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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 18

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8


Verses 1-8:

Verse 1-5: The events of this chapter apparently took place not long after the institution of circumcision. They occurred in part to reassure Abraham concerning the promised son. In this chapter there is further implication of the contrast between Abraham and the blessings he enjoyed, and Lot and the increasing wickedness of those among whom he had chosen to live.

"In the plains of Mamre," literally, "among the oaks of Mamre" (see Ge 13:18). The time was at noon. This is traditionally the time of rest (Song 1:7), and the hour of dinner. Likely Abraham had already dined, and was resting, as implied because of the preparations necessary for his guests to dine.

Abraham recognized one of his three Guests as Jehovah, and Lord (Adonai). He prostrated himself before them, both in the common salutation of the day, and in worship. He offered the hospitality of his home. Abraham lived in such a manner that he was aware of the Lord’s presence, and he was not ashamed to invite the Lord into his home. This would be appropriate for us today.

Abraham offered the usual amenities which hospitality required for travelers in that day. The language implies that Abraham considered it a privilege to be able to extend hospitality to these guests (see Le 19:33, 34; Heb 13:2; Ro 12:13; 1Ti 3:2; Tit 1:8; 1Pe 4:9). This included not only food for their nourishment, but water to wash their feet for refreshment.

Verse 6-8: Abraham quickly instructed Sarah to prepare a meal. It is unlikely that Sarah did this work herself, but instructed her maid­servants to do so.

"Measure" is seah, a third of an ephah, equivalent to about one third of a bushel. The grain which was used to prepare the bread measured about a bushel. Abraham ordered that a prime young calf be slaughtered and cooked. This was no casual "snack," but a real feast.

"Butter" is chemah, curdled milk or cheese.

"Milk" is chalab, the common term for fresh milk still containing its fatness.

Abraham provided the best he had to supply the needs of his Guests. This reminds us that we should willingly provide the Lord with the best we have.

Verses 9-15

Verses 9-15:

Verse 9, 10: One of the Three, perhaps Jehovah Himself, questioned Abraham concerning his wife Sarah. The question indicated that their visit had a special significance for her, as well as for Abraham.

Jehovah promised to return "according to the time of life," literally, "at the time reviving," or in the spring, when the year was renewed. Some interpret this to be "according to the time of that which is born," or at the end of nine months.

Sarah was not present at the meal, in keeping with custom. However, she was nearby, concealed behind the tent door, to be aware of what was taking place. She heard Jehovah’s promise, and reacted to it.

Verses 11, 12: There were two impediments to the fulfillment of God’s promise: (1) the advanced age of both Abraham and Sarah; and (2) Sarah was no longer capable, physically, of bearing a child (see Le 15:19, 25).

When Sarah heard the Lord’s promise renewed that she was to bear a son, she laughed. Unlike Abraham’s laughter at this same news (Ge 17:17), Sarah’s laughter was mixed with unbelief. The language suggests that there were no longer sexual relations enjoyed between Abraham and Sarah, due to their advanced age. But even in this admission, Sarah displayed reverence and submission to Abraham in calling him "lord" (1Pe 3:6), thus acknowledging his authority in the home.

Verses 13-15: The Lord demanded to know why Sarah laughed. She thought her skeptical laughter was unknown except to herself. She became frightened, and denied that she had laughed. Doubtless she was astounded that the Lord was fully aware of even her most secret, innermost thoughts (Ps 139:7-12; Pr 15:3; Mt 10:26; Heb 4:12).

Verses 16-22

Verses 16-22:

Verse 16: "Men" refers to Jehovah and the two accompanying angels. This was a theophany, in which the supernatural beings appeared in the form of men.

The destination of Abraham’s heavenly Visitors was Sodom. They continued their journey when the meal was completed. Abraham accompanied them for a distance, as a matter of courtesy, likely across the mountain range east of Hebron. From that point there was a view of the plain of Sodom.

Verses 17-19: These verses contain the first statement of the principle that God reveals His will to His servants who fear and honor Him. Particularly is this true in the area of Divine judgment upon sin. Abraham’s seed was to become a mighty nation in Jehovah’s plan. It would be fitting that the father of this nation should be cognizant of Jehovah’s purpose for the nations. Also, Abraham is an example of the Divine principle of parental discipline. God’s order is that the father is the Divinely-appointed teacher of his children, in matters spiritual, moral, and ethical Nowhere in the Scriptures is there the hint that the responsibility for teaching, training and caring for children belongs to the state, the church, or the school. It is the duty and privilege of the father to teach his children the will and purpose of God.

Verses 20-22: The reason for the Divine purpose was to visit the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah: a judicial investigation to confirm the sin of these two notorious cities, sin which was "very great", literally "abundant and heinous."

The particular sin of Sodom and Gomorrah which was so heinous in God’s sight was homosexuality. This term is a relatively modern invention. It does not occur in the Scriptures. God uses other terms to describe the sin of sexual relations between those of the same sex: abomination (Le 18:22), vile affections (Ro 1:26, 27), wickedness (Jg 19:23), effeminate (1Co 6:9), reprobate (Ro 1:28), inordinate affections (Col 3:5, 6), sodomy (1 Kings 14:24; 15:11, 12), filthy dreamers (Jude 1:7, 8). Those who commit this sin are described as having vile affections (Ro 1:26, 27), burning with lust (Ro 1:27), dishonoring the body (Ro 1:24), violating nature (Ro 1:26), abusers of themselves (1Co 6:9), defilers of themselves (1Ti 1:9, 10), lusting for strange flesh (Jude 1:7).

Modern "psychology" says some people are born "homosexuals." This is not true. It is true that every person is born with a sin nature (Ro 5:12) that is capable of every kind of lust. It is true that some are born without the ability to have physical relations with the opposite sex (Mt 19:12). But this is far different from having a consuming lust for the same sex.

The sin of sodomy is the last stage of moral decay among many people. Sodom and Gomorrah are evidence that when this sin is accorded public acceptance it cannot be contained or controlled. It continually solicits new victims. And it is subject to the law of diminishing returns, with each exercise of sin requiring more and greater excesses to fuel its consuming passion. The ultimate end of the sin of sodomy, as with other sins, is greater, increasing lust culminating in death (Jas 1:13-15).

The sin of sodomy is not a solitary sin. It is the final stage of other sins of selfish indulgences stemming from the root causes of moral impurity, pride, anger and bitterness. Eze 16:49,50 lists other sins that inevitably accompany this sin: pride, fullness of bread, abundance of idleness, unconcern for the poor and needy.

Sodomy is defined by some "psychologists" as a disease, or an alternate life style. It is neither. It is sin, and in God’s sight deserving of the death penalty (Le 18:22; 20:13). It is classified along with the sins of prostitution, idolatry, theft, drunkenness (1Co 6:9, 10). The basic sin-nature that is susceptible to temptation resulting in sodomy is common to all people. But this sin can be forgiven (1Co 6:11), when one cries out to God in repentance and faith, confessing it (1Co 1:7-9). And God provides a way of victory over this and all sin (Ro 6:14).

Verses 23-33

Verses 23-33:

Abraham’s intercession for Sodom and the cities of the plain was based upon a two-fold consideration; (1) primarily for the reputation of Jehovah as the God of justice and mercy; and (2) concern for the number of righteous people who were in these cities, that they should not be destroyed along with the guilty. Also there was the possibility that the wicked might repent and turn from their sin if they were allowed to live.

God’s determination to destroy Sodom and the cities of the plain was not based upon mere vengeance or retribution. It was an act of judicial decree, in which the sins of the cities were corrupting the entire land, and such sin demands satisfaction.

Abraham reduced the prospective number of righteous from fifty to ten, as the basis for asking Jehovah to spare the cities. The God of the Covenant is also the God of mercy, evidenced in His agreement to spare the cities if but ten righteous people could be found therein.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Genesis 18". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/genesis-18.html. 1985.
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