Don’t look back!

By: Esther Espinoza
“But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:26

The soft afternoon wind caresses me as I sit amongst the luxurious vegetation of the Jordan Valley. Giant palm trees shade my face and the fragrance of flowers blooming in a nearby field wafts through the air. I smile in delight and sigh. Oh, how I adore Sodom!I can’t imagine any place better than this. I smirk, thinking of my husband Lot’s absurd suggestion a few years ago. It lingers in my mind as if it was only yesterday. He’d had the audacity to suggest that we move to a less ‘corrupt’ town. He said he didn’t want our children growing up here. How ridiculous, considering he was the one who had picked this location when his uncle Abraham gave him a choice of which land he wanted. But he’s been obsessed about the corruption that has invaded the city. Honestly, though! A little bit of dancing and pleasure never hurt anyone!At the time, I’d panicked. Where else did he think we would find happiness? Sodom is like no other place. Lavish with riches and jewels, and abundant in palm trees, olive vines, flowers, flocks and herds in the surrounding hills. And not to mention the perfect trading location for my favourite delicacies and trinkets from the traders crossing the desert and coming through our markets with the best the world has to offer. Everything is effortless here in Sodom and the yearlong festivities just reel my senses. This is the place I do want my children growing up in!

Finally, after weeks of argument, I won the battle and we settled comfortably into a daily routine. Thanks to my persistence, I’m now enjoying the beauty of my surroundings.
I hear the sound of drums and boisterous laughter echo across the plains. I can already imagine what they’re up to. Abraham has forbidden us to participate in any of their drunken festivities. They always lead to unrestrained and brutal passion, he said. Although I enjoy their music, there is one thing I do not approve of: their sexual depravation. I always remind Abraham that we have nothing to do with that part. My heart wants nothing to do with any of that! All I want is to live in a beautiful place, surrounded by comfort and riches, and secretly enjoy the delicious music that makes my heart dance.

The sun is fading and I reluctantly know that I must make my way home. Lot will be sitting at the city gate waiting for any poor soul who needs hospitality for the night. I cringe and wrinkle my nose in distaste: he is like a pet stall owner who picks up every stray human walking through the city gates! It irks me that we have to host at least one pauper in our house each night. We have come to an agreement, though. If he wants to host these people at our house, then he must tend to them! Besides, the next few months will be very busy for me as we prepare for our daughters’ weddings. The very idea of my girls’ weddings absolutely thrills me… the rich food, music, new clothes and jewellery. I feel giddy at the thought!

The night air is beginning to cool and I head home. Lot does not approve of me being alone at this late hour. I look at the sky and an involuntary shiver runs down my spine. There’s a tinge of redness scratched across it, as if the claw of an animal has reached up and tried to tear it up. Intrigued and a little uneasy, I increase my pace.
As I enter through the city gates I notice that Lot is not sitting at his usual place. I’m sure he’s already found some ‘stray’ to take home and feed. Revolting, I mutter under my breath and decide to take the long way home via the markets. There’s always someone conjuring up entertainment in Market Square. It’s the heart of fun and frivolity in this city, or, as Abraham would say, the heart of corruption. I untie the soft purple material from around my waist and I wrap it around my head. There’s no need to be recognised.
As I draw closer, the music I had heard outside the city gates is getting louder, as is the laughter. The air fills with profanities and, when I round the corner, I blush at the scene that greets my eyes. I try to look away but find it’s not easy. A very handsome man walks towards me, his smile sensual and eyes burning with fire. He grabs my hand and whispers in my ear. My heart starts thumping in my ribs and I shake my head no. Lot has never said such things to me.
A tinge of excitement and panic seizes me and I begin to hurry. Men and women of all ages are unleashing their passionate desires right in front of my eyes. Music, laughter and depravity are mixing into one loud cacophony of sound and I’m desperately hurrying home. Maybe coming through Market Square was not such a wise idea after all. Several men stare and shout perverse words my way, but I’ve started running. Maybe not because I’m scared as much as because I’m tempted to stay….

Finally, breathless and a little shaken, I reach home, open the door and hurry upstairs to my bedchamber. I throw myself on my bed, take off my head scarf and exhale. My mind is swirling, I don’t understand how I’m feeling. Maybe I am a woman of Sodom after all? The pleasures of this town are attractive to me. How did I not realise this before?
Suddenly I hear shouts and banging on our front door. I jump up and race to the balcony to see what’s happening. Men from every part of the city, young and old have surrounded my home! Have they come for me? No, impossible! I was in disguise!
“Lot, where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have our pleasure with them!”
I gasp! Lot had brought men into our home. How many?

I hear the front door open and see the top of Lot’s head. His hands extend, pleading, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”
But the mob cannot be stopped, “Get out of our way, Lot!” They shout furiously. The pushing and shoving becomes more violent. I’m scared now. What if they kill Lot? Who will look after me? I need them to stop. They might listen to me. I head out of my room and crash straight into my daughters.
“Mother, you’re home! We’re so scared! The men father brought home have done something and the crowd outside can no longer see! They’re blind!”
I frown, “Where’s your father? I’m heading down to put a stop to this.”
“No, Mother! Stay here. Those two strange men just said that we have to get out of here. They…”
“…They said they are going to destroy Sodom!” My youngest interrupts, her voice quivering.
The noise outside has finally stopped and I breathe easier. The door slams again and I hear voices.
“Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
“But. But this… this is our home!” Lot hesitates.
“Lot, hurry and get your daughters and wife!” The voice speaking is very firm.
Silence. Then, in a flash, the men are upstairs grabbing my hand and my girls’ hands: “You don’t have much time. Let’s go.”
“Go, where?” I drag my feet as they pull me down the stairs. “You can’t do this to us. This is our home!” I shout.
The men are not listening to me. It’s as if I’m invisible. At the bottom of the stairs, Lot is waiting and wringing his hands.
“Lot, what’s happening?” I demand an explanation.
“Darling, the city is going to be destroyed. We will all die if we don’t get out of here. We must listen to these men!”

I shake my head, trying to clear the cobwebs clouding my thinking. I don’t understand. Just a few hours ago I had been outside enjoying my thoughts of Sodom and now it is to be destroyed? Impossible!

The girls are sobbing quietly in the background and I pull away from the strange men’s hands.
“I can’t leave. I haven’t even packed!” My voice squeaks in despair. Then I remember the red, claw-like tinge in the sky earlier this evening. Could that have been a sign?
The look on the men’s faces is sombre. Maybe they’re right.
“OK, OK,” I hear the words coming out of my mouth and cannot believe I’m saying them. “Let me pack a few of my jewels and most expensive things. We can take as much as we can tonight and then come back….”
“No!” The men grab our arms and start pulling us. “We need to go. NOW!”
I start to tremble. And leave my things? No. No. No!
The men are pulling us but I dig in my heels. Lot is muttering under his breath and the girls are sobbing. None of us wants to leave. My heart belongs here in Sodom. I belong in Sodom. Sodom is everything to me.
The harder I dig in my heels, the lighter I become. The strength of the men is too much for me and it feels like we are flying down the narrow streets of our beloved home. They drag us out of the city as if we are as light as the feathers on a bird. They’re not even sweating.

We come to an abrupt halt and they speak again: “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere on the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

Mountains? We panic and Lot pleads, “No, my lords, please! If your servant has found favour in your eyes – and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life – I can’t flee to the mountains!

This disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, there is the small town of Zoar and it’s near enough to run to. Let me flee to it. It’s very small. My life will be spared there, won’t it?”
The men look at each other and finally one speaks: “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there, quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.”

We start running. I feel sick. My heart bleeds! To lose everything! No, this can’t be real. Maybe I’m having a nightmare. I look down at my swollen, filthy feet and realise that this is my reality.
The sun is rising over the horizon as we reach Zoar and an explosion reverberates under our feet. I gasp, sob. My house, my precious home and city – destroyed! I have to look back, I must see what is left!

You can read the whole story in Genesis 19 – To get a better idea of the whole story start from Genesis 18.

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