Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: will you also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
This completes the full and free conversation of God with Abraham. He accepts his hospitable entertainment, renews his promise of a son by Sarah, communicates to him his counsel, and grants all his requests. It is evident that Abraham has now fully entered upon all the privileges of the sons of God. He has become the friend of God James 2:23.
- The Destruction of Sodom and Amorah
9. גשׁ־<הלאה gesh-hāl'âh, "approach to a distant point," stand back.
11. סנורים sanevērı̂ym, "blindness," affecting the mental more than the ocular vision.
37. מואב mô'āb, Moab; מאב mē'āb, "from a father." בן־עמי ben-‛amı̂y, Ben-'ammi, "son of my people." עמון ‛amôn, 'Ammon, "of the people."
This chapter is the continuation and conclusion of the former. It records a part of God's strange work - strange, because it consists in punishment, and because it is foreign to the covenant of grace. Yet it is closely connected with Abraham's history, inasmuch as it is a signal chastisement of wickedness in his neighborhood, a memorial of the righteous judgment of God to all his posterity, and at the same time a remarkable answer to the spirit, if not to the letter, of his intercessory prayer. His kinsman Lot, the only righteous man in Sodom, with his wife and two daughters, is delivered from destruction in accordance with his earnest appeal on behalf of the righteous.
23. Abraham drew near, and said, &c.—The scene described is full of interest and instruction—showing in an unmistakable manner the efficacy of prayer and intercession. (See also Pr 15:8; Jas 5:16). Abraham reasoned justly as to the rectitude of the divine procedure (Ro 3:5, 6), and many guilty cities and nations have been spared on account of God's people (Mt 5:13; 24:22).Within the city, i.e. in the cities concerned, as appears by Genesis 18:20, and Genesis 19:25; the singular number for the plural, as is frequent, as Genesis 3:22 1 Chronicles 10:1, compared with 1 Samuel 31:1, and oft elsewhere. Or the city Sodom alone is mentioned, but the rest are comprehended under it, either because of its eminency, or because they were subject or subordinate to it, as may seem probable from the history, Genesis 14:1-24.
wilt thou also destroy, and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? here Abraham becomes an advocate and intercessor for all the inhabitants of the place, even the wicked, that they might not be destroyed, but spared and be delivered from impending ruin, for the sake of the fifty righteous among them; before he seemed only concerned for the righteous, lest they should perish with the rest, and that some method might be found out and taken to distinguish them from them; but here he expresses himself in favour of the wicked also, that they might be spared, provided such a number of righteous ones was found among them.Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)24. spare the place] The word in the Heb. means literally “and take away for the place,” i.e. its guilt, and so “forgive,” as in Numbers 14:19.Verse 24. - 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? 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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