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Why Did Lot's Wife Turn into Salt?

Why Did Lot's Wife Turn into Salt?

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Lot's wife turns into a pillar of salt
Lot's wife turns into a pillar of salt

Hi,

I’m stymied by the story in Genesis where Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt. Can you please explain it to me?

Answer:

The inhabitants of Sodom were known for their cruelty to strangers. In fact, inhospitality was included in their code of law.

Lot was the exception. Although he lived in Sodom, the years that he had spent with his uncle1 Abraham had influenced him, and he had learned to emulate Abraham's hospitality.2

When G‑d sent two angels, disguised as men, to destroy Sodom,3 Lot invited them to his home and served them food.4 His wife Adit,5 a native Sodomite6, disapproved of his actions.7

Lot asked his wife for salt for the guests and she replied, "Also this evil custom you wish to introduce into this place?” She had no salt in the house and went from door to door asking neighbors for salt for her husband's guests, letting everyone know that Lot had ignored the laws of the city by inviting strangers.8 A short time later, a mob gathered at Lot's door, demanding that he give up his guests to be mistreated.9

The next morning, as Sodom was about to be destroyed, the angels rescued Lot and his family. As they fled, the angels warned them not to look back at the city. It was not appropriate for them to stare at the suffering of others. But Lot's wife disregarded the admonition and, "She looked from behind, and she became a pillar of salt (Genesis 19:26)."10

The Midrash explains, "She sinned with salt, and she was punished with salt."11

For more information see our articles on the Destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah.

Footnotes
1.

See Bereishit Rabah 41:8.

2.

According to many accounts he was not much better when it came to other sinful acts (see Bereishit Raba 50:2; Midrash Tanchumah, Buber edition, Vayeira 22).

4.

See Genesis ch. 19.

5.

See Pirkei Derabi Eliezer 25.

6.

Targum Derabi Yonoton, Bereishit 19:26.

7.

Midrash Tanchumah ibid.

8.

Midrash Agadah Bereishit 19:32.

9.

See Genesis ibid.

10.

Bereishit Rabbah 50:4-10.

11.

Yalkut Shemoni Bereishit 85.

Mrs. Rochel Chein is a member of the chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
Imagery by Natalia Kadish. Natalia is a surrealist artist inspired by the joy received from learning Torah and contemplating the infinite. See more of her art at NataliaKadish.com.
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Discussion (24)
August 6, 2016
Please don't forget how important salt is in history. Salt was, among other things, used as currency and a preservative.
KJH
USA
March 21, 2016
Surely pillar of salt is a flowery way of saying covered in tears, frozen by her grief. It makes so much more sense than her physically being turned into a pillar of actual salt. I know if be pretty upset if everyone I had ever known was being murdered by winged creatures.
Nicholas Jones
Denbigh
March 5, 2016
Lot's salty wife
Fixating on the past is destructive because we can't move forward. Her reluctance to hurry and move on resulted in her being covered by the flaming sulphur. Maybe over the years the salt around that area covered her thus preserving her as an example of her disobedience for not listening to Hashem. That salt would have had impurities in it and lacking in flavour and this is what happens to those who live in the past.
Abigail
UK
October 29, 2015
Salt as a covenant
I think this article is very insightful. Being that salt has always represented a covenant, it is very possible Lot's wife was upset that he wanted to share salt with these strangers and betrayed them the way the article stated. I don't know if it is true but it definitely makes sense.
Anonymous
Colorado
October 27, 2015
Where did you get Lot's wife name from? And that she went looking for salt? Where did you get this information??Our RV Bible version doesn't mention anything about it!!!
Clau
USA
October 26, 2015
Lots Wife / Salt
Lots wife didn't want to leave the world of sin. Lot couldn't find
7 righteous men in that corrupt city.
Makes you realize how serious sin is to G-d.
Debbe
Maryland
August 18, 2015
Having salt in the house is sin?
This I just don't understand at all. What is sinful about salt? It is a condiment like pepper or mustard. How can sin be attached to salt? There must be a deeper/explanation someplace else because this article does not actually address the original question except to say in a round about way that she was turned into a pillar of salt because the Bible says she did. I think this answer is rather more a non-answer.
Anonymous
Florida
May 19, 2015
I've always believed Lot murdered his wife and made up the story about the pillar of salt. Clever. No witnesses, because they were told not to look back. This enabled Lot, (one of the few virtuous men in the town...) to continue sexually abusing his daughters. In this day if Lot came up with that story after impregnating two of his children, he would have been convicted of murder and labeled a sexual predator for life.
Anonymous
Florida
December 8, 2014
She turn into a pillar of salt because of one word "disobedience"
Charlotte Martin
Ohio
July 29, 2014
Pillar of Salt
THank You for the revelation of why Lot's wife turned to the pillar of salt. Wow! The very sin you commit it is what will destroy you! Awesome!
Shelley Porter
East Orange