Lot’s daughters did not have an easy life by any account. Raised in the city of Sodom, they were exposed, no doubt, to immorality of every kind. And when an angry mob arrived on Lot’s doorstep, they found themselves to be pawns in a dangerous confrontation—their own father offering them up, like a sacrifice, so the men of the town could do whatever they wanted with them.
As they fled Sodom the next day, their mother looked back and was killed—turned into a pillar of salt, according to the writer of Genesis. Soon they were reduced to living in a cave with their ruined father. In these desperate circumstances, Lot’s daughters did the unthinkable. Being in a patriarchal culture where women counted on husbands and sons for fulfillment and protection, Lot’s daughters felt dangerously vulnerable. They stood no chance of finding partners while living in a cave. So they decided to remedy the situation by getting their father drunk and sleeping with him.
One after the other, Lot’s daughters carried out their plan—and both became pregnant. Ironically, Lot’s daughters owed their very survival to Abraham, who pleaded with God to spare Sodom. Yet the sons they bore by their father gave rise to the Moabites and the Ammonites—two nations that caused great trouble for the descendants of Abraham.
Lot initially asked the angels to let him flee to a town called Zoar, where he thought he and his wife and daughters would be safe.
However, the reason Lot and his daughters ended up living in a cave was because Lot was “afraid to stay in Zoar” (Genesis 19:30).
No reason is given for Lot’s fear, but apparently his judgment in choosing Zoar was as flawed as his decision to move to Sodom—to say nothing of his daughters’ faulty discernment while living in the cave.