How Many Daughters Did Lot Have?


Lot is recorded as having two daughters who had not known a man (Genesis 19:8), but Genesis 19:12 talks about his sons-in-law. How is this explained?

We know that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).   Therefore, there must be an answer to this question and there are three possible answers.

First of all, let us look at this passage. In Genesis 19:8 Lot, through a misguided sense of hospitality, offered his two daughters to the depraved men of Sodom. The new KJV Bible Commentary observes that this “is absolutely an amazing statement, especially on the part of a believer.   That he would protect two strangers and offer his own flesh and blood is beyond understanding. Doing his best, he has jeopardized his daughters, enraged his townsmen, and finally required rescue by those he was trying to protect.”   Matthew Henry’s Commentary states that Lot “pleaded the laws of hospitality and the protection of his house which his guests were entitled to.” Of course, we understand that his conduct, at face value, would have been terribly wrong. However, it has been suggested that Lot’s “offer” was not to be meant seriously, but only made for the purpose of showing the Sodomites the depravity of their conduct.

In addition, Richard Elliott Friedman, “Commentary on the Torah,” writes on pages 66-67: “It seems to me that it is not the Near Eastern tradition of hospitality but of bargaining that accounts for what is going on here… Lot is supposed to make an extraordinary gesture. He offers his own two daughters. But no one is supposed to take him up on it. And then, in this horrible town, the gesture does not work anyway. The people only become angry.”

In Genesis 19:14 we read that “Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, ‘Get up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!’ But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.”

In Genesis 19:15-17 we read the outcome. “When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, ‘Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.’ And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, ‘Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.’”

The first possible answer to our above-stated question is that Lot had more than two daughters.   In verse 15, Lot was told to take “your two daughters who are here”. In the Douay Rheims Bible it states, “Arise, take thy wife, and the two daughters which thou hast who are here.” And in Young’s Literal Translation we read: “Rise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters who are found present.”   If these daughters were with Lot and his wife, it is likely that they were unmarried; otherwise, they would have been with their husbands (the exception behind this is explained below in the second possible answer).   If indeed Lot had other daughters who were not in the house, they would have been destroyed with his sons-in-law as only Lot, his wife and two daughters escaped from Sodom.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers agrees with this concept, stating: “The traditional view is that given in our Version, and is confirmed by Genesis 19:15, where the words—‘thy two daughters which are here,’ Heb., which are found—certainly suggest the idea that Lot had other daughters, besides the two which escaped with him.”

A second possible answer is the way that in biblical times, betrothal was a valid marriage.   In the Jewish under the heading “Betrothal and Home-Taking” it states the following: “After the betrothal a period of twelve months was allowed to pass before the marriage was completed by the formal home-taking (‘nissu’in,’ ‘liḳḳuḥin’). In case the bride was a widow or the groom a widower, this interval was reduced to thirty days (Ket. v. 2; Shulḥan ‘Aruk, Eben ha-‘Ezer, 56).”

In our booklet “Jesus Christ – A Great Mystery!,” pages 24 and 25, under the heading “Mary’s Betrothal to Joseph,” the following is written:

“We should take note of another important fact when considering the relationship of Joseph and Mary prior to Mary’s conception. We read in Matthew 1:18–20: ‘Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”’

“The angel told Joseph that he and Mary were already considered to be husband and wife. But they had not consummated the marriage yet—they were living in the state of betrothal. Legally speaking, they were married, but they had not come together, sexually, as husband and wife.

“The concept of betrothal is quite different from today’s concept of engagement. In our society the word ‘engagement’ does not seem to carry much value, as people commonly get engaged and then dissolve the engagement without legal consequence. In ancient Israel and Judah, a betrothal was considered to be a binding agreement, and could only be dissolved through divorce. This is why Joseph wanted to ‘put her away,’ a Biblical expression for divorce.

“The Luther Bible comments on ‘betrothal’: ‘The Jewish engagement constitutes a legally binding marital promise. The marital intercourse only occurs, however, after the wedding, when the bridegroom takes the bride into his home.’

“Eerdman’s Handbook to the Bible states, ‘Betrothal, unlike modern engagement, was legally binding and could be broken only by divorce.’”

In addition, Flavious Josephus, the Jewish historian, states in 1:11:4, that “these sons in law to Lot, as they are called (Genesis 19:12-14) might be so styled because they were betrothed to Lot’s daughters, though not yet married to them.” Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible gives a similar explanation: “… some think they were espoused to men, but had not yet cohabited with them.” Similar the viewpoint of Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “‘… married his daughters.’ Better, as R.V. marg., were to marry… This seems more probable… The verb used here means literally ‘the takers of.’ For Lot’s daughters were in the house with him: Lot went out to find his ‘sons in law’: the word ‘sons in law’ may mean ‘the betrothed.’ If the daughters had been married, they would not have been living with Lot.”

Therefore, it could well have been that Lot’s daughters were betrothed as was Mary to Joseph who were considered man and wife.

And a third possible answer, although unlikely, is that Lot lied when he said that his daughters were virgins, to make them more “attractive” to the evil and sexually perverted people of Sodom.   If this is indeed the answer, then Lot would not have been the only man of God to lie (as examples, see Abraham in Genesis 20:2; Isaac in Genesis 26:7 and Jacob in Genesis 27:19).

Looking at the evidence, it is more likely that either the first or the second explanation may be the correct answer. But whichever it is, we can rest assured that the Bible does not contradict itself (compare John 10:35).

Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

©2024 Church of the Eternal God