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Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed
19Â That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground.Â 2Â â€œMy lords,â€ he said, â€œcome to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again.â€
â€œOh no,â€ they replied. â€œWeâ€™ll just spend the night out here in the city square.â€
3Â But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate.Â 4Â But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house.Â 5Â They shouted to Lot, â€œWhere are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!â€
6Â So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him.Â 7Â â€œPlease, my brothers,â€ he begged, â€œdonâ€™t do such a wicked thing.Â 8Â Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.â€
9Â â€œStand back!â€ they shouted. â€œThis fellow came to town as an outsider, and now heâ€™s acting like our judge! Weâ€™ll treat you far worse than those other men!â€ And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door.
10Â But the two angelsÂ reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door.Â 11Â Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside.
12Â Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. â€œDo you have any other relatives here in the city?â€ they asked. â€œGet them out of this placeâ€”your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else.Â 13Â For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached theÂ Lord, and he has sent us to destroy it.â€
14Â So Lot rushed out to tell his daughtersâ€™ fiancÃ©s, â€œQuick, get out of the city! TheÂ LordÂ is about to destroy it.â€ But the young men thought he was only joking.
15Â At dawn the next morning the angels became insistent. â€œHurry,â€ they said to Lot. â€œTake your wife and your two daughters who are here. Get out right now, or you will be swept away in the destruction of the city!â€
16Â When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hand and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for theÂ LordÂ was merciful.Â 17Â When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, â€œRun for your lives! And donâ€™t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!â€
18Â â€œOh no, my lord!â€ Lot begged.Â 19Â â€œYou have been so gracious to me and saved my life, and you have shown such great kindness. But I cannot go to the mountains. Disaster would catch up to me there, and I would soon die.Â 20Â See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; donâ€™t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved.â€
21Â â€œAll right,â€ the angel said, â€œI will grant your request. I will not destroy the little village.Â 22Â But hurry! Escape to it, for I can do nothing until you arrive there.â€ (This explains why that village was known as Zoar, which means â€œlittle place.â€)
23Â Lot reached the village just as the sun was rising over the horizon.Â 24Â Then theÂ LordÂ rained down fire and burning sulfur from the sky on Sodom and Gomorrah.Â 25Â He utterly destroyed them, along with the other cities and villages of the plain, wiping out all the people and every bit of vegetation.Â 26Â But Lotâ€™s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.
27Â Abraham got up early that morning and hurried out to the place where he had stood in theÂ Lordâ€™s presence.Â 28Â He looked out across the plain toward Sodom and Gomorrah and watched as columns of smoke rose from the cities like smoke from a furnace.
29Â But God had listened to Abrahamâ€™s request and kept Lot safe, removing him from the disaster that engulfed the cities on the plain.
Lot and His Daughters
30Â Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters.Â 31Â One day the older daughter said to her sister, â€œThere are no men left anywhere in this entire area, so we canâ€™t get married like everyone else. And our father will soon be too old to have children.Â 32Â Come, letâ€™s get him drunk with wine, and then we will have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.â€
33Â So that night they got him drunk with wine, and the older daughter went in and had intercourse with her father. He was unaware of her lying down or getting up again.
34Â The next morning the older daughter said to her younger sister, â€œI had sex with our father last night. Letâ€™s get him drunk with wine again tonight, and you go in and have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.â€35Â So that night they got him drunk with wine again, and the younger daughter went in and had intercourse with him. As before, he was unaware of her lying down or getting up again.
36Â As a result, both of Lotâ€™s daughters became pregnant by their own father.Â 37Â When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab.Â He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites.Â 38Â When the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi.Â He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.
Abraham Deceives Abimelech
20Â Abraham moved south to the Negev and lived for a while between Kadesh and Shur, and then he moved on to Gerar. While living there as a foreigner,Â 2Â Abraham introduced his wife, Sarah, by saying, â€œShe is my sister.â€ So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for Sarah and had her brought to him at his palace.
3Â But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, â€œYou are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!â€
4Â But Abimelech had not slept with her yet, so he said, â€œLord, will you destroy an innocent nation?Â 5Â Didnâ€™t Abraham tell me, â€˜She is my sisterâ€™? And she herself said, â€˜Yes, he is my brother.â€™ I acted in complete innocence! My hands are clean.â€
6Â In the dream God responded, â€œYes, I know you are innocent. Thatâ€™s why I kept you from sinning against me, and why I did not let you touch her.Â 7Â Now return the woman to her husband, and he will pray for you, for he is a prophet. Then you will live. But if you donâ€™t return her to him, you can be sure that you and all your people will die.â€
8Â Abimelech got up early the next morning and quickly called all his servants together. When he told them what had happened, his men were terrified.Â 9Â Then Abimelech called for Abraham. â€œWhat have you done to us?â€ he demanded. â€œWhat crime have I committed that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? No one should ever do what you have done!Â 10Â Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?â€
11Â Abraham replied, â€œI thought, â€˜This is a godless place. They will want my wife and will kill me to get her.â€™Â 12Â And she really is my sister, for we both have the same father, but different mothers. And I married her.Â 13Â When God called me to leave my fatherâ€™s home and to travel from place to place, I told her, â€˜Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.â€™â€
14Â Then Abimelech took some of his sheep and goats, cattle, and male and female servants, and he presented them to Abraham. He also returned his wife, Sarah, to him.Â 15Â Then Abimelech said, â€œLook over my land and choose any place where you would like to live.â€Â 16Â And he said to Sarah, â€œLook, I am giving your â€˜brotherâ€™ 1,000 pieces of silverÂ in the presence of all these witnesses. This is to compensate you for any wrong I may have done to you. This will settle any claim against me, and your reputation is cleared.â€
17Â Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants, so they could have children.18Â For theÂ LordÂ had caused all the women to be infertile because of what happened with Abrahamâ€™s wife, Sarah.
The Birth of Isaac
21Â TheÂ LordÂ kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised.Â 2Â She became pregnant, and she gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age. This happened at just the time God had said it would.Â 3Â And Abraham named their son Isaac.4Â Eight days after Isaac was born, Abraham circumcised him as God had commanded.Â 5Â Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born.
6Â And Sarah declared, â€œGod has brought me laughter.Â All who hear about this will laugh with me.Â 7Â Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse a baby? Yet I have given Abraham a son in his old age!â€
Hagar and Ishmael Are Sent Away
8Â When Isaac grew up and was about to be weaned, Abraham prepared a huge feast to celebrate the occasion.Â 9Â But Sarah saw Ishmaelâ€”the son of Abraham and her Egyptian servant Hagarâ€”making fun of her son, Isaac.Â 10Â So she turned to Abraham and demanded, â€œGet rid of that slave woman and her son. He is not going to share the inheritance with my son, Isaac. I wonâ€™t have it!â€
11Â This upset Abraham very much because Ishmael was his son.Â 12Â But God told Abraham, â€œDo not be upset over the boy and your servant. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.Â 13Â But I will also make a nation of the descendants of Hagarâ€™s son because he is your son, too.â€
14Â So Abraham got up early the next morning, prepared food and a container of water, and strapped them on Hagarâ€™s shoulders. Then he sent her away with their son, and she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba.
15Â When the water was gone, she put the boy in the shade of a bush.Â 16Â Then she went and sat down by herself about a hundred yardsÂ away. â€œI donâ€™t want to watch the boy die,â€ she said, as she burst into tears.
17Â But God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, â€œHagar, whatâ€™s wrong? Do not be afraid! God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.Â 18Â Go to him and comfort him, for I will make a great nation from his descendants.â€
19Â Then God opened Hagarâ€™s eyes, and she saw a well full of water. She quickly filled her water container and gave the boy a drink.
20Â And God was with the boy as he grew up in the wilderness. He became a skillful archer,Â 21Â and he settled in the wilderness of Paran. His mother arranged for him to marry a woman from the land of Egypt.
Abrahamâ€™s Covenant with Abimelech
22Â About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. â€œGod is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,â€ Abimelech said.Â 23Â â€œSwear to me in Godâ€™s name that you will never deceive me, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.â€
24Â Abraham replied, â€œYes, I swear to it!â€Â 25Â Then Abraham complained to Abimelech about a well that Abimelechâ€™s servants had taken by force from Abrahamâ€™s servants.
26Â â€œThis is the first Iâ€™ve heard of it,â€ Abimelech answered. â€œI have no idea who is responsible. You have never complained about this before.â€
27Â Abraham then gave some of his sheep, goats, and cattle to Abimelech, and they made a treaty.Â 28Â But Abraham also took seven additional female lambs and set them off by themselves.Â 29Â Abimelech asked, â€œWhy have you set these seven apart from the others?â€
30Â Abraham replied, â€œPlease accept these seven lambs to show your agreement that I dug this well.â€Â 31Â Then he named the place Beersheba (which means â€œwell of the oathâ€), because that was where they had sworn the oath.
32Â After making their covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech left with Phicol, the commander of his army, and they returned home to the land of the Philistines.Â 33Â Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he worshiped theÂ Lord, the Eternal God.Â 34Â And Abraham lived as a foreigner in Philistine country for a long time.
Teaching about Giving to the Needy
6Â â€œWatch out! Donâ€™t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.Â 2Â When you give to someone in need, donâ€™t do as the hypocrites doâ€”blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get.Â 3Â But when you give to someone in need, donâ€™t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.Â 4Â Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Teaching about Prayer and Fasting
5Â â€œWhen you pray, donâ€™t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.Â 6Â But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
7Â â€œWhen you pray, donâ€™t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.Â 8Â Donâ€™t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!Â 9Â Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
14Â â€œIf you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.Â 15Â But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16Â â€œAnd when you fast, donâ€™t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.Â 17Â But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face.Â 18Â Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.