Why was Lot’s wife turned into a pillar of salt?


By BibleAsk Team

The story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt is found in the Old Testament book of Genesis, specifically in Genesis 19. To understand why this happened, we need to explore the context of the events leading up to this incident, the significance of salt in biblical symbolism, and the lessons that can be drawn from this narrative.

Context of the Story

Sodom and Gomorrah

In Genesis 18-19, we read about the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were known for their wickedness and sin. Lot, the nephew of the patriarch Abraham, lived in Sodom with his wife and daughters. God had determined to destroy these cities because of their extreme wickedness.

“And the Lord said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.'”

Genesis 18:20-21 (NKJV)

This passage reveals God’s intention to investigate the depths of the sin and wickedness in these cities, indicating His righteous judgment and concern for justice.

Sodom and Gomorrah were very wicked cities. And because of their great evil, the Lord set out to destroy them and stop their evil from spreading (Genesis 18). God was willing to save the cities if he found ten righteous people there (Genesis 18:32). But, sadly, He could not find except lot and his family. So, He sent two angels to warn Lot and his family to flee out of the cities before their destruction.

Lot’s Rescue

Prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent two angels to rescue Lot and his family. The angels warned Lot of the impending judgment and instructed him to flee the city with his wife and daughters.

“When the morning dawned, the angels urged Lot to hurry, saying, ‘Arise, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be consumed in the punishment of the city.’ And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.”

Genesis 19:15-17 (NKJV)

God’s mercy is evident in His rescue mission for Lot and his family, providing them with a way of escape from the impending destruction.

The Incident with Lot’s Wife

“But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Genesis 19:26 (NKJV)

The scriptures say that the angels took hold of Lot, his wife, and two daughters to hurry them out of the doomed city. And the angels instructed them saying, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed” (Genesis 19:17). “Do not look behind you,” was the clear command of the angels. Sadly, Lot’s wife did not reach the safety of the mountains because she “looked back.” And she immediately was turned into a pillar of salt.

After being warned not to look back, Lot’s wife disobeyed and turned back to look at the burning cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. As a result of her disobedience, she was instantly transformed into a pillar of salt.

Reasons for the Judgment

Disobedience and Attachment to Sin

The turning of Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of disobedience and attachment to sinful ways.

“Remember Lot’s wife.”

Luke 17:32 (NKJV)

Jesus Himself references Lot’s wife as a cautionary example in the New Testament, urging His followers to remember her fate and the lessons to be learned from it. Her action of looking back indicated a longing or attachment to the sinful city she was leaving behind, despite the clear command from the angels not to do so.

Symbolism of Salt

In biblical symbolism, salt often represents purification, preservation, and covenant. Salt was used in ancient times to preserve food and as a purifying agent in sacrificial offerings.

“And every offering of your grain offering you shall season with salt; you shall not allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your grain offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.”

Leviticus 2:13 (NKJV)

This verse illustrates the association of salt with the covenant between God and His people, symbolizing purity and preservation of that covenant. Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt can thus be seen as a symbolic act of purification or judgment, emphasizing the seriousness of disobedience and the consequences of rejecting God’s command.

Lessons from Lot’s Wife

Obedience and Trust

The story of Lot’s wife underscores the importance of obedience and trust in God’s commands. God had provided a way of escape for Lot and his family, but Lot’s wife’s disobedience and attachment to her former life led to her judgment.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

This passage from Proverbs highlights the necessity of obedience and trusting in God’s guidance, even when it may require leaving behind familiar but sinful ways.

Warning against Worldliness

Lot’s wife’s action of looking back serves as a warning against the dangers of worldliness and attachment to earthly pleasures or pursuits that distract from following God wholeheartedly.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV)

The apostle John’s words emphasize the transient nature of worldly desires compared to the eternal significance of doing God’s will. Lot’s wife’s fate serves as a sobering reminder of the consequences of prioritizing worldly attachments over obedience to God.

Lot’s wife believed the angel’s message and even wanted to be saved. But she hesitated because of her divided heart. Her heart and life had been so enchanted by worldly things and material riches that she could not pull away from what she cherished most. With death at her heels, she hesitated to leave. Jesus said, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15, NKJV).

Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). It is well to remember the solemn warning of Christ, “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32, NKJV).


In conclusion, the story of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt in Genesis 19 illustrates God’s judgment upon disobedience and attachment to sinful ways. Her act of looking back towards the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, despite the warning not to do so, resulted in her transformation into a pillar of salt. This narrative serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of disobedience and the dangers of worldly attachments. It underscores the importance of obedience, trust in God’s guidance, and the need to prioritize spiritual values over earthly desires.

Lot’s wife’s fate is remembered throughout history as a powerful lesson in faithfulness, repentance, and the consequences of turning away from God’s commands. As believers reflect on this story, they are challenged to examine their own lives and choices, ensuring that they remain steadfast in following God’s will and avoiding the allure of sin and worldliness.

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