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According to Genesis 19:7-8 (NASB), Lot offered his virgin daughters to the men of the city so they would not sodomize the visiting angels:

7 “Please, my brothers, do not act wickedly. 8 Now behold, I have two daughters who have not had relations with man; please let me bring them out to you, and do to them whatever you like..."

However, Genesis 19:14 (NASB) implies they either had husbands or were pledged to husbands:

"Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters..."

Am I missing something?

  • I'll have to research, but if they were virgins, then the marriages were not consummated. They may have been in the first part of marriage... let me check and maybe answer ;) – The Freemason May 28 '15 at 15:45
  • Betrothal can last years in some cultures, and is considered the same as marriage, as far as the vows and such. – 3961 May 28 '15 at 17:07
  • Thank you very much. Funny how in 30 years that never jumped out at me before. – mrscjr May 28 '15 at 17:41
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    @MattGutting If you’re asking how specific the terminology is, I think it’s very specific here (Gen 19:8) - literally, “who have not known a man.” (As opposed to, e.g., Isaiah 7:14’s term for “virgin” which is (arguably) reasonably translated “young woman.”) – Susan May 30 '15 at 1:32
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    You may want to ask this here: judaism.stackexchange.com – The Freemason Jun 1 '15 at 15:22
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Genesis 19:14 NIV

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters[a]

[a] Genesis 19:14 Or were married to

They were in the first stages of marriage, which if it were modern times, it would be like engaged - but different (see below). The marriage was not consummated and therefore they were still virgins. To further solidify this as the answer, it is obvious that his daughters still lived with him, therefore the marriage was not in the second stage (nuptials, chuppah) but still in the first stage (Kichah)

To find out more about the process of marriage in early Judaism please follow this link - I have included part of it below.

Kichah ("taking," the formal acquisition) approximates the economic term kinyan and seals the marriage. Because this is the first stage in the process of creating a covenant of partnership, unions that are prohibited and void, such as incest, are never referred to in the Torah by the term kichah, but as she'khivah (sleeping together). In regard to almost all valid marriages, even those that are prohibited, the Torah makes specific reference to kichah.

This first stage of marriage is not a preliminary agreement to contract a marriage at a future date (like the western concept of engagement), but an integral component of the two-step marriage process. The betrothal portion is a sort of inchoate marriage; from that point onward, the couple is considered married. Until the second step is taken, however, the bride may not cohabit with the groom (or any other man). In this social suspension that marks the difficult transition from the single life to the married state, the couple is together yet apart. Until the twelfth century, this first stage of marriage lasted up to one year in order to make preparations for the final step. The second stage of the marriage process is the consummation. It is alternatively termed nissuin, meaning elevation of status, from nassa, coming by carriage from the father's home to the groom's; or chuppah, wedding canopy.

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    Interesting, but I’m not sure how relevant marriage in first century Judaism is to Gen 19. From the link you gave on the topic: “Before the revelation (at Sinai), a man would meet a woman on the street and if both desired marriage, he would bring her into his home and have intercourse privately [without the testimony of witnesses] and she would become his wife. When the Torah was given, the Jews were instructed that in order to marry a woman, the man should "acquire her" in the presence of witnesses and then she would become his wife." – Susan May 28 '15 at 17:28
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    There were three ways to get married. What you're talking about is: Intercourse (bi'ah). After the man has addressed the marriage formula to the woman before two witnesses, the couple retires to a private place with the intent of effecting the betrothal through intercourse. The Sages considered this to be gross, virtually an act of prostitution, and in the third century Rav decreed flogging for those who chose this manner of betrothal. Nonetheless, if the marriage was performed in this way it was legally valid. I have no reason to believe this was different from the time of Gen. 19. – The Freemason May 28 '15 at 17:32
  • I may be missing something here, but it was the anachronism (?) that I was questioning. I think that article refers to pre-Sinai marital relationships only where I quoted. – Susan May 28 '15 at 17:39
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    OK, you may well be right about the customs; I don’t really know. I just think it’s important to note the ~2000 year (give or take) leap between the setting at hand and what your answer is describing. (Looks like you took out the reference to first century now.) – Susan May 28 '15 at 18:03
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    @TheFreemason, the footnote is important because the NIV’s primary reading brazenly adds interpretation to the text, on the basis of which you assume the sons-in-law were only betrothed to Lot’s virgin daughters, rather than actually married to other daughters (as suggested by the angels). Your answer hinges on this assumption. To be fair, it’s a common assumption, but it’s not supported by the actual text, as modern Jewish scholars suggest: tinyurl.com/ozewy23 – Schuh May 29 '15 at 18:24
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It is often assumed the sons-in-law Lot urged to leave the city were only betrothed to Lot's daughters, who were still virgins. Some translations allow for that reading. But it’s more likely Lot’s sons-in-law, who were not in his home, were married to other daughters. The Jewish Publication Society translation of Genesis 19:12-15 is clearer on this point:

12 Then the men [angels] said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? Sons-in-law, your sons and daughters, or anyone else that you have in the city – bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place; because the outcry against them before the LORD has become so great that the LORD has sent us to destroy it." 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law as one who jests.

15 As dawn broke, the angels urged Lot on, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two remaining daughters, lest you be swept away because of the iniquity of the city."

As I understand ancient marriage customs of the region, had the daughters been married or betrothed, they would no longer have been Lot's to give-away to the mob. It seems the two daughters Lot offered the crowd were unbetrothed and unmarried, and still virgins.

[Credit to Jon D. Levenson for the suggestion that Lot had more than two daughters, in his notes on Genesis in the Jewish Study Bible: http://tinyurl.com/ozewy23 ]

  • That's an interesting point that the Bible was talking about two different groups of men and daughters. The story doesn't address any other children, so I believe this solution is extra-Biblical. But... it could be possible. – The Freemason Jun 4 '15 at 16:45
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The RSV which I have says " So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters...... But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting" (Gen 19:14) .Let us also read the NT which would explain the traditions better: " In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph ...... And Mary said said to the angel, " How shall this be, since I have no husband ?" (Luke 1 26-34)

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In Gen 19 vs 31 It says"Now the firstborn said tot the younger, Our father is old... It was customry for the eldest daughte rto marry first. So here we can see he only had two daughtes.

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    This doesn't answer the "married ... but virgin" contradiction which is the concern of the question. I will also comment that "he only had two daughters" would be true if the (hypothetical) older, married daughters had been killed in the destruction of Sodom. You may want to read the tour and help center pages if you have not to understand better how the site works. I hope to see you again here soon. – b and d restore Monica Oct 31 '18 at 20:32

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