8. The Lot of Abraham and the Lot of Lot

Article Abstract

After the author of Genesis explains through the story about the Tower of Babel how the world became full of violence and evil just as it had been before the supposed flood, and after God admits that floods and natural disasters cannot be means by which evil can be eliminated from the world, one would expect God now to come up with a true answer to the problem of violence and evil. God’s solution to the problem of evil is not presented through a philosophical discourse, but rather through the stories of two characters, Abraham and Lot, two fugitives from that failed Tower of Babel who wanted to live in a different kind of world, a kind of world that God obviously endorsed since he promised that the whole world eventually would be blessed through them. After running away from the garden of Eden called Ur and arriving in the desert area called Negev, Abraham and his sidekick Lot discovered that the attraction of life in gardens of Eden were too great and decided to go to Egypt and enjoy what was considered civilized life there even if living as an immigrant in a civilized country implied disavowing his wife and making her available to become a concubine at best or a prostitute at worst for the privilege of being allowed to live in the country as a foreigner. Just as all civilizations consider foreigners the sources of all evils in the society and expel foreigners, Abraham and his nephew are expelled from Egypt and have to live together in Palestine. Although Abraham and Lot may have been relatives and apparently up to this point had been motivated by the same ideals, at this time it becomes apparent that they have opposing philosophies: Lot believes in prosperity achieved through violence while Abraham believes in prosperity achieved through peaceful living and cooperation. When Lot resorts to violence, Abraham proposes that they part ways and Lot chooses to live in a city called Sodom located in a fertile area that was the closest in Palestine to what the garden of Eden had been and what he had experienced when he lived in Egypt. Although Lot’s choice looks like a no-brainer and few civilized people would question while no one would endorse Abraham behavior, Lot’s life is full of tragedies: the cities in which he lives are constantly involved in wars, he himself ends up as a captive, and although he and his city is freed by the coward Abraham, the city of Sodom is so hostile to foreigners that at some point Lot himself has to offer his underage daughters to be raped by the civilized mob in order not to lynch him and his guests. Eventually the city of Sodom is destroyed, and although Lot and his daughters manage to escape, they end up living in cave where Lot ends up raping his own daughters whom those xenophobic Sodomites had refused to rape. While Lot’s story ends, Abraham’s goes on, because, although violence and evil may seem to win in the short run, in the long run violence and evil are self-destructive and they cause their own downfall. It is the lesson that humanity has never learned, not even those read these stories as holy scripture, although this scripture has been written precisely to teach this lesson.