Do you remember Lot’s wife?


Lot Fleeing Sodom (1810) by Benjamin West

I do.  In fact, I WAS Lot’s wife about a couple of weeks ago.  I was at the office walking through the corridor of elevators when I saw a man from behind.  Something intrigued me.  I had never seen him on our floor and as I walked past, I got a glimpse of his “profil perdu“. At that moment, I knew I would have to turn around to look at him and that’s when I thought of Lot’s wife.

As a refresher… in the Old Testament, two angels visit Lot, his wife and two daughters in Sodom.  When an angry mob of men, both old and young, gathers outside the home wanting to “know” the angels, Lot offers his virgin daughters instead but the mob insist on the male strangers.

The angels convince Lot to leave Sodom with his family as soon as possible before God destroys both Sodom and Gomorrah instructing the family members NOT to look back as they leave.  Lot’s wife looks back as the cities are being destroyed and she turns into a pillar of salt.

American artist Benjamin West in the painting above does something very interesting.  Instead of showing Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt as in most paintings, he shows her at the moment that she looks back and BEFORE she turns into a pillar of salt.  And look at that fantastic spectacle!  Lot’s wife raises her hands in horror (or surrender)… a woman in ecstasy with her red robe flowing in the wind!  To be honest, I don’t know who I feel more sorry for… Lot’s wife who is about to change into a pillar of salt or Lot and his daughters in their darkness.

And so… did I look back?  I did.  And had it been a moment of despair I would have sat down on the chair next to the elevators and cried.  That’s what sublime beauty can do to me.  What did he look like?  I don’t remember exactly.  Sublime beauty does that too… temporary amnesia! All you are left with is a feeling… of awe, of despair, of loss and one’s mortality.  I remember he looked Arab… but that’s about it.  A friend would say… “c’était troublant”… literally, it was troubling.

What does all this have to do with perfume?  Well… when I follow someone who smells heavenly, I ALWAYS have to look back and see who is wearing that gorgeous scent.  It’s stronger than me… and I haven’t turned into a pillar of salt yet!

Epilogue to Lot’s story : Both daughters feeling lonely and isolated in their mountain hideaway decide that they want a child so they get Lot drunk and sleep with him on two separate nights.  The older daughter gave birth to Moab.  The younger daughter gave birth to Ben-Ammi.  Scholars refer to this as incestuous rape.


William Blake’s depiction of Lot and his daughters

Next week I’m going to talk about how I feel about feminine and masculine beauty.

Leave a comment


  1. Andrea

     /  February 5, 2018

    Frankly….. all those terms and conditions are a bit much. Just let them go! The poor woman. I would have looked too.


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