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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.
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Yahweh Appears to Abraham as a Man
1And Yahweh appeared to him#Abraham by the oaks of Mamre. And he was sitting in the doorway of the tent at the heat of the day. 2And he lifted up his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing near#Or “by”; the context requires some distance for Abraham to run to them him. And he saw them and ran from the doorway of the tent to meet them. And he bowed down to the ground. 3And he said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your eyes do not pass by your servant. 4Let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest under the tree. 5And let me bring a piece of bread, then#Or “and” refresh yourselves.#Literally “your heart” Afterward you can pass on, once#Literally “for therefore” you have passed by with your servant.” Then they said, “Do so as you have said.” 6Then#Or “And” Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and he said, “Quickly—make three seahs of fine flour for kneading and make bread cakes!” 7And Abraham ran to the cattle and took a calf,#Literally “a son of cattle” tender and good, and gave it to the servant, and he made haste to prepare it. 8Then he took curds and milk, and the calf which he prepared, and set it before them. And he was standing by them under the tree while#Or “and” they ate. 9And they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “Here, in the tent.” 10And he#Yahweh said, “I will certainly return to you in the spring,#Literally “at the time of life” and look, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the doorway of the tent, and which was behind him. 11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age;#Literally “going in the days” the way of women#Literally “the road according to women” had ceased to be for Sarah. 12So#Or “And” Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and my husband is old, shall this pleasure be to me?” 13Then Yahweh said to Abraham, “What is this that Sarah laughed, saying, ‘Is it indeed true that I will bear a child, now that I have grown old?’ 14Is anything too difficult for Yahweh? At the appointed time I will return to you in the spring#Literally “at the time of life” and Sarah shall have a son.” 15But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. He#Yahweh said, “No, but you did laugh.”
16Then the men set out from there, and they looked down upon Sodom. And Abraham went with them to send them on their way.#Literally “to send them away” 17Then Yahweh said, “Shall I conceal from Abraham what I am going to do? 18Abraham will surely become a great and strong nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed on account of him. 19For I have chosen#Or “have known” him, that he will command his children and his household after him that they will keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice, so that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham that which he said to him.” 20Then Yahweh said, “Because the outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and because their sin is very serious,#Literally “heavy” 21I will go down and I will see. Have they done altogether according to its cry of distress which has come to me? If not, I will know.”
Abraham Intercedes for Sodom
22And the men turned from there and went toward Sodom. And Abraham was still standing before Yahweh. 23And Abraham drew near to Yahweh and said, “Will you also sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24If perhaps there are fifty righteous in the midst of the city, will you also sweep them away and not forgive the place on account of the fifty righteous in her midst? 25Far be it from you to do such a thing as this, to kill the righteous with the wicked, that#Or “and” the righteous would be as the wicked! Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do justice?” 26And Yahweh said, “If I find fifty righteous in Sodom, in the midst of the city, then I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” 27Then Abraham answered and said, “Look, please, I was bold to speak to my Lord, but I am dust and ashes. 28Perhaps the fifty righteous are lacking five—will you destroy the whole city on account of the five?” And he answered, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29And once again he spoke#Literally “And he added again to speak” to him and said, “What if#Or “Perhaps” forty are found there?” And he answered, “I will not do it on account of the forty.” 30And he said, “Please, let not my Lord be angry, and I will speak. What if#Or “Perhaps” thirty be found there?” And he answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” 31And he said, “Please, now, I was bold to speak to my Lord. What if#Or “Perhaps” twenty be found there?” And he answered, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.” 32And he said, “Please, let not my Lord be angry, and I will speak only once more. What if#Or “Perhaps” ten are found there?” And he answered, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.” 33Then Yahweh left,#Or “went” as he finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.