Lot's Wife near  the Dead Sea DSCF8241
Lot's Wife near the Dead Sea by GflaiG via Flickr

In the Old Testament Lot is Abraham‘s nephew. He departed from his family to the proximity of Sodom, a place of iniquity where he was rescued by two angels. But he’s really more famous for what happened to his wife.

Lot’s Wife is also a character in the Old Testament. Her tale has become emblematic as a kind of dire warning about the danger in not trusting God.

When delivered from Sodom, Lot and his wife are warned by the Lord to not look back because the city is being utterly destroyed. The destruction arises because “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13).

Lot’s wife disobeys. As she turns to look back, she’s transformed into a pillar of salt. Lot, however, doesn’t look back and survives the ordeal unscathed.

Feminists point out that Lot’s wife is unnamed in the Bible.

Historians, tour guides and geologists each have their own take on what really happened. Two prevailing naturalistic theories are:

  1. Lot’s wife is a natural rock salt formation that occurs in the Dead Sea area, which can still be viewed today.
  2. Salt floes in the dead sea were thrust upward by surging waters, “hence legend is created out of what can now be explained as a simple geological phenomenon.”¹

From a practical perspective we might say that the story of Lot’s wife instructs us to “not look back” when life and, perhaps, our very physical, economic, psychological or spiritual survival demands that we move forward and not get stuck in the past.

¹ “The geologists said that Lot’s wife did not appear to turn into a pillar of salt because she dared to look back but because of the briny nature of the Dead Sea. But the research shows it was more likely a case of mistaken identity. Mr. Harris said by telephone from Canada that the Dead Sea was full of salt floes that might have been thrown up by surging water to resemble a female outline. ‘Hence legend is created out of what can now be explained as a simple geological phenomenon.'” Source: “Geologists Zero In on Sodom and Lot’s Wife” in New York Times » http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B03E0D71739F934A25751C1A963958260

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