on Genesis 19 :24
The Lord rained - brimstone and fire from the Lord - As all judgment is committed to the Son of God, many of the primitive fathers and several modern divines have supposed that the words ויהוה vaihovah and מאת יהוה meeth Yehovah imply, Jehovah the Son raining brimstone and fire from Jehovah the Father; and that this place affords no mean proof of the proper Divinity of our blessed Redeemer. It may be so; but though the point is sufficiently established elsewhere, it does not appear to me to be plainly indicated here. And it is always better on a subject of this kind not to have recourse to proofs which require proofs to confirm them. It must however be granted that two persons mentioned as Jehovah in one verse, is both a strange and curious circumstance; and it will appear more remarkable when we consider that the person called Jehovah, who conversed with Abraham, (see Genesis 18)., and sent those two angels to bring Lot and his family out of this devoted place, and seems himself after he left off talking with Abraham to have ascended to heaven, Genesis 19:33, does not any more appear on this occasion till we hear that Jehovah rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven. This certainly gives much countenance to the opinion referred to above, though still it may fall short of positive proof.
Brimstone and fire - The word גפרית gophrith, which we translate brimstone, is of very uncertain derivation. It is evidently used metaphorically, to point out the utmost degrees of punishment executed on the most flagitious criminals, in Deuteronomy 29:23; Job 18:15; Psalm 11:6; Isaiah 34:9; Ezekiel 38:22. And as hell, or an everlasting separation from God and the glory of his power, is the utmost punishment that can be inflicted on sinners, hence brimstone and fire are used in Scripture to signify the torments in that place of punishment. See Isaiah 30:33; Revelation 14:10; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10; Revelation 21:8. We may safely suppose that it was quite possible that a shower of nitrous particles might have been precipitated from the atmosphere, here, as in many other places, called heaven, which, by the action of fire or the electric fluid, would be immediately ignited, and so consume the cities; and, as we have already seen that the plains about Sodom and Gomorrah abounded with asphaltus or bitumen pits, (see Genesis 14:10), that what is particularly meant here in reference to the plain is the setting fire to this vast store of inflammable matter by the agency of lightning or the electric fluid; and this, in the most natural and literal manner, accounts for the whole plain being burnt up, as that plain abounded with this bituminous substance; and thus we find three agents employed in the total ruin of these cities, and all the circumjacent plain:
1. Innumerable nitrous particles precipitated from the atmosphere.
2. The vast quantity of asphaltus or bitumen which abounded in that country: and,
3. Lightning or the electric spark, which ignited the nitre and bitumen, and thus consumed both the cities and the plain or champaign country in which they were situated.
on Genesis 19 :24
Then follows the overthrow of the cities. "The Lord rained brimstone and fire from the Lord from the skies." Here the Lord is represented as present in the skies, whence the storm of desolation comes, and on the earth where it falls. The dale of Siddim, in which the cities were, appears to have abounded in asphalt and other combustible materials Genesis 14:10. The district was liable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions from the earliest to the latest times. We read of an earthquake in the days of king Uzziah Amos 1:1. An earthquake in 1759 destroyed many thousands of persons in the valley of Baalbec. Josephus (De Bell. Jude 3.10, 7) reports that the Salt Sea sends up in many places black masses of asphalt, which are not unlike headless bulls in shape and size. After an earthquake in 1834, masses of asphalt were thrown up from the bottom, and in 1837 a similar cause was attended with similar effects.
The lake lies in the lowest part of the valley of the Jordan, and its surface is about thirteen hundred feet below the level of the sea. In such a hollow, exposed to the burning rays of an unclouded sun, its waters evaporate as much as it receives by the influx of the Jordan. Its present area is about forty-five miles by eight miles. A peninsula pushes into it from the east called the Lisan, or tongue, the north point of which is about twenty miles from the south end of the lake. North of this point the depth is from forty to two hundred and eighteen fathoms. This southern part of the lake seems to have been the original dale of Siddim, in which were the cities of the vale. The remarkable salt hills lying on the south of the lake are still called Khashm Usdum (Sodom). A tremendous storm, accompanied with flashes of lightning, and torrents of rain, impregnated with sulphur, descended upon the doomed cities.
From the injunction to Lot to "flee to the mountain," as well as from the nature of the soil, we may infer that at the same time with the awful conflagration there was a subsidence of the ground, so that the waters of the upper and original lake flowed in upon the former fertile and populous dale, and formed the shallow southern part of the present Salt Sea. In this pool of melting asphalt and sweltering, seething waters, the cities seem to have sunk forever, and left behind them no vestiges of their existence. Lot's wife lingering behind her husband, and looking back, contrary to the express command of the Lord, is caught in the sweeping tempest, and becomes a pillar of salt: so narrow was the escape of Lot. The dashing spray of the salt sulphurous rain seems to have suffocated her, and then encrusted her whole body. She may have burned to a cinder in the furious conflagration. She is a memorable example of the indignation and wrath that overtakes the halting and the backsliding.
on Genesis 19 :24
19:24 Then the Lord rained - from the Lord - God the Son, from God the Father, for the Father has committed all judgment to the Son. He that is the Saviour will be the destroyer of those that reject the salvation.