Genesis 18



1 “And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the

tent door in the heat of the day;”   And the Lord - Jehovah, the Divine name

employed throughout the present and succeeding chapters, which are accordingly

assigned to the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson, Colenso), with the exception of

ch. 19:29, which is commonly regarded as a fragment of the original Elohist's

narration  - appeared unto him. The absence of Abraham's name has been thought

to favor the idea that the present chapter should have begun at Genesis 17:23 (Quarry).

That the time of this renewed Divine manifestation was shortly after the incidents

recorded in the preceding chapter is apparent, as also that its object was the

reassurance of the patriarch concerning the birth of Isaac. In the plains of Mamre.

Literally, in the oaks of Mature (see ch. 13:18). And he sat in the tent door. Literally,

in the opening of the tent, a fold of which was fastened to a post near by to admit

any air that might be stirring. In the heat of the day, i.e. noontide (compare

I Samuel 11:11), as the cool of the day, or the wind of the day (ch. 3:8), means

eventide. "The usual term for noon is Tsoharim (ch. 43:16), that is, the time of

'double or greatest light,' while a more poetical expression is 'the height of the

day' (Proverbs 4:18), either because then the sun has reached its most exalted

position, or because it appears to stand still in the zenith" (Kalisch). Among

the Orientals the hour of noon is the time of rest (compare Song of Solomon 1:7)

and the time of dinner (ch. 43:16, 25). In this case the patriarch had probably dined

and was resting after dinner, since, on the arrival of his visitors, preparations had

to be commenced for their entertainment.


2 “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and

when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself

toward the ground,”  And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood

by him. Not in addition to (Kalisch), but including (Keil), Jehovah, whose appearance

to the patriarch, having in the previous verse been first generally stated, is now

minutely described. That these three men were not manifestations of the three

persons of the Godhead (Justin Martyr, Ambrose, Cyril), but Jehovah accompanied

by two created angels (Keil, et alii, may be inferred from v.1. When first perceived

by the patriarch they were believed to be men, strangers, who were approaching

his tent, and indeed were already close to it, or standing by him. And when he saw

them (i.e. understood that one of them was Jehovah, Jarchi rightly explaining that

the word translated above "looked," i.e. with the bodily vision now implies an act

of mental perception), he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed

himself toward the ground. The expression denotes the complete prostration

of the body by first falling on the knees, and then inclining the head forwards

till it touches the ground. As this was a mode of salutation practiced by

Orientals towards superiors generally, such as kings and princes (II Samuel 9:8),

but also towards equals (ch. 23:7; 33:6-7;  42:6; 43:26), as well as towards

the Deity (ch.  22:5; I Samuel 1:3), it is impossible to affirm with certainty

(Keil, Lunge) that an act of worship was intended by the patriarch, and not

simply the presentation of human and civil honor (Calvin). If Hebrews 13:2

inclines to countenance the latter interpretation, the language in which

Abraham immediately addresses one of the three men almost leads to the

conclusion that already the patriarch had recognized Jehovah.


3  And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away,

I pray thee, from thy servant:  And said, My Lord - Adonai, literally, Lord, as in

ch. 15:2, (Septuagint, κύριεkurie - Lord; Vulgate, Domine; Syriac, Onkelos, Kalisch,

Alford, Lange), though the term may have indicated nothing more thanAbraham’s

recognition of the superior authority of the Being addressed (Murphy). The readings

Adoni, my Lord (Authorized Version, Dathius, Rosenmüller), and Aden, my lords

(Gesenius), are incorrect - if now I have found favor in thy sight - not implying

dubiety on Abraham s part as to his acceptance before God (Knobel), but rather

postulating his already conscious enjoyment of the Divine favor as the ground

of the request about to be preferred (Delitzsch, Lange). Those who regard Abraham

as unconscious of the Divinity of Him to whom he spake see in his language nothing

but the customary formula of Oriental address (Rosenmüller; compare ch. 30:27;

I Samuel 20:29; Esther 7:3) - pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. The

hospitality of the Eastern, and even of the Arab, has been frequently remarked by

travelers. Volney describes the Arab as dining at his tent door in order to invite

passers-by ('Tray.,' 1. p. 314). "The virtue of hospitality is one of the great

redeeming virtues in the character of the Bedouins (Kalisch). "Whenever our

path led us near an encampment, as was frequently the case, we always found

some active sheikh or venerable patriarch sitting 'in his tent door,' and as soon

as we were within hail we heard the earnest words of welcome and invitation

which the Old Testament Scriptures had rendered long ago familiar to us: Stay,

my lord, stay. Pass not on till thou hast eaten bread, and rested under thy servant's

tent. Alight and remain until thy servant kills a kid and prepares, a feast'"

(Porter's 'Giant Cities of Bashan,' p. 326; cf. ibid. p. 87).


4 “Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest

yourselves under the tree:”  Let a little water, I pray yon, be fetched, and

wash your feet. Feet washing was a necessary part of Oriental hospitality (compare

ch. 19:2; 24:32; 43:24). "Among the ancient Egyptians the basins kept in the

houses of the rich for this purpose were sometimes of gold" (Freeman, Bible

Manners, 'Homiletic Quarterly,' vol. 1. p. 78). "In India it is considered a

necessary part of hospitality to wash the feet and ankles of the weary traveler,

and even in Palestine this interesting custom is not extinct. Dr. Robinson and

party on arriving at Ramleh repaired to the abode of a wealthy Arab, where the

ceremony was performed in the genuine style of ancient Oriental hospitality

(see Kitto's 'Bible Illustrations,' vol. 1. p. 230). And rest yourselves (literally,

recline by resting on the elbow) under the tree.


5 “And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that

ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said,

So do, as thou hast said.”  And I will fetch a morsel of bread, - a modest

description of what proved a sumptuous repast (see vs. 6, 8) - and comfort ye

your hearts; - literally, strengthen or support them, i.e. by eating and drinking

(Judges 19:5; I Kings 21:7) - after that ye shall pass on: for therefore - כִּי־עַל־כֵּן

introduces the ground of what has already been stated, something like quando quidem,

forasmuch as (Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 353), since, or because (Kalisch), and not =

עַל־כֵּש־כִּי, for this cause that (Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 155), or "because for this

purpose" (Keil) - are ye come to (literally, have ye passed before) thy servant.

The patriarch's meaning is not that they had come with the design of receiving

his gifts (Septuagint, Authorized Version), but either that, unconsciously to them,

God had ordered their journey so as to give him this opportunity (Calvin, Bush,

Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Keil), or perhaps simply that since they

had passed by his tent they should suffer him to accord them entertainment

(Kalisch, Rosenmüller). And they said, So do, as thou but said. Therefore we

must believe that Abraham washed the men's feet, and they did eat (v. 8).

 Here is a mystery (Wordsworth).


6 “And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready

quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.”

And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly

three measures. Hebrew, three seahs, a seah being a third of an ephah, and

containing 374 cubic inches each (Keil); a third of a bushel (Kalisch) - of fine meal,

literally, of flour, fine flour; σεμίδαλιςsemidalisfinest wheat flour (Septuagint);

the first term when alone denoting flour of ordinary quality (compare Leviticus 2:1;

5:11; Numbers 7:13) - knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth - i.e. "round

unleavened cakes baked upon hot stones" (Keil).


And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave

it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.”  And Abraham ran unto the herd,

and fetched a calf tender and good, - the greatness of the honor done to the strangers

was evinced by the personal activity of the patriarch, and the offering of animal food,

which was not a common article of consumption among Orientals - and gave it unto

a young man; - i.e. the servant in attendance (compare ch. 14:24) - and he hasted

to dress it.


8 “And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it

before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.”

And he took butter, - חֶמְאָה, from the root חמא, to curdle or become thick, signifies

curdled milk, not butter (βούτυτρον - boututron, Septuagint; butyrum, Vulgate), which

was not used among Orientals except medicinally. The word occurs seven times in

Scripture with four letters (Deuteronomy 32:14; Judges 5:25; II Samuel 17:29;

Isaiah 7:15, 22; Proverbs 30:33; Job 20:17), and once without א (Job 29:6; see

Michaelis, 'Supplement,' p. 807) - and milk, - חָלָב, milk whilst still fresh, or

containing its fatness, from a root signifying to be fat (compare ch. 49:12;

Proverbs 27:27) - and the calf which he - i.e. the young man - had dressed,

and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, - a custom still

observed among the Arabs, who honor their guests not by sitting to eat with,

but by standing to wait upon, them - and they did eat. Not seemed to eat (Josephus,

Philo, Jonathan), nor simply ate after an allegorical fashion, as fire consumes the

materials put into it (Justin Martyr), but did so in reality (Tertullian, Delitzsch,

Keil, Kurtz, Lange). Though the angel who appeared to Manoah (Judges 13:16)

refused to partake of food, the risen Savior ate with his disciples (Luke 24:43).

Physiologically inexplicable, this latter action on the part of Christ was not a

mere φαινόμενονphainomenon  or simulation, but a veritable eating of

material food, to which Christ appealed in confirmation of the reality of His

resurrection; and the acceptance of Abraham's hospitality on the part of

Jehovah and His angels may in like manner have been designed to prove

that their visit to his tent at Mamre was not a dream or a vision, but a

genuine external manifestation.


9 “And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the

tent.”  And they said unto him (i.e. the Principal One of the three, speaking for the

others, interrogated Abraham during the progress, or perhaps at the close of, the

meal saying), Where is Sarah thy wife? (thus indicating that their visit had a

special reference to her). And he said, Behold, in the tent. It is obvious that if

at first Abraham regarded his visitors only as men, by this time a suspicion of

their true character must have begun to dawn upon his mind. How should ordinary

travelers be aware of his wife s name? and why should they do so unusual a thing,

according to Oriental manners, as to inquire after her? If thus far their behavior

could not fail to surprise the patriarch, what must have been his astonishment at

the subsequent communication?


10 “And He said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life;

and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door,

which was behind him.”  And He said (the Principal Guest, as above, who, by the

very nature and terms of his announcement, identifies himself with Jehovah), I will

certainly return unto thee according to the time of life. Literally, at the time

reviving; i.e. when the year shall have been renewed, in the next year, or rather

spring (SEe Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 337; Rosenmüller, Drusius, Keil, Kalisch,

Lange, Ainsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'); though other interpretations of the

phrase have been suggested, as, e.g., "according to the time of that which is born,"

i.e. at the end of nine months (Willet, Calvin, Bush, Murphy). And, lo, Sarah thy

wife shall have a son. I.e. at the time specified. And Sarah heard it in the tent door,

which was behind him.


11 “Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to

be with Sarah after the manner of women.”  Now Abraham and Sarah were old

and well stricken in age. Literally, gone into days, i.e. into years. This was the first

natural impediment to the accomplishment of Jehovah's promise; the second was

peculiar to Sarah. And it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women

(see Leviticus 15:19, 25).



12 “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall

I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”  Therefore (literally, and) Sarah laughed

within herself - Abraham had laughed in joyful amazement, (ch. 17:17) at the first

mention of Sarah s son; Sarah laughs, if not in unbelief (Calvin, Keil, 'Speaker's

Commentary,' Wordsworth), at least with a mingled feeling of doubt and delight

(Lange, Murphy) at the announcement of her approaching maternity - saying,

After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? - literally,

and my lord, i.e. my husband, is old. The reverential submission to Abraham which

Sarah here displays is in the New Testament commended as a pattern to Christian

wives (I Peter 3:6).




“Sarah laughed within herself.” (v. 12)


1. The incongruity between a Divine promise and the sphere of its

    fulfillment is temptation to unbelief.


2. A disposition to measure the reality and certainty of the Divine by a

    human or earthly standard is sure to lead us to irreverence and sinful doubt.


3. There may be an inward and concealed working, known to God though

    not outwardly expressed which is both:

a.      an insult to Him and

b.      an injury to us.


4. The root of unbelief is in the ground of the soul. Sarah laughed because

    she was not prepared for the gracious promise. She was afraid of her own

    thoughts because they were not such as became her, and did dishonor to

    God’s sufficiency and love. “She denied, saying, I laughed not.” A more

    receptive and spiritual mind would have both risen above the incongruity

    and been incapable of the dissimulation.


13 “And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying,

Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?”  And the Lord said unto

Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, - a question which must have convinced

Abraham of the Speaker's omniscience. Not only had he heard the silent, inaudible,

inward cachinnation (laugh loudly) of Sarah's spirit, but He knew the tenor of her

thoughts, and the purport of her dubitations (doubts; hesitation) - saying, Shall I

of a surely bear a child, which (literally, and I) am old? Sarah s mental cogitations

clearly showed that the temporary obscuration of her faith proceeded from a strong

realization of the weakness of nature, which made conception and pregnancy

impossible to one like her, who was advanced in years; and accordingly her

attention, as well as that of her husband, was directed to the Divine omnipotence

as the all-sufficient guarantee for the accomplishment of the promise.


14 “Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return

unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”  Is any thing

too hard for the Lord? (Remember who El Shaddai is!  CY – 2019)  Literally, Is any

word too wonderful, i.e. impossible, for Jehovah μὴ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τῷ θεῷ ῤῆμα

mae adunataesei para to Theo hraema -  Is anything too hard for Yahweh?

(Septuagint), with which may be compared Luke 1:37. At the time appointed

I will return unto thee, according to the time of life (see v. 10), and Sarah

shall have a son.




“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (v. 14)




Ø      Remonstrance. The history of Divine manifestations proves that nothing

is demanded of faith which is not justified by the bestowments of the past.


Ø      Invitation. We connect the question with the promise. He opens the gate

of life; is it too hard for Him to give us the victory? “At the time

appointed” HIS WORD will be fulfilled! He would have us rest on

Himself. “Believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of them

that diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) What He is, what He

says, are blended into one in the true faith of His waiting children.





Ø      When they set forth the goodness of DIVINE TRUTH!  The possibility

of miracles. The hardness of the world’s problems is no justification of



Ø      When they proclaim a gospel of supernatural gifts, a salvation not of

man, but of God.


o       Why should we doubt conversion?

o       Why should a regenerated, renewed nature be so often mocked?


o       When they would encourage one another to persevere in Christian

enterprise. The methods may be old, but the grace is ever new.

The world may laugh, but the true believer should see all things

possible. The times are our measures. Eternity is God’s.


15 “Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And He said,

Nay; but thou didst laugh.”  Then Sarah (who had overheard the conversation,

and the charge preferred against her, and who probably now appeared before the

stranger) denied, saying, I laughed not. Sarah’s conduct will admit of no other

explanation than that which the sacred narrative itself gives. For she was afraid.

The knowledge that her secret thoughts had been deciphered must have kindled in

her breast the suspicion that her visitor was none other than Jehovah. (What have

you experienced analogous to this?  See Psalm 139:1-2; CY – 2019)  With this a

sense of guilt would immediately assail her conscience for having cherished even

a moment any doubt of the Divine word. In the consequent confusion of soul she

tries what ever seems to be the first impulse of detected transgressions, viz.,

deception (compare Adam and Eve’s responses to God -  ch. 3:12-13). And He

said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. With a directness similar to that which He

employed in dealing with the first culprits in the garden, not contending in a

multiplicity of words, but solemnly announcing that what she said was false.

The silence of Sarah was an evidence of her conviction; her subsequent conception

was a proof of her repentance and forgiveness.



Noontide at Mamre, or Angels’ Visits (vs. 1-15)




Ø      The appearance they presented. Seemingly three men, they were in

reality three angels, or, more correctly, Jehovah accompanied by two

celestial attendants, who, at an unexpected moment, were making for

Abraham’s tent. So are the homes of saints oft times visited by angels

unawares (Hebrews 13:2), and, greater honor still, by Him who claims

the angels as His ministers (ibid. ch. 1:14).


Ø      The reception they obtained. Immediately that Abraham discerned their

approach, he hastened to accord them most respectful and courteous

salutation, in true Oriental fashion, falling on his knees and bowing till his

head touched the ground; an illustration of that beautiful politeness

towards one’s fellow-men (if as yet he only regarded his visitors as men),

or of that reverential self-abasement before God (if already he had

recognized the superior dignity of the principal figure of the three) which

ought especially to characterize God’s believing and covenanted people

(see Psalm 95:6; I Peter 3:8).


Ø      The invitation they received. Probably oppressed by the sultry beams of

the noonday sun, if not otherwise travel-stained and weary, they were, with

genuine Arab-like hospitality, entreated by the patriarch to avail themselves

of such refreshment and repose as his cool-shaded, well-furnished tent

might be able to afford. And this invitation of the patriarch was:


o        Humbly proffered, as if their acceptance of it would be more an act of

grace conferred on him than a benefit enjoyed by themselves.


o        Modestly described, as if it were only a trifle after all that he was

asking them to accept, while all the time his liberal heart was devising

liberal things.


o        Piously enforced, by the consideration that he recognized in their

arrival at his tent a special call to the discharge of the duty of hospitality.


o        Promptly accepted, without apologies or deprecations of any sort, but

with the same generous simplicity as it was offered. “So do as thou hast




which Abraham extemporized for his celestial guests beneath the

umbrageous oak at Mamre were three things which should be studied by all

who would use hospitality:


Ø      Joyous enthusiasm. That the patriarch’s invitation was no mere

conventional remark which was meant to pass unheeded by those to whom

it was addressed was proved by the expeditious cordiality with which he

set about the preparations needed for the proffered repast, — enlisting

Sarah’s practiced hands in baking cakes, and commissioning a trusty

servant of the house to kill and dress a young and tender calf selected by

himself from the flocks. Here was no reluctance or half-heartedness with

Abraham in the work of kindness to which Providence had called him. So

ought Christians to manifest a spirit of cheerfulness and a habit of

promptitude in doing good (Romans 12:8,13; II Corinthians 9:7).


Ø      Unstinted liberality. Modestly characterized as a little repast, it was in

reality a sumptuous banquet which was set before the strangers. Abraham

entertained his guests with princely munificence. The modern virtue of

stinginess, or niggardliness, supposed by many to be a Christian grace, had

not been acquired by the patriarch, and should with as much speed as

possible be unlearned by Christ’s disciples. Hospitality towards the saints

and beneficence towards all men, but especially towards the poor, should

be practiced with diligence, and even with a holy extravagance, by all who

are of Abraham s seed (Luke 14:12-14; Romans 12:13; I Timothy 3:2;

Hebrews 13:2).


Ø      Personal activity. Though the master of a large household, with 300

trained domestics, and the noble Eliezer at their head, the patriarch does

not think of relegating the important work of preparing the entertainment

to his subordinates, but himself attends to its immediate execution. Indeed,

in all the bustling activity which forthwith pervades the tent his figure is

always and everywhere conspicuous. And when the meal is ready he

reverently serves it with his own hand; again a true pattern of humility, as

if he had caught up by anticipation the spirit of our Savior’s words

“.....whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister.”

(Matthew 20:26); and a true preacher of Christian duty, saying that in

God’s work personal service is ever better than laboring by proxy.



meal over, or perhaps while it was advancing, the principal of the three

guests, who certainly by this time was recognized as Jehovah, made an

important announcement to the patriarch, which, however, was specially

intended for Sarah, who was listening behind the dark fold of the camel’s

hair tent, viz., that next year the promised seed should be born. That

announcement was:


Ø      Authoritatively made. It was made by Him who is the faithful and true

Witness, with whom it is impossible to lie, and who is able also to

perform that which he has promised.


Ø      Unbelievingly received. The laugh of Sarah was altogether different

from that of Abraham (ch. 17:17). While Abraham’s was the

outcome of faith, hers was the fruit of latent doubt and incredulity. There

are always two ways of receiving God’s promises:


o        the one of which secures, but

o        the other of which imperils,


their fulfillment (Mark 9:23; 11:23).


Ø      Solemnly confirmed.


o        By an appeal to the Divine omnipotence. The thing promised

was not beyond the resources of Jehovah to accomplish.

o        By a further certification of the event. As it were a second time the

Divine faithfulness was pledged for its fulfillment

o        By an impressive display of miraculous power, first in searching

Sarah’s heart, and second in arresting Sarah’s conscience. The

result was that Sarah’s unbelief was transformed into faith.


  • LEARN:


1. The duty and profit of entertaining strangers (Hebrews 13:2).

2. The beauty and nobility of Christian hospitality (Romans 12:13).

3. The excellence and acceptability of personal service in God’s work.

4. The condescension and kindness of God in visiting the sons of men.

5. The admirable grace of Jehovah in repeating and confirming His

    promises to man.

6. The right way and the wrong way of listening to God’s words of grace

    and truth.



The Theophany at Mamre (vs. 1-15)


                                     “The Lord appeared unto him”  (v. 1).




Ø      Abraham stands on a higher plane of spiritual life. He is endeavoring to

fulfill the commandment given (ch. 17:1): “Walk before me.”

The appearances and communications are more frequent and more full.


Ø      The concentration of the believer’s thought at a particular crisis. His

place at the tent door, looking forth over the plains of Mamre, representing

his mental attitude, as he dwelt on the promises and gazed into the future.


Ø      There was a coincidence between the conjuncture in the history of the

neighboring cities and the crisis in the history of the individual believer. So

in the purposes of God there is preparation for His manifestation both in

external providence and in the events of the world on the one hand, and on

the other in the more personal and private history of His people.




Ø      It was very gracious and condescending. The angels did not appear in

angelic glory, but in human likeness. They came as guests, and, in the

fragrant atmosphere of a genial hospitality, at once quickened confidence

and led forward the mind to expect a higher communication. The

household activity of Abraham and Sarah on behalf of the three visitors,

while it calmed and strengthened, did also give time for thought and

observation of the signs of approaching opportunity.


Ø      There was from the first an appeal to faith. Three persons, yet one

having the pre-eminence. The reverential feeling of the patriarch called out

at the manner of their approach to his tent The coincidence possibly

between the work of the Spirit in the mind of the believer and the

bestowment of outward opportunity.


Ø      The communication of the Divine promise in immediate connection with

the facts of human life. The great trial of faith is not the appeal to accept

the word of God in its larger aspect as His truth, but the application of it to

our own case. We may believe that the promise will be fulfilled, and yet we

may not take it to heart, “I will return unto thee.” “Sarah shall have a son.”

The strength made perfect in weakness, not merely for weakness. The

Divine in the Scripture revelation does not overwhelm and absorb the

human; the human is taken up into the Divine and glorified. Taking the

narrative as a whole, it may be treated:


o        Historically as it holds a place in the history of the man Abraham

and in the progressive development of revelation.


o        Morally — suggesting lessons of patience, reverence, humility,

truthfulness, faith.


o        Spiritually as pointing to the Messiah, intimating the incarnation, the

atonement, the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices of the promised

Redeemer; the freedom and simplicity of the fellowship of God with

man; the great Christian entertainment — man spreading the meal

before God, God accepting it, uniting with man in its participation,

elevating it into that which is heavenly by His manifested presence.


16 “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham

went with them to bring them on the way.”  And the men rose up from thence, -

Mamre (see v. 1) - and looked towards Sodom. Literally, toward the face (Rosenmüller),

or towards the plain (Keil), of Sodom, as if intending to proceed thither. And Abraham

went with them - across the mountains on the east of Hebron, as far as Caphar-barucha,

according to tradition, whence a view can be obtained of the Dead Sea - solitudinem

ac terras Sodomae (vide Keil, in loco) - to bring them on the way. Literally, to send

them away, or accord them a friendly convoy over a portion of their journey.


17 “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

Verse 17. - And the Lord said (to Himself), Shall I hide from Abraham - the

Septuagint  interpolate, τοῦ παιδός μουtou paidos moufrom my child; but,

as Philo observes, τοῦ φιλοῦ μουtou philou moufrom my friend - would have

been a more appropriate designation for the patriarch (compare II Chronicles 20:7;

Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23) that thing which I do. I.e. propose to do, the present being

used for the future, where, as in the utterances of God, whose will is equivalent to

His deed, the action is regarded by the Speaker as being already as good as finished

(vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 135; Gesenius, § 126).




Sodom’s Doom Revealed (v. 17)




Ø      Abraham’s new position. Having been lately taken into covenant with

God, allied by the holy tie of a celestial friendship to Jehovah, the patriarch

seemed in the Lord’s eyes to occupy a footing of intimacy before Him that

demanded the disclosure of SODOM’S IMPENDING DOOM!   That footing

the patriarch no doubt owed to Divine grace — sovereign, unmerited, free;

but still, having been accorded to him, it is, by a further act of grace,

represented, as laying God Himself under certain’ obligations towards His

servant. So “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will

show them his covenant” (Psalm 25:14).


Ø      Abraham’s new prospects. About to become the head of a great nation,

it was natural to suppose that Abraham would be profoundly interested in

all that concerned mankind. As the head of the Old Testament Church too,

which had just been constituted (ch. 17.), there existed a special

reason for his being properly instructed as to the impending judgment of

Sodom. Upon him would devolve the interpretation to the men of his day

of the significance of that event. Rightly viewed, this is one of the proper

functions of the Church on earth — to explain God’s judgments to the

unbelieving world. Hence “the Lord God doeth nothing but He revealeth

His secret unto His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7).


Ø      Abraham’s new responsibilities. These were the cultivation of personal

and family religion, which devolved upon him with a new force and a

heavier degree of obligation than they did before in consequence of his new

standing as a Church member. God having graciously assigned this position

within the Church in order that he might command his children and his

household after him, by means of:


o        religious instruction as well as through

o        the influence of personal example, to fear God,


it was needful that he should be informed as to the ground, at least,

of the coming judgment on the cities of the plain.


  • THE REASON OF THE RETRIBUTION. This was the wickedness of

Sodom, which was:


Ø      Exceedingly heinous as to its character. Minutely detailed in the ensuing

chapter, it is here only indirectly mentioned as something grievous in the

sight of God. All sin is inherently offensive in the eyes of the Almighty;

but some forms of wickedness are more presumptuously daring or more

intrinsically loathsome than others, and of such sort were the sins of

Sodom (ch.19).


Ø      Exceedingly abundant as to its measure. It was “multiplied” iniquity of

which the Sodomites were guilty; and this not simply in the sense in

which the sins of all may be characterized as beyond computation

(Psalm 40:12), but in the sense that their hearts were set in

them to do evil (Ecclesiastes 8:11), so that they worked all manner

of uncleanness with greediness (Ephesians 4:19).


Ø      Exceedingly clear as to its commission. Though God speaks of making

investigation into the sins of Sodom, this was really unnecessary. The

moral degeneracy of the inhabitants of the Jordan valley was one of

the “all things” that are ever “naked and manifest” unto His eye.

(Hebrews 4:13)  So nothing can hide sin from God (II Chronicles 16:9;

Proverbs 15:3; Amos 9:8).


Ø      Exceedingly patent as to ITS ILL DESERT.   This was the reason

why God employed the language of v. 21. He meant that though

the guilt of Sodom was great, He would not let loose His vengeance

until it should be seen to be perfectly just. Nothing would be done






1. The impotence of anything but true religion to purify the heart or refine

    a people.

2. God is specially observant of the wickedness of great cities.

3. When great cities sink to a certain depth in their wickedness they are

    doomed to perish.  (See below on the status of New York City – CY – 2019)

4. When God’s judgments overtake a nation they are ever characterized by



18 “Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation,

and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?”  Seeing that Abraham

shall surely become (literally, becoming shall become) a great and mighty nation

(compare ch. 12:2; 17:4-6), and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

The import of Jehovah's self-interrogation was, that since Abraham had already

been promoted to so distinguished a position, not only was there no sufficient

reason why the Divine purpose concerning Sodom should be concealed from him,

but, on the contrary, the gracious footing of intimacy which subsisted between

Himself and his humble friend almost necessitated some sort of friendly

communication on the subject, and all the more for the reason next appended.


19 “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after

him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that

the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him”

For I know him, that - literally, for I have known (or chosen, יָדַע being - dilexi, as

in Amos 3:2) him to the end that (לְמַעַן conveying the idea of purpose; vide Ewald,

§ 357), the language expressing the idea that Abraham had been the object of

Divine foreknowledge and election (Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch, Keil,

Oehler, Kalisch, Lange), although the reading of the text is substantially adopted

by many (Septuagint, Vulgate, Targums, Luther, Calvin, Dathe, et alii). The latter

interpretation assigns as the reason of the Divine communication the knowledge

which Jehovah then possessed of Abraham's piety; the former grounds the Divine

resolution on the prior fact that Divine grace had elected him to the high destiny

described in the language following. It is generally agreed that this clause connects

with v. 17; Bush regards it as exhibiting the means by which the future promised to

Abraham in v. 18 should be realized - he will (rather, may) command his children

and his household after him (by parental authority as well as by personal example),

and they shall keep (rather, that they may keep) the way of the Lord, - i.e. the religion

of Jehovah (compare Judges 2:22; II Kings 21:22; Psalm 119:1; Acts 18:25), of which

the practical outcome is - to do justice and judgment; - or righteousness and judgment,

that which accords with right or the sense of oughtness in intelligent and moral beings,

and that which harmonizes with THE DIVINE LAW! (compare Ezekiel 18:5) - that

(literally, to the end that, in order that, לְמַעַן, as shown above) the Lord may bring

upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.




God’s Rule in the Family (v. 19)


“For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after

him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.”  (I have often wish that God

could say this about me.  CY – 2019) The promise to Abraham included:


(1) understanding of God’s acts;

(2) that he should become a mighty nation;

(3) that he should be ancestor of the promised Seed;

(4) that he himself should be a blessing to others.


Of these points two at least are not confined to him personally, but belong

to ALL WHO WILL!  To know what God doeth a man must be taught of the

Spirit (I Corinthians 2:14; compare Isaiah 7:12). There is a wide

difference between seeing an event, or even foreseeing it, and

understanding God’s lessons therein. To be able in everything to mark the

love, and care, and wisdom of God; to walk with Him as a child, accepting

what He sends not merely as inevitable, but as loving; to learn lessons from

all that happens, and through the works of His hands to see our Father’s

facethis is peace, and this is what the wisdom of this world cannot

teach (Matthew 11:25; I Corinthians 1:20-21). Again, Abraham

was to be not merely the ancestor of a nation, but the father of a spiritual

family by influence and example (Matthew 3:9; Galatians 3:7). In this his calling

is that of EVERY CHRISTIAN!  (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 5:13-14). Text connects

the godly rule of a family with both these blessings. Christianity is not to be a

selfish, but a diffusive thing (ibid. v. 15; 13:33); and the influence must needs

begin at home (compare Numbers 10:29; Acts 1:8), among those whom God has

placed with us.




Ø      Care for his own soul. If that is not cared for a man cannot desire the

spiritual good of others. He may desire and try to train his children and

household in honesty and prudence; to make them good members of

society, successful, respected; and may cultivate all kindly feelings; but

not till he realizes eternity will he really aim at training others for

eternity. You might say that only one who has found peace can fully

perform this work.  A man may be aroused with desire that his family

should  be saved, but he cannot press the full truth as it is in Jesus.


Ø      Love for the souls of others. Christians are sometimes so wrapped up in

care for their own souls as to have few thoughts for the state of others.

Perhaps from a lengthened conflict the mind has been too much turned

upon its own state. But this is not the mind of Christ (I Corinthians

10:24). It is not a close following of him. It tells of a halting in the “work

of faith” (II Corinthians 5:13-14; compare Romans 10:1).


Ø      Desire to advance the kingdom of Christ. When a man has this he sees

in every one a soul for which Christ died (compare John 4:35), and those

with whom he is closely connected must chiefly call forth this feeling.


  • THE MANNER OF THE WORK. Family worship; acknowledgment

of God as ruling in the household; His will a regulating principle and bond

of union. Let this be a reality, not a form. Let the sacrificial work of Christ

be ever put forward in instruction and in prayer. Personal example —

constantly aiming at a holy life. To pray in the family and yet to be

evidently making no effort to live in the spirit of the prayer is to do positive

evil; encouraging the belief that God may be worshipped with words,

without deeds; and tending to separate religion from daily life. Prayer in

private for each member — children, servants, etc; and watchfulness to

deal with each as God shall give opportunity (Proverbs 15:23). Let

prayer always accompany such efforts.




Abraham and Family Training (v. 19)


For I know him, that he will command his children and his household

after him.”  Under the shady terebinth tree celestial visitants partake, or

appear to do so, of a meal hastily provided by the patriarch. The whole

narrative is given in such a way that, — after the manner of the time, — to

God are ascribed human passions, desires, hesitancy, and resolve. Hence

God is described as resolving, on two grounds, to reveal to Abraham that

which He is about to do in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah:


(1) that he would become a great and mighty nation;

(2) that he would direct his household to follow in the ways of

      righteousness and truth. Notice:



Children and servants are both to be brought under spiritual influence. The

heart will not become pure naturally, any more than the boat left to itself

would make headway against a strong current. The set of the world-tide

IS IN AN EVIL DIRECTION!  Abraham had no written book to aid him in

his work.  His unwritten Bible was the tradition of God’s dealings with the

race and with himself. He could tell of the promises of God and of the way of

approach to Him by sacrifice. Evidently there had been careful training in

this respect; for when Isaac was going with his father to the mount of

sacrifice he noticed that, although the fire and wood were carried, they had

no lamb for a burnt offering.  (ch. 22:7)



“I know him.” He could trust Abraham, for he would “command,” his

children after him, not in the dictatorial tones of a tyrant, but by the power

of a consistent life.  Many children of religious parents go back to the world

because of the imperious style of training they have received. In training,

every word, look, and act tells. In many homes there is, alas, no training

given and no holy example set. (If the parent does not do his work, IT IS

FOREVER UNDONE! – I read this somewhere – CY – 2019)  Parents are

held accountable for failure, and should therefore be firm and loving in

training. They should not readily delegate to others the work of training,

either in secular or religions knowledge.  Sunday-school teaching should

supplement, NOT TRANSPLANT,  home training.




the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.” If

Abraham had not been faithful his name would have died out, and there

would have been no handing on of the narrative of his devoted life and

tenacious hold of THE DIVINE PROMISES!  Isaac followed in his

father’s steps and was a meditative man. Jacob cherished the promises and

handed them on to his sons. The Jews preserved a knowledge of God when

all other races were sunk in polytheism. From them came THE ONE WHO

WAS THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD!   All, however, depended on the

right training of Isaac.  The rill flowed to the streamlet, the streamlet to the

creek, the creek to the river, the river to the ocean. Influence ever widened,

and God’s aim with respect to Abraham was carried out. Let all strive so to

act that the character of the life may not undo the teachings of the lip.


20 “And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great,

and because their sin is very grievous;”  And the Lord said, Because the cry

of Sodom and Gomorrah is great. Literally, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah

(compare ch. 4:10), because it is (not, it is indeed, Baumgarten, Keil) multiplied;

the place of emphasis being conceded to the subject of discourse, viz., the cry of

Sodom s wickedness. And because their sin is very great. Literally, and their sin,

because it is:


·         heavy,

·         abundant and

·         heinous.


“I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to

the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.”  I will go down now

(compare ch. 11:5), and see (judicial investigation ever precedes judicial infliction

at the Divine tribunal) whether they have done altogether - literally, whether they

have made completeness, i.e. carried their iniquity to perfection, to the highest pitch

of wickedness (Calvin, Delitzsch, Keil); or consummated their wickedness, by

carrying it to that pitch of fullness which works death (Ainsworth, Kalisch,

Rosenmüller). (These are things of which America had better be concerned!

Just this week – this being January 20-26, 2019, New York State legalized

abortions of children in any circumstance – See photo below – CY – 2019)


                                      (Media Research Center Photo)


The received rendering, which regards כלה as an adverb, has the authority

of Luther and Gesenius - according to the cry of it, which has come unto me;

and if not, I will know. The Septuagint render ἵνα γνῶ - hina gno - , meaning,

"should it not be so, I will still go down, that I may ascertain the exact truth;"

the Chaldee paraphrases, "and if they repent, I will not exact punishment."

The entire verse is anthropomorphic, and designed to express the Divine

solicitude that the strictest justice should characterize all His dealings both

with men and nations.


22 “And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom:

but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.”  And the men turned their faces

from thence, and went toward Sodom (i.e. two of the three proceeded on their

way towards the Jordan valley, while the third was detained by the patriarch,

probably on the heights overlooking the plain, for a sublime act of intercession

which is thus briefly but suggestively described): but Abraham stood yet before

the Lord. According to the Masorites the text originally read, "And the Lord

stood before Abraham, and was changed because it did not seem becoming to

speak of God standing in the presence of a creature. This, however, is a mere

Rabbinical conceit. As Abraham is not said to have stood before the three men,

the expression points to spiritual rather than to local contiguity.


23 “And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with

the wicked?”  And Abraham drew near. I.e. to Jehovah; not simply locally, but also

spiritually. The religious use of יִגַּשּׁ as a performing religious services to God, or a

pious turning of the mind to God, is found in Exodus 30:20; Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah

30:21; and in a similar sense ἐγγίζω engizocome near; draw nigh - is employed

in the New Testament (compare Hebrews 4:16; 10:22; James 4:8). The Jonathan

Targum explains, "and Abraham prayed." And said. Commencing the sublimest

act of human intercession of which Scripture preserves a record, being moved

thereto, if not by an immediate regard for Lot (Lange), at least by a sense of

compassion towards the inhabitants of Sodom, "communis erga quinque populos

misericordia" (Calvin), which was heightened and intensified by his own previous

experience of forgiving grace (Keil). Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the

wicked? The question presupposes that God had, according to the resolution of

v. 17, explained to the patriarch his intention to destroy the cities of the plain.

The object the patriarch contemplated in his intercession was not simply the

preservation of any godly remnant that might be found within the doomed towns,

but the rescue of their entire populations from the impending judgment, - only he

does not at first discover his complete design, perhaps regarding such an absolute

reversal of the Divine purpose as exceeding the legitimate bounds of creature

supplication; but with what might be characterized as holy adroitness he veils

his ulterior aim, and commences his petition at a Point somewhat removed from

that to which he hopes to come. Assuming it as settled that the fair Pentapolis

(five cities of the Dead Sea region) is to be destroyed, he practically asks, with

a strange mixture of humility and boldness, if Jehovah has considered that this

will involve a sad commingling in one gigantic overthrow of both the righteous

and the wicked.


24 “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy

and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?”  Peradventure

there be fifty righteous within the city. A charitable supposition, as the event

showed, though at first sight it might not appear so to Abraham; and the bare

possibility of Sodom's - not Sodom alone (Kalisch), but the Pentapolis - containing

so many good men was enough to afford a basis for the argument which followed.

Wilt thou also destroy and not spare - literally, take away (sc. the iniquity) i.e.

remove the punishment from - the place (not the godly portion of the city merely,

but the entire population; a complete discovery of Abraham s design) for the fifty

righteous that are therein?


25 “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with

the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from

thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  That be far from thee

literally to profane things (be it) to thee - nefas sit tibi = absit a te! an exclamation

of abhorrence, too feebly rendered by μηδαμῶςmaedamosnever; not at all

(Septuagint) - to do after this manner (literally, according to this word), to slay

the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked

(literally, and that it should be - as the righteous, so the wicked), that be far from

thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? The patriarch appeals not to

Jehovah's covenant grace (Kurtz), but to HIS ABSOLUTE JUDICIAL EQUITY

(Keil). It does not, however, follow that the Divine righteousness would have

been compromised by consigning pious and wicked to the same temporal destruction.

This must have been a spectacle not infrequently observed in Abraham's day as well

as ours. Yet the mind of Abraham appears to have been perplexed, as men's minds

often are still, by the magnitude of the proposed illustration of a common principle

in Providence. Though prepared to admit the principle when its application is

confined to solitary cases, or cases of no great amplitude, yet instinctively the

human mind feels that there must be a limit to the commingling of the righteous

and the wicked in calamity, though it should be only of a temporal description.

That limit Abraham conceived, or perhaps feared that others might conceive,

would be passed if good and bad in Sodom should be overwhelmed in a common ruin;

and in this spirit the closing utterance of his first supplication may be regarded as

giving expression to the hope that Jehovah would do nothing that would even

seem to tarnish His Divine righteousness. Abraham of course regarded this as

impossible, consequently he believed that Sodom might be spared.


26 “And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then

I will spare all the place for their sakes.”  And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom

fifty righteous within the city (thus accepting the test proposed by Abraham, but not

necessarily thereby acquiescing in the absolute soundness of his logic), then I will spare

(not as an act of justice, but as an exercise of mercy, and not because of any suspicions

that might otherwise attach to my rectitude, but solely in vindication of my clemency)

all the place (not the righteous merely, which was all that justice could have

legitimately demanded) for their sakes, i.e. because of the claims upon my mercy

which grace admits the righteous to prefer.


27 “And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak

unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:”  And Abraham answered and said

(being emboldened by the success of his first petition), Behold now, I have taken

upon me, literally, I have begun, though here perhaps used in a more emphatic sense:

I have undertaken or ventured (see Gesenius, p. 326) - to speak unto the Lord - Adonai

(ch. 15:2) - which am but dust and ashes. "Dust in his origin and ashes in his end"

 (Delitzsch; see ch. 3:19).


28 “Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all

the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy

it.”  Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the

city for lack of five? Literally, on account of five, i.e. because they are wanting.

A rare example of holy ingenuity in prayer. Abraham, instead of pleading for the city's

safety on account of forty-five, deprecates its destruction on account of five. And He

said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.


29 “And he spake unto Him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty

found there. And He said, I will not do it for forty's sake.”  And he spoke unto him

yet again - literally, and he added yet to speak to Him (compare ch. 4:2; 8:10, 12;

25:1) and said (increasing in his boldness as God abounded in His grace),

Peradventure there shall be forty found there. Does Abraham hesitate to add the

query, "Wilt thou also?" etc., as if fearing he had at last touched the limit of the

Divine condescension. If so, he must have been surprised by the continued gracious

response which his supplication received. And H e said, I will not do it for forty's sake.


30 “And he said unto Him, Oh let not the Lord be angry literally, let there not be

burning with anger to the Lord (Adonai)  , and I will speak:  Peradventure there

shall thirty be found there. And He said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.”


31 “And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord:

Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And He said, I will not destroy

it for twenty's sake.”


32 “And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once:

(literally, only this time more, as in Exodus 10:17)  Peradventure ten shall be found

there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.”


33 “And the LORD went His way, as soon as He had left communing with

Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.”  And the Lord (Jehovah)

went His way, - i.e. vanished (Keil); not to avoid further entreaties on the part of

Abraham (Delitzsch), but for the reason specified in the next words - as soon as

He had left communing with Abraham (because Abraham's supplications were

ended): and Abraham returned unto his place (viz., Mamre near Hebron).




Abraham’s Intercession for Sodom (vs. 16-33)


The whole wonderful scene springs out of the theophany. Abraham’s faith has given

him a special position with the Lord. “Shall I hide from Abraham that thug which

I do?” The true priesthood and mediatorship is friendship with God. The grace of God

first gives the likeness and then exalts it. The Lord knew Abraham because Abraham

knew the Lord. The superior angel, the Lord, remains behind His companions that

Abraham might have the opportunity of intercession; so the Lord lingers in His

providence that He may reveal His righteousness and mercy. As to the pleading of

the patriarch and the answers of the Lord to it, we may take it:



Ø      He is open to entreaty.

Ø      He is unwilling to destroy.

Ø      He spares for the sake of righteousness.

Ø      He “does right” as “Judge of the earth,” even though to the eyes of the

best men there is awful mystery in His doings.




Ø      It was bold with the boldness of simplicity and faith.

Ø      It was full of true humanity while deeply reverential towards God.

Abraham was no fanatic.

Ø      It waited for and humbly accepted Divine judgments and appointments

not without reason, not without the exercise of thought and feeling,

but all the more so as he prayed and talked with God.

Ø      The one living principle of the patriarchal religion was that entire

confidence in God’s righteousness and love, in separating the wicked and

the good, in both His judgments and His mercy, which is the essence of

Christianity as well.  The right which the Judge of all the earth will

do is not the right of mere blind law, or rough human administration of

law, but the right of Him who discerneth between the evil and the good,

too wise to err, too good to be unkind.”



Abraham’s Intercession (vs. 23-33)


  • THE OBJECT OF HIS INTERCESSION. Not simply the rescue of Lot

from the doomed cities, but the salvation of the cities themselves, with

their miserable inhabitants. A request evincing:


Ø      Tender sympathy. Though doubtless the righteous character of the

impending retribution had been explained to him, its appalling severity was

such as to thrill his feeling heart with anguish, which would certainly not be

lessened, but intensified, if he allowed his thoughts to dwell upon the future

into which that overwhelming calamity would forthwith launch its unhappy



Ø      Unselfish charity. Not blindly shutting his eyes to the miseries of the

Sodomites, as many would have done, on the plea that they were richly

merited, or that they were no concern of his, or that it was little he could

do to avert them, he actively bestirs himself, if possible, to prevent them.

Nor does he say that, having delivered them once from the devouring

sword of war, without their having profited by either the judgment or the

mercy that had then been measured out to them, he will now leave them to

be engulfed by the approaching storm of Almighty wrath; but, on the

contrary, he rather seeks a second time to effect their rescue.  (See

chapter 14)


Ø      Amazing universality. Not content with asking Lot’s deliverance, or the

rescue of the righteous, he aims at nothing short of the complete

preservation of the cities. He solicits not a few of their inhabitants only, but

their entire population. One wonders whether to admire most the greatness

of the love or the grandeur of the faith herein displayed.




Ø      Holy boldness. Abraham “drew near.” The expression intimates:


o        confidential familiarity,

o        earnestness of entreaty,

o        unrestrained freedom of discourse,

o        almost venturesome audacity in prayer;


all of which characteristics should be found in a believer’s prayers, especially

when interceding in behalf of others (Hebrews 10:22).


Ø      Reverent humility. Three times he deprecates Jehovah’s anger, and

acknowledges personal unworthiness; and that this self-abasement was not

affected, but real, is apparent from the circumstance that the more his

supplication prospers, the deeper does he sink in self-prostration. Gracious

souls are ever humble under a sense of God’s mercies:


o        Jacob (ch. 32:10),

o        David (II Samuel 7:18; compare Luke 7:6).


Ø      Fervent importunity. With a sanctified dexterity he, as it were,

endeavors to shut up the heart of God to grant the deliverance he solicits.

Nor does he rest contented with the first response to his entreaty, but with

greater vehemence returns to the charge, increasing his demands as God

enlarges His concessions (compare Matthew 15:22).




Ø      The argument. The principle on which the patriarch stands is not the

grace of the covenant, but the righteousness of the Judge. His meaning is

that in moral goodness there is a certain dynamic force which operates

towards the preservation of the wicked, and which the Divine

righteousness itself is bound to take into its calculations. Where this force

reaches a certain limit in intensity, a regard to judicial equity seems to

require that it shall be allowed to exercise its legitimate sway — a principle

which God admitted to the patriarch when He said that the Amorites were

spared because their iniquity was not full (ch. 15:16), and which He

here endorses by consenting to spare Sodom if even ten righteous men can

be found within its gates.


Ø      The application. The patriarch conducts his case with singular

directness, going straight to the logical issues of the principle with which

he starts; with marvelous ingenuity pitching the hypothetical number of

pious Sodomites so high as to insure a favorable response, and gradually

diminishing as grace enlarges, and with unwearied attention refusing to

discontinue his holy argument so long as a chance remains of saving





Ø      He got all he asked. He did not crave the unconditional sparing of the

city, but only its preservation on certain suggested conditions. Those

conditions too were of his own framing; and yet against them not so

much as one single condition was entered by God.


Ø      He ceased asking before God stopped giving.  It may be rash to

speculate as to what would have happened had Abraham continued to

reduce the number on which he periled the salvation of Sodom; but for

God’s glory it is only just to observe that it was not He who discontinued

answering the patriarch’s petitions, so much as the patriarch himself, who

felt that he had reached the limit of that liberty which God accords to

believing suppliants at His throne.




1. The liberty which saints have to approach God in prayer.

2. The Divinely-taught art of wrestling with God in prayer.

3. The great encouragement which saints have to pray without ceasing.

    (I Thessalonians 5:17)

4. The profound interest which saints should ever take in the welfare of

    their fellow-men.




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