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Genesis Chapter 18
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The Visitors; Sodom Destroyed
18:1 God appeared to [Abraham] in the Plains of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of the tent in the hottest part of the day.
18:2 [Abraham] lifted his eyes and he saw three strangers standing a short distance from him. When he saw [them] from the entrance of his tent, he ran to greet them, bowing down to the ground.
18:3 He said, 'Sir, if you would, do not go on without stopping by me.
18:4 Let some water be brought, and wash your feet. Rest under the tree.
18:5 I will get a morsel of bread for you to refresh yourselves. Then you can continue on your way. After all, you are passing by my house.'
18:6 Abraham rushed to Sarah's tent and said, 'Hurry! Three measures of the finest flour! Knead it and make rolls.'
18:7 Abraham ran to the cattle, and chose a tender, choice calf. He gave it to a young man who rushed to prepare it.
18:8 [Abraham] fetched some cottage cheese and milk, and the calf that he prepared, and he placed it before [his guests]. He stood over them as they ate under the tree.
18:9 They asked him, 'Where is your wife Sarah?'

'Here in the tent,' he replied.

18:10 'I will return to you this time next year,' said [one of the men], 'and your wife Sarah will have a son.'

Sarah was listening behind the entrance of the tent, and he was on the other side.

18:11 Abraham and Sarah were already old, well on in years, and Sarah no longer had female periods.
18:12 She laughed to herself, saying, 'Now that I am worn out, shall I have my heart's desire? My husband is old!'
18:13 God said to Abraham, 'Why did Sarah laugh and say, 'Can I really have a child when I am so old?'
18:14 Is anything too difficult for God? At the designated time, I will return, and Sarah will have a son.'
18:15 Sarah was afraid and she denied it. 'I did not laugh,' she said.

[Abraham] said, 'You did laugh.'

18:16 The strangers got up from their places and gazed at Sodom. Abraham went with them to send them on their way.
18:17 God said, 'Shall I hide from Abraham what I am going to do?
18:18 Abraham is about to become a great and mighty nation, and through him all the nations of the world will be blessed.
18:19 I have given him special attention so that he will command his children and his household after him, and they will keep God's way, doing charity and justice. God will then bring about for Abraham everything He promised.'
18:20 God [then] said, 'The outcry against Sodom is so great, and their sin is so very grave.
18:21 I will descend and see. Have they done everything implied by the outcry that is coming before Me? If not, I will know.'
18:22 The men turned from where they were, and headed toward Sodom. Abraham was still standing before God.
18:23 He came forward and said, 'Will You actually wipe out the innocent together with the guilty?
18:24 Suppose there are fifty innocent people in the city. Would You still destroy it, and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty good people inside it?
18:25 It would be sacrilege even to ascribe such an act to You - to kill the innocent with the guilty, letting the righteous and the wicked fare alike. It would be sacrilege to ascribe this to You! Shall the whole world's Judge not act justly?'
18:26 God said, 'If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the entire area for their sake.'
18:27 Abraham spoke up and said, 'I have already said too much before my Lord! I am mere dust and ashes!
18:28 But suppose that there are five missing from the fifty innocent? Will You destroy the entire city because of the five?'

'I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there,' replied God.

18:29 [Abraham] persisted and said, 'Suppose there are forty there?'

'I will not act for the sake of the forty.'

18:30 'Let not my Lord be angry, but I [must] speak up. What if there are thirty there?'

'I will not act if I find thirty there.'

18:31 'I have already spoken too much now before my Lord! But what if twenty are found there?'

'I will not destroy for the sake of the twenty.'

18:32 'Let my Lord not become angry, but I will speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there?'

'I will not destroy for the sake of the ten.'

18:33 When He finished speaking with Abraham, God left [him]. Abraham then returned home.



Commentary:

strangers
  Literally, anonymous 'men;' see Genesis 24:29. They were actually angels in disguise (Rashi). See Genesis 19:1.

Sir
  Literally, 'My lords.' According to others, 'O God.' According to the second opinion, Abraham was asking God not to break off the prophecy (Shevuoth 35b; Rashi). See Genesis 18:13.

if you would
  Literally, 'If I have found favor in your eyes.'

go on...
  Literally, 'go on from your servant.' This form of address, however, is not used in the current English idiom. Therefore, wherever 'your servant' is used in this manner, it is usually translated as 'me.'

After all
  Literally, 'because therefore.' See Genesis 19:8, 33:10. Others have, 'Because it is for this reason that you have passed by your servant' (cf. Ramban).

measures
  Se'im in Hebrew, plural of sa'ah, a measure equivalent to 7.3 litres or 7.7 quarts. The three sa'ahs that she took were therefore equivalent to around 30 cups or 8 pounds of flour.

cottage cheese
  Chemah in Hebrew, usually translated as curd. It is something that can be eaten alone; see Isaiah 7:15, 7:22; cf. Proverbs 30:33. Others interpret it to denote a kind of leben or yoghurt. According to Rashi, the word chemah denotes cream. (cf. Targum and Judges 5:25). The Septuagint, on the other hand, translates it as butter. Indeed, in Middle Eastern lands, it was the custom to eat butter alone.

heart's desire
  (Ibn Ezra). Or, 'shall I once again regain my youth' (Rashi).

Abraham
  (Ramban; Sforno). According to others, God was speaking (Yerushalmi, Sotah 7:1; Bereshith Rabbah 48).

will be blessed
  See Genesis 12:3.

given him special attention
  Literally, 'have known him.' Cf. Rashi.

against
  Or, 'the cry of Sodom,' indicating the cry of its victims. (See Ramban, Ibn Ezra; Radak).

their sin
  See note on Genesis 13:13.

descend
  See note on Genesis 11:5.

said too much
  (Onkelos). Others, 'I have begun to speak' (Targum Yonathan; Rashi); 'I have desired to speak' (Ibn Ezra); or 'I have dared to speak' (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

persisted
  Literally, 'spoke to Him again.'





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