#23. Is Lot Abraham’s nephew OR brother? (Gen 11:27 vs Gen 13:8)


By now, the reader should be well aware of the fact that discrepancies and contradictions existed in the Pentateuch’s various genealogies because many of them were doublets—similar genealogical lists from two once separate traditions that were brought together by a later editorial endeavor. We have already seen examples of this (#7-10, #20-21).

It should come as little surprise then that in P’s genealogical list Lot is presented as the son of Abraham’s brother Haran (Gen 11:27, 12:5), thus making him Abraham’s nephew. However, J mentions him as Abraham’s brother (Gen 13:8). Noteworthy as well is that Lot does not make it into the book of Chronicles’ genealogy. Why?

We might make an educated guess at what’s going on here as this tradition progresses by looking at how these textual traditions stack up chronologically:

The Yahwist, written c. 8th c. BC, presents Lot as Abraham’s brother.

The Priestly text, c. 6th-5th c. BC, presents Lot as Abraham’s nephew.

The Chronicler, c. 4th c. BC, omits Lot from the family genealogy all together!

It might be surmised that later traditions sought to distance the embarrassing incestuous Lot (Gen 19:30-38) from his brother Abraham by making him, first, his nephew (P), and then by outright suppressing him from the genealogical tree all together, as the author of Chronicles did!

This is just one of the ways in which examining the Bible’s different textual traditions—evidenced through its many contradictions—informs us about the Bible’s textual history, and how (and hopefully why) its various traditions and stories were modified, and even contradicted by later writers. Even still, at some later point in time these different, modified, and contradictory traditions were compiled together, authenticated as Scripture, and labeled as “the Book” by a later generation of readers who had their own agenda and reasons for doing so.

27 thoughts on “#23. Is Lot Abraham’s nephew OR brother? (Gen 11:27 vs Gen 13:8)

  1. It’s called faith my friend. I assume just like most other people that the translators intent is not to cause confusion (even though we all know the old testament is rife with places where it is difficult to translate even word for word). But, by laying different translation side by side, you can at least get a general sense of the original intent and meaning of the passage. And at places that human experience aids, I assume just like anyone else, yourself included. I don’t claim to understand it all. I can only say based off my understanding and experience. I read commentary like these so I can get a better understanding. If it turns out that Abraham and lot are brothers, it changes nothing for me except that I stand corrected. It still doesn’t change the scope of the entire book, which is showing God’s redemption throughout history

  2. This is unbelievable! I haven’t even looked at other replies because I am sure they say the same thing, but if you have ever read through the Torah (if you haven’t then how can you be qualified enough to argue against it when it is written in a different language?), the word “Ach” meaning “brother” literally is MANY times used to mean relative or friend (in fact, Muslims who say Achi to mean friend took it from Judaism). For example, when Jacob took the stone of the well he called the strangers standing their “achi” “my brothers.” Many of the Jewish scholars point this out but even more so it is evident simply by reading the Torah!!!!

  3. Fredrick, your point about Abraham willing to die for Lot is revealed in the next chapter, chapter 14 where the man with all the promised does a “beat down” of one of the area’s up and coming pagan cultures. Your other representations of what is happening as per 13:8 are also “spot on”. The Hebrew bears this out.

    What is translated as “brethren/brothers” has at least three explicit implications. One is of “natural affinity” that in this case, Abram’s and Lot’s herdsmen possess as they shared together the impossible task of finding enough land to graze since the Canaanites and Perizzites were all ready there before them. And just because you have something in common does not mean that there will be always be a seeing things “eye to eye” and living, as a result, in perfect harmony and equanimity when stressful circumstances present themselves. Like running out of food for your animals. And here is where the rub, the real rivalry comes in.

    Another is a spiritual one found in Psalms 133:1 where the Hebrew word is found (‘achim’), the same as here in 13:8. “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity.” That is true in a closed family structure and universally and the same word carries this universal understanding as well as the flesh and blood brother. Context, the original intent of the author dictates the proper intent.

    Such as the “close relative”, the consanguinity of blood kinship between actual brothers with a common father that Dr. Steve DeMattai seems to be insisting is always the only proper perspective to take and translation to make for every case where ‘ach/achim’ is to be found in the Hebrew Scripture.

    An example of this, which admittedly dominates the landscape of most instances of the singular and plural of (‘ach/achim’ {which is ‘brother/brothers-brethren’ in English} such as the previously mentioned example found in Ps. 133:1) would be in Genesis14. Verse 14. “His brother”: ‘acheev’. But before that in verse 12, Lot is referred to as the ‘ben-achee’ the possessive, which is translated in English as Abram’s ‘brother’s son’ . In other words, Abram’s actual, literal nephew as opposed to his flesh and blood brother (as per Dr. Steven DeMattai’s demands). This comports with Genesis 11:31 which indicates that Lot is the son of Abram’s brother Haran who in 11:27 “gave birth to Lot.” By the way, there are at least 350 other instances in the entire Hebrew Bible, ending in Micah 5:3, that I could find where the translation includes the idea of ‘brother/brothers/brethren’.

    As I said at the end of my first paragraph, the Hebrew text proves that your common sense understanding of this passage is the right one.

  4. Fredrick,

    In this case the other word is “brother/brothers/brethren” which is the only word that actually makes it into English. It is what is translated into the English. And while it includes the sense of male, it loses the appeal to humanity which is in the context of the text in Hebrew, which puts “men” first. But what is clear to the Hebrew mind is not even, by way of translation, passed on for the English reader to consider…

    Think about that as you survey your way through all the apparent contradictions. The English translations can easily come up short, not by design, but by default. By cultural default that is the fault of no one. Nevertheless, this “blindspot” must be overcome by an intimate understanding of the author’s original intent as expressed by the original language he used. This, even though the original intent of the author, which is one of the most important of the stated goals of this Contradictionsinthebible.com blog, is or at least can be lost as a result if one does not conduct “due diligence” with Biblical Hebrew.

    Or maybe the problem is the apparent fact, that because of functional Hebrew illiteracy, due diligence is impossible. It is clear too that the reference, as the English translation bears out in 13:7 is to the herdsmen of Abram and Lot as much as to these two brothers in the faith. This is where the real strife exists. But not to one another. Between uncle Abram and his nephew Lot. Think in terms of Genesis 13:8, that while Abram is speaking to Lot, he is mainly concerned with and is addressing the people whom the problem is a real concern and from whom the issue arose, as per the text itself. Achim/ahnahshim/אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים/”men-brethren” is in the plural. You can almost see Abram lifting up his eyes from Lot to survey the crowd of people who are also there “to hear him out” since he is the “boss”. And as he speaks, it concerns what they are concerned about; and addressing them: “We are men! Men, we are also brothers!”

    So not only does your common sense win the day, but Dr. Steven DeMattai’s insistence that this is another of the ‘brother rivalry themes’, in my considered opinion, does not have any standing in the “court of understanding” to be found in the original intent of the author; who is giving us an example of how to be consolatory, preferring others first approach, even when all the God given promises belong to you (in this case, to Abram), i.e. living out being a real “peace-maker” is exemplified by this man’s character and personal example.

    In fact, the uniqueness of this Hebrew phrase, probably found nowhere else in Scripture, not only calls into question but maybe even belies the whole concept of the Graf-Wellhausen theory espoused here on this blog. It speaks to me of someone outside the JEPD framework who is present here. It speaks to me of another source. Might I postulate someone? Let us say, maybe a man named Moses/Moshe? But even if that is not the case, or is refuted, you still can here observe, by way of personal example, the intent of the God whom this man serves so faithfully; the father/Father of us all.

  5. However, J mentions him as Abraham’s brother (Gen 13:8). ?? The original text and intent of the author, obviously outside the doctrinal stance of the JPED, reads as follows: כִּי-אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים, אֲנָחְנוּ This is what is almost always translated in English as, “for we are brothers”. The middle two words in Hebrew, אֲנָשִׁים אַחִים, or literally (reading from right to left) is “men brothers”. With the other two words this is completely translated, “for we are men! We are brothers!” The Young’s Literal Translation and Jay P. Green, Sr. of the Interlinear Bible both include the word “men” with brethren as they both properly translate this final phrase of verse 8.

    This word ‘men’ also can correctly be translated as, ‘mortal-fellow-husband-people-person, servant’ etc. depending on the context. It is telling though, that the source for these variant translations, The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible makes this final salient comment which not only concerns the various other definitions for the root word listed as #582 but helps us in our understanding as well: “It is often unexpressed in the English Version, especially when used in apposition with another word.” In other words, “men” is often left out of English translations because the combo word picks up the same idea. But in this case, an appeal to universal humanity, to civility, is lost.

    Fredrick, has no Hebrew or Greek background but uses simple common sense and, to quote him “Dr. Mattei, I will claim to know all of the old testament…what I do see in the passage is the structure. Genealogies in the scriptures are typically structured very different from the general narrative.” There is no need to repeat his points that are indeed backed by the Genesis 13 author’s original intent which is, after all, what we are looking at here on this website. What is telling is that it appears that Dr. DiMattei depended on a secondary source for his conclusions, i.e. an
    English translation instead of going to the original as he represents his material to be.

    Bottom line, Fredrick won the argument here. Kudos!

  6. Dr. Mattei, I will claim to know all of the old testament, and I highly doubt I have anywhere close to the knowledge, education, or expertise you have. I will not claim I know Hebrew or Greek. However, what I do see in the passage is the structure. Genealogies in the scriptures are typically structured very different from the general narrative. In Genesis 11: 27, it seems to be just like any other geneology, ‘so and so begat so and so, and oh by the way this guy did this thing, that got him struck down, but he was the father to so and so.’ But, Genesis 13:8 is different than most of the Bibles geneologies. It happens slap dab in the middle of a narrative part. The word ‘brother’ must be understood in the greater context of what is going on, which is that Abraham and Lot’s herdsmen were fighting over grazing land. So they part on good terms so as not fight since they are family.

  7. There is still no contradiction. You must look to the cultural context of what that word means. To us today it means simply a brother. Someone who is your sibling. But, Hebrew and Greek words would have multiple meanings and implications. And sometimes they had multiple words for something like love, that we have but one word for. To the hebrews a brother could be someone born by the same parents. It could mean ‘kindred spirits.’ Abraham was simply saying we are family and same nationality (remember they’re at that point in the land God swore to Abraham and thus foreigners). To top it off, I bet Abraham love Lot as a son. I can see this in the fact that Abraham leaves everything to save Lot despite Lot taking advantage of Abraham’s offer to give him the first pick of the land and Lot choosing the more fertile side. Ever had a family member you were so close to that they were like friends or possibly something a little deeper. Someone you were willing to die for. You see this in Abraham’s attitude towards Lot. That is why I believe they can properly be called uncle and nephew and yet even deeper brothers.

    1. Fredrick,

      Yes there is—trivial, insignificant, minor, whatever—but let’s acknowledge the text. One part claims that Lot is Abraham’s “brother’s son” (Gen 11:27; 12:5; 14:12) and other parts of the text claim that he is his “brother” (Gen 13:8; 14:14; 14:16).

      Furthermore, your plea for a culturally contextualized reading and understanding is what has in fact been done. First, your own comment on the matter displays no cultural context. You merely speculate, even if correctly, about how ancient civilizations may have used and understood the word “brother.” Indeed, it seems you’re attempting to rationalize an understanding of the Hebrew ’ah in Gen 13:8, 14:14, and 14:16 based on already established preconceptions that you harbor.

      Second, our inroads to the cultural context of any ancient civilization, and thus a culturally-contextualized understanding, comes through the material remains that said culture has left behind—that is archaeological and literary remains. That’s it. These are our cultural artifacts from which any culturally contextualized understanding or speculation is to be drawn. So once again, the literary remains show that although the Hebrew ’ah can be used in more abstract contexts, such as its use in the story of Lot imploring his “brothers,” that is the townsfolk, not to rape his daughters, it is the context—not the reader—that dictates this understanding here. But the context of Gen 13:8 (as those of 14:14 & 14:16 as another reader remarked), on the other hand, in no way suggests a generalized understanding—especially if one comes to this text with the presupposition that we have a single author!—unless you’re willing to argue he’s some flighty bipolar individual! In these passages, the literary and linguistic contexts strongly support reading ’ah as “brother”—as they do in the context of Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, etc.

      Lastly—and I think this is the strongest culturally-contextualized evidence—through the literary and archaeological remains of numerous ancient cultures (Greek, Egypt, Israelite, Mesopotamia, etc.) we know with absolute certainty that these ancient civilizations told their stories and “histories” with variation, and at times even considerable variation. So, given that this is just one more piece of literary evidence in a pool of thousands, the various uses of ’ah and ben-’ah to describe Lot’s relationship to Abraham, as well as numerous other textual markers, should indicate to us that these variations represent variations in how the Lot-Abraham story was told throughout the centuries and cultural contexts within which this story was told and retold, and finally written down. It is evident that one (some?) of these traditions when they told this story told it by referencing Lot as Abraham’s brother, others as his nephew (and an even later retelling omitted it altogether!). The textual, cultural, and linguistic contexts all support this.

      So my plea is: Let’s give these stories back to their authors and cultures. It’s really that simple. Let’s listen to how they told their stories, rather than manipulate them to fit our culture’s preconceived notions about these ancient documents. It would be fallacious to argue that we can tell our stories and even histories with variation, but the ancient cultures wherein storytelling was even more pronounced and prominent cannot!? That’s just being selfish and ignorant about the cultural contexts of these ancient texts.

  8. Maybe it is just me but I don’t view snide and sarcastic remarks as effective or persuasive. It reminds me Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) trying to disprove climate change by bringing a snowball inside the U.S. Senate when it was cold outside. I’d rather see sound, reasonable arguments backed up by solid evidence and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom rather than petty personal attacks and snide comments.

    1. Unfortunately it looks like some readers are forgetting the focus here—the texts, and on their terms. Our goal is to understand the texts to the best of our ability and this includes recognizing and reproducing as objectively as possible the author’s viewpoints, beliefs, theology. In other words it’s about his stories and how he told them. If you’re reading the biblical text as conveying your story, then how are you ever going to hear the text’s story, the message of its author since in this case you’ve already prejudiced the text to mean, say, and confirm your story and your beliefs about the text? At any event, let me start (and end) by picking up on Fredrick’s comment—“I believe you are wrong in calling Lot Abraham’s biological brother.”

      So this question is inaccurately put. I personally don’t have a say here; I’m not calling anybody anything—the author(s) of the text(s) is! ANd it’s our responsibility to understand why. So the more accurate question is: Why is the text at one point identifying Lot as Abraham’s nephew (Gen 11:27) and calling him Abraham’s “brother’s son” (ben–’ah, Gen 12:5), and at another point calling him his “brother” (’ah, Gen 13:8)?

      If we examine these contextually, we glean further data. The text from Gen 11:27-32 displays a particular interest in and precision of language about family genealogies: “father” (’ab), “daughter” (bath), “wife” (’ishah), “grandson” (ben-ben), even “daughter-in-law” (kallah) are all terms employed in these brief verses. We might conclude from this textual data that this author or textual tradition was quite adamant in its precision of language, especially when it came to familial genealogies.

      The same precision is also indicated in Gen 12:5, where Lot is specifically referred to as Abraham’s ben–’ah, “the son of his brother.” We also are informed in this verse that when this author/textual tradition wishes to refer to other persons in this family more generally it too uses a specific word—nephesh—which might literally be understood as “beings” or contextually “people.”

      Thus, we might tentatively conclude from these few verses that the precision in language employed by this author/textual tradition seems to speak against the use of and understanding of ’ah in a general or abstract manner. This tentative conclusion would be further corroborated if we examined other genealogies in Genesis. At any rate, the precision of language in these verses certainly warrants the reader’s perturbed reaction in Gen 13:8 when this text uses ’ah to define the relationship between Abraham and Lot—“brothers.” Indeed, our author/textual tradition places this word in Abraham’s mouth. At any rate, we as readers would expect the same precision here, and there is nothing in the text nor its context that would suggest otherwise. Indeed, we would have expected this author/textual tradition to stay consistent and have Abraham say to Lot: “because you’re my ben–’ah.” But that’s not what we have here at all and the reader is forced to fill in the gap as it were.

      You fill this gap by prejudging this text/story to be the hand of one author/textual tradition and so in doing you deny this text/author the precision that he earlier expressed in his genealogy and instead you now impose an abstract sense for ’ah here. But again, I draw your attention to the textual fact that this understanding is not borne of the text. In this case, the reader is bringing it into the text from exterior influences. For contextually, Gen 11:27-12:5 has been precise about its language and meaning. So we expect the same consistency. When this author/textual tradition says “brother” he means “brother.”

      Furthermore, everywhere else this noun (’ah) is used in the larger context (Gen 4:2, 8; 9:22; 10:21; 14:13-14) it is used to express “brother” in a biological sense—with however one exception, Gen 19:7 where contextually we see that ’ah is being used to denote the townsfolk at large and is even used rhetorically here by Lot in an attempt to evoke some sort of brotherly affiliation among the townsfolk so the townsfolk do not rape his—the townsfolk’s brother’s sister is Lot’s plea—daughter. So both contextually (large and small) and linguistically Genesis’ 13:8’s use of ’ah suggests that its author used the Hebrew to express “brother.” So the bone you’re picking here is against the text—not me. The text here claims Abraham and Lot are brothers. Indeed, the contention is between your beliefs or those of a later tradition about the text and what the text is claiming on its own terms—’ah!

      Now, we could agree that there’s really not much textual data here to make any firm conclusion on this matter. I’m okay with that. We just leave it as an uncomfortable textual curiosity or anomaly: the author—assuming single authorship—has just contradicted himself or he slips back and forth between a precise use of the word and a more general understanding of the word, but then again as we just reviewed the textual data really doesn’t support this latter assessment. It is an exterior assessment brought to the text by the reader!

      But just to pick up the scenario I launched above, I fill in this gap as it were by bringing into the conversation a whole bunch more textual data! And with this added textual data I am then allowed to make a more convincing conclusion—a conclusion again about the text(s) and the beliefs and claims of its author(s). And this extra textual data is the accumulation of textual research that extends back to the earlier 18th century—which I’m not going to reproduce here. But in sum, such genealogical records as we find in Gen 11:27-31 we also find scattered elsewhere in the Torah (Gen 5:1–32; 10:1–7, 20, 22–23, 31–32; 11:10–32; 12:4b–5; 25:7–20; 26:34–35; 35:23–36:30; 46:8–27), and these all display a similar style, linguistic register, vocabulary, theological emphases, etc. In fact, when these textual features—style, linguistic register, etc.—are compared with other passages from the Torah we notice remarkable differences in the Hebrew, the tone or “feel” of the story, etc. These textual data—literally hundreds and hundreds of data points—have led biblists to conclude—to hypothesize from the data—that the Torah bears witness to different and competing textual traditions. Indeed, and more broadly, why should we even imagine that over the course of the monarchy and post-biblical period, 600 + centuries!, that Israelites told their stories without variation!—which speaks against everything we know about ancient literary traditions, and especially those preserved in this corpus of literature we call the Bible. Indeed, the texts themselves bear witness to this. Simply look at how the author of Deuteronomy has Moses renarrate his-story and compare it to the “original” tellings now spread out through Exodus and Numbers. In almost every case, our author retells these stories differently! Our task is not to interpret away his different retellings, his stories, but to acknowledge them and do our best to understand why he or a later time period, different geography, etc. told these traditional stories differently. After all this ancient literature reflects his/their stories! Not ours!

      So established from other textual data, the textual tradition to which Gen 13:8 belongs told this story differently. Indeed the textual tradition to which this telling belongs is thematically interested in brotherly rivalries. Based on numerous other textual parallels at the linguistic, stylistic, thematic, and theological levels (David Car’s Reading the Fractures of Genesis is still some of the best in this area; it’s emphatically focused on the Hebrew text), we see that the story of Abraham and Lot’s brotherly rivalry as recited by the author/tradition now at Gen 12:6-13:18 fits in with this author’s/textual tradition’s other stories about brotherly rivalries: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ismael, Jacob and Esau, etc.

      So yes, I am inclined to believe that when this particular author/tradition uses ’ah to describe Abraham and Lot’s relationship he meant what he said—“brothers.”

  9. As you said, “There can be benefits in being painstakingly thorough”…I agree, KW. Like I have said before, I apply that to my comments which are based on observations which I know I must be prepared to defend and to “attribute my sources” if need be. Steve is not thorough in arguing his “text”. And how could he? It is a daunting task since these texts are written in Hebrew, a language he and the founders of the Documentary Hypothesis know/knew almost nothing about. Even in any basic form; especially in technical terms that are requisite to making arguments for or against the theme here: contradictions. So this DH mindset has decided to indulge in the biggest one of all: it doesn’t know what it is talking about because it is severely, linguistically challenged. Too bad Steve has chosen to shoot himself in the foot all the time since he is basing his whole life on this approach.

    The macabre irony is that this system decided to go after the first five books of the Bible. The conclusions that it makes are laughable, they are so pathetic. As I have said before, I have chosen satire to not just mock this intellectual farce, but have done so to keep from crying as a result. Sorry for mocking them but lampoon has it’s place. I don’t want to take it too far though as seen above in the comments. Saturday Night Live (SNL) caricaturing everyone becomes funny when it is based on facts. When it becomes too insistent though, it starts becoming macabre, no matter the facts.

    In effect you helped pull me back from being just exactly that as I mirrored in my comments what I see going on here on this blog (and I can document my thoughts in and with Hebrew—the language of the “its the texts!”). I see fiction and the resultant macabre impact that has; the task I have is to help others see it too without offending unnecessarily…

  10. I appreciate your response. While I am acknowledging that Dr. DiMattei has not responded to all challenges, I should also say in all fairness that it seems like you have focused on what we could call “weaker” contradictions like this one and the Jethro/Reuel one instead of tackling the bigger ones like the Flood* and Red Sea** stories that show clear evidence of duplication in the text, which belies multiple sources. To be clear, I’m not accusing only you, qimba/Sabba, of avoiding these accounts. As of now, there are 59 comments on the Jethro/Reuel post and 9 on the Red Sea post. That’s very interesting to me, considering the fact that anyone of any belief system would say that the Flood account is much more important than the name of Moses’ father-in-law.

    I’m not saying you shouldn’t lodge an objection to a contradiction like this one that is very arguable, but it seems unfair to overlook the juiciest contradiction entries***, point to the arguable ones, and then deduce that nothing Dr. DiMattei has written is of value. He has acknowledged that his goal here is to bring out every possible contradiction. What feels to you like an attack on the Bible, faith, and everything good is for Steven a scholarly exercise in trying to suss out all the seams that we can possibly detect in the Bible texts. If some of these seams can be explained away, that does not mean that the documentary hypothesis is wrong.

    When I moved into my current home, I completed a renter’s survey where I documented the issues with my house. The first draft of my survey was extremely thorough — I counted the nail holes in the walls and noted every other tiny issue as well. I then omitted all the minor issues in the second draft which I submitted to the owners because I didn’t want to draw attention away from the importance of the larger issues or seem like a nitpicker (the owners were friends of the family), but I kept the first draft as documentation for myself. Now I own the home, so it no longer matters what the former owners know about the condition of the house, but when I sell this house, it might be useful to have this document that lists all the issues from several years ago, so that I know which issues are new since that time.

    There can be benefits in being painstakingly thorough. Dr. DiMattei is compiling all the asserted contradictions he can find in other sources and adding any new ones he can find himself. The individual issues might not seem deeply significant or even problematic, but it could be that some new deductions about sources and their motives can be made by drawing connections between certain contradictions he’s listed here. That’s basically how the documentary hypothesis came about: from connecting the dots of what seemed like minor issues on their own.

    ***Another example would be http://contradictionsinthebible.com/can-a-mortal-see-god-or-not/

  11. KW, I respect what you say on this site. You’re a voice of reason and restraint and I have said my piece. I’ll back off and try to fit with your pattern. No I’m not trying to get kicked off again…John was saying the same thing. “A word to the wise is sufficient.” Thanks to both of you.

  12. qimba, you are just asking to get “banned” again. Why not stick to arguing the facts? Why all the un-Christian remarks towards people who disagree with you? What has Dr. DiMattei said that warrants such insults, and why on Earth do you think it is appropriate to speak to your host that way? That’s right, when you are on someone else’s web site, they are your host. Any costs for bandwidth, and time spent administrating the site, come from Dr. DiMattei. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were deliberately trying to get silenced again so that you can cry “censorship”.

  13. The following is taken from the Barking Fox http://thebarkingfox.com/2015/10/27/fox-byte-5776-3-questionable-consolation/#more-3588

    Pompous people lend themselves so readily to ridicule. Unconsciously, of course. By their very nature they would not stoop to the indignity of common humor since it punctures the mirage of superior respectability they strive to maintain. That is precisely what makes it so easy (and so much fun) to lampoon such persons – albeit usually without their knowledge since they generally are the ones who wield power. Whether it is the official in high office, the wealthy heir, or the elderly matron, such people disapprove of anything or anyone that upsets their self-imposed definition of what is right and proper. Such definitions tend to be myopic at best, as well as inflexible, brittle, and hilariously easy to dispel. Doing so brings amusement and some measure of relief to the oppressed even though it likely will not result in appreciable change, or perhaps even notice by the butt of the joke.

    The rest of the post can be seen by going to the URL listed above

  14. OK, you said: “Or, perhaps I’ve translated it as ‘brothers’ to accentuate that tension !! lol”

    (;~)) Hardly a “har-har.” I would say that this is just another example of how desperate you are to find contradictions where they do not exist. You do so by taking inane stances that the JEPD demands and insist that your readers do the same: leave their brains in their hats when you demand that “no hats allowed” is the policy here. Since you abide by it, so must everyone else. The spiritually brain-dead go along with your demands. Then there are people like me that take the time to point out that you not only take your hat off, but like the foolish King, your clothes off as well.

    You run around naked all the time, bereft of any common sense. You strain out a nat ( you insist the Hebrew word demands it—you couldn’t read Hebrew if you life depended on it) and all for the sake of swallowing the “contradiction camel” that you have imagined is here with all the other “contradictions”.

  15. I believe you are wrong in calling Lot Abraham’s biological brother. You have to remember family relationships in the bible could take on a different meaning. Jonathan and David were brothers, and yet from different tribes. Often times it was how individuals related to one another. And from a national standpoint God often times referred to the community as neighbors or brothers. Yet, Israel was made of millions of people who came from 13 (Joseph’s sons are counted as half tribes) different sources. Abraham and Lot were truly uncle and nephew, yet in a general and relational stand point acted as brothers.

  16. @ Brock:

    The intertestamental literature gives a conflicting view of Lot. Jubilees 16:6-8 indicates that Lot was saved because of Abraham, but Wisdom 10:6-7 gives a more favorable assessment of Lot:

    Wisdom of Solomon 10:6-7
    6 Wisdom rescued a righteous man [Lot] when the ungodly were perishing; he escaped the fire that descended on the Five Cities. 7 Evidence of their wickedness still remains: a continually smoking wasteland, plants bearing fruit that does not ripen, and a pillar of salt [Lot’s wife] standing as a monument to an unbelieving soul.

    2 Peter 2:7-8:
    7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard),

  17. In the beginning, of this comment a point is made that those who recorded events of Lot’s presence were making an effort to distance him from Abraham as an embarrassment. I’m not sure that the scriptural record completely bears this conjecture out and since this is a critical element of this commentary perhaps there is an alternative consideration.

    If we consider the words of 2 Peter, after he mentions Sodom and Gomorrha’s destruction, he paints a modified, perhaps more balanced perspective concerning Lot when he states:

    2 Peter 2:7-8
    7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

    8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

    We note here that Peter makes some consideration for the light in which we should consider Lot. What is important, in my opinion, is that your observations concerning Lot can be construed as you state, that he was not an upright character according to any characterization of him from Old Testament sources.

    The question in my mind is that since the Old Testament imply’s a low image concerning Lot and that Peter does not know Lot at all, being hundreds of years separated, what sources has Peter been exposed to in addition to the Old Testament that gave him his more charitable, generous and correct perspective? I do not know, but it appears clear there was some source that Peter valued which enabled him to see the man as God saw him. Not a pure scoundrel but someone tempted by the various lures of the world and sometimes subject to poor choices for the influence these things had upon him.

    For me this is important as I have long felt that certainly I and perhaps others of us are more like the Lot that Peter defines than we are like the Abraham who seems near above reproach in any facet of his life. If God can see fit to save Lot from destruction…perhaps he can save you and I as well who tend to resemble children vexed by the wickedness of the world more often than not.

    1. Brock,

      Thanks for your contribution. I like your assessment of the texts and the questions they prompt you to ask. And certainly the addition of a New Testament textual example, and how, in this case, Lot was perceived from within this later tradition(s), forces us to ask anew the sorts of questions you bring to the table.

      Grant me some initial leeway here, but what if we changed the focus of the inquiry a bit, from what source did Peter have that enabled him to give this more charitable portrait to what would prompt the author of 2 Peter to interpret Lot in this more charitable manner?—the key addition being interpretation.

      When I was a grad student, much of my initial interest in early Christianity was with the question of (re)interpretation. How later beliefs, worldviews, even doctrines served as interpretive frameworks from within which earlier traditions, texts, even personages and historical and/or literary events were re-interpreted, re-understood, re-packaged. Indeed, this whole hermeneutic was not unique to the early Christian period. To a large extent it was part and parcel to any Hellenistic rhetorical education. That is literary and/or historical personages were constantly being invoked to serve as examples (paradeigma) to emulate or to avoid, for virtue or vice in Medieval Christian jargon. So in the Greco-Roman world, many literary and/or historical personages were being culled for no other reason than to serve as pedagogical models/exemplae. There are numerous examples of this sort.

      So it’s not necessarily a source that Peter was privee too that our Old Testament authors were not, but rather how Peter saw Lot, in pedagogical and theological terms, as a result of his new found belief system. Even the way I’ve presented the entry, as a contradiction between whether Lot was Abraham’s brother or nephew? It’s not so much about a historical claim, but rather the biblical texts bear witness to the fact that Lot was perceived as Abraham’s brother in one tradition, yet as his nephew in another. So here too we’re dealing with a writer’s, perhaps a culture’s, perspective, interpretation, even ideology if there is some ulterior motive in presenting, for example, Lot as Abraham’s nephew rather than his brother.

      For you yourself rightly point out why Peter chose to present, interpret Lot in this manner—it’s an extremely fitting pedagogical exempla for Christians, for understanding human nature and God’s role in that from within a Christian theological framework. The author of 2 Peter also makes it clear that he is following Hellenistic uses here as he specifically refers to Lot as a upodeigma, an example that ultimately serves a pedagogical and in this case theological purpose. These are all examples, for Peter, of how God delivers individuals from temptation; what better examples to demonstrate this theological tenet than from OT personages! Yet apparently, it can be thrown in Peter’s face, God did not do quite a good enough job, for Lot goes on to fornicate with his two daughters! Don’t misconstrue me as making a theological assertion about God; rather with all texts, we are dealing with a culture’s perceptions, views, ideas, etc. about God.

      Ultimately what we’re really dealing with here, and throughout the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament, is how OT characters were viewed, perceived, and even re-interpreted in light of later Christian doctrine and beliefs. To cite another example, Paul uses the wilderness generation as examples (through a synonymous word, tupoi) to serve as instruction for his Corinthian congregation in 1 Cor 10. He even goes so far as to re-present these OT personages by presenting them in Christian terms, so that his pedagogical purpose in using them has more affinities with the problems there in Corinth—similar to how one might change the details in Cinderella to make it more poignant and similar to the story’s targeted audience.

      Most biblical scholars would say that Lot himself was a fictitious character. And in the tradition of the Yahwist he served a demoralizing and pejorative purpose—to jeeringly explain the origins of Israel’s ethnic rivals, the Moabites and the Ammonites. For they were brought into existence through an incestuous act between Lot and his two daughters (Gen 19:37-38). Such stories served a polemical and even political nature, not historical. You can imagine when this story was told around the campfire, the Israelites could not but help to glance jeeringly at their eastern neighbors and chuckle! I’m not sure Peter’s “righteous Lot”—not God’s or rather God’s from Peter’s, it must be said, limited perspective—is able to be squared with the Yahwist’s portrait of the incestuous Lot. The author of Deuteronomy will furthermore give a contradictory origin for the Ammonites and Moabites!

      But again, neither author was working from historical sources or sought to present a more historically accurate portrait of Lot, but rather aimed at presenting a portrait of Lot that filled each author’s immediate pedagogical and/or ideological agenda. This thesis will be demonstrated more fully when I get to the contradictions in the book of Deuteronomy, where we explicitly see the author of Deuteronomy change the details in the stories that he inherited so that they more conformed with his own beliefs and ideology—and all the while presenting these changed, altered, and contradictory details through the authoritative mouthpiece of Moses!

  18. The word used for “brother” in Genesis 13 is listed as variously meaning:

    1) brother

    a) brother of same parents

    b) half-brother (same father)

    c) relative, kinship, same tribe

    d) each to the other (reciprocal relationship)

    e) (fig.) of resemblance

    How did you come to choose “brother” since most translations say “we’re brethren” or “kinsmen”? In Deuteronomy, a stranger to a man who is a neighbor is also, by the way, “a brother”.

    1. The Hebrew word used here is definitely ‘brothers’ (’ahim), and the context almost cetainly necessitates this translation. However, like our English “brothers”, or even Paul’s use of the Greek adelphoi, the term does have a larger semantic usage. In Gen 19:7, for example, it is the same word which Lot uses to speak of the town folk he lives with. Certain translators might prefer ‘kinsmen’ here in Gen 13:8 since that would dilute the tension with Gen 11:27, etc. Or, perhaps I’ve translated it as ‘brothers’ to accentuate that tension !! lol

  19. Wait, so, who is the Chronicler…? Is that another source? How many sources are there? I thought there were only 5….
    Frequently confused, but learning so much! Thanks :)

    1. There are probably 60+ different sources/authors of the Bible. Right, there are 4 sources + 1 redactor if we’re only talking about the Pentateuch. Well there is also the H source…

      There will be a number of contradictions between the author of the books of Chronicles’ “history” of the southern kingdom Judah and that of the books of Kings. Now, we’re just noting the discrepancies in the genealogical lists between Genesis and Chronicles.

  20. Seen this contradiction on countless sites, but the way you present them here and pay attention to the textual detail is unparalleled. Who would have known that the authors were weeding Lot out.

    Thanks so much!!

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