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Genesis 18:16-19

Context
Abraham Pleads for Sodom

18:16 When the men got up to leave, 1  they looked out over 2  Sodom. (Now 3  Abraham was walking with them to see them on their way.) 4  18:17 Then the Lord said, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? 5  18:18 After all, Abraham 6  will surely become 7  a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on the earth will pronounce blessings on one another 8  using his name. 18:19 I have chosen him 9  so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep 10  the way of the Lord by doing 11  what is right and just. Then the Lord will give 12  to Abraham what he promised 13  him.”

1 tn Heb “And the men arose from there.”

2 tn Heb “toward the face of.”

3 tn The disjunctive parenthetical clause sets the stage for the following speech.

4 tn The Piel of שָׁלַח (shalakh) means “to lead out, to send out, to expel”; here it is used in the friendly sense of seeing the visitors on their way.

5 tn The active participle here refers to an action that is imminent.

6 tn Heb “And Abraham.” The disjunctive clause is probably causal, giving a reason why God should not hide his intentions from Abraham. One could translate, “Should I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation?”

7 tn The infinitive absolute lends emphasis to the finite verb that follows.

8 tn Theoretically the Niphal can be translated either as passive or reflexive/reciprocal. (The Niphal of “bless” is only used in formulations of the Abrahamic covenant. See Gen 12:2; 18:18; 28:14.) Traditionally the verb is taken as passive here, as if Abram were going to be a channel or source of blessing. But in later formulations of the Abrahamic covenant (see Gen 22:18; 26:4) the Hitpael replaces this Niphal form, suggesting a translation “will bless [i.e., “pronounce blessings upon”] themselves [or “one another”].” The Hitpael of “bless” is used with a reflexive/reciprocal sense in Deut 29:18; Ps 72:17; Isa 65:16; Jer 4:2. Gen 18:18 (like 12:2) predicts that Abraham will be held up as a paradigm of divine blessing and that people will use his name in their blessing formulae. For examples of blessing formulae utilizing an individual as an example of blessing see Gen 48:20 and Ruth 4:11.

9 tn Heb “For I have known him.” The verb יָדַע (yada’) here means “to recognize and treat in a special manner, to choose” (see Amos 3:2). It indicates that Abraham stood in a special covenantal relationship with the Lord.

10 tn Heb “and they will keep.” The perfect verbal form with vav consecutive carries on the subjective nuance of the preceding imperfect verbal form (translated “so that he may command”).

11 tn The infinitive construct here indicates manner, explaining how Abraham’s children and his household will keep the way of the Lord.

12 tn Heb “bring on.” The infinitive after לְמַעַן (lÿmaan) indicates result here.

13 tn Heb “spoke to.”



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