Genesis 18:24
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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18:23-33 Here is the first solemn prayer upon record in the Bible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous persons should be found in it. Come and learn from Abraham what compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we should pray for them. We see here that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, by earnest prayer, the blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your neighbourhood. To this end you must not only pray, but you must live like Abraham. He knew the Judge of all the earth would do right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And righteousness only can be made a plea before God. How then did Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not by blaming the Divine law, nor by alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of human guilt; but by pleading HIS OWN obedience unto death.Abraham intercedes for Sodom. His spiritual character is unfolded and exalted more and more. He employs the language of a free-born son with his heavenly Father. He puts forward the plea of justice to the righteous in behalf of the city. He ventures to repeat his intervention six times, every time diminishing the number of the righteous whom he supposes to be in it. The patience of the Lord is no less remarkable than the perseverance of Abraham. In every case he grants his petition. "Dust and ashes." This may refer to the custom of burning the dead, as then coexistent with that of burying them. Abraham intimates by a homely figure the comparative insignificance of the petitioner. He is dust at first, and ashes at last.

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.

Ge 18:23-33. Abraham's Intercession.

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. Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city,.... Within the Pentapolis, which consisted of five cities; and so ten righteous persons are supposed to be in each, as Jarchi observes, agreeably to the Targum of Jonathan;"perhaps there may be fifty righteous persons in the city who pray before thee, ten for every city, answerable to the five cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar:"

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?
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? After 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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