Exit Parallel Mode
 

B'resheet (Gen) 18

18
Parashah 4: Vayera (He appeared) 18:1–22:24
1Adonai appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance to the tent during the heat of the day. 2He raised his eyes and looked, and there in front of him stood three men. On seeing them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, prostrated himself on the ground, 3and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, please don’t leave your servant. 4Please let me send for some water, so that you can wash your feet; then rest under the tree, 5and I will bring a piece of bread. Now that you have come to your servant, refresh yourselves before going on.” “Very well,” they replied, “do what you have said.”
6Avraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, three measures of the best flour! Knead it and make cakes.” 7Avraham ran to the herd, took a good, tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8Then he took curds, milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it all before the men; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate. 9They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He said, “There, in the tent.” 10He said, “I will certainly return to you around this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah heard him from the entrance of the tent, behind him. 11Avraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “I am old, and so is my lord; am I to have pleasure again?” 13Adonai said to Avraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and ask, ‘Am I really going to bear a child when I am so old?’ 14Is anything too hard for Adonai? At the time set for it, at this season next year, I will return to you; and Sarah will have a son.” (ii) 15Sarah denied it, saying, “I didn’t either laugh,” because she was afraid. He said, “Not so — you did laugh.”
16The men set out from there and looked over toward S’dom, and Avraham went with them to see them on their way. 17Adonai said, “Should I hide from Avraham what I am about to do, 18inasmuch as Avraham is sure to become a great and strong nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by him? 19For I have made myself known to him, so that he will give orders to his children and to his household after him to keep the way of Adonai and to do what is right and just, so that Adonai may bring about for Avraham what he has promised him.”
20Adonai said, “The outcry against S’dom and ‘Amora is so great and their sin so serious 21that I will now go down and see whether their deeds warrant the outcry that has reached me; if not, I will know.” 22The men turned away from there and went toward S’dom, but Avraham remained standing before Adonai. 23Avraham approached and said, “Will you actually sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Maybe there are fifty righteous people in the city; will you actually sweep the place away, and not forgive it for the sake of the fifty righteous who are there? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing — to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Shouldn’t the judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26Adonai said, “If I find in S’dom fifty who are righteous, then I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”
27Avraham answered, “Here now, I, who am but dust and ashes, have taken it upon myself to speak to adonai. 28What if there are five less than fifty righteous?” He said, “I won’t destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
29He spoke to him yet again: “What if forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of the forty I won’t do it.”
30He said, “I hope adonai won’t be angry if I speak. What if thirty are found there?” He said, “I won’t do it if I find thirty there.”
31He said, “Here now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to adonai. What if twenty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of the twenty I won’t destroy it.”
32He said, “I hope adonai won’t be angry if I speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He said, “For the sake of the ten I won’t destroy it.” 33Adonai went on his way as soon as he had finished speaking to Avraham, and Avraham returned to his place.
18
Abraham’s Visitors. 1#Chapters 18 and 19 combined form a continuous narrative, concluding the story of Abraham and his nephew Lot that began in 13:2–18. The mysterious men visit Abraham in Mamre to promise him and Sarah a child the following year (18:1–15) and then visit Lot in Sodom to investigate and then to punish the corrupt city (19:1–29). Between the two visits, Abraham questions God about the justice of punishing Sodom (18:16–33). At the end of the destruction of Sodom, there is a short narrative about Lot as the ancestor of Moab and the Ammonites (19:30–38). The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. 2Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground,#Heb 13:1–2. 3he said: “Sir,#Abraham addresses the leader of the group, whom he does not yet recognize as the Lord; in the next two verses he speaks to all three men. The other two are later (Gn 19:1) identified as angels. The shifting numbers and identification of the visitors are a narrative way of expressing the mysterious presence of God. if it please you, do not go on past your servant. 4Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest under the tree. 5Now that you have come to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” “Very well,” they replied, “do as you have said.”
6Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick, three measures#Three measures: Hebrew seah; three seahs equal one ephah, about half a bushel. of bran flour! Knead it and make bread.” 7He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice calf, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. 8Then he got some curds#Curds: a type of soft cheese or yogurt. and milk, as well as the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them, waiting on them under the tree while they ate.
9“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There in the tent,” he replied. 10One of them#One of them: i.e., the Lord. said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him.#Gn 17:19; 21:1; 2 Kgs 4:16; Rom 9:9. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her menstrual periods.#Gn 17:17; Rom 4:19; Heb 11:11–12. 12So Sarah laughed#Sarah laughed: a play on the verb “laugh,” which prefigures the name of Isaac; see note on 17:17. to herself and said, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?” 13But the Lord said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really bear a child, old as I am?’ 14Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.”#Mt 19:26; Mk 10:27; Lk 1:37; 18:27; Rom 4:21. 15Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes, you did.”
Abraham Intercedes for Sodom. 16With Abraham walking with them to see them on their way, the men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom. 17The Lord considered: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18now that he is to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him?#Lk 1:55. 19Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household in the future to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may put into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him. 20#Gn 19:13; Is 3:9; Lk 17:28; Jude 7. So the Lord said: The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave,#The immorality of the cities was already hinted at in 13:13, when Lot made his choice to live there. The “outcry” comes from the victims of the injustice and violence rampant in the city, which will shortly be illustrated in the treatment of the visitors. The outcry of the Hebrews under the harsh treatment of Pharaoh (Ex 3:7) came up to God who reacts in anger at mistreatment of the poor (cf. Ex 22:21–23; Is 5:7). Sodom and Gomorrah became types of sinful cities in biblical literature. Is 1:9–10; 3:9 sees their sin as lack of social justice, Ez 16:46–51, as disregard for the poor, and Jer 23:14, as general immorality. In the Genesis story, the sin is violation of the sacred duty of hospitality by the threatened rape of Lot’s guests. 21that I must go down to see whether or not their actions are as bad as the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.
22As the men turned and walked on toward Sodom, Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23Then Abraham drew near and said: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24Suppose there were fifty righteous people in the city; would you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people within it? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Should not the judge of all the world do what is just?”#Dt 32:4; Jb 8:3, 20; Wis 12:15. 26The Lord replied: If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake. 27Abraham spoke up again: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am only dust and ashes!#Sir 10:9; 17:27. 28What if there are five less than fifty righteous people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?” I will not destroy it, he answered, if I find forty-five there. 29But Abraham persisted, saying, “What if only forty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it for the sake of the forty. 30Then he said, “Do not let my Lord be angry if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it if I can find thirty there. 31Abraham went on, “Since I have thus presumed to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?” I will not destroy it, he answered, for the sake of the twenty. 32But he persisted: “Please, do not let my Lord be angry if I speak up this last time. What if ten are found there?” For the sake of the ten, he replied, I will not destroy it.#Jer 5:1; Ez 22:30.
33The Lord departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned home.