18:1 The Lord appeared to Abraham 1 by the oaks 2 of Mamre while 3 he was sitting at the entrance 4 to his tent during the hottest time of the day. 18:2 Abraham 5 looked up 6 and saw 7 three men standing across 8 from him. When he saw them 9 he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low 10 to the ground. 11
18:3 He said, “My lord, 12 if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant. 13 18:4 Let a little water be brought so that 14 you may all 15 wash your feet and rest under the tree. 18:5 And let me get 16 a bit of food 17 so that you may refresh yourselves 18 since you have passed by your servant’s home. After that you may be on your way.” 19 “All right,” they replied, “you may do as you say.”
18:6 So Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Take 20 three measures 21 of fine flour, knead it, and make bread.” 22 18:7 Then Abraham ran to the herd and chose a fine, tender calf, and gave it to a servant, 23 who quickly prepared it. 24 18:8 Abraham 25 then took some curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and placed the food 26 before them. They ate while 27 he was standing near them under a tree.
18:9 Then they asked him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He replied, “There, 28 in the tent.” 18:10 One of them 29 said, “I will surely return 30 to you when the season comes round again, 31 and your wife Sarah will have a son!” 32 (Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, not far behind him. 33 18:11 Abraham and Sarah were old and advancing in years; 34 Sarah had long since passed menopause.) 35 18:12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, 36 “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, 37 especially when my husband is old too?” 38
18:13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why 39 did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really 40 have a child when I am old?’ 18:14 Is anything impossible 41 for the Lord? I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.” 42 18:15 Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But the Lord said, “No! You did laugh.” 43
18:16 When the men got up to leave, 44 they looked out over 45 Sodom. (Now 46 Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.) 47 18:17 Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 48 18:18 After all, Abraham 49 will surely become 50 a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another 51 using his name. 18:19 I have chosen him 52 so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep 53 the way of the Lord by doing 54 what is right and just. Then the Lord will give 55 to Abraham what he promised 56 him.”
18:20 So the Lord said, “The outcry against 57 Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so blatant 58 18:21 that I must go down 59 and see if they are as wicked as the outcry suggests. 60 If not, 61 I want to know.”
18:22 The two men turned 62 and headed 63 toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 64 18:23 Abraham approached and said, “Will you sweep away the godly along with the wicked? 18:24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare 65 the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 18:25 Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge 66 of the whole earth do what is right?” 67
18:26 So the Lord replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
18:27 Then Abraham asked, “Since I have undertaken to speak to the Lord 68 (although I am but dust and ashes), 69 18:28 what if there are five less than the fifty godly people? Will you destroy 70 the whole city because five are lacking?” 71 He replied, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
[18:2] 7 tn Heb “and saw, and look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) draws attention to what he saw. The drawn-out description focuses the reader’s attention on Abraham’s deliberate, fixed gaze and indicates that what he is seeing is significant.
[18:2] 10 tn The form וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ (vayyishtakhu, “and bowed low”) is from the verb הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה (hishtakhavah, “to worship, bow low to the ground”). It is probably from a root חָוָה (khavah), though some derive it from שָׁחָה (shakhah).
[18:2] 11 sn The reader knows this is a theophany. The three visitors are probably the
[18:3] 12 tc The MT has the form אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Master”) which is reserved for God. This may reflect later scribal activity. The scribes, knowing it was the
[18:4] 15 tn The word “all” has been supplied in the translation because the Hebrew verb translated “wash” and the pronominal suffix on the word “feet” are plural, referring to all three of the visitors.
[18:5] 17 tn Heb “a piece of bread.” The Hebrew word לֶחֶם (lekhem) can refer either to bread specifically or to food in general. Based on Abraham’s directions to Sarah in v. 6, bread was certainly involved, but v. 7 indicates that Abraham had a more elaborate meal in mind.
[18:6] 20 tn The word “take” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the sentence lacks a verb other than the imperative “hurry.” The elliptical structure of the language reflects Abraham’s haste to get things ready quickly.
[18:6] 21 sn Three measures (Heb “three seahs”) was equivalent to about twenty quarts (twenty-two liters) of flour, which would make a lot of bread. The animal prepared for the meal was far more than the three visitors needed. This was a banquet for royalty. Either it had been a lonely time for Abraham and the presence of visitors made him very happy, or he sensed this was a momentous visit.
[18:10] 29 tn Heb “he”; the referent (one of the three men introduced in v. 2) has been specified in the translation for clarity. Some English translations have specified the referent as the
[18:10] sn I will surely return. If Abraham had not yet figured out who this was, this interchange would have made it clear. Otherwise, how would a return visit from this man mean Sarah would have a son?
[18:14] 42 sn Sarah will have a son. The passage brings God’s promise into clear focus. As long as it was a promise for the future, it really could be believed without much involvement. But now, when it seemed so impossible from the human standpoint, when the
[18:18] 49 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The disjunctive clause is probably causal, giving a reason why God should not hide his intentions from Abraham. One could translate, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation?”
[18:18] 51 tn Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. (The Niphal of “bless” is only used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant. See Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14.) Traditionally the verb is taken as passive here, as if Abram were going to be a channel or source of blessing. But in later formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form, suggesting a translation “will bless [i.e., “pronounce blessings upon”] themselves [or “one another”].” The Hitpael of “bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 18:18 (like 12:2) predicts that Abraham will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae. For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11.
[18:19] 52 tn Heb “For I have known him.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) here means “to recognize and treat in a special manner, to choose” (see Amos 3:2). It indicates that Abraham stood in a special covenantal relationship with the
[18:21] sn I must go down. The descent to “see” Sodom is a bold anthropomorphism, stressing the careful judgment of God. The language is reminiscent of the
[18:21] 60 tn Heb “[if] according to the outcry that has come to me they have done completely.” Even the
[18:22] 62 tn Heb “And the men turned from there.” The word “two” is not in the Hebrew text, but is supplied here for clarity. Gen 19:1 mentions only two individuals (described as “angels”), while Abraham had entertained three visitors (18:2). The implication is that the
[18:22] 64 tc An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition reads “but the
[18:25] 67 sn Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right? For discussion of this text see J. L. Crenshaw, “Popular Questioning of the Justice of God in Ancient Israel,” ZAW 82 (1970): 380-95, and C. S. Rodd, “Shall Not the Judge of All the Earth Do What Is Just?” ExpTim 83 (1972): 137-39.