THE RAIN OF FIRE THAT FELL ON A CITY
Genesis xviii: 1, to xix: 30.
NE day Abraham,—for we shall call him now by his new
name,—was sitting in the door of his tent, when he
saw three men coming toward him. He knew from their
looks that they were not common men. They were angels,
and one of them seems to have been the Lord God
himself, coming in the form of a man.
When Abraham saw these men coming, he went out to meet
them, and bowed to them; and he said to the one who was
"My Lord, do not pass by; but come and rest a little
under the tree. Let me send for water to wash your
feet; and take some food; and stay with us a little
So this strange person, who was God in the form of a
man, sat with his two followers in Abraham's tent,
under the oak-trees at Hebron. They took some food
which Sarah, Abraham's wife, made ready for them, and
then the Lord talked with Abraham. He told Abraham
again that in a very little time God would send to him
and Sarah a little boy, whose name should be Isaac. In
the language that Abraham spoke, the name Isaac means
"laughing;" because Abraham and Sarah both laughed
aloud when they heard it. They were so happy that they
could scarcely believe the news.
Then the three persons rose up to go, and two of them
went on the road which led toward Sodom, down on the
plain of Jordan, below the mountains. But the one whom
Abraham called "My Lord" stopped after the others had
gone away, and said:
"Shall I hide from Abraham what I am going to do? For
Abraham is to be the father of a great people, and all
the world shall receive a blessing through him. And I
know that Abraham will teach his children and all those
that live with him to obey the will of
 the Lord, and to do right. I will tell Abraham what I
am going to do. I am going down to the city of Sodom
and the other cities that are near it, and I am going
to see if the city is as bad as it seems to be; for the
wickedness of the city is like a cry coming up before
And Abraham knew that Sodom was very wicked, and he
feared that God was about to destroy it. And Abraham
"Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked, the
good with the bad, in Sodom? Perhaps there may be fifty
good people in the city. Wilt thou not spare the city
for the sake of fifty good men who may be in it? Shall
not the Judge and Ruler of all the earth do right?"
And the Lord said:
"If I find in Sodom fifty good people, then I will not
destroy the city, but will spare it for their sake."
Then Abraham said again:
"Perhaps I ought not to ask anything more, for I am
only a common man, talking with the Lord God. But
suppose that there should be forty-five good people in
Sodom, wilt thou destroy the city because it needs only
five good men to make up the fifty?"
And the Lord said, "I will not destroy it, if there are
forty-five good men in it." And Abraham said, "Suppose
there are forty good people in it,—what then?" And
the Lord said, "I will spare the city, if I find in it
forty good men." And Abraham said, "O Lord, do not be
angry, if I ask that if there are thirty good men in
the city, it may be spared." And the Lord said, "I will
not do it, if I find thirty good men there." And
Abraham said, "Let me venture to ask that thou wilt
spare it if twenty are there." The Lord said: "I will
not destroy it for the sake of twenty good men, if they
are there." Then Abraham said, "O, let not the Lord be
angry, and I will speak only this once more. Perhaps
there may be ten good men found in the city." And the
Lord said, "If I find ten good men in Sodom, I will
spare the city."
And Abraham had no more to say. The Lord in the form of
a man went on his way toward Sodom; and Abraham turned
back, and went to his tent.
You remember that Lot, the nephew of Abraham, chose the
land of Sodom for his home (Story Five), and lived
there, though the people were so wicked. You remember,
too, how Lot was carried
 away captive when Sodom was taken by its enemies, and
how he was rescued by Abram. (Story Six.) But after all
that had happened, Lot went to live in Sodom again; and
he was there when the angels came to Abraham's tent, as
we read in the last story.
Two of the angels who had visited Abraham went down to
Sodom, and walked through the city, trying to find some
good men; for if they could find only ten, the city
would be saved. But the only good man whom they could
find was Lot. He took the angels, who looked like men,
into his house, and treated them kindly, and made a
supper for them.
The men of Sodom, when they found that strangers were
in Lot's house, came before the house in the street,
and tried to take the two men out that they might do
them harm, so wicked and cruel were they. But the men
of Sodom could do nothing against them, for when they
tried to break open the door, and Lot was greatly
frightened, the two angels struck all those wicked men
blind in a moment, so that they could not see, and felt
around in the dark for the door.
 Then the angels said to Lot:
"Have you here any others besides yourself, any sons,
or sons-in-law, or daughters? Whomever you have, get
them out of this city quickly, for we are here to
destroy this place, because it is so very wicked."
Then Lot went to the houses where the young men lived
who had married some of his daughters, and said to
"Hurry, and get out of this place, for the Lord will
But his sons-in-law, the husbands of his daughters,
would not believe his words; they only laughed at him.
What a mistake it was for Lot to live in a wicked city,
where his daughters were married to young men living
And when the morning was coming, the two angels tried
to make poor Lot hasten away. They said:
"Rise up quickly, and take your wife, and your two
daughters that are here. If you do not haste, you will
be destroyed with the city."
But Lot was slow to leave his house, and his married
daughters, and all that he had; and the two angels took
hold of him, and of his wife, and his two daughters;
and the angels dragged them out of the city. God was
good to Lot, to take him out of the city before it was
And when they had brought Lot and his wife and his
daughters out of the city, one of the angels said to
"Escape for your life; do not look behind you; do not
stop anywhere in the plain; climb up the mountain, or
you may be destroyed!"
And Lot begged the angels not to send him so far away.
He said, "O my Lord, I cannot climb the mountain. Have
mercy upon me, and let me go to that little city that
lies yonder. It is only a little city, and you can
spare it. Please to let me be safe there."
And the angel said, "We will spare that city for your
sake; and we will wait until you are safe before we
destroy these other cities."
So Lot ran to the little city, and there he found
safety. In the language of that time, the word "Zoar"
means little; so that city was afterward called Zoar.
It was the time of sunrise when Lot came to Zoar.
Then, as soon as Lot and his family were safely out of
 the Lord caused a rain of fire to fall upon Sodom and
the other cities on the plain. With the fire came great
clouds of sulphur smoke, covering all the plain. So the
cities were destroyed, and all the people in them; not
one man or woman or child was left.
While Lot and his daughters were flying from the city,
Lot's wife stopped, and looked back; and she became a
pillar of salt, standing there upon the plain. Lot and
his two daughters escaped, but they were afraid to stay
in the little city of Zoar. They climbed up the
mountain, away from the plain, and found a cave, and
there they lived. So Lot lost his wife, and all that he
had, because he had made his home among the wicked
people of Sodom.
And when Abraham, from his tent door on the mountain,
looked down toward the plain, the smoke was rising from
it, like the smoke of a great furnace.
And that was the end of the cities of the plain, Sodom,
and Gomorrah, and the other cities with them. Zoar
alone was saved, because Lot, a good man, prayed for
SODOM AND GOMORRAH BURNED UP