And he lifted up his eyes and looked
To see if he could observe any passengers coming that way:
and, lo, three men stood by him;
having perhaps descended at once from heaven upon the spot near where Abraham sat; for these, whoever they were, appeared in an human form, and they were took by Abraham at first sight to be men, and as such he treated them: some have taken these to be the three divine Persons, as some of the ancients; of which opinion was Dr. Lightfoot, who expressly says F8,
``three months after this, (i.e. the institution of the circumcision,) the three Persons in the Trinity dine with Abraham, and foretell the birth of Isaac; again, the Son and the Holy Ghost go down to Sodom, but the first Person in the Trinity stayeth with Abraham''and elsewhere F9,
``the three Persons in the Trinity, in the shape of three men, appear to Abraham and dine with him, and eat the first flesh mentioned eaten in all the Scripture.''But to this may be objected, that the Father and the Holy Spirit are never said to appear in an human form, see ( John 5:37 ) ; or are ever called angels, as these are, ( Genesis 19:1 ) ; but they rather seem to be angels, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem call them, in the likeness of men, who were sent on three messages, as they suggest; one to bring the news of Sarah's bearing Isaac; the other to deliver Lot; and the third to overthrow Sodom and Gomorrah; which is a much better sense than that of Ben Gersom, who takes them to be three prophets, and mentions the names of two of them, Shem and Heber; for two of these are expressly called angels, ( Genesis 19:1 ) ; and the apostle seems to refer to this history, ( Hebrews 13:2 ) ; in the Talmud F11 they are said to be Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael: the truth of the matter seems to be this, that one of them was the son of God in an human form, that chiefly conversed with Abraham, and who rained from heaven brimstone on Sodom; and the other two were angels in the like form that accompanied him in that expedition:
and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door;
for, though they are before said to stand "by him", it must be understood of their being near him, but at some little distance; and as soon as he saw them, he did not stay for their coming up to him, but, to show how ready he was to entertain them, he arises from his seat at the tent door and ran to meet them, and gave them an hearty welcome to what he would provide for them:
and bowed himself toward the ground;
not in a way of religious adoration, for, had he took them for angels, be could not have done that, and he knew not as yet that one of them was Jehovah; but in a civil manner, as was the custom of those countries when in the presence of, or when they received? great personages, and such, by their look and habit, Abraham took these to be.
F8 Works, vol. 1. p. 13.
F9 Ib. p. 695.
F11 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 37. 2.