Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
Old English hlot "object (anything from dice to straw, but often a chip of wood with a name inscribed on it) used to determine someone's share," also "what falls to a person by lot," from Proto-Germanic *khlutom (cf. Old Norse hlutr "lot, share," Old Frisian hlot "lot," Old Saxon hlot, Middle Dutch, Dutch lot, Old High German hluz "share of land," German Los; Old English hleotan "to cast lots, to foretell"), of unknown origin. The object was placed with others in a receptacle, which was shaken, the winner being the one that fell out first. Hence, to cast lots. In some cases the lots were drawn by hand. The word was adopted from Germanic into the Romanic languages (cf. lottery, lotto). Meaning "choice resulting from the casting of lots" first attested c.1200.
Sense of "plot of land" is first recorded 1630s (distribution of the best property in new settlements often determined by casting lots), that of "group, collection" is 1725, from notion of auction lots. The generalized sense of "great many" is first attested in 1812. To cast (one's) lot with another is to agree to share winnings.
(Heb. goral, a "pebble"), a small stone used in casting lots (Num. 33:54; Jonah 1:7). The lot was always resorted to by the Hebrews with strictest reference to the interposition of God, and as a method of ascertaining the divine will (Prov. 16:33), and in serious cases of doubt (Esther 3:7). Thus the lot was used at the division of the land of Canaan among the serveral tribes (Num. 26:55; 34:13), at the detection of Achan (Josh. 7:14, 18), the election of Saul to be king (1 Sam. 10:20, 21), the distribution of the priestly offices of the temple service (1 Chr. 24:3, 5, 19; Luke 1:9), and over the two goats at the feast of Atonement (Lev. 16:8). Matthias, who was "numbered with the eleven" (Acts 1:24-26), was chosen by lot. This word also denotes a portion or an inheritance (Josh. 15:1; Ps. 125:3; Isa. 17:4), and a destiny, as assigned by God (Ps. 16:5; Dan. 12:13). Lot, (Heb. lot), a covering; veil, the son of Haran, and nephew of Abraham (Gen. 11:27). On the death of his father, he was left in charge of his grandfather Terah (31), after whose death he accompanied his uncle Abraham into Canaan (12:5), thence into Egypt (10), and back again to Canaan (13:1). After this he separated from him and settled in Sodom (13:5-13). There his righteous soul was "vexed" from day to day (2 Pet. 2:7), and he had great cause to regret this act. Not many years after the separation he was taken captive by Chedorlaomer, and was rescued by Abraham (Gen. 14). At length, when the judgment of God descended on the guilty cities of the plain (Gen. 19:1-20), Lot was miraculously delivered. When fleeing from the doomed city his wife "looked back from behind him, and became a pillar of salt." There is to this day a peculiar crag at the south end of the Dead Sea, near Kumran, which the Arabs call Bint Sheik Lot, i.e., Lot's wife. It is "a tall, isolated needle of rock, which really does bear a curious resemblance to an Arab woman with a child upon her shoulder." From the words of warning in Luke 17:32, "Remember Lot's wife," it would seem as if she had gone back, or tarried so long behind in the desire to save some of her goods, that she became involved in the destruction which fell on the city, and became a stiffened corpse, fixed for a time in the saline incrustations. She became "a pillar of salt", i.e., as some think, of asphalt. (See SALT.) Lot and his daughters sought refuge first in Zoar, and then, fearing to remain there longer, retired to a cave in the neighbouring mountains (Gen. 19:30). Lot has recently been connected with the people called on the Egyptian monuments Rotanu or Lotanu, who is supposed to have been the hero of the Edomite tribe Lotan.