And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
Verse 1. - And the Lord - Jehovah, the Divine name employed throughout the present and succeeding chapters, which are accordingly assigned to the Jehovist (Tuch, Bleek, Davidson, Colenso), with the exception of Genesis 19:29, which is commonly regarded as a fragment of the original Elohist's narration (vide infra) - appeared unto him. The absence of Abraham's name has been thought to favor the idea that the present chapter should have begun at Genesis 17:23 (Quarry). That the time of this renewed Divine manifestation was shortly after the incidents recorded in the preceding chapter is apparent, as also that its object was the reassurance of the patriarch concerning the birth of Isaac. In the plains of Mamre. Literally, in the oaks of Mature (vide Genesis 13:18). And he sat in the tent door. Literally, in the opening of the tent, a fold of which was fastened to a post near by to admit any air that might be stirring. In the heat of the day, i.e. noontide (cf. 1 Samuel 11:11), as the cool of the day, or the wind of the day (Genesis 3:8), means eventide. "The usual term for noon is Tsoharim (Genesis 43:16), that is, the time of ' double or greatest light,' while a more poetical expression is 'the height of the day' (Proverbs 4:18), either because then the sun has reached its most exalted position, or because it appears to stand still in the zenith" (Kalisch). Among the Orientals the hour of noon is the time of rest (cf. Song of Solomon 1:7) and the time of dinner (Genesis 43:16, 25). In this case the patriarch had probably dined and was resting after dinner, sines, on the arrival of his visitors, preparations had to be commenced for their entertainment.
And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
Verse 2. - And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him. Not in addition to (Kalisch), but including (Keil), Jehovah, whose appearance to the patriarch, having in the previous verse been first generally stated, is now minutely described. That these three men were not manifestations of the three persons of the Godhead (Justin Martyr, Ambrose, Cyril), but Jehovah accompanied by two created angels (Keil, et alii, may be inferred from Genesis 19:1. When first perceived by the patriarch they were believed to be men, strangers, who were approaching his tent, and indeed were already close to it, or standing by him. And when he saw them (i.e. understood that one of them was Jehovah, Jarchi rightly explaining that the word translated above "looked," i.e. with the bodily vision now implies an act of mental perception), he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground. The expression denotes the complete prostration of the body by first falling on the knees, and then inclining the head forwards till it touches the ground. As this was a mode of salutation practiced by Orientals towards superiors generally, such as kings and princes (2 Samuel 9:8), but also towards equals (Genesis 23:7; Genesis 33:6, 7; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 43:26), as well as towards the Deity (Genesis 22:5; 1 Samuel 1:3), it is impossible to affirm with certainty (Keil, Lunge) that an act of worship was intended by the patriarch, and not simply the presentation of human and civil honor (Calvin). If Hebrews 13:2 inclines to countenance the latter interpretation, the language in which Abraham immediately addresses one of the three men almost leads to the conclusion that already the patriarch had recognized Jehovah.
And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
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).
Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
Verse 4. - Let a little water, I pray yon, be fetched, and wash your feet. Feet washing was a necessary part of Oriental hospitality (cf. Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:32; Genesis 43:24). "Among the ancient Egyptians the basins kept in the houses of the rich for this purpose were sometimes of gold" (Freeman, Bible Manners, 'Homiletic Quarterly,' vol. 1. p. 78). "In India it is considered a necessary part of hospitality to wash the feet and ankles of the weary traveler, and even in Palestine this interesting custom is not extinct. Dr. Robinson and party on arriving at Ramleh repaired to the abode of a wealthy Arab, where the ceremony was performed in the genuine style of ancient Oriental hospitality (vide Kitto's 'Bible Illustrations,' vol. 1. p. 230). And rest yourselves (literally, recline by resting on the elbow) under the tree.
And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
Verse 5. - And I will fetch a morsel of bread, - a modest description of what proved a sumptuous repast (vide Vers. 6, 8) - and comfort ye your hearts; - literally, strengthen or support them, i.e. by eating and drinking (Judges 19:5; 1 Kings 21:7) - after that ye shall pass on: for therefore - כִּי־עַל־כֵּן introduces the ground of what has already been stated, something like quando quidem, forasmuch as (Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 353), since, or because (Kalisch), and not = עַל־כֵּש־כִּי, for this cause that (Gesenius, 'Gram.,' § 155), or "because for this purpose" (Keil) - are ye come to (literally, have ye passed before) thy servant. The patriarch's meaning is not that they had come with the design of receiving his gifts (LXX., A.V.), but either that, unconsciously to them, God had ordered their journey so as to give him this opportunity (Calvin, Bush, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Keil), or perhaps simply that since they had passed by his tent they should suffer him to accord them entertainment (Kalisch, Rosenmüller). And they said, So do, as thou but said. Therefore we must believe that Abraham washed the men's feet, and they did eat (Ver. 8). Here is a mystery (Wordsworth).
And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.
Verse 6. - And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures. Hebrew, three seahs, a seah being a third of an ephah, and containing 374 cubic inches each (Keil); a third of a bushel (Kalisch) - of fine meal, - literally, of flour, fine flour; σεμίδαλις (LXX.); the first term when alone denoting flour of ordinary quality (cf. Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 5:11; Numbers 7:13) - knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth - i.e. "round unleavened cakes baked upon hot stones" (Keil).
And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
Verse 7. - And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, - the greatness of the honor done to the strangers was evinced by the personal activity of the patriarch, and the offering of animal food, which was not a common article of consumption among Orientals - and gave it unto a young man; - i.e. the servant in attendance (cf. Genesis 14:24) - and he hasted to dress it.
And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.
Verse 8. - And he took butter, - חֶמְאָה, from the root חמא, to curdle or become thick, signifies curdled milk, not butter (βούτυτρον, LXX.; butyrum, Vulgate), which was not used among Orientals except medicinally. The word occurs seven times in Scripture with four letters (Deuteronomy 32:14; Judges 5:25; 2 Samuel 17:29; Isaiah 7:15, .22; Proverbs 30:33; Job 20:17), and once without א (Job 29:6; vide Michaelis, 'Supplement,' p. 807) - and milk, - חָלָב, milk whilst still fresh, or containing its fatness, from a root signifying to be fat (cf. Genesis 49:12; Proverbs 27:27) - and the calf which he - i.e. the young man - had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, - a custom still observed among the Arabs, who honor their guests not by sitting to eat with, but by standing to wait upon, them - and they did eat. Not seemed to eat (Josephus, Philo, Jonathan), nor simply ate after an allegorical fashion, as fire consumes the materials put into it (Justin Martyr), but did so in reality (Tertullian, Delitzsch, Keil, Kurtz, Lange). Though the angel who appeared to Manoah (Judges 13:16) refused to partake of food, the risen Savior ate with his disciples (Luke 24:43). Physiologically inexplicable, this latter action on the part of Christ was not a mere φαινόμενον or simulation, but a veritable manducation of material food, to which Christ appealed in confirmation of the reality of his resurrection; and the acceptance of Abraham's hospitality on the part of Jehovah and his angels may in like manner have been designed to prove that their visit to his tent at Mamre was not a dream or a vision, but a genuine external manifestation.
And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.
Verse 9. - And they said unto him (i.e. the Principal One of the three, speaking for the others, interrogated Abraham during the progress, or perhaps at the close of, the meal saying), Where is Sarah thy wife? (thus indicating that their visit had a special reference to her). And he said, Behold, in the tent. It is obvious that if at first Abraham regarded his visitors only as men, by this time a suspicion of their true character must have begun to dawn upon his mind. How should ordinary travelers be aware of his wife s name? and why should they do so unusual a thing, according to Oriental manners, as to inquire after her? If thus far their behavior could not fail to surprise the patriarch, what must have been his astonishment at the subsequent communication?
And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
Verse 10. - And he said (the Principal Guest, as above, who, by the very nature and terms of his announcement, identifies himself with Jehovah), I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life. Literally, at the time reviving; i.e. when the year shall have been renewed, in the next year, or rather spring (vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 337; Rosenmüller, Drusius, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, Ainsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary'); though other interpretations of the phrase have been suggested, as, e.g., "according to the time of that which is born," i.e. at the end of nine months (Willet, Calvin, Bush, Murphy). And, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. I.e. at the time specified. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.
Verse 11. - Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age. Literally, gone into days, i.e. into years. This was the first natural impediment to the accomplishment of Jehovah's premise; the second was peculiar to Sarah. And it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women (vide Leviticus 15:19, 25).
Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?
Verse 12. - Therefore (literally, and) Sarah laughed within herself - Abraham had laughed in joyful amazement, (Genesis 18:17) at the first mention of Sarah s son; Sarah laughs, if not in unbelief (Calvin, Keil, 'Speaker's Commentary,' Wordsworth), at least with a mingled feeling of doubt and delight (Lange, Murphy) at the announcement of her approaching maternity - saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? - literally, and my lord, i.e. my husband, is old. The reverential submission to Abraham which Sarah here displays is in the New Testament commended as a pattern to Christian wives (1 Peter 3:6).
And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
Verse 13. - And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, - a question which must have convinced Abraham of the Speaker's omniscience. Not only had he heard the silent, inaudible, inward cachinnation of Sarah's spirit, but he knew the tenor of her thoughts, and the purport of her dubitations - saying, Shall I of a surely bear a child, whilst (literally, and I) am old? Sarah s mental cogitations clearly showed that the temporary obscuration of her faith proceeded from a strong realization of the weakness of nature, which made conception and pregnancy impossible to one like her, who was advanced in years; and accordingly her attention, as well as that of her husband, was directed to the Divine omnipotence as the all-sufficient guarantee for the accomplishment of the promise.
Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
Verse 14. - Is any thing too hard for the Lord? Literally, Is any word too wonderful, i.e. impossible, for Jehovah μὴ ἀδυνατήσει παρὰ τῷ θεῷ ῤῆμα (LXX.), with which may be compared Luke 1:37. At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life (vide supra, Ver. 10), and Sarah shall have a son.
Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
Verse 15. - Then Sarah (who had overheard the conversation, and the charge preferred against her, and who probably now appeared before the stranger) denied, saying, I laughed not. Sarah s conduct will admit of no other explanation than that which the sacred narrative itself gives. For she was afraid. The knowledge that her secret thoughts had been deciphered must have kindled in her breast the suspicion that her visitor was none other than Jehovah. With this a sense of guilt would immediately assail her conscience for having cherished even a moment any doubt of the Divine word. In the consequent confusion of soul she tries what ever seems to be the first impulse of detected transgressions, viz., deception (cf. Genesis 3:12, 13). And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. With a directness similar to that which he employed in dealing with the first culprits in the garden, not contending in a multiplicity of words, but solemnly announcing that what she said was false. The silence of Sarah was an evidence of her conviction; her subsequent conception was a proof of her repentance and forgiveness.
And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
Verse 16. - And the men rose up from thence, - Mamre (vide supra, Ver. 1) - and looked towards Sodom. Literally, toward the face (Rosenmüller), or towards the plain (Keil), of Sodom, as if intending to proceed thither. And Abraham went with them - across the mountains on the east of Hebron, as far as Caphar-barucha, according to tradition, whence a view can be obtained of the Dead Sea - solitudinem ac terras Sodomae (vide Keil, in loco) - to bring them on the way. Literally, to send them away, or accord them a friendly convoy over a portion of their journey.
And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
Verse 17. - And the Lord said (to himself), Shall I hide from Abraham - the LXX. interpolate, τοῦ παιδός μου; but, as Philo observes, τοῦ φιλοῦ μου would have been a more appropriate designation for the patriarch (cf. 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23) that thing which I do. I.e. propose to do, the present being used for the future, where, as m the utterances of God, whose will is equivalent to his deed, the action is regarded by the Speaker as being already as good as finished (vide Ewald, 'Hebrews Synt.,' § 135; Gesenius, § 126).
Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
Verse 18. - Seeing that Abraham shall surely become (literally, becoming shall become) a great and mighty nation (cf. Genesis 12:2; Genesis 17:4-6), and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? The import of Jehovah's self-interrogation was, that since Abraham had already been promoted to so distinguished a position, not only was there no sufficient reason why the Divine purpose concerning Sodom should be concealed from him, but, on the contrary, the gracious footing of intimacy which subsisted between himself and his humble friend almost necessitated some sort of friendly communication on the subject, and all the more for the reason next appended.
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.
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.
And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
Verse 20. - And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great. Literally, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Genesis 4:10), because it is (not, it is indeed, Baumgarten, Keil) multiplied; the place of emphasis being conceded to the subject of discourse, viz., the cry of Sodom s wickedness. And because their sin is very great. Literally, and their sin, because it is heavy, i.e. abundant and heinous.
I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.
Verse 21. - I will go down now (cf. Genesis 11:5), and see (judicial investigation ever precedes judicial infliction at the Divine tribunal) whether they have done altogether - literally, whether they have made cow, piousness, i.e. carried their iniquity to perfection, to the highest pitch of wickedness (Calvin, Delitzsch, Keil); or consummated their wickedness, by carrying it to that pitch of fullness which works death (Ainsworth, Kalisch, Rosenmüller). The received rendering, which regards כלה as an adverb, has the authority of Luther and Gesenius - according to the cry of it, which has come unto me; and if not, I will know. The LXX. render ἵνα γνῶ, meaning, "should it not be so, I will still go down, that I may ascertain the exact truth;" the Chaldee paraphrases, "and if they repent, I will not exact punishment." The entire verse is anthropomorphic, and designed to express the Divine solicitude that the strictest justice should characterize all his dealings both with men and nations.
And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
Verse 22. - And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom (i.e. two of the three proceeded on their way towards the Jordan valley, while the third was detained by the patriarch, probably on the heights overlooking the plain, for a sublime act of intercession which is thus briefly but suggestively described): but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. According to the Masorites the text originally read, "And the Lord stood before Abraham, and was changed because it did not seem becoming to speak of God standing in the presence of a creature. This, however, is a mere Rabbinical conceit. As Abraham is not said to hays stood before the three men, the expression points to spiritual rather than to local contiguity.
And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
Verse 23. - And Abraham drew near. I.e. to Jehovah; not simply locally, but also spiritually. The religious use of יִגַּשּׁ as a performing religious services to God, or a pious turning of the mind to God, is found in Exodus 30:20; Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 30:21; and in a similar sense ἐγγίζω is employed in the New Testament (cf. Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8). The Jonathan Targum explains, "and Abraham prayed." And said. Commencing the sublimest act of human intercession of which Scripture preserves a record, being moved thereto, if not by an immediate regard for Lot (Lange), at least by a sense of compassion towards the inhabitants of Sodom, "communis erga quinque populos misericordia" (Calvin), which was heightened and intensified by his own previous experience of forgiving grace (Keil). Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? The question presupposes that God had, according to the resolution of Ver. 17, explained to the patriarch his intention to destroy the cities of the plain. The object the patriarch contemplated in his intercession was not simply the preservation of any godly remnant that might be found within the doomed towns, but the rescue of their entire populations from the impending judgment, - only he does not at first discover his complete design, perhaps regarding such an absolute reversal of the Divine purpose as exceeding the legitimate bounds of creature supplication; but with what might be characterized as holy adroitness he veils his ulterior aim, and commences his petition at a Point somewhat removed from that to which he hopes to come. Assuming it as settled that the fair Pentapolis is to be destroyed, he practically asks, with a strange mixture of humility and boldness, if Jehovah has considered that this will involve a sad commingling in one gigantic overthrow of both the righteous and the wicked.
Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
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?
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
Verse 25. - That be far from thee - literally to profane things (be it) to thee - nefas sit tibi = = absit a te! an exclamation of abhorrence, too feebly rendered by μηδαμῶς (LXX.) - to do after this manner (literally, according to this word), to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked (literally, and that it should be - as the righteous, so the wicked), that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? The patriarch appeals not to Jehovah's covenant grace (Kurtz), but to his absolute judicial equity (Keil). It does not, however, follow that the Divine righteousness would have been compromised by consigning pious and wicked to the same temporal destruction. This must have been a spectacle not infrequently observed in Abraham's day as well as ours. Yet the mind of Abraham appears to have been perplexed, as men's minds often are still, by the magnitude of the proposed illustration of a common principle in Providence. Though prepared to admit the principle when its application is confined to solitary cases, or cases of no great amplitude, yet instinctively the human mind feels that there must be a limit to the commingling of the righteous and the wicked in calamity, though it should be only of a temporal description. That limit Abraham conceived, or perhaps feared that others might conceive, would be passed if good and bad in Sodom should be overwhelmed in a common ruin; and in this spirit the closing utterance of his first supplication may be regarded as giving expression to the hope that Jehovah would do nothing that would even seem to tarnish his Divine righteousness. Abraham of course regarded this as impossible, consequently he believed that Sodom might be spared.
And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.
Verse 26. - And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city (thus accepting the test proposed by Abraham, but not necessarily thereby acquiescing in the absolute soundness of his logic), then I will spare (not as an act of justice, but as an exercise of mercy, and not because of any suspicions that might otherwise attach to my rectitude, but solely in vindication of my clemency) all the place (not the righteous merely, which was all that justice could have legitimately demanded) for their sakes, i.e. because of the claims upon my mercy which grace admits the righteous to prefer.
And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
Verse 27. - And Abraham answered and said (being emboldened by the success of his first petition), Behold now, I have taken upon me, literally, I have begun, though here perhaps used in a more emphatic sense: I have undertaken or ventured (vide Gesenius, p. 326) - to speak unto the Lord - Adonai (Genesis 15:2) - which am but dust and ashes. "Dust in his origin and ashes in his end" (Delitzsch; vide Genesis 3:19).
Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
Verse 28. - Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? Literally, on account of five, i.e. because they are wanting. A rare example of holy ingenuity in prayer. Abraham, instead of pleading for the city's safety on account of forty-five, deprecates its destruction on account of five. And its said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.
Verse 29. - And he spoke unto him yet again - literally, and he added yet to speak to him (cf. Genesis 4:2; Genesis 8:10, 12; Genesis 25:1) and said (increasing in his boldness as God abounded in his grace), Peradventure there shall be forty found there. Does Abraham hesitate to add the query, "Wilt thou also?" &c., as if fearing he had at last touched the limit of the Divine condescension. If so, he must have been surprised by the continued gracious response which his supplication received. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.
And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
Verse 30. - And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord he angry, - literally, let there not be burning with anger to the Lord (Adonai) - and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.
And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.
Verse 31. - And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me (vide Ver. 27) to speak unto the Lord (Adonai): Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.
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.
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.
And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
Verse 33. - And the Lord (Jehovah) went his way, - i.e. vanished (Keil); not to avoid further entreaties on the part of Abraham (Delitzsch), but for the reason specified in the next words - as soon as he had left communing with Abraham (because Abraham's supplications were ended): and Abraham returned unto his place (viz., Mature near Hebron).