What Happened to Lotís Wife When She Looked Back toward Sodom?
Lot's wife was not taken out of Sodom totally against her will. But she was very indecisive and uncertain about it. She stood in the middle of the street and argued, so that God had to take them by the hand and pull them out of Sodom. Then, as Lot argued with God that they were geared to that kind of life, they could not live in the mountains and that God just had to keep some of that world alive so that they would have a place to live, her uncertainty became more acute. Like many people who have made the semblance of a decision for the Lord because they are frightened and pressured, she was very reluctant to leave that city where she had lived for so long. All of a sudden she remembered with nostalgia all of the good times she had had there, forgetting the bad, and looked back with sentiment and longing. This was her undoing. It was not only a judgment of God against her for her doublemindedness, but it was sowing and reaping. With that kind of an unrepentant affection for the old world with it's lusts, there could only be the loss of life closely related to the death and destruction that was being poured upon that old world by God.
The Bible says that she became a pillar of salt. I want to zoom in on that a little and look closely at these words and their meanings. This may help us in our definitions and our thoughts.
The word for pillar is the Hebrew nets-eeb'. It means something stationary, as a sentinel, a military outpost or a statue. It is a very rare usage. The only other time this word is translated pillar in the Bible is in Judges the 9th chapter and the 6th verse, where it means an oak tree that was a landmark.
The word for salt is the Hebrew meh'-lakh. It certainly means salt but it is quite a versatile term that does not necessarily mean salt. It can mean dust. It can mean something very brittle and fragile that is about to flake off or to break in pieces. It can even mean ashes.
So what are we being told here? Well, there are several possibilities. We may be being told that when she looked back the heat and the radiation from the fire and brimstone incinerated her and she became nothing more than a charred pillar of ashes. This holds out the possibility that the fire and brimstone from heaven that God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah was a bombardment, or a series of bombardments of radioactive meteorites from the heavens. This could account for the depression in the earth where the Dead Sea now stands. This intense radiation could have been part of the judgment so that nothing could ever grow in the earth of that area again. Possibly we are being told that she was incinerated by the heat and the flame and swirled up into the air as a column of dust. The language would permit that explanation. Maybe the natural phenomena had nothing to do with it. Maybe it was wholly a supernatural judgment of God, removing all of the life from her body and leaving her as she was before man was created, dust to dust and ashes to ashes. The term salt in this instance may mean the soil or the clay after every vestige of life-giving nutrient had been burned out of it by judgment fire. Salt in that context would mean alkali, or earth that has no life-imparting qualities to it. An inorganic, dead thing.