Genesis 18:19
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.
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(19) For I know him, that he will.—This translation has most of the Versions in its favour, and means that Abraham’s good conduct earns for him the Divine condescension. But the Hebrew is, For I have known him in order that he may command his sons, &c. It gives God foreknowledge of the purpose for which He had called Abraham as the reason for thus revealing to him the method of the Divine justice. And this purpose was, that from Abraham should spring a nation whose institutions were to be fraught with Divine truth, whose prophets were to be the means of revealing God’s will to man, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, the Messiah should come. What more fitting than that one appointed to fill so noble a calling should also be raised to the rank of a prophet, and be permitted to share in the Divine counsels? This rendering closely agrees with what is said in Genesis 18:18 about Abraham growing into a mighty nation; and it was the unique and high purpose for which this nation was to be called into being which brought Abraham into so close a relation to Jehovah.

Genesis 18:19. I know Abraham that he will command his children, and his household after him — This is a bright part of Abraham’s character. He not only prayed with his family, but he taught them, as a man of knowledge; nay, he commanded them, as a man in authority, and was prophet and king, as well as priest, in his own house. And he not only took care of his children, but of his household: his servants were catechised servants. Masters of families should instruct, and inspect the manners of all under their roof. And this is given as the reason why God would make known to him his purpose concerning Sodom; because he was communicative of his knowledge, and improved it for the benefit of those that were under his charge.

18:16-22 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?The promise to Sarah. The men now enter upon the business of their visit. "Where is Sarah thy wife?" The jealousy and seclusion of later times had not yet rendered such an inquiry uncourteous. Sarah is within hearing of the conversation. "I will certainly return unto thee." This is the language of self-determination, and therefore suitable to the sovereign, not to the ambassador. "At the time of life;" literally the living time, seemingly the time of birth, when the child comes to manifest life. "Sarah thy wife shall have a son." Sarah hears this with incredulous surprise, and laughs with mingled doubt and delight. She knows that in the nature of things she is past child-bearing. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Sarah laughed within herself, within the tent and behind the speaker; yet to her surprise her internal feelings are known to him. She finds there is One present who rises above the sphere of nature. In her confusion and terror she denies that she laughed. But he who sees what is within, insists that she did laugh, at least in the thought of her heart. There is a beautiful simplicity in the whole scene. Sarah now doubtless received faith and strength to conceive.

Verse 16-33

The conference concerning Sodom. The human manner of the interview is carried out to the end. Abraham convoys his departing guests. The Lord then speaks, apparently debating with himself whether he shall reveal his intentions to Abraham. The reasons for doing so are assigned. First. Abraham shall surely become a nation great and mighty, and therefore has the interest of humanity in this act of retribution on Sodom. All that concerns man concerns him. Second. Blessed in him shall be all the nations of the earth. Hence, he is personally and directly concerned with all the dealings of mercy and judgment among the inhabitants of the earth. Third. "I have known him." The Lord has made himself known to him, has manifested his love to him, has renewed him after his own image; and hence this judgment upon Sodom is to be explained to him, that he may train his household to avoid the sins of this doomed city, "to keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; and all this to the further intent that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what he hath spoken of him." The awful judgments of the Lord on Sodom, as before on the antediluvian world, are a warning example to all who are spared or hear of them. And those who, notwithstanding these monuments of the divine vengeance, will cease to do justice and judgment, may be certain that they will not continue to enjoy the benefits of the covenant of grace. For all these reasons it is meet that the secret of Lord be with him Psalm 25:11.

17. the Lord said, Shall I hide—The chief stranger, no other than the Lord, disclosed to Abraham the awful doom about to be inflicted on Sodom and the cities of the plain for their enormous wickedness. For I know him; I know him to be such a one as I am now describing; or I know this concerning him which now follows. Others, I love him, and therefore cannot conceal this from him. Words of knowledge being oft put for love, as Jeremiah 1:5 24:5 Hosea 13:5 Amos 3:2.

That he will command, or instruct, as the word is used, Leviticus 14:5 Deu 20:18 27:4. It will not be in vain that I tell him this, and give him occasion to pray and to taste my goodness in answering prayers, because he will not smother these things in his own breast, but manifest them to others, and teach them how good God is, who so readily complies with the desires and prayers of men, and how terrible he is to incorrigible sinners, and how evil and bitter a thing it is to sin against God. And so I shall get the end I aim at in all my works, which is, that they may be known for the good of others; that they may learn by such examples.

His children and his household, who will live when he is dead. He will so diligently imprint these things in their minds, that they shall never forget them.

They shall keep the way of the Lord, i.e. observe and walk in the way of God’s precepts: q.d. He shall not lose his design or labour; for what he teacheth they shall learn and practise. See Psalm 51:15, &c.

To do justice and judgement, i.e. to do all things that are good, and right, and just, both to God and men: compare Psalm 119:121. That Abraham and his posterity, keeping the conditions of the covenant required on their part, God may without any blemish to his honour or justice give all those good things which he hath promised to them.

For I know him,.... Not only by his omniscience, but with a special knowledge, such as is accompanied with peculiar love and affection; and so Jarchi says, it is expressive of love. God loved Abraham, he was a peculiar favourite of his, and therefore he would reveal his secrets to him, see Amos 3:2; and he knew not only who he was, but what he was, a holy good man, made so by his own grace, and what he would do by the assistance of that grace, and particularly what follows:

that he will command his children, and his household after him; to serve and worship the Lord: not his own children only, but his servants also, all in his family; lay his injunctions on them, use his authority with them, give them all needful instructions, and take such methods with them as would tend to propagate and preserve the true religion after his death:

and they shall keep the way of the Lord; which he has prescribed to men, and directed them to walk in, even everything respecting instituted worship then revealed, and particularly:

to do justice and judgment; to attend to all the laws, statutes, and judgments of God; to do that which is just and right between man and man; not as a justifying righteousness, by which Abraham himself was not justified before God; but to show their regard to the will of God, in gratitude for favours received from him, and to glorify him, as well as for the good of their fellow creatures:

that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him: not only on Abraham personally, but upon his posterity, they walking in the ways of the Lord, according to his command and direction: the word "that" here rather signifies, as Vatablus rightly observes, the consequence than the cause, what would follow upon these things, rather than as procured by them; these being the way in which God designed to bestow them, though not for them.

For I know him, {i} 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.

(i) He shows that fathers ought both to know God's judgments, and to declare them to their children.

19. I have known him] See Amos 3:2. Personal knowledge is the basis of confidence and love; the choice of Abraham is no arbitrary election, but the result of knowledge.

to the end that, &c.] The purpose for which God has known and sought out Abraham is here epitomized; (1) that, through the obedience of him and his folk, a true righteousness, according to “the way of the Lord,” may be propagated; (2) that the Divine fulfilment of the promise may be carried out unhindered. Family life is the sphere of chosen service.

For the picture here given of a righteous and godly life, cf. Genesis 17:1.

Verse 19. - 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 (LXX., 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 Ver. 17; Bush regards it as exhibiting the means by which the future promised to Abraham in Ver. 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 (cf. Judges 2:22; 2 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 (cf. Ezekiel 18:5) - that (literally, to the end that, in order that, לְמַעַן, ut supra) the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. Genesis 18:19After this conversation with Sarah, the heavenly guests rose up and turned their faces towards the plain of Sodom (פּני על, as in Genesis 19:28; Numbers 21:20; Numbers 23:28). Abraham accompanied them some distance on the road; according to tradition, he went as far as the site of the later Caphar barucha, from which you can see the Dead Sea through a ravine, - solitudinem ac terras Sodomae. And Jehovah said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I propose to do? Abraham is destined to be a great nation and a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:2-3); for I have known, i.e., acknowledged him (chosen him in anticipative love, ידע as in Amos 3:2; Hosea 13:4), that he may command his whole posterity to keep the way of Jehovah, to practise justice and righteousness, that all the promises may be fulfilled in them." God then disclosed to Abraham what he was about to do to Sodom and Gomorrah, not, as Kurtz supposes, because Abraham had been constituted the hereditary possessor of the land, and Jehovah, being mindful of His covenant, would not do anything to it without his knowledge and assent (a thought quite foreign to the context), but because Jehovah had chosen him to be the father of the people of God, in order that, by instructing his descendants in the fear of God, he might lead them in the paths of righteousness, so that they might become partakers of the promised salvation, and not be overtaken by judgment. The destruction of Sodom and the surrounding cities was to be a permanent memorial of the punitive righteousness of God, and to keep the fate of the ungodly constantly before the mind of Israel. To this end Jehovah explained to Abraham the cause of their destruction in the clearest manner possible, that he might not only be convinced of the justice of the divine government, but might learn that when the measure of iniquity was full, no intercession could avert the judgment-a lesson and a warning to his descendants also.
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