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Abraham’s Three Visitors

18 Later, the Lord appeared to Abraham[a] by the oaks[b] belonging to Mamre. As Abraham[c] was sitting near the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day, he glanced up and saw three men standing there, not far from him. As soon as he noticed them, Abraham[d] ran from the tent entrance to greet them and bowed low to the ground. “My lords,” he told them, “if I have found favor with you,[e] please don’t leave your servant. I’ll have some water brought to wash your feet while you rest under the tree. I’ll bring some food for you,[f] and after that you may continue your journey, since you have come to visit your servant.”

So they replied, “Very well! Do what you’ve proposed.”

Abraham hurried into the tent and told Sarah, “Quick! Take three measures[g] of the best flour, knead it, and make some flat bread.”

Next, Abraham ran to the herd, found a choice and tender calf, and gave it to the young men, who went off in a hurry to prepare it. Then he took curds, milk, and the calf that had been prepared, placed the food in front of them, and stood near them under the tree while they ate.

Sarah Laughs at the Promise

The men asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“There, in the tent,” he replied.

10 Then one of them said, “I will certainly return to you in about a year’s time.[h] By then, your wife Sarah will have borne a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were old—really old[i]—and Sarah was beyond the age of childbearing.[j] 12 That’s why Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I’m so old and my husband is old, too, am I going to have sex?”[k]

13 The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and think, ‘Am I really going to bear a child, since I’m so old?’ 14 Is anything impossible[l] for the Lord? At the time set for it, I will return to you—about a year from now—and Sarah will have a son.”

15 But Sarah denied it. “I didn’t laugh,” she claimed, because she was afraid.

The Lord[m] replied, “No! You did laugh!”

God Reveals His Plans to Abraham

16 After this, the men set out from there and looked out over Sodom. Abraham went with them to send them off.

17 “Should I hide from Abraham what I’m about to do,” the Lord asked, 18 “since Abraham’s descendants will become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him? 19 Indeed, I’ve made myself known to him in order that he may encourage his sons and his household that is born after him to keep the way of the Lord, and to do what is right and just, so that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what he has promised.” 20 The Lord also said, “How great is the disapproval of Sodom and Gomorrah! Their sin is so very serious! 21 I’m going down to see whether they’ve acted according to the protests that have reached me. If not, I wish to know.”

22 Then two of[n] the men turned away from there and walked toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing in the presence of the Lord.

Abraham Negotiates with God

23 Abraham approached and asked, “Will you actually destroy the righteous along with the wicked? 24 Perhaps there are 50 righteous ones within the city. Will you actually destroy it and not forgive the place for the sake of the 50 righteous that are found there? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! The Judge of all the earth will do what is right, won’t he?”

26 The Lord said, “If I find 50 righteous people within Sodom, I’ll forgive the whole place for their sake.”

27 Abraham answered, “Look, even though I am only dust and ashes, I’ve ventured to speak to my Lord. 28 What if there are five less than 50 righteous ones? Will you bring destruction upon the city because of those five?”

The Lord[o] said, “I won’t destroy it if I find 45 there.”

29 Abraham[p] continued to speak to him, asking, “What if 40 are found there?”

The Lord[q] replied, “I won’t do it for the sake of those 40.”

30 Abraham[r] then asked, “I hope my Lord will not be angry if I speak. What if 30 are found there?”

The Lord[s] answered, “I won’t do it for the sake of those 30.”

31 “Look,” Abraham[t] said, “I’ve presumed to speak to my Lord… so what if 20 are found there?”

“For the sake of those 20,” the Lord[u] responded, “I won’t destroy it.”

32 Finally, Abraham[v] inquired, “I hope my Lord will not be angry if I speak only once more. What if ten are found there?”

He replied, “For the sake of those ten I won’t destroy it.”

33 As soon as he finished talking to Abraham, the Lord left and Abraham returned to where he had been sitting.[w]

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 18:1 Lit. him
  2. Genesis 18:1 Or terebinths
  3. Genesis 18:1 Lit. he
  4. Genesis 18:2 Lit. he
  5. Genesis 18:3 Lit. favor in your eyes
  6. Genesis 18:5 Lit. you, that you may nourish yourselves
  7. Genesis 18:6 Lit. seahs
  8. Genesis 18:10 Lit. you according to the time of life
  9. Genesis 18:11 Lit. well advanced in days
  10. Genesis 18:11 Lit. The way of women has ceased for Sarah
  11. Genesis 18:12 Lit. pleasure
  12. Genesis 18:14 Lit. wonderful
  13. Genesis 18:15 Lit. He
  14. Genesis 18:22 The Heb. lacks two of
  15. Genesis 18:28 Lit. He
  16. Genesis 18:29 Lit. He
  17. Genesis 18:29 Lit. He
  18. Genesis 18:30 Lit. He
  19. Genesis 18:30 Lit. He
  20. Genesis 18:31 Lit. He
  21. Genesis 18:31 Lit. He
  22. Genesis 18:32 Lit. He
  23. Genesis 18:33 Lit. to his place

The Three Visitors

18 The Lord appeared to Abraham(A) near the great trees of Mamre(B) while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent(C) in the heat of the day. Abraham looked up(D) and saw three men(E) standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.(F)

He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes,(G) my lord,[a] do not pass your servant(H) by. Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet(I) and rest under this tree. Let me get you something to eat,(J) so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”(K)

Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf(L) and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. He then brought some curds(M) and milk(N) and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them.(O) While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

“Where is your wife Sarah?”(P) they asked him.

“There, in the tent,(Q)” he said.

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,(R) and Sarah your wife will have a son.”(S)

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old,(T) and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.(U) 12 So Sarah laughed(V) to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord(W) is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’(X) 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord?(Y) I will return to you at the appointed time next year,(Z) and Sarah will have a son.”(AA)

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

Abraham Pleads for Sodom

16 When the men(AB) got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. 17 Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham(AC) what I am about to do?(AD) 18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation,(AE) and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c] 19 For I have chosen him(AF), so that he will direct his children(AG) and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord(AH) by doing what is right and just,(AI) so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”(AJ)

20 Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom(AK) and Gomorrah is so great(AL) and their sin so grievous(AM) 21 that I will go down(AN) and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men(AO) turned away and went toward Sodom,(AP) but Abraham remained standing before the Lord.[d](AQ) 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?(AR) 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?(AS) 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing(AT)—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous(AU) and the wicked alike.(AV) Far be it from you! Will not the Judge(AW) of all the earth do right?”(AX)

26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.(AY)

27 Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,(AZ) 28 what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

29 Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

30 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry,(BA) but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32 Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more.(BB) What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten,(BC) I will not destroy it.”

33 When the Lord had finished speaking(BD) with Abraham, he left,(BE) and Abraham returned home.(BF)

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 18:3 Or eyes, Lord
  2. Genesis 18:6 That is, probably about 36 pounds or about 16 kilograms
  3. Genesis 18:18 Or will use his name in blessings (see 48:20)
  4. Genesis 18:22 Masoretic Text; an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition but the Lord remained standing before Abraham
  5. Genesis 18:24 Or forgive; also in verse 26

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