Photo by Scala/Art Resource, N.Y.

ON THE COVER: As sulfurous fire rains on the distant cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot and his daughters find shelter on a nearby mountaintop. Fearing that they are the last living human beings, Lot’s daughters inebriate their father on successive nights and seduce him. In this relatively chaste portrayal of the lurid scene, by the early-16th-century Dutch artist Lucas van Leyden, one daughter is embraced by Lot outside a red tent while the other pours him a flagon of wine. The incestuous relations between Lot and his daughters produce two sons—Moab, the father of the Moabites, and Ben-Ammi, the father of the Ammonites.

The story from Genesis 19 is featured in two articles in this issue. In “Sperm Stealing,” Shlomith Yaron asks why these women are never condemned. In “Reading David in Genesis,” Gary A. Rendsburg explores how this unusual incident might help date the biblical story—and indeed the entire Torah—to the tenth-century B.C. reign of King David.