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Genesis 18

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Chapter 18
God promises a son to Abraham
1The Lord appeared to Abraham near the special oak trees of Mamre. It was the hot time of day and Abraham was sitting by the door of his tent. 2Abraham looked up and he saw three men. He ran in a hurry to meet them. He bent down to the ground to respect them. #18:2 This was a visit from the Lord God himself, but Abraham did not know that until later in their meeting.
3Abraham said, ‘Please sir, stop here and let me serve you. That would make me very happy. 4Let us bring some water so that you can all wash your feet. Then you can rest under this tree. 5Let me also bring some food for you to eat. Now that you have come to my home, you should rest and become strong again. Then you will be ready to continue with your journey.’ The men replied, ‘That is good. Please do what you have said.’
6Abraham went quickly to the tent. He said to Sarah, ‘Be quick! Get plenty of good flour and make bread with it.’ 7Then Abraham ran to his cows. He chose a very nice young cow. He gave it to his servant. The servant quickly prepared it for the men to eat. 8Then Abraham also brought some cream and some milk, as well as the meat from the cow. He put all the food in front of the men. While they ate it, Abraham stood near them, under a tree.
9Then the men asked Abraham ‘Where is Sarah, your wife?’ Abraham replied, ‘She is there in the tent.’
10Then one of the men said, ‘I will certainly return to you at about this time next year. At that time Sarah, your wife, will have a son!’
Sarah was listening to all this. She was at the door of the tent, near to where they were talking. 11Abraham and Sarah were now very old. Sarah was past the age when she could give birth to a child. 12So Sarah laughed to herself. She thought, ‘I have become old and weak. My husband is also old. I will never have a baby and be happy like that.’
13Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh like that? She said, “I am too old to have a child.” 14But surely, nothing is too difficult for the Lord to do. At this time next year, I will return to you and Sarah will have a son.’
15Then Sarah was afraid. So she told a lie. She said, ‘I did not laugh.’ But the Lord said, ‘Yes, you did laugh.’
God decides to punish the people in Sodom
16Then Abraham's visitors started to leave. They looked down in the valley towards Sodom. Abraham was walking with them to say ‘goodbye’ to them. 17Then the Lord said to himself, ‘I should tell Abraham what I am going to do. 18Abraham's descendants will become a great nation of people. They will be very powerful. Through him, I will bless all the nations of the earth. #18:18 See Genesis 12:2-3. 19I have chosen him so that he will teach my message to his children and their families. He will teach them to do what is right and what is fair. Then I, the Lord, will do for Abraham everything that I have promised to him.’
20So the Lord said to Abraham, ‘I have heard how bad the people in Sodom and Gomorrah are. Everybody says that their sins are very bad. 21So I must go down there to see if it is really true. I will see if those people are as bad as everybody says they are. Then I will know what is true.’
22The other two men then turned away and they went towards Sodom. But Abraham stayed there to talk with the Lord.
23Then Abraham went near to the Lord and he asked, ‘Will you destroy the good people as well as the bad people? 24There might be 50 people in the city who live in a good way. Will you still destroy the whole city? Or will you leave it there, because there are 50 good people in it? 25Will you kill them all, the good people and the bad people? Surely you would not do anything like that! You would not punish good people in the same way as bad people. You are the great judge of everyone on the earth. You will surely do what is right!’
26The Lord replied, ‘If I see that there are 50 good people in the city of Sodom, I will not destroy that place. Because of those 50 good people, I will leave the city there.’
27Then Abraham spoke again. He said, ‘I have been brave enough to speak to the Lord. I know that I am nothing more than dust and ashes. #18:27 Abraham is saying that he is not important enough to argue with the Lord God. He is only a human that God himself has made. 28But let me ask you this. What will you do if there are 45 good people in the city? Will you destroy the city, because there are only 5 fewer good people there?’ The Lord replied, ‘If I see that there are 45 good people in the city, I will not destroy it.’
29Abraham spoke to God again. He said, ‘What will you do if only 40 good people are there?’ The Lord said, ‘Because of 40 good people, I will not destroy the city.’
30Then Abraham said, ‘Please do not be angry, Lord. Let me speak again. What will you do if there are only 30 good people there?’ The Lord answered, ‘I will not destroy the city if I find 30 good people there.’
31Abraham said, ‘I have been brave to speak to you, Lord. What will you do if only 20 good people are there?’ The Lord said, ‘Because of 20 good people, I will not destroy the city.’
32After all that, Abraham said, ‘Please do not be angry, Lord. Let me speak just one more time. If there are only 10 good people there, what will you do?’ The Lord replied, ‘Because of 10 good people, I will not destroy the city.’ #18:32 Abraham's nephew, Lot, is living in Sodom. Abraham does not want God to kill Lot and his family. That is why Abraham asks God not to kill everyone in the city.
33The Lord had finished speaking with Abraham. So he continued on his journey. Abraham returned home.
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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.