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Genesis 18

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.
18
1Yahweh appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. 2He lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw that three men stood opposite him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth, 3and said, “My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please don’t go away from your servant. 4Now let a little water be fetched, wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. 5I will get a morsel of bread so you can refresh your heart. After that you may go your way, now that you have come to your servant.”
They said, “Very well, do as you have said.”
6Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly prepare three seahs#1 seah is about 7 liters or 1.9 gallons or 0.8 pecks of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes.” 7Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a tender and good calf, and gave it to the servant. He hurried to dress it. 8He took butter, milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. He stood by them under the tree, and they ate.
9They asked him, “Where is Sarah, your wife?”
He said, “See, in the tent.”
10He said, “I will certainly return to you at about this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing. 12Sarah laughed within herself, saying, “After I have grown old will I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
13Yahweh said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Will I really bear a child, yet I am old?’ 14Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes round, and Sarah will have a son.”
15Then Sarah denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh,” for she was afraid.
He said, “No, but you did laugh.”
16The men rose up from there, and looked toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to see them on their way. 17Yahweh said, “Will I hide from Abraham what I do, 18since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him? 19For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him.” 20Yahweh said, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, 21I will go down now, and see whether their deeds are as bad as the reports which have come to me. If not, I will know.”
22The men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before Yahweh. 23Abraham came near, and said, “Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? 24What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn’t the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26Yahweh said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place for their sake.” 27Abraham answered, “See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord, although I am dust and ashes. 28What if there will lack five of the fifty righteous? Will you destroy all the city for lack of five?”
He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
29He spoke to him yet again, and said, “What if there are forty found there?”
He said, “I will not do it for the forty’s sake.”
30He said, “Oh don’t let the Lord be angry, and I will speak. What if there are thirty found there?”
He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31He said, “See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord. What if there are twenty found there?”
He said, “I will not destroy it for the twenty’s sake.”
32He said, “Oh don’t let the Lord be angry, and I will speak just once more. What if ten are found there?”
He said, “I will not destroy it for the ten’s sake.”
33Yahweh went his way, as soon as he had finished communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.