Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lot's Daughters

Alice C. Linsley


According to the Rabbis, Lot had four daughters, two of whom were married and two betrothed. The married daughters are said to have died in Sodom, but the Bible indicates that one of Lot’s daughters married Seir, the Horite chief.

The two who were said to have sexual relations with Lot were apparently “virgin” daughters, those who were betrothed. The sons of these daughters are the tribal heads of the Moabites and the Ammonites, but the Genesis genealogical information indicates that there was at least one other daughter who named her first-born son after her father, according to the cousin-bride’s naming prerogative.

Lot לוֹט means veil, hidden or covering. It is the same name as Lotan, son of the Horite chief Seir (Gen. 36). One of Lot's daughters apparently married Seir the Horite (Gen. 36) and named their first-born Lotan, after her father. Hori was one of Lotan's sons.

The story of incest between Lot and his daughters is found only in Genesis and appears to be the work of a source much later than the Patriarchs. The casting of the Moabites and the Ammonites as the fruit of incest is intended to scorn these peoples. The great chief Lot becomes drunk and exposes himself to his daughters. This story is the work of the same writer who tells of Noah becoming drunk and exposing himself to his sons (Gen. 9:21-27). These stories of drunken fathers are used to belittle rivals by denigrating their ancestors. It is often the case that where this happens in Scripture, God overrules. This is true in the case of Lot’s descendants, the Ammonites and the Moabites. According to Deuteronomy 23:3, no descendent of an Ammonite or a Moabite was permitted to participate "in the gathering of the nation for religious purposes” yet David appeared in the assembly and he is a descendant of Moab by Ruth. (Remember that Horite ethnicity was traced through the mothers.)

The source that wishes to distance Israel from their Horite ancestors is opposed by a more historically accurate source which reminds the Jews that God gave territory to Lot and intended that Lot's territory remain with his descendants. In Deuteronomy 2:9, we read "And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession." In Deuteronomy 2:19 we read: "And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession."

Genesis 22:20 tells us that Lot's sister married Nahor and gave birth to eight sons. The most notable of Milcah's sons was Kemuel, the father of Aram the Younger. Aram the Elder was one of Shem's sons (Gen. 10:22) and he had a son named Uz. The name Kemuel is found in Numbers 34:24 where a descendent of Kemuel is named as a leader for the Ephraimites. I Chronicles 27:17 tells us that the Ephraimite Kemuel had a son named Hashabiah who was a Levite chief. In I Chronicles 26:30, this same Hashabiah is called a "Hebronite" and is put "in charge of Israel west of Jordan in everything pertaining to Yahweh and to the service of the king."

Clearly, Lot's Ammonite and Moabite descendants were relatives of the Arameans and at least one of them was a Levite. In Patriarchal times the rulers among these peoples would have intermarried. In his commentary on Genesis, E.A. Speiser recognizes this. He believes that the “parallel treatment of the histories of Abraham and Lot is added proof that interrelationship was particularly intimate and important in early times.” (Anchor Bible Commentary, p. 146)  The intermarriage of the Horite clans is probaby the original meaning of the names; Moab means "by father" and Ben-Ammi means "son of kin".

Whether Moab and Ben-Ammi were Lot’s first-born sons by two wives or his grandchildren, he is presented in Genesis as a great chief with the same familial pattern as Terah, Abraham and Jacob. The pattern involves two first-born sons by different women. The first wife is the half-sister (as was Sarah to Abraham) and the second wife is a patrilineal cousin or niece (as was Keturah to Abraham).

A patrilineal cousin is a first cousin who is in the same descent group as her husband. In other words, she and her cousin husband have a common male ancestor. This was the preferred marriage arrangement for rulers among Abraham's Horite people whose religion was Nilotic and point of origin Egypt/Nubia. The name Lot is found in Egyptian records, as in the ruler Nim-Lot.


Related reading:  Cousin Brides and their Ruler SonsAbraham's Nephews and Nieces; Moses' Wives and Brothers; The Horite Federation of Uz, Buz and Huz

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