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Lot’s Wife Looks Back

Genesis 19:26 (ESV) … “But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Why would Lot’s wife look back? We have one suggestion from The Book of Jasher, which says that she looked back longing for the children that she had left behind.

“And he overthrew these cities, all the plain and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground; and Ado the wife of Lot looked back to see the destruction of the cities, for her compassion was moved on account of her daughters who remained in Sodom, for they did not go with her.” (The Book of Jasher 19.52)

In the New Testament references to this passage of Scripture, Lot’s wife’s turning back is compared to a person seeking to save his life (Lk 9:62; 17:32, Jn 12:25):

  • Luke 9:62, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

  • Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife. Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”

  • John 12:25, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

  • We see Jeremiah prophesying about how the Egyptian army will flee from the Babylonians. He notes that they will flee with such fear that they will not consider “looking back,” which means that will not even consider returning to take part in the battle.

  • Jeremiah 46:5, “Wherefore have I seen them dismayed and turned away back? and their mighty ones are beaten down, and are fled apace, and look not back: for fear was round about, saith the LORD.”

Thus, we can better understand that Lot’s wife looked back because she had considered returning. This may have been because she had to leave behind some of her beloved children and perhaps grandchildren in the city.

Comments—Lot’s Wife Turned to Salt—Why was Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt? There are several suggestions by evaluating the figurative meaning of salt in the Scriptures.

(1) The Righteous are the Salt of the Earth—Perhaps the answer is found in Matthew 5:13, which states that the child of God is the salt of the earth. Lot and his wife had served as the salt of that wicked city. Thus, Lot’s wife served as an example of how the righteous are the salt of the earth.

Matthew 5:13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

(2) Salt Symbolizes Cleansing, or Judgment—More likely, the answer in found in Mark 9:49, which states that a person will be “salted with fire.” Salt represents fire, and fire represents judgment (Deut 29:23, Judg 9:45, Jer 17:6, Ez 47:11).

Mark 9:49, “For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.”

  • Deuteronomy 29:23, “And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:”

  • Judges 9:45, “And Abimelech fought against the city all that day; and he took the city, and slew the people that was therein, and beat down the city, and sowed it with salt.”

  • Jeremiah 17:6, “For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.”

  • Ezekiel 47:11, “But the miry places thereof and the marishes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given to salt.”[1]

While it is not for us to say anything respecting her eternal salvation; it is nevertheless probable, that God, having inflicted temporal punishment, spared her soul; inasmuch as he often chastises his own people in the flesh, that their soul may be saved from eternal destruction.

Since, however, the knowledge of this is not very profitable, and we may without danger remain in ignorance, let us rather attend to the example which God designs for the common benefit of all ages. If the severity of the punishment terrifies us; let us remember, that they sin, at this day, not less grievously, who, being delivered, not from Sodom, but from hell, fix their eyes on some other object than the proposed prize of their high calling.[2]

[1] Everett, G. H. (2011). The Book of Genesis (pp. 279–281). Gary Everett.

[2] Calvin, J., & King, J. (2010). Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Vol. 1, p. 515). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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