Genesis 18

The Three Visitors

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.
2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by.
4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.
5 Let me get you something to eat, 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.”
6 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.”
7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it.
8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.
9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There, in the tent,” he said.
10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.
11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord 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?’
14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
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 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 what I am about to do?
18 Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him.[c]
19 For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous
21 that I will go down 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 turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.[d]
23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
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?
25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
26 The LORD said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
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,
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, 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. What if only ten can be found there?” He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”
33 When the LORD had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.

Genesis 18 Commentary

Chapter 18

The Lord appears to Abraham. (1-8) Sarah's unbelief reproved. (9-15) God reveals to Abraham the destruction of Sodom. (16-22) Abraham's intercession for Sodom. (23-33)

Verses 1-8 Abraham was waiting to entertain any weary traveller, for inns were not to be met with as among us. While Abraham was thus sitting, he saw three men coming. These were three heavenly beings in human bodies. Some think they were all created angels; others, that one of them was the Son of God, the Angel of the covenant. Washing the feet is customary in those hot climates, where only sandals are worn. We should not be forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, ( Hebrews 13:2 ) ; nay, the Lord of angels himself; as we always do, when for his sake we entertain the least of his brethren. Cheerful and obliging manners in showing kindness, are great ornaments to piety. Though our condescending Lord vouchsafes not personal visits to us, yet still by his Spirit he stands at the door and knocks; when we are inclined to open, he deigns to enter; and by his gracious consolations he provides a rich feast, of which we partake with him, ( Revelation 3:20 ) .

Verses 9-15 Where is Sarah thy wife? was asked. Note the answer, In the tent. Just at hand, in her proper place, occupied in her household concerns. There is nothing got by gadding. Those are most likely to receive comfort from God and his promises, who are in their proper place, and in the way of their duty, Lu. 2:8 . We are slow of heart to believe, and need line upon line to the same purport. The blessings others have from common providence, believers have from the Divine promise, which makes them very sweet, and very sure. The spiritual seed of Abraham owe their life, and joy, and hope, and all, to the promise. Sarah thinks this too good news to be true; she laughed, and therefore cannot as yet find in her heart to believe it. Sarah laughed. We might not have thought there was a difference between Sarah's laughter and Abraham's, ch. 17:17 ; but He who searches the heart, saw that the one sprung from unbelief, and the other from faith. She denied that she had laughed. One sin commonly brings in another, and it is not likely we shall strictly keep to truth, when we question the Divine truth. But whom the Lord loves he will rebuke, convict, silence, and bring to repentance, and if they sin before him.

Verses 16-22 The two who are supposed to have been created angels went toward Sodom. The one who is called Jehovah throughout the chapter, continued with Abraham, and would not hide from him the thing he intended to do. Though God long forbears with sinners, from which they fancy that the Lord does not see, and does not regard; yet when the day of his wrath comes, he will look toward them. The Lord will give Abraham an opportunity to intercede with him, and shows him the reason of his conduct. Consider, as a very bright part of Abraham's character and example, that he not only prayed with his family, but he was very careful to teach and rule them well. Those who expect family blessings must make conscience of family duty. Abraham did not fill their heads with matters of doubtful dispute; but he taught them to be serious and devout in the worship of God, and to be honest in their dealings with all men. Of how few may such a character be given in our days! How little care is taken by masters of families to ground those under them in the principles of religion! Do we watch from sabbath to sabbath whether they go forward or backward?

Verses 23-33 Here is the first solemn prayer upon record in the Bible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous persons should be found in it. Come and learn from Abraham what compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we should pray for them. We see here that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, by earnest prayer, the blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your neighbourhood. To this end you must not only pray, but you must live like Abraham. He knew the Judge of all the earth would do right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And righteousness only can be made a plea before God. How then did Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not by blaming the Divine law, nor by alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of human guilt; but by pleading HIS OWN obedience unto death.

Cross References 58

  • 1. S Genesis 12:7; Acts 7:2
  • 2. S Genesis 13:18; Genesis 14:13
  • 3. Genesis 19:1; Genesis 23:10,18; Genesis 34:20,24; Ruth 4:1; Psalms 69:12; Hebrews 11:9
  • 4. Genesis 24:63
  • 5. ver 16,22; Genesis 19:1,10; Genesis 32:24; Joshua 5:13; Judges 13:6-11; Hosea 12:3-4; Hebrews 13:2
  • 6. S Genesis 17:3; S Genesis 43:28
  • 7. Genesis 19:19; Genesis 39:4; Ru 2:2,10,13; 1 Samuel 1:18; Esther 2:15
  • 8. Ge 32:4,18,20; Genesis 33:5
  • 9. Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 43:24; Judges 19:21; 2 Samuel 11:8; S Luke 7:44
  • 10. Judges 13:15; Judges 19:5
  • 11. Genesis 19:3; 2 Samuel 13:8
  • 12. 1 Samuel 28:24; Luke 15:23
  • 13. Isaiah 7:15,22
  • 14. Judges 4:19; Judges 5:25
  • 15. Judges 6:19; Genesis 19:3
  • 16. S Genesis 3:9
  • 17. Genesis 24:67; Hebrews 11:9
  • 18. S Genesis 17:21; Genesis 21:2; 2 Kings 4:16
  • 19. S Genesis 17:6; Romans 9:9*
  • 20. S Genesis 17:17; Luke 1:18
  • 21. S Genesis 11:30; Romans 4:19; Hebrews 11:11-12
  • 22. S Genesis 17:17; Genesis 21:6
  • 23. 1 Peter 3:6
  • 24. S Genesis 17:17
  • 25. Job 42:2; Isaiah 40:29; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 51:9; Jeremiah 32:17,27; Zechariah 8:6; S Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37; Romans 4:21
  • 26. S ver 10
  • 27. S Genesis 17:19; Romans 9:9*; Galatians 4:23
  • 28. S ver 2
  • 29. Amos 3:7
  • 30. Genesis 19:24; Job 1:16; Psalms 107:34
  • 31. S Genesis 12:2; Galatians 3:8*
  • 32. Genesis 17:9
  • 33. Deuteronomy 4:9-10; Deuteronomy 6:7
  • 34. Joshua 24:15; Ephesians 6:4
  • 35. Genesis 22:12,18; Genesis 26:5; 2 Samuel 8:15; Psalms 17:2; Psalms 99:4; Jeremiah 23:5
  • 36. S Genesis 16:11; S Isaiah 14:1
  • 37. Isaiah 1:10; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:46
  • 38. Genesis 19:13
  • 39. S Genesis 13:13
  • 40. S Genesis 11:5
  • 41. S ver 2
  • 42. Genesis 19:1
  • 43. ver 1; Genesis 19:27
  • 44. Exodus 23:7; Lev 4:3,22,27; Numbers 16:22; Deuteronomy 27:25; 2 Samuel 24:17; Psalms 11:4-7; Psalms 94:21; Ezekiel 18:4; 2 Peter 2:9
  • 45. ver 26; Jeremiah 5:1
  • 46. Genesis 44:7,17; Deuteronomy 32:4; Job 8:3-7; Job 34:10
  • 47. Isaiah 5:20; Amos 5:15; Malachi 2:17; Malachi 3:18
  • 48. Deuteronomy 1:16-17
  • 49. Judges 11:27; Job 9:15; Psalms 7:11; Psalms 94:2; Hebrews 12:23
  • 50. Genesis 20:4; Deuteronomy 32:4; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Ezra 9:15; Nehemiah 9:33; Job 8:3,20; Job 34:10; Job 36:23; Psalms 58:11; Psalms 75:7; Psalms 94:2; Psalms 119:137; Isaiah 3:10-11; Ezekiel 18:25; Daniel 4:37; Daniel 9:14; Malachi 2:17; Romans 3:6
  • 51. S ver 24; Jeremiah 5:1
  • 52. S Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19; S Job 2:8; Job 30:19; Job 42:6
  • 53. ver 32; Genesis 44:18; Exodus 32:22
  • 54. S ver 30; Judges 6:39
  • 55. Jeremiah 5:1
  • 56. Exodus 31:18
  • 57. S Genesis 17:22
  • 58. Genesis 31:55

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or "eyes, Lord"
  • [b]. That is, probably about 36 pounds or about 16 kilograms
  • [c]. Or "will use his name in blessings" (see 48:20)
  • [d]. Masoretic Text; an ancient Hebrew scribal tradition "but the " Lord"remained standing before Abraham"
  • [e]. Or "forgive" ; also in verse 26

Chapter Summary


Another appearance of God to Abraham is here recorded; three persons are seen by him in an human form, whom he kindly invites to stop with him, and generously entertains them, Ge 18:1-8; they inquire concerning Sarah his wife, and one of them renews the promise of her bearing a son to him, which occasions laughter in her, for which she is reproved, Ge 18:9-15; upon their departure the Lord thought fit, for reasons given, to make known to Abraham his intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Ge 18:16-22; when Abraham intercedes for the preservation of those cities in a most importunate and affectionate manner, Ge 18:23-33.

Genesis 18 Commentaries

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