom.
  • If you add father and daughter-in-law, @MaryLouise, I think the story of Judah and Tamar qualifies too, doesn't it?
  • MaryLouiseMaryLouise Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Yes, that is another example I often think about when I'm looking at Genesis thematically, which for me is often more helpful that doing close readings of individual passages. I like to sit and reflect on women in OT narratives as daughters, wives, mothers, sisters, and widows, sometimes as cult prostitutes or unfaithful wives, and the sympathy accorded to them despite their transgressions in terms of the societies in which they found themselves. I've also learned a great deal from reading midrashic exegesis on proscription and lenience or judgment vs forgiveness.

    As with Lot's daughters, Tamar's seduction of her father-in-law is ritualised and impersonal. She doesn't desire him as a lover, she wants to be impregnated by him and so she disguises herself by taking off her widow's clothes and putting on a veil, presenting herself as a shrine or cult prostitute. What we might think of as assuming a different identity in which she is now available in the service of an Aramaic goddess and not as a Judah's DIL or a celibate widow. And when Tamar 'reveals' herself after being condemned to death for her pregnancy, Judah recalls that he himself has transgressed in the past and that Tamar is more righteous than him. As with Lot, the transgressions of the women are of less account than those of the fathers.
  • MaryLouise wrote: »
    As with Lot, the transgressions of the women are of less account than those of the fathers.
    I agree. Like Tamar, the daughters are acting pragmatically in what they see as a higher interest, not self-interestedly.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    MaryLouise wrote: »
    As with Lot, the transgressions of the women are of less account than those of the fathers.
    I agree. Like Tamar, the daughters are acting pragmatically in what they see as a higher interest, not self-interestedly.

    Let's not get carried away with these women's high-mindedness (!). Their need for children was certainly at least in part self-interest. A widow with no children would have been in dire straits in those days.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the text says that anywhere.

    EXACTLY THE POINT. Yes.

    An argument that isn't based on what the text says is based on speculation, as you are often among the first to point out.

    If speculative arguments are being admitted, then there's no reason not to admit alternative speculative arguments supporting different conclusions, as I did.

    What argument? what conclusion was drawn from this? Use small words like I'm stupid.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think the text says that anywhere.

    EXACTLY THE POINT. Yes.

    An argument that isn't based on what the text says is based on speculation, as you are often among the first to point out.

    If speculative arguments are being admitted, then there's no reason not to admit alternative speculative arguments supporting different conclusions, as I did.

    What argument? what conclusion was drawn from this? Use small words like I'm stupid.

    The text does not say that Lot did not know his girls would each have a kid.

    Posts that say he did are a guess.

    We can all guess, but here the first thing we do (or I do) here is look at what the text says. Not first say say what we guess. Many wrong things can come from just a guess that is not based on what is in the text. That is my point.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    I have no idea what you are on about here.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate

    deleted
  • HarryCHHarryCH Shipmate
    Perhaps Lot simply stayed drunk for nine months or longer.
  • Anglican BratAnglican Brat Shipmate
    edited June 22
    The patriarchal narratives are noteworthy in that in several instances, even though they are often thought of as stories of powerful men, in fact in many cases it is women stuck in a patriarchal society that exercise agency, whether it is Sarai immediately proposing that Abram marry Hagar to secure a son, to Rebekah conspiring with Jacob to deceive Isaac, to of course Tamar sleeping with her father in law to secure a son.

    The incest of this story can be interpreted as a slur against Moab and Ammon, but on the other hand, the editor doesn't explicitly condemn Lot's daughters for this act. If the daughters indeed seriously believed that the human race were in danger of extinction, they did exercise agency to preserve the human race in their mind.

    My question has always been, where the heck is Abraham? Did he simply assume Lot and his daughters perished in Sodom and didn't at least try to see if they survived? I think the reason for Abraham's absence might be that the editors in their theology of insisting on Israel's claim to the land, wanted to leave no doubt that the Abrahamic covenant would go through Isaac and not through any other relatives, including that of Lot and his descendants. So Abraham's absence could be understood as his own rejection of any legitimacy given to the descendants of Lot, i.e. Moab and Ammon over the Land.
  • The story of Lot and his daughters also can parallel the infamous story of Noah and Ham (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_Ham) In the story of Ham uncovering the nakedness of Noah, some readers discern that it involved a sexual violation.

    Noah's condemnation of Ham's descendents would later justify Israel's conquest of Canaan, and seen in that light, the story of Lot's daughters would justify Israel's domination of Moab and Ammon. Recall that Israel is descended from Isaac, the only child that was willed by God directly, the 'child of the promise'.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    I should like to make a couple of related points:

    1. Perhaps it should be noted that the fatwa against the Ammonites and Moabites, at least according to Deuteronomy (23: 3-4) ), was not a function of their incestuous origins:

    3 “No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none belonging to them shall enter the assembly of the Lord for ever; 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with water on the way, when you came forth out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Be′or from Pethor of Mesopota′mia, to curse you.

    2. I entirely agree with Anglican Brat when he observes, "the editor doesn't explicitly condemn Lot's daughters for this act." Indeed, it is entirely in conformity with the overwhelming imperative in those times to increase tribal numbers. More reprehensible, for the same reason, were the sins of Onan and homosexual relations.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    But just so we're all clear, Onan's sin was not sexual. He sinned by not begetting a son for his dead brother.
  • Not quite IMHO. He sinned by using his sister-in-law's body, repeatedly, for nothing but his own fucking gratification--and specifically denying her the child that was no doubt the only reason she put up with him at all. Mega-asshole (and essentially a rapist, since she did not consent to be treated that way.)

    Mosaic law from later on suggests that, if he really didn't want to sire a child for his brother, he could have simply refused the marriage. It would have led to social opprobrium, but nothing worse than that.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Okay good point. But it's not the justification for "God hates masturbation" that some would make it out to be.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Lamb Chopped: "He sinned by using his sister-in-law's body, repeatedly, for nothing but his own fucking gratification--and specifically denying her the child that was no doubt the only reason she put up with him at all. Mega-asshole (and essentially a rapist, since she did not consent to be treated that way.)[/url]

    ISTM, apart from Onan's failure to impregnate, the above quotation is not supported by the text. How do we know, for example, that Onan "repeatedly" acted as described. What evidence is there that his actions, which we might regard as rape, were considered a "sin", apart from coital interruption?

    Surely, we are not discussing our morals but those of a time when the imperative to reproduce was paramount.
  • WandererWanderer Shipmate Posts: 33
    I think it is supported by the text Genesis 38 v9:" whenever he slept with his brother's wife, he spilt his semen on the ground". I read "whenever" to mean "on every occasion", not just the once.
    To me it is remeniscent of the vile present day practice of removing a condom mid-coitus without the partners knowledge or consent. Not strictly rape but imposing one person's contraception /non - contraception choice on another for one's own personal kicks. Neither consensual or honouring.
  • Yes, "stealthing" occurred to me too.

    Tamar is clearly not a non-entity. Once she realizes her father-in-law is doing her wrong, she has the guts and courage to pull together a complicated plot in order to get pregnant by him and get the much-needed child(ren), while at the same time safeguarding her own life (the whole business about essentially confiscating his wallet). I'm fairly sure that if the Lord hadn't put an end to Onan for what he was doing to Tamar, Tamar herself would have done so. One way or another. She doesn't seem the type to put up with shit.

    As for the need for a child...

    The reason levirate marriages existed was not purely for the benefit of the dead brother. After all, he's dead, and self-interest means that I'm sure other brothers could find a way to um, justify their taking over of his property, while maintaining a sentimental (and non-costly) attachment to his memory.

    The practical problem was this. There is a widow who needs support, possibly for the rest of her life. She lives in a nomadic or agrarian culture, and is unlikely to be able to handle the work of a farm or herd on her own. She probably doesn't have the specialized skills (such as being a healer) that would allow her to support herself in some other way--and in any case, making a living from specialized skills presupposes a large population nearby that can afford to pay you enough to live on.

    So what to do with her? You could just toss her out on her ear, but that would make the family look bad, and nobody would want to marry their daughters into your family in the future. She'd likely either starve or go into prostitution.

    You could send her home to her parents, assuming they are still alive (not a safe assumption in a world with a short average life expectancy). If you do this, they will certainly demand some compensation, given the fact that you are sending them an extra mouth to feed.

    You could try to marry her off outside the family, but she is now (forgive me) damaged goods--not for loss of virginity, but rather because she is known to be possibly barren. She is also older than she was when she first married, and again, this is a culture with a short average life expectancy. So this option is difficult, unless you smooth the way by giving her a dowry of sorts--which again, is expensive.

    Or (assuming you are the patriarch of her dead husband's family), you can solve the whole mess by ordering one of the adult males to take her on as wife. Nice and simple--no need to cough up money in any direction, and if the young man is still single, you solve the problem of paying his future bride price at the same time. Everybody already married? No worries--just indicate that this is an arrangement designed to benefit the dead man (sob, sob) and the current wife/wives may be satisfied, or at least pipe down. It will also go better when you remind them that the putative future children will not be inheriting from their bio-dad and will take nothing away from their own children. They get the dead man's inheritance. No problem.

    The only real fly in this ointment comes if she never in fact bears a child--in which case the whole family will have to support her lifelong. But that's the risk you take as a family. And if she DOES have a child, the responsibility for supporting Mom will automatically devolve onto that kid--certainly in the case of a son, and possibly in the case of a daughter. Because in those cultures, daughters normally marry cousins, which keeps the property in the family, and also the responsibility for Mom.

    (By the way, the masturbation thing is an incredibly weird misreading of the text, and whoever first came up with it needs to get their head examined. It's clearly coitus interruptus going on here.)

  • Leaving behind the rather obnoxious cultural viewpoint for a moment--

    As for why this is sin, I do not in any way think God is limited to the misogynist attitudes of any culture, even the cultures associated with him in the Bible. I think what Onan did was rape. Repeated rape. Along with assorted nasties like disobedience to one's father, disregard for the well-being of a relative, and treating another human being like an object. Any and all of that is enough to get God steaming.

    You'll notice that Judah also sins when he pulls his whole "Go wait for my youngest son to grow up" thing on Tamar, never intending her to marry him at all. IMHO God gets him too--through the very appropriate mechanism of having his victim hang him out to dry. He gets put to public shame, and admits he deserves it. And Tamar? She gets rewarded with not one, but two babies.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    @Lamb Chopped - be careful of the life expectancy trap. If you survived your 10th birthday in most places and times you were nearly as likely live to be 60 as you are now. Most of the numbers that drag down life expectancy as an average for a population are infant and child deaths.
  • Yes, didn't mean to imply otherwise. I should have explained (though I'm long-winded enough already). The widow (and family, etc.) are living in a world without antibiotics or vaccination (thus dangers to anybody at any age) AND also not much in the way of effective birth control or emergency obstetrical treatment, which is specifically a huge danger to women of childbearing age. Chances are good one or both of her parents have died by the time her husband does--making going home to her folks a nonstarter.

    As for her own age and how that plays into chances of remarriage "on the open market," if you live in a world like the one described above, it makes a twisted sort of sense for men to marry very young women, not that far past puberty--so they've got the maximum length of time available for childbearing. After all, you know that some or even most of those children are going to die--and you need kids to support you in your old age. So when you look for a wife, you're not likely to consider an older, childless woman without a great deal of inducement (probably in the form of money or land).

    This kind of dynamic is still at work in poorer countries around the world, which generally show a much younger age of marriage (and higher birthrate per woman) than the richer countries. If you live in a country with excellent obstetrical care and where child death is very, very rare, you can afford to marry a woman in her late twenties or thirties. Even if you only have two or three kids, they'll probably all live.
  • WandererWanderer Shipmate Posts: 33

    (By the way, the masturbation thing is an incredibly weird misreading of the text, and whoever first came up with it needs to get their head examined. It's clearly coitus interruptus going on here.)
    I 've got a theory about that :monks. I seem to remember reading that in mediaeval times, when trying to enforce celibacy, they got rather worked up about wet dreams and masturbation as signs of "impure thoughts". I imagine a monk coming to write his exegesis on Genesis but still being genuinely innocent of sexual matters (never slept with a woman himself, or even had an in depth conversation about such things with anyone who had) so had no idea that coitus interruptus was a thing. The only time our innocent monk had heard the phrase "spilled seed" was in the context of his old novice master bustling round the dormitory looking for signs of jerking off. So that's what he writes Genesis 38 as being about. And so we have biblical commentaries saying that "spilled seed = masturbation" for ever more!

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