Genesis 18

1 The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.
2 He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.
3 He said, "My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.
4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.
5 Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant." So they said, "Do as you have said."
6 And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes."
7 Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.
8 Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.
9 They said to him, "Where is your wife Sarah?" And he said, "There, in the tent."
10 Then one said, "I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son." And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.
11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?"
13 The Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, and say, "Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?'
14 Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son."
15 But Sarah denied, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. He said, "Oh yes, you did laugh."
16 Then the men set out from there, and they looked toward Sodom; and Abraham went with them to set them on their way.
17 The Lord said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
18 seeing that Abraham shall become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
19 No, for I have chosen him, that he may charge his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; so that the Lord may bring about for Abraham what he has promised him."
20 Then the Lord said, "How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!
21 I must go down and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me; and if not, I will know."
22 So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Lord.
23 Then Abraham came near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?"
26 And the Lord said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will forgive the whole place for their sake."
27 Abraham answered, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
29 Again he spoke to him, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it."
30 Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."
31 He said, "Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it."
32 Then he said, "Oh do not let the Lord be angry if I speak just once more. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."
33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

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.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. Heb [him]
  • [b]. Or [terebinths]
  • [c]. Heb [seahs]
  • [d]. Or [and all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by him]
  • [e]. Heb [known]
  • [f]. Another ancient tradition reads [while the Lord remained standing before Abraham]

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 18

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