The Door and Sodom and Gomorrah

In Genesis 13:10 we see the decision of Lot to separate from Abraham and to move his family and flocks to Sodom. This was probably the worst decision of his life and based upon single fact that the Jordan valley was well watered. Lot received considerable criticism for this decision by various commentators including Rashi, basically because it reflected the materialistic side of his personality.

As a result of this decision Lot is first taken hostage and disposed of all his wealth (sheep and flocks) by the armies of four Kings and then again is disposed of his home which is struck by Fire and Brimstone as a result of God’s anger at the people of Sodom. Wealth and prosperity has its cost.

On each occasion Lot is saved by Abraham’s intervention: on the first occasion Abraham sends his army of 318 trained men and saves him; on the second occasion Abraham pleads with God for the lives of the righteous (i.e. Lot) in Sodom.

On the other hand, when Abram was left to stay in the Land of Canaan Abraham (Genesis 12:7-8), he knew that it was the land of the Messiah and the Garden of Eden (See Hyperlink Bethel and H’Ai). Abraham chose the World of Spirituality, the World of One, the Tree of Life, whereas the land that Lot chose was the World of Materialism, the world of multiplicity and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (See the mist Adam and the two trees). Let it be clear that the term land of Milk and Honey does not mean that it is a land that is fertile, green and productive rather it alludes to something more than that and beyond simply a land for a good life. It is the land where the spirit can evolve to a higher level of consciousness.

The difference between the land chosen by Abraham and the land chosen by Lot can be seen in reference to the door their approach to hospitality of the Angels.

A home is separated from the outside world by its four walls and the roof. The world within the home and the world outside are distinct and separate. The door is a connection point between these two worlds. It is the place where the two worlds meet: the world within and the world without. When the world within is a home or a sanctuary is it critical that only desirable elements pass through the door. Any flow from the world outside to the world inside must be filtered. It is for this reason that the mezuzah is placed upon the door post, to keep evil elements out and only to allow the positive elements inside. Such is the tradition to kiss the mezuzah when entering the home.

The concept is similar in Eastern Indonesia on the island of Flores where animism and belief in spirits is dominant. The villagers protect their homes from evil by maintaining the entrance extremely small such that one has to crawl through the entrance to enter the home. Moreover guardian animals: donkeys, cockerels and dogs are carved on the door posts to give warning the inhabitants of any evil intruder. Similarly in India the doorstep is painted in chalk with intricate designs called Kolam or Rangoli to keep away evil spirits.

It is for this reason that at the time of the Passover the Children of Israel were commanded to paint the doorposts and lintel with the blood of the sacrificial lamb. For blood is ‘life’:

But you shall not eat flesh with its life - its blood". (Gen9:4) "For the life of the flesh is in the blood...for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul"(Lev17:11).

So the homes and their inhabitants that were painted with the blood of the sacrificial lamb around the door – the connector between the two worlds - were protected from the Angel of Death. Whosoever did not paint their door posts, whether Egyptian or of the Children of Israel were not protected and the first born would die. So the door is a filter of good and bad.

In the two stories of hospitality of the Angels by both Abraham and Lot the word ‘door’ or ‘entrance’ is mentioned 10 times. In the case of Abraham, when he invites the Angels to eat and rest, there is no door to his tent and it is simply an ‘entrance or opening. Abraham does not even invite the Angels inside his tent rather he lets them to rest under the shade of a tree and serves them food under the tree. Abraham lives in the world of spirituality, the world of oneness and there is continuity and flow between the world inside his home and the world outside

In the case of Lot the situation is completely different, the world inside Lot’s home and the world outside are in complete contrast and in opposition to each other. When the Angels arrive to Sodom, Lot presses and insists that the Angels to come to his home because the world outside is evil. In the altercation between Lot and the men of the town who come to threaten the two Angels of the Lord, the door is the weak link between the two worlds. Unlike the entrance of Abraham’s tent, the door or Lot’s home is solid and can be locked firmly. It is the line of division between evil in the world outside as seen in the men Sodom and Gomorrah and goodness as seen in the world of Lot and the two Angels inside the house.

The fact is that the two Angels who came to take him and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah before it was destroyed saved his life in more ways than one. How long can one living in an environment of evil remain immune from its influence? Lot had not yet succumbed to this influence and was still considered a stranger by the townspeople.

And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door (Genesis 19:9)

But already he was married to a Sodomite and his two daughters were born of a Sodomite. If Lot was to be accepted by the society he too would eventual have to behave as a Sodomite. The evacuation by the Angels saved his integrity and his soul.

For us too the choice is the same. Do we choose the way of the world or the way of Heaven? Do we have an open door to the world outside or do we live in a world where we have to enclose ourselves away from the evil around us? Few of us have the strength of our inner nature to be good, as indeed Lot was, if our immediate environment is bad. Every decision we make, every minute of the day may be the worst decision we make in our lives!


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