Genesis 18:3
And said, My LORD, if now I have found favor in your sight, pass not away, I pray you, from your servant:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) My lord.—Heb. ‘donai, a term of simple respect, just as the bowing towards the earth is exactly what an Arab sheik would do now to a passing traveller. Abraham’s conduct is marked by all that stately courtesy usual among Orientals. He calls himself their slave: regards it as a favour that they should partake of his hospitality; speaks slightingly of the repast prepared as a mere morsel of bread; and treats it as a providential act that they had come into his neighbourhood. It was only afterwards that he knew that he was entertaining angels unawares (Hebrews 13:2). While, moreover, he addresses the chief traveller first, as courtesy required, he immediately afterwards changes to the plural, lest he should seem wanting in hospitable welcome to his companions.

Genesis 18:3-4. And he said, My Lord — He addressed himself to one of the three, who seemed to have the pre-eminence, probably because of some peculiar majesty which appeared in his countenance, or the respect which the other two paid him. Let a little water be fetched — As in those hot climates people went bare-footed, or wore only sandals, washing the feet often was both customary and necessary.18:1-8 Abraham was waiting to entertain any weary traveller, for inns were not to be met with as among us. While Abraham was thus sitting, he saw three men coming. These were three heavenly beings in human bodies. Some think they were all created angels; others, that one of them was the Son of God, the Angel of the covenant. Washing the feet is customary in those hot climates, where only sandals are worn. We should not be forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares, Heb 13:2; nay, the Lord of angels himself; as we always do, when for his sake we entertain the least of his brethren. Cheerful and obliging manners in showing kindness, are great ornaments to piety. Though our condescending Lord vouchsafes not personal visits to us, yet still by his Spirit he stands at the door and knocks; when we are inclined to open, he deigns to enter; and by his gracious consolations he provides a rich feast, of which we partake with him, Re 3:20.O Lord. - Abraham uses the word אדני 'adonāy denoting one having authority, whether divine or not. This the Masorites mark as sacred, and apply the vowel points proper to the word when it signifies God. These men in some way represent God; for "the Lord" on this occasion appeared unto Abraham Genesis 18:1. The number is in this respect notable. Abraham addresses himself first to one person Genesis 18:3, then to more than one Genesis 18:4-5. It is stated that "'they' said, So do Genesis 18:5, 'they' did eat Genesis 18:8, ' they' said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife" Genesis 18:9. Then the singular number is resumed in the phrase "'and he said'" Genesis 18:10, and at length, "The Lord said unto Abraham" Genesis 18:13, and then, "and he said" Genesis 18:15. Then we are told "'the men' rose up, and Abraham went with them" Genesis 18:16. Then we have "The Lord said" twice Genesis 18:17, Genesis 18:20. And lastly, it is said Genesis 18:22 "'the men' turned their faces and went toward Sodom, and Abraham was yet standing before the Lord." From this it appears that of the three men one, at all events, was the Lord, who, when the other two went toward Sodom, remained with Abraham while he made his intercession for Sodom, and afterward he also went his way. The other two will come before us again in the next chapter. Meanwhile, we have here the first explicit instance of the Lord appearing as man to man, and holding familiar conversation with him.

The narrative affords a pleasing instance of the primitive manners of the East. The hospitality of the pastoral tribes was spontaneous and unreserved. The washing of the feet, which were partly at least uncovered in walking, the reclining under the tree, and the offer of refreshment, are indicative of an unchanging rural simplicity. The phrases "a little water, a morsel of bread," flow from a thoughtful courtesy. "Therefore are ye come." In the course of events it has so fallen out, in order that you might be refreshed. The brief reply is a frank and unaffected acceptance of the hospitable invitation.

3. My Lord, if now I have found favor—The hospitalities offered are just of the kind that are necessary and most grateful, the refreshment of water, for feet exposed to dust and heat by the sandals, being still the first observed among the pastoral people of Hebron. He directeth his speech to one, who, by the majesty of his countenance, and the respect which the other two showed him, seemed to be the chief of them. And said, my Lord,.... He addressed himself to one of them who appeared to him to be the greatest and most honourable, either by the appearance of his countenance, or by his dress, or by the situation in which he was between the other two, and by their carriage and behaviour to him:

if now I have found favour in thy sight; signifying he should esteem it an honour done him, that he and his companions would vouchsafe to stop and refresh themselves:

pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant; they might seem, by some motion they made, as if they were going another way, and declined turning in to him.

And said, My {b} Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

(b) Speaking to the one who appeared to be most majestic, for he thought they were men.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. My lord] R.V. marg. O Lord. The Heb. word so rendered has received three different translations.

(1) “O Lord,” as in Genesis 18:27; Genesis 18:30-32, Adonâi, addressed to God. So the Massoretic Heb. text, adding the word “holy,” as a note, to safeguard the meaning and the pronunciation.

(2) “my lords,” adonâi, as if Abraham addressed his three visitors together: compare the plural in Genesis 18:4-5.

(3) “my lord” (with change of vocalization), adônî (cf. Genesis 23:6; Genesis 23:11). The sing. is used in Genesis 18:3 (“thy servant”). This third rendering seems the most probable: (a) there is no sign of Abraham’s recognizing the real character of the strangers; (b) it would seem probable that he instinctively recognized one of them as the superior in position, though he does not perceive in him the manifestation of Jehovah until after Genesis 18:15.Verse 3. - And said, My Lord - Adonai, literally, Lord, as in Genesis 15:2, q.v. (LXX., κύριε; Vulgate, Domine; Syriac, Onkelos, Kalisch, Alford, Lange), though the term may have indicated nothing more than-Abraham s recognition of the superior authority of the Being addressed (Murphy). The readings Adoni, my Lord (A.V., Dathius, Rosenmüller), and Aden, my lords (Gesenius), are incorrect - if now I have found favor in thy sight - not implying dubiety on Abraham s part as to his acceptance before God (Knobel), but rather postulating his already conscious enjoyment of the Divine favor as the ground of the request about to be preferred (Delitzsch, Lange). Those who regard Abraham as unconscious of the Divinity of him to whom he spake see in his language nothing but the customary formula of Oriental address (Rosenmüller; cf. Genesis 30:27; 1 Samuel 20:29; Esther 7:3) - put not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. The hospitality of the Eastern, and even of the Arab, has been frequently remarked by travelers. Volney describes the Arab as dining at his tent door in order to invite passers-by ('Tray.,' 1. p. 314). "The virtue of hospitality is one of the great redeeming virtues in the character of the Bedouins (Kalisch). "Whenever our path led us near an encampment, as was frequently the case, we always found some active sheikh or venerable patriarch sitting 'in his tent door,' and as soon as we were within haft we heard the earnest words of welcome and invitation which the Old Testament Scriptures had rendered long ago familiar to us: Stay, my lord, stay. Pass not on till thou hast eaten bread, and rested under thy servant's tent. Alight and remain until thy servant kills a kid and prepares, a feast'" (Porter's 'Giant Cities of Bashan,' p. 326; cf. ibid. p. 87). When God had finished His address and ascended again, Abraham immediately fulfilled the covenant duty enjoined upon him, by circumcision himself on that very day, along with all the male members of his house. Because Ishmael was 13 years old when he was circumcised, the Arabs even now defer circumcision to a much later period than the Jews, generally till between the ages of 5 and 13, and frequently even till the 13th year.
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