Lot's Wife As A Critique Of The Book Of Genesis

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Biblical Re-readings: Lot’s Wife As a Critique of The Book of Genesis
In what ways are the voices of history and tradition present in the work?

One of the angels grasped [Lot’s wife’s] hand (Genesis 19:16) and God asked her “Don’t look back … !” (Genesis 19:17). Yet, “Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26).

Lot’s Wife by Wisława Szymborska is a commentary on the story from The Book of Genesis. In a single stanza, questions of morality and deity arise. Critique of the biblical story’s reductive stance on morality shows the speaker’s doubts about the ethics of the God portrayed in the Book of Genesis and his attitudes towards humankind, specificity with regard to women. The original cautionary tale is given further depth by the poem’s exploration of Lot’s wife’s actions and God’s authority in bestowing ethical judgment. This is achieved by giving a voice to the previously unnamed wife, deconstructing morality and exploring the role of fate in the questioning of whether God’s judgment was just.

In the poem, Szymborska invests Lot 's wife with an agency denied to her in the bible story. In the Bible, Lot’s wife is given neither physical nor vocal agency. Instead, she is powerless, only reacting to the word of God and her husband. The poem begins with the Bible’s version of her actions. In the first line “[t]hey say”, one is exposed to her perspective. However, this account of events is quickly questioned. Szymborska lists
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