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Why was Lot “let off the hook” for offering his daughters to be raped?

I was interested in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, cause I remembered at it as I heard it in my youth.

There is a part where Lot said that the people who wanted to have the strangers could have his two virgin daughters instead.

Genesis 19:
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. [KJV]

What is the reason behind this behavior? He protects two strangers (he doesn’t know at this moment that they are angels) before protecting his own daughters?

As I'm an atheist and a reasonable person, I would preferring protecting my own daughters before some strangers, if I had just one choice. So I can’t answer my question by myself.

  • 11
    It's important to note that just because the Bible records that "such and such a person did this thing", it doesn't mean that thing is necessarily approved of: even if the person is "one of the good guys". The Bible regularly records that even its main characters did things that were both good and bad. Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 15:04
  • possible duplicate of Why was Lot "let off the hook" for offering his daughters to be raped?
    – warren
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 18:54
  • I cast the final vote to close as a duplicate because the answers to that question actually answer this question as well. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 5:34

1 Answer 1


Remember that in that context Lot would have considered his daughters (and they would have regarded themselves) as his possessions. The Romans later had an idea - a law really - that the ownership of parents, particularly fathers, extended to the right at any time, even after adulthood, of the father to kill his children. It was perfectly legal and understood to be his right as a father to mete out that punishment if he saw fit to do so. One can imagine however, much more responsibility was typically imputed to fathers because of this, so a father could easily be held responsible for even the errors of an adult child.

Given this, we must consider that Lot was so extreme in his practice of hospitality that he would rather sacrifice his most valuable possessions (his daughters) than have his guests - 'the stranger and the alien' the scripture will later say - be treated wrongly. Since in our context we do not consider our children possessions, his expression could not be parsed properly in our context. Thus his actions are entirely consistent with the tradition regarding the way one treats the poor, the stranger and the alien, the weak, the sick, abd so forth.

If Lot had not considered his daughters possessions, there would be a completely different meaning to his statement. It was not until fairly recently, IIRC, that children were no longer regarded as possessions.

Then again, just to throw a wrench in the works, seeing the stunt his daughters pull later on, maybe his action was somewhat prescient.

  • Thanks for your answer, I won't say that the decision he made was the right one (neither you said something about it) but it makes kind of sense and as @DJClayworth commented, the persons in the Bible didn't do just the best things.
    – Tartori
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 18:36
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    @Thanatos: It's also worth noting that in those days, hospitality was considered literally the ultimate virtue by many civilizations. You could compare this to the fairly large amount of, e.g., Greek mythology wherein the protagonist goes to extreme lengths to protect his guests, or the antagonist is punished incredibly heavily for breaking the rules of hospitality. It's entirely possible that Lot and his daughters would have seen it as their responsibility to allow themselves to be harmed if it could protect their guests.
    – KRyan
    Commented Oct 3, 2012 at 20:59

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