Genesis 18-20

 

The Lord Promises Abraham a Son

18 One hot summer afternoon Abraham was sitting by the entrance to his tent near the sacred trees of Mamre, when the Lord appeared to him. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He quickly ran to meet them, bowed with his face to the ground, 3 and said, “Please come to my home where I can serve you. 4 I’ll have some water brought, so you can wash your feet, then you can rest under the tree. 5 Let me get you some food to give you strength before you leave. I would be honored to serve you.”

“Thank you very much,” they answered. “We accept your offer.”

6 Abraham quickly went to his tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get a large sack of flour and make some bread.” 7 After saying this, he rushed off to his herd of cattle and picked out one of the best calves, which his servant quickly prepared. 8 He then served his guests some yogurt and milk together with the meat.

While they were eating, he stood near them under the trees, 9 and they asked, “Where is your wife Sarah?”

“She is right there in the tent,” Abraham answered.

10 One of the guests was the Lord, and he said, “I’ll come back about this time next year, and when I do, Sarah will already have a son.”

Sarah was behind Abraham, listening at the entrance to the tent. 11 Abraham and Sarah were very old, and Sarah was well past the age for having children. 12 So she laughed and said to herself, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, will I really know such happiness?”

13 The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age? 14 I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me. I’ll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son.”

15 Sarah was so frightened that she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.”

“Yes, you did!” he answered.

Abraham Prays for Sodom

16 When the three men got ready to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked part of the way with them.

17 The Lord said to himself, “I should tell Abraham what I am going to do, 18 since his family will become a great and powerful nation that will be a blessing to all other nations on earth. 19 I have chosen him to teach his family to obey me forever and to do what is right and fair. Then I will give Abraham many descendants, just as I promised.”

20 The Lord said, “Abraham, I have heard that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are doing all kinds of evil things. 21 Now I am going down to see for myself if those people really are that bad. If they aren’t, I want to know about it.”

22 The men turned and started toward Sodom. But the Lord stayed with Abraham, 23 who asked, “Lord, when you destroy the evil people, are you also going to destroy those who are good? 24 Wouldn’t you spare the city if there are only fifty good people in it? 25 You surely wouldn’t let them be killed when you destroy the evil ones. You are the judge of all the earth, and you do what is right.”

26 The Lord replied, “If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I will save the city to keep them from being killed.”

27 Abraham answered, “I am nothing more than the dust of the earth. Please forgive me, Lord, for daring to speak to you like this. 28 But suppose there are only forty-five good people in Sodom. Would you still wipe out the whole city?”

“If I find forty-five good people,” the Lord replied, “I won’t destroy the city.”

29 “Suppose there are just forty good people?” Abraham asked.

“Even for them,” the Lord replied, “I won’t destroy the city.”

30 Abraham said, “Please don’t be angry, Lord, if I ask you what you will do if there are only thirty good people in the city.”

“If I find thirty,” the Lord replied, “I still won’t destroy it.”

31 Then Abraham said, “I don’t have any right to ask you, Lord, but what would you do if you find only twenty?”

“Because of them, I won’t destroy the city,” was the Lord’s answer.

32 Finally, Abraham said, “Please don’t get angry, Lord, if I speak just once more. Suppose you find only ten good people there.”

“For the sake of ten good people,” the Lord told him, “I still won’t destroy the city.”

33 After speaking with Abraham, the Lord left, and Abraham went back home.

The Evil City of Sodom


19 That evening the two angels arrived in Sodom, while Lot was sitting near the city gate. When Lot saw them, he got up, bowed down low, 2 and said, “Gentlemen, I am your servant. Please come to my home. You can wash your feet, spend the night, and be on your way in the morning.”

They told him, “No, we’ll spend the night in the city square.” 3 But Lot kept insisting, until they finally agreed and went home with him. He baked some bread, cooked a meal, and they ate.

4 Before Lot and his guests could go to bed, every man in Sodom, young and old, came and stood outside his house 5 and started shouting, “Where are your visitors? Send them out, so we can have sex with them!”

6 Lot went outside and shut the door behind him. 7 Then he said, “Friends, please don’t do such a terrible thing! 8 I have two daughters who have never been married. I’ll bring them out, and you can do what you want with them. But don’t harm these men. They are guests in my home.”

9 “Don’t get in our way,” the crowd answered. “You’re an outsider. What right do you have to order us around? We’ll do worse things to you than we’re going to do to them.”

The crowd kept arguing with Lot. Finally, they rushed toward the door to break it down. 10 But the two angels in the house reached out and pulled Lot safely inside. 11 Then they struck everyone in the crowd blind, and none of them could even find the door.

12-13 The two angels said to Lot, “The Lord has heard many terrible things about the people of Sodom, and he has sent us here to destroy the city. Take your family and leave. Take every relative you have in the city, as well as the men your daughters are going to marry.”

14 Lot went to the men who were engaged to his daughters and said, “Hurry and get out of here! The Lord is going to destroy this city.” But they thought he was joking, and they laughed at him.

15 Early the next morning the two angels tried to make Lot hurry and leave. They said, “Take your wife and your two daughters and get out of here as fast as you can! If you don’t, every one of you will be killed when the Lord destroys the city.” 16 At first, Lot just stood there. But the Lord wanted to save him. So the angels took Lot, his wife, and his two daughters by the hand and led them out of the city. 17 When they were outside, one of the angels said, “Run for your lives! Don’t even look back. And don’t stop in the valley. Run to the hills, where you will be safe.”

18-19 Lot answered, “You have done us a great favor, sir. You have saved our lives, but please don’t make us go to the hills. That’s too far away. The city will be destroyed before we can get there, and we will be killed when it happens. 20 There’s a town near here. It’s only a small place, but my family and I will be safe, if you let us go there.”

21 “All right, go there,” he answered. “I won’t destroy that town. 22 Hurry! Run! I can’t do anything until you are safely there.”

The town was later called Zoar because Lot had said it was small.

Sodom and Gomorrah Are Destroyed

23 The sun was coming up as Lot reached the town of Zoar, 24 and the Lord sent burning sulfur down like rain on Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 He destroyed those cities and everyone who lived in them, as well as their land and the trees and grass that grew there.

26 On the way, Lot’s wife looked back and was turned into a block of salt.

27 That same morning Abraham got up and went to the place where he had stood and spoken with the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and saw smoke rising from all over the land—it was like a flaming furnace.

29 When God destroyed the cities of the valley where Lot lived, he remembered his promise to Abraham and saved Lot from the terrible destruction.

Moab and Ammon

30 Lot was afraid to stay on in Zoar. So he took his two daughters and moved to a cave in the hill country. 31 One day his older daughter said to her sister, “Our father is old, and there are no men anywhere for us to marry. 32 Let’s get our father drunk! Then we can sleep with him and have children.” 33 That night they got their father drunk, and the older daughter got in bed with him, but he was too drunk even to know she was there.

34 The next day the older daughter said to her sister, “I slept with my father last night. We’ll get him drunk again tonight, so you can go to bed with him, and we can each have a child.” 35 That night they got their father drunk, and this time the younger sister slept with him. But once again he was too drunk even to know she was there.

36 That’s how Lot’s two daughters had their children. 37 The older daughter named her son Moab, and he is the ancestor of the Moabites. 38 The younger daughter named her son Benammi, and he is the ancestor of the Ammonites.

Abraham and Sarah at Gerar

20 Abraham moved to the Southern Desert, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur. Later he went to Gerar, and while there 2 he told everyone that his wife Sarah was his sister. So King Abimelech of Gerar had Sarah brought to him. 3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream and said, “You have taken a married woman, and for this you will die!”

4-5 Abimelech said to the Lord, “Don’t kill me! I haven’t slept with Sarah. Didn’t they say they were brother and sister? I am completely innocent.”

6 God spoke to Abimelech in another dream and said:

I know you are innocent. That’s why I kept you from sleeping with Sarah and doing anything wrong. Her husband is a prophet. Let her go back to him, and his prayers will save you from death. But if you don’t return her, you and all your people will die.

8 Early the next morning Abimelech sent for his officials, and when he told them what had happened, they were frightened. 9 Abimelech then called in Abraham and said:

Look what you’ve done to us! What have I ever done to you? Why did you make me and my nation guilty of such a terrible sin? 10 What were you thinking when you did this?

11 Abraham answered:

I did it because I didn’t think any of you respected God, and I was sure that someone would kill me to get my wife. 12 Besides, she is my half sister. We have the same father, but different mothers. 13 When God made us leave my father’s home and start wandering, I told her, “If you really love me, you will tell everyone that I am your brother.”

14 Abimelech gave Abraham some sheep, cattle, and slaves. He sent Sarah back 15 and told Abraham that he could settle anywhere in his country. 16 Then he said to Sarah, “I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver as proof to everyone that you have done nothing wrong.”

17-18 Meanwhile, God had kept Abimelech’s wife and slaves from having children. But Abraham prayed, and God let them start having children again.


The Contemporary English Version, Copyright © 1995 by the American Bible Society.
Selected texts provided for use with the Hypertext Bible Commentary