The nephew of Abraham and ancestor of Moab and Ammon. Because Abraham was the oldest son of Terah, and Lot's father, Abraham's brother Haran, had died (Gen. 11.27–28), Abraham was the head of the extended family and Lot was his dependent. As such, he traveled with Abraham to the land of Canaan (Gen. 11.31); when a dispute arose between the two branches of the family over grazing land, Abraham arbitrated it, giving Lot first choice, and enabling him to settle in the Jordan Valley (Gen 13.5–10), in the vicinity of Sodom. When Lot was captured by raiding kings, Abraham led a campaign to rescue him (Gen 14.1–16), and when Sodom was about to be destroyed, Lot was spared (Gen 19.1–23), presumably because of his association with Abraham. Throughout these stories, Lot is portrayed as a less than heroic figure, who has no respect in his own family (Gen 19.14), is hesitant (19.16), and is tricked by his daughters (19.30–38).
This familial history is intertwined with etiological narratives that explain topographic features (the pillar of salt and the desolation of the Dead Sea region) and several names, especially Moab and Ammon. The account of the incestuous origin of these neighbors of Israel (Gen. 19.30–38) is both a genealogical recognition of shared ethnicity and a scurrilous rationalization of Israelite superiority.
Michael D. Coogan