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Genesis 18:2-8

Context
18:2 Abraham 1  looked up 2  and saw 3  three men standing across 4  from him. When he saw them 5  he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low 6  to the ground. 7 

18:3 He said, “My lord, 8  if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant. 9  18:4 Let a little water be brought so that 10  you may all 11  wash your feet and rest under the tree. 18:5 And let me get 12  a bit of food 13  so that you may refresh yourselves 14  since you have passed by your servant’s home. After that you may be on your way.” 15  “All right,” they replied, “you may do as you say.”

18:6 So Abraham hurried into the tent and said to Sarah, “Quick! Take 16  three measures 17  of fine flour, knead it, and make bread.” 18  18:7 Then Abraham ran to the herd and chose a fine, tender calf, and gave it to a servant, 19  who quickly prepared it. 20  18:8 Abraham 21  then took some curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and placed the food 22  before them. They ate while 23  he was standing near them under a tree.

1 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes.”

3 tn Heb “and saw, and look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) draws attention to what he saw. The drawn-out description focuses the reader’s attention on Abraham’s deliberate, fixed gaze and indicates that what he is seeing is significant.

4 tn The Hebrew preposition עַל (’al) indicates the three men were nearby, but not close by, for Abraham had to run to meet them.

5 tn The pronoun “them” has been supplied in the translation for clarification. In the Hebrew text the verb has no stated object.

6 tn The form וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ (vayyishtakhu, “and bowed low”) is from the verb הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה (hishtakhavah, “to worship, bow low to the ground”). It is probably from a root חָוָה (khavah), though some derive it from שָׁחָה (shakhah).

7 sn The reader knows this is a theophany. The three visitors are probably the Lord and two angels (see Gen 19:1). It is not certain how soon Abraham recognized the true identity of the visitors. His actions suggest he suspected this was something out of the ordinary, though it is possible that his lavish treatment of the visitors was done quite unwittingly. Bowing down to the ground would be reserved for obeisance of kings or worship of the Lord. Whether he was aware of it or not, Abraham’s action was most appropriate.

8 tc The MT has the form אֲדֹנָי (’adonay, “Master”) which is reserved for God. This may reflect later scribal activity. The scribes, knowing it was the Lord, may have put the proper pointing with the word instead of the more common אֲדֹנִי (’adoni, “my master”).

9 tn Heb “do not pass by from upon your servant.”

10 tn The imperative after the jussive indicates purpose here.

11 tn The word “all” has been supplied in the translation because the Hebrew verb translated “wash” and the pronominal suffix on the word “feet” are plural, referring to all three of the visitors.

12 tn The Qal cohortative here probably has the nuance of polite request.

13 tn Heb “a piece of bread.” The Hebrew word לֶחֶם (lekhem) can refer either to bread specifically or to food in general. Based on Abraham’s directions to Sarah in v. 6, bread was certainly involved, but v. 7 indicates that Abraham had a more elaborate meal in mind.

14 tn Heb “strengthen your heart.” The imperative after the cohortative indicates purpose here.

15 tn Heb “so that you may refresh yourselves, after [which] you may be on your way – for therefore you passed by near your servant.”

16 tn The word “take” is supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the sentence lacks a verb other than the imperative “hurry.” The elliptical structure of the language reflects Abraham’s haste to get things ready quickly.

17 sn Three measures (Heb “three seahs”) was equivalent to about twenty quarts (twenty-two liters) of flour, which would make a lot of bread. The animal prepared for the meal was far more than the three visitors needed. This was a banquet for royalty. Either it had been a lonely time for Abraham and the presence of visitors made him very happy, or he sensed this was a momentous visit.

18 sn The bread was the simple, round bread made by bedouins that is normally prepared quickly for visitors.

19 tn Heb “the young man.”

20 tn The construction uses the Piel preterite, “he hurried,” followed by the infinitive construct; the two probably form a verbal hendiadys: “he quickly prepared.”

21 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

22 tn The words “the food” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. In the Hebrew text the verb has no stated object.

23 tn The disjunctive clause is a temporal circumstantial clause subordinate to the main verb.



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