A Question I Was Asked:

How Many Daughters Did Lot Actually Have? I Am Confused!

How many daughters did Lot actually have? I am confused! Lot had two daughters "who have not known a man" according to Genesis 19:8, but later on, in Genesis 19:14, we learn of "his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters." In fact chapter 19 of Genesis makes mention of Lot's two daughters on a few occasions. If these girls were virgins how could they be married? So could it have been two daughters or even four?

UK Apologetics Reply:

In the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, we learn that Lot, his wife, and two daughters are led outside of the city in order to avoid death by means of fire and brimstone. Lot's wife , of course, was not actually destroyed in the devastation of the cities, yet she never reached the mountains but was turned into a pillar of salt because she looked back upon the devastated cities (despite being warned against doing so). So, of the inhabitants of the cities who were destroyed on that day of reckoning, it appears that only Lot and his two daughters survived (19:25-26).

Okay, so the text here is Genesis 19 which one should read through, then keep open as we proceed.

1. First Possibility.
Okay, one possibility here is that Lot actually had more than two daughters. Sure, the text simply speaks of Lot "and his two daughters, " but fuller information might be found in verse 15, where Lot's two daughters in the house (19:15), are maybe - but not definitely - contrasted with other daughters who were married to his sons-in-law (19:14), and thus were out of the house. Since the angels who urged Lot to hasten his departure modified "two daughters" with the phrase "who are here," then it is conceivable that Lot could have had daughters elsewhere who remained in Sodom and were destroyed along with Lot's sons-in-law. That is a possibility, but I think it unconvincing.

2. Second Possibility.
By far the strongest explanation is that the Hebrew is rendered less than ideally in some translations. The girls were indeed still virgins and these were only prospective son-in-laws - they were not yet married! Interestingly, many modern translations (including the NIV) agree in making these men future sons-in-law - not current ones. The problem rests with the Hebrew word 'laqach' (word H3947 in Strong's) which has a wide range of meanings including to be betrothed (engaged to be married), as well as married (but it has still further meanings, which we don't need to go into here). Taking the entire setting into account the word was rendered poorly in several translations (including the KJV) in suggesting these were current son-in-laws.

In ancient times in that part of the world little difference was put between betrothal and marriage since betrothal was looked upon much more as a binding promise than it is today in the modern West. Indeed, in Matthew, we may read where Joseph was called Mary's "husband" while they were betrothed and before they were married. The text reads:

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matthew 1:18-20).

So betrothal was formerly taken so seriously in the Middle East that little distinction was placed between betrothal and marriage (except that the woman retained her virginity until marriage). Here is why - in the Hebrew of Genesis - Moses used a word which could mean either state, yet one would think that the translators of both the KJV and NKJV would have picked up the error.

So Lot most probably only had two daughters who were betrothed to be married but their son-in-laws almost certainly perished with Sodom and Gomorrah.

Robin A. Brace. December 20th, 2015.