Lot and His Daughters: Depersonalizing Our Perceived Enemies

I wasn’t going to post on Lot and His Daughters, thinking it a bit risque, with no edifying purpose or artistic value.  I had not included it in the Sunday School survey which preceded this blog.  However, WordPress also automatically generated another “related site” which, upon reading, got me to thinking (see http://apawst8.wordpress.com/2010/05/08/sodom-and-gomorrah/).

The story in Genesis 19:29-38 tells us a drunken, incestuous incident between Lot and his daughters following their escape .  Previously, when warned by the angels of the coming destruction of Sodom, the daughters’ husbands  scoffed at the notion and did not join Lot, his wife and their daughters in their escape.   In addressing the question raised in the above related blog post, I began to think of its value.

What strikes me is how the story serves the purpose of dehumanizing perceived enemies.  We are told that their issue were the Moabites and Ammonites, who failed to greet the Israelites with water when the wandered in the wilderness.  The were “former inhabitants” of the “Promised Land”.   They were idol worshipers, and, because their inhospitality to the Jews they were prohibited from Jewis worship and sacred places.  They were also prohibited participating in Jewish worship because the were inherently blemished because they were illegitimate.  Deuteronomy 23:3-6.

It nonetheless seems to me significant that Ruth, of the book of her name, was a Moabite, converted to Judaism when she pledged her love and loyalty to Naomi, and she is included in the line of David and that to Jesus.

We dehumanize others yet today in our wars, in strained neighborhood relations, competition for limited numbers of jobs, striving for advancement in a threatening world, and the sense of threats posed by immigration, whether controlled, legal or not.

Lot and his Daughters ORAZIO GENTILESCHI (1563–1639)

See http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/gentileschi/ for the source of the picture of the painting and for some excellent notes on the moral dillemna which the scene poses.

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