The Dead Sea is famously known for being the lowest point on Earth, as well as for the health benefits of its waters and mud. It is also a place of eerie beauty, combining clear turquoise waters with the golden-brown hills surrounding it. But did you know that the Dead Sea and its surrounding area is also a place of historic significance? It was the scene of several notable biblical stories, one of them being the story of Lot.
Who was Lot? What happened to Lot’s wife? What’s the connection to Sodom & Gomorrah? If you’ve always wanted to learn more about the story of Lot and his wife, this is your opportunity – just keep reading.
The Story of Lot
The Bible tells us that Lot was the nephew of Abraham. Following a quarrel, Abraham and Lot had to part, and Abraham let Lot choose the stretch of land he would settle on. Lot chose the best stretch, one that was close to the kingdom of Sodom. The kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah were situated just north of the Dead Sea, on the Jordan River plain, and known for their green, well-watered land. Unfortunately, they were also known as places of sin and wickedness.
Lot settled in the area, became a citizen of Sodom, and married a Sodomite woman. Later on, his daughters became engaged to men from Sodom. As a relative of Abraham, who had saved Sodom from the Elamite invasion during the Battle of Siddim, Lot was a highly respected member of the community and even became Sodom’s mayor.
However, at some point, God became angry with the people of Sodom and decided to destroy the city, as not even ten righteous people could be found in all of it. Lot was the only righteous person in the city, so God had decided to spare him and his family. To warn him of what was about to happen, God sent two angels to Sodom. Lot invited them to stay with his family and that night Lot and his wife entertained them in their home.
The Unfortunate Fate of Lot’s Wife
The following morning, the angels hastened Lot and his family to leave the city before its destruction. As the family had a hard time leaving all the pleasures and luxuries of Sodom behind, the angels had to threaten them by saying they had to escape for their life, and could not look behind them or stay anywhere in the valley; they had to escape to the mountains or else they would be swept away.
As they were escaping, the sky rained brimstone and fire on Sodom. Lot’s wife, perhaps feeling regret to be leaving Sodom behind and heading into the unknown, cast a last look behind her. But as she did so, vapors of sulfur overtook her and she became a pillar of salt. While the Bible does not tell us explicitly why this happened, it was either because she did not obey God’s warning, or because she was steeped in the spirit of Sodom and identified with it too much.
Despite Lot’s wife’s story being such a famous cautionary tale, we do not know the name of this tragic figure. In some Jewish traditions, Lot’s wife’s name is Edith or Ado, but the Bible does not mention her by name.
Lot’s Wife at Mount Sodom
If you want to visit Lot’s wife during your visit to the Dead Sea, you actually can! You should go to Mount Sodom, a hill which lies at the southwestern part of the Dead Sea. At 220 meters high, 8 kilometers long, and 3 kilometers wide, it is composed of 80 percent salt and capped by a layer of clay, limestone, and conglomerate. Due to weathering, some portions of the hill have gradually separated from it: one of them is a tall pillar, known as “Lot’s Wife”.