Genesis 18



1 Yahweh appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day.

2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and saw that three men stood opposite him. When he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself to the earth,

3 and said, "My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please don't go away from your servant.

4 Now let a little water be fetched, wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.

5 I will get a morsel of bread so you can refresh your heart. After that you may go your way, now that you have come to your servant." They said, "Very well, do as you have said."

6 Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, "Quickly prepare three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes."

7 Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a tender and good calf, and gave it to the servant. He hurried to dress it.

8 He took butter, milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them. He stood by them under the tree, and they ate.

9 They asked him, "Where is Sarah, your wife?" He said, "See, in the tent."

10 He said, "I will certainly return to you when the season comes round. Behold, Sarah your wife will have a son." Sarah heard in the tent door, which was behind him.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in age. Sarah had passed the age of childbearing.

12 Sarah laughed within herself, saying, "After I have grown old will I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"

13 Yahweh said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Will I really bear a child, yet I am old?'

14 Is anything too hard for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, when the season comes round, and Sarah will have a son."

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, "I didn't laugh," for she was afraid. He said, "No, but you did laugh."

16 The men rose up from there, and looked toward Sodom. Abraham went with them to see them on their way.

17 Yahweh said, "Will I hide from Abraham what I do,

18 since Abraham has surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?

19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him."

20 Yahweh said, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous,

21 I will go down now, and see whether their deeds are as bad as the reports which have come to me. If not, I will know."

22 The men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before Yahweh.

23 Abraham drew near, and said, "Will you consume the righteous with the wicked?

24 What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it?

25 Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn't the Judge of all the earth do right?"

26 Yahweh said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake."

27 Abraham answered, "See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord, who am but dust and ashes.

28 What if there will lack five of the fifty righteous? Will you destroy all the city for lack of five?" He said, "I will not destroy it, if I find forty-five there."

29 He spoke to him yet again, and said, "What if there are forty found there?" He said, "I will not do it for the forty's sake."

30 He said, "Oh don't let the Lord be angry, and I will speak. What if there are thirty found there?" He said, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there."

31 He said, "See now, I have taken it on myself to speak to the Lord. What if there are twenty found there?" He said, "I will not destroy it for the twenty's sake."

32 He said, "Oh don't let the Lord be angry, and I will speak just once more. What if ten are found there?" He said, "I will not destroy it for the ten's sake."

33 Yahweh went his way, as soon as he had finished communing with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.


Exploring the Meaning of Genesis 18      

Napsal(a) Emanuel Swedenborg

Here are some excerpts from Swedenborg's "Arcana Coelestia" that help explain the inner meaning of this chapter:

AC 2136. In the first place, this chapter treats concerning the Lord’s state of perception in the Human and concerning the communication with the Divine at that time, before the perfect union of His Human Essence with the Divine Essence, which state is also that in regard to which the Lord says,

"No one hath seen God at any time, the Only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father" (John 1:18).

AC 2137. The Lord‘s state of perception in the Human at that time is signified by the "oak-groves of Mamre" (verse 1); and that in this state He perceived the Divine which was manifesting itself before His Human (verse 2); at which He rejoiced (verse 3); and desired that the Divine should draw nearer to His Human by putting on something natural (verse 4), and His Human nearer to the Divine by putting on the celestial (verse 5). The celestial and the derivative spiritual, which He put on, are signified by the "three measures of meal of fine flour" of which the cakes were made (verse 6); and that He also put on a conforming natural, is signified by the "son of an ox" (verse 7); the result being conformation, and a communication of the Divine with the Human, and of the Human with the Divine (verse 8).

AC 2138. In the second place, this chapter treats concerning the Lord’s perception in that state respecting the rational with Him, in that it would put off the Human, and be made Divine.

AC 2139. That the rational would be made Divine, is signified by the "son" whom Sarah was to bear (verse 10). That the human rational truth that was with the Lord did not perceive this, and thus did not believe it, is signified by Sarah‘s "laughing" at the door of the tent that was behind him (verses 10-13, 15). It is confirmed that the Lord would put off this also, and would put on in its place truth Divine (verse 14).

AC 2140. In the third place, the chapter treats concerning the Lord’s grief and anxiety over the human race, because men were so greatly imbued with the love of self, and from this with the cupidity of exercising command over others from what is evil and false, for whom in that state He interceded, and obtained that those should be saved with whom there should be goods and truths; and who these are, is recounted in order.

AC 2141. The Lord‘s perception concerning the human race, that it was in evil and falsity, "Sodom" being the love of self and the derivative cupidity of exercising command from what is evil, and "Gomorrah" being the same from what is false (verses 16, 20). That this could not be concealed from the Lord in that state, because by Him and from Him is all salvation (verses 17 to 19); that is to say, they were to be visited when their wickedness reached its height (verses 20, 21). That when He was in this perception (verse 22), He interceded for them; first for those with whom there should be truths, and these truths full of goods, who are signified by the "fifty" (verses 23 to 26); also for those with whom there should be less of good, but this good nevertheless conjoined with truths, who are signified by the "forty-five" (verses 27, 28); next for those who have been in temptations, who are signified by the "forty" (verse 29); as likewise for those who have been in some combats against evils, who are signified by the "thirty" (verse 30); afterwards for those with whom there should be states of the affection of good from any other source, who are signified by the "twenty" (verse 31); lastly for those with whom there should be states of the affection of truth, who are signified by the "ten" (verse 32); and the constant answer was that they should be saved (verses 26, 28 to 32). These things being accomplished, the Lord returned into His former state of perception (verse 33). These are the arcana contained in the internal sense of this chapter, which are not manifest from the letter.

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