Genesis 18:32
And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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).

Abraham in modesty could proceed no further; and being a good man himself, he had a charitable opinion of others, and thought there certainly were so many good men in all those cities, especially including Lot and his family. No doubt Abraham remembered Lot in his prayers; but that large and generous soul could not content himself with Lot’s preservation, but aims at the saving of the whole cities, which when he saw was doubtful and unlikely, he prayed for his deliverance out of that common destruction, as may be gathered from Genesis 19:29.

And he said, Oh, let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once,.... This should be the last request he should make on this account, and therefore he desired he might be heard without any marks of his displeasure:

Peradventure ten shall be found there: how would the place be dealt with then? would it be consumed or not?

and he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake; though no more righteous persons were found in it. Some of the Jewish writers say (g), he ended at ten, because he supposed there were ten righteous persons in Lot's family, Lot and his wife, and their four daughters, and their four husbands; but they forgot that two of Lot's daughters were unmarried, and how many he had married is not known; ten they say make a congregation, and wherever there are ten righteous persons, a place is saved for their sakes.

(g) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 49. fol. 44. 3.

And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this {o} once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

(o) If God did not refuse the prayer for the wicked Sodomites, even to the sixth request, how much more will he grant the prayers of the godly for the afflicted Church?

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 32. - And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry (vide supra), and I will speak but this once (literally, only this time more, as in Exodus 10:17): Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. Genesis 18:32God was about to go down, and convince Himself whether they had done entirely according to the cry which had reached Him, or not. כלה עשׂה, lit., to make completeness, here referring to the extremity of iniquity, generally to the extremity of punishment (Nahum 1:8-9; Jeremiah 4:27; Jeremiah 5:10): כּלה is a noun, as Isaiah 10:23 shows, not an adverb, as in Exodus 11:1. After this explanation, the men (according to Genesis 19:1, the two angels) turned from thence to go to Sodom (Genesis 18:22); but Abraham continued standing before Jehovah, who had been talking with him, and approached Him with earnestness and boldness of faith to intercede for Sodom. He was urged to this, not by any special interest in Lot, for in that case he would have prayed for his deliverance; nor by the circumstance that, as he had just before felt himself called upon to become the protector, avenger, and deliverer of the land from its foes, so he now thought himself called upon to act as mediator, and to appeal from Jehovah's judicial wrath to Jehovah's covenant grace (Kurtz), for he had not delivered the land from the foe, but merely rescued his nephew Lot and all the booty that remained after the enemy had withdrawn; nor did he appeal to the covenant grace of Jehovah, but to His justice alone; and on the principle that the Judge of all the earth could not possibly destroy the righteous with the wicked, he founded his entreaty that God would forgive the city if there were but fifty righteous in it, or even if there were only ten. He was led to intercede in this way, not by "communis erga quinque populos misericordia" (Calvin), but by the love which springs from the consciousness that one's own preservation and rescue are due to compassionate grace alone; love, too, which cannot conceive of the guilt of others as too great for salvation to be possible. This sympathetic love, springing from the faith which was counted for righteousness, impelled him to the intercession which Luther thus describes: "sexies petiit, et cum tanto ardore ac affectu sic urgente, ut prae nimia angustia, qua cupit consultum miseris civitatibus, videatur quasi stulte loqui." There may be apparent folly in the words, "Wilt Thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" but they were only "violenta oratio et impetuosa, quasi cogens Deum ad ignoscendum." For Abraham added, "peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou also destroy and not forgive (נשׁא, to take away and bear the guilt, i.e., forgive) the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?" and described the slaying of the righteous with the wicked as irreconcilable with the justice of God. He knew that he was speaking to the Judge of all the earth, and that before Him he was "but dust and ashes" - "dust in his origin, and ashes in the end;" and yet he made bold to appeal still further, and even as low as ten righteous, to pray that for their sake He would spare the city. - הפּעם אך (Genesis 18:32) signifies "only this (one) time more," as in Exodus 10:17. This "seemingly commercial kind of entreaty is," as Delitzsch observes, "the essence of true prayer. It is the holy ἀναίδεια, of which our Lord speaks in Luke 11:8, the shamelessness of faith, which bridges over the infinite distance of the creature from the Creator, appeals with importunity to the heart of God, and ceases not till its point is gained. This would indeed be neither permissible nor possible, had not God, by virtue of the mysterious interlacing of necessity and freedom in His nature and operations, granted a power to the prayer of faith, to which He consents to yield; had He not, by virtue of His absoluteness, which is anything but blind necessity, placed Himself in such a relation to men, that He not merely works upon them by means of His grace, but allows them to work upon Him by means of their faith; had He not interwoven the life of the free creature into His own absolute life, and accorded to a created personality the right to assert itself in faith, in distinction from His own." With the promise, that even for the sake of ten righteous He would not destroy the city, Jehovah "went His way," that is to say, vanished; and Abraham returned to his place, viz., to the grove of Mamre. The judgment which fell upon the wicked cities immediately afterwards, proves that there were not ten "righteous persons" in Sodom; by which we understand, not merely ten sinless or holy men, but ten who through the fear of God and conscientiousness had kept themselves free from the prevailing sin and iniquity of these cities.
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