Design By Humans

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Genesis 18. "Calm Down LORD!" Says Abraham

Genesis 18.

1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

    Abraham shelters from the sun in his tent door. and God appears.

2 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,
    Is one of the three men the LORD? is the LORD all three men? let's see if the text tells us.

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

    No clues there, Abraham might be addressing one or all of them. He begs them not to leave.

4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

    He wants to wash their feet. Is at least one of these 'men' the LORD? does the LORD have feet? is this LORD a man? What's going on?

5 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.

    Now he wants to feed them. If they aren't the LORD why does he call himself their servant?

6 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.

    He gets Sarah to make cakes.

7 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.
    He butchers a calf.

8 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.
    He feeds them well, under a tree.

9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

    They ask where his wife is, they know her name, I suppose it is no secret and Abraham and Sarah must be pretty famous in the area. Abraham tells the men where his wife is.

10 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.

    Who's speaking now? is it the LORD? is one of the three men the LORD? this is at best unclear. Whoever it is he/they tell Abraham that Sarah will conceive, God had already told him this.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

    However Sarah is post-menopause, this may be problematic.

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

    She laughs at the prospect of Abraham being able to provide her with 'pleasure' at his age.

13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?
    Oh so the LORD is about, which one of the three men is he? is he actually a man?

14 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.

    The LORD has begun talking about himself in the third person. This is never a good sign, I've read a lot of comics and referring to oneself in the third person is almost always a sign of arch-villainy. The character of the LORD seems to have changed somewhat.

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.
    OK, Nice bit of back-and-forth between the LORD and Sarah.

16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

    IS this the LORD plus three men? is the LORD one of the men or is the LORD a compound of the three men?

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
    The LORD implies that he will disclose everything he will do to Abraham...

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

    ...Because Abraham will be great.
   

19 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.
    Third person again?

20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

    What is their sin, hopefully we'll find out later.

21 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.

    Oh??? so the LORD has only heard rumours of the sins of Sodom and he needs to go down and check this out for himself. Surely this is something that the LORD should already know? Also, Is the lord on foot?

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

    Yes the LORD, if he is one of the three, is on foot. Who are his walking buddies? We've never seen the LORD out like this before, having a walk with his chums. How does Abraham know that this is the LORD and not just an impostor and his entourage after a free meal?

23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

    Abraham, remembering that he has relatives in Sodom asks the lord if he has to destroy everyone, even if some are righteous.    

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
    He continues to quantify his question, Will the LORD forgo his wilful destruction of Sodom if there are fifty good people living there?   

25 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?

    Abraham berates the LORD, questioning his character, has the LORDS manner changed? why does Abraham even believe that the *man* he is talking to is the LORD? Abraham assesses that the action proposed by the LORD is not right and asks the LORD to do the right thing.
   
26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

    The LORD changes his mind on the advice of Abraham, is this the all-powerful, all-knowing, eternally just deity that we've been told about? He was perfectly willing to unjustly slay any righteous people along with the sinners, for what? expediency? Is the LORD rushed in his work?

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

    Abraham, Recognising that he has just, berated, corrected and convinced a deity is rightly pleased. I wonder if this will make his trust or admiration for the LORD any less.

28 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.

    Having found a lever to coerce the LORD and realising that GOD is not infallible Abraham pushes further to save Sodom.

29 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.

    ...and pushes further still.

30 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.

    realising that his relationship with the LORD is nearing equality Abraham calls for the LORD to calm down, the LORD does and they settle on a figure of thirty righteous people to save in Sodom.

31 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.

    ...but he pushes further and the LORD, apparently weak in his earlier resolve, capitulates.

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.

    ...Abraham gets the number down to ten...

33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

    ...and the LORD walked off, presumably with his two friends.

Questions?

  • The LORD sometimes travels with a couple of friends, on foot and appearing as a man.

  • Sometimes the wandering LORD is receptive to a warm meal instead of a burnt offering. Is this the same LORD? How does Abraham recognise this man as the LORD?

  • The LORD has heard stories about the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah but won't know the truth of it until he goes and looks for himself. Is this LORD omnipresent or all knowing? is this the same character?

  • Sarah lies to the LORD about laughing and goes unpunished, is lying OK with this man-shaped, foot-travelling, bread-and-lamb-eating LORD? Is this the same LORD?

  • This man-LORD resolves to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah based entirely on hearsay and Abraham calls him on it, basically telling the lord to calm down and telling the LORD that this would be unjust. Is the LORD just? Is this LORD the source of all justice and morality?

  • Abraham manages to negotiate with the LORD as an equal and in fact displays a moral superiority that the LORD capitulates to. Why does this LORD need convincing to do the right thing? Why is the LORD incapable of only punishing the sinners anyway? Surely the LORD could sort the people into sinners and non-sinners hence avoiding this whole dilemma?

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Book Index

GENESIS

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|11|12|13|14|15|16|17|18|19|20|
|21|22|23|24|25|26|27|28|29|30|
|31|32|33|34|35|36|37|38|39|40|
|41|42|43|

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