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Genesis 18

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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.

Genesis 18

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God promised again to give Abraham and Sarah a son
1Abraham camped for some time near the big trees that belonged to a man called Mamreh. One day, God came to Abraham there. It happened like this. Abraham was sitting in the doorway of his tent, at the hottest part of the day, 2and he looked up and saw 3 men standing nearby. He got up quickly, and he ran to meet them, and he got down on his knees and put his face near the ground to show them respect.#Hebrews 13:2 3Abraham said, “Sirs, please come and sit at my place for a while. Let me look after you. 4I will get a work-man to bring water so that you can wash your feet, and then you can rest in the shade of this tree. 5And I will get some food for you, so that you will be strong enough to keep walking to the place where you are going. I really want to do that for you.”
The 3 men said, “All right. We’ll rest here while you do that.”
6Then Abraham went quickly into the tent to tell Sarah, and he said, “Quick, get a big bag of really good flour and make some damper for our visitors.”
7Then he ran to his mob of cows and picked out a really good young cow. He gave it to one of his work-men and said, “Quick, kill this young cow, and cook it for our visitors.” 8Then Abraham gave the men that cooked meat, and some cheese and milk. And Abraham stood near them in the shade of that tree, and he looked after them while they ate that food.
9Then they said to Abraham, “Where is your wife, Sarah?”
Abraham said, “She is right here, in our tent.”
10You know, one of those men was God, but he made himself to be like a man when he talked to Abraham. He said, “I will come back to you at this time next year, and Sarah will have a baby boy.”#Romans 9:9
Sarah was at the doorway of the tent, and she listened to them talking. 11Abraham and Sarah were both very old. She knew she was too old to have a baby, 12so when she heard him say that, she laughed quietly and said to herself, “I am too old and worn out to have a baby, and my husband is old too. If I had a baby, I would be really happy. But I’m too old for that now.”#1 Peter 3:6
13God said, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say to herself, ‘I can’t have a baby now, I am too old’? 14I’m telling you, nothing is too hard for me. I am God. Just like I said, at this time next year, I will come back, and Sarah will have a baby boy.”#Luke 1:37
15Sarah was frightened, and so she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”
But God said, “That’s not true. You did laugh.”
God talked to Abraham about the town called Sodom
16Then the 3 men got up to leave, and Abraham went with them for a little while to say goodbye. They went to a hill where they looked down at the town called Sodom. 17God said, “Maybe I will tell Abraham what I am going to do. 18You know, Abraham’s family will be a big and powerful nation one day, and I will use his family to do good things for all the nations in the world.#Galatians 3:8 19I have picked him out so that he can teach his family to live my way, and do what is good and right. Then I will keep my promise to him.”
20So God said, “Abraham, I heard about all the really bad things that people do in those 2 towns down there, called Sodom and Gomorrah. A lot of people are telling me that those people are always doing bad things. 21I will go down and find out if they are really doing those bad things that I heard about.” That’s what the man said, the one that had God in him.
22Then the other 2 men turned and walked towards Sodom. They left Abraham standing in front of God.
23Abraham went up close to God and asked him, “Are you going to kill all the good people, as well as the bad people? 24There might be 50 good people that live the right way down there in that town. Will you still finish up that town? Or will you save that town to save those 50 good people? 25I don’t think you will kill 50 good people. I know that you are the judge of everybody in the world, and you always do what is right. I don’t think you will kill the good people with the bad people.”
26God said, “If I find 50 good people in Sodom, I will not finish up that town. I will save that town so that I can save those 50 good people.”
27Then Abraham said, “Look, I know that I am just a man and you are God, but I’m being brave and I’m talking to you. I want to ask you another question. 28What if you find only 45 good people in that town, will you still finish up that town?”
God said, “If I find 45 good people there, I will not finish up that town.”
29Then Abraham asked God again, he said, “What if you find only 40 good people there?”
God said, “If I find 40 good people there, I will not finish up that town.”
30Then Abraham said, “God, please don’t get angry with me, but I will say a little bit more. What if you find only 30 good people in that town?”
God said, “If I find 30 good people there, I will not finish up that town.”
31Then Abraham said, “I know that I am being brave to talk to God like this, but what if you find only 20 good people in that town?”
God said, “If I find 20 good people there, I will not finish up that town.”
32Then Abraham said, “God, please don’t get angry with me, but I will ask one more question. What if you find only 10 good people in that town?”
God said, “If I find 10 good people there, I will not finish up that town.”
33Then they finished talking, and God left Abraham, and Abraham went back to his camp.