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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Genesis 18

 

 

Verse 1

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;

Ver. 1. And the Lord appeared unto him.] 1. Ut proeludium incarnationis . 2. Ex philanthropia ;" his delight" is "in the habitable part of" God’s "earth". [Proverbs 8:31]

And he sat in the tent-door.] He dwelt in a tent (let us be content, though we dwell not to our minds), yet kept a good house. A very hearty householder he was.

In the heat of the day.] The usual time of rest and repast, when travellers wax faint and hungry.


Verse 2

Genesis 18:2 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,

Ver. 2. And he lift up his eyes and looked.] As "pursuing hospitality" (that is the apostle’s expression, Romans 12:13), and waiting an opportunity of doing good. Charity is no churl. "The liberal man deviseth liberal things"; [Isaiah 32:8] "he considereth the poor and needy". [Psalms 41:1] Praeoccupat vocem petituri , as Augustine expounds it, (a) he stays not till he is asked a good turn; he ministereth to the uses, not only "to the necessities (b) of the saints," as the apostle’s word is, [Romans 12:13] and as Bishop Hooper’s and Dr Taylor’s practice was. The one had his board of beggars sent for, and served every day with whole and wholesome meats, ere himself sat down to dinner. And the other went once a fortnight at the least, to the almshouse, and other poor men that had, many children, and were sick, to see what they lacked, and to supply them. (c)

And bowed himself toward the ground.] Piety is no enemy to courtesy; it doth not remove but rectify it, that it be not only complimental and ridiculous. Potest Augur Augurem videre et non ridere? (d) So it may be said of our common cringers.


Verse 3

Genesis 18:3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

Ver. 3. My Lord.] He directs his speech to one of them, in whom appeared to be most majesty; and whom he afterwards knew to be the Lord by an excellency.


Verse 4

Genesis 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

Ver. 4. And wash your feet.] Fouled with going barefoot; as in these parts men used to do, because of the great heat.


Verse 5

Genesis 18:5 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.

Ver. 5. For therefore are ye come to your servant.] He meaneth not, that they therefore came to him to taste of his cheer; but that God, by his providence, had so ordered that he should see them passing, and invite them to his house. How glad was this good man of an occasion to show kindness, acknowledging God’s good providence! And how improvident are we for ourselves, that will not offer a sacrifice, when God sets up an altar before us!

So do as thou hast said.] The angels needed not his courtesy, yet kindly accept of it. Good offers or offices, even from inferiors, are not to be rejected, but regarded, yea, rewarded.


Verse 6

Genesis 18:6 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.

Ver. 6. Make ready quickly.] Habent aulae suum cito, cito , saith one. So had Abraham’s house here. He, she, the boy, and all hasted, and had their various offices. The very expression itself here used, is concise and quick; much like that of the prophet in the case of returning to God, "If ye will inquire, inquire; return, come". [Isaiah 21:12]

Praecipita tempus; mors atra impendet agenti .” - Silius.

Three measures of fine meal.] Three pecks for three man’s dinners; and the best of the best too; fine meal, the fat calf, butter and milk, God’s plenty of all, and hearty welcome; the goodman himself standing by, and bidding them "Come": which shows his humanity, and his humility also.

Dat bene, dat multum, qui dat cum munere vultum .”


Verse 7

Genesis 18:7 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.

Ver. 7. And gave it unto a young man.] Here was a well-ordered family; every one knew his office, and did it. In every society, say the politicians, as in a well-tuned harp, the several strings must concur to make up a harmony.


Verse 8

Genesis 18:8 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.

Ver. 8. And they did eat.] The angels, as they assumed human shapes, so they did truly eat, according to the present dispensation of the shape so assumed.


Verse 9

Genesis 18:9 And they said unto him, Where [is] Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

Ver. 9. Behold, in the tent.] David compares a good woman to the vines upon the walls of the house, because she cleaveth to her house. Others to a snail, that carrieth her house on her back. St Paul reckons it for a virtue in a woman to "keep at home"; [Titus 2:5] and Solomon for a sign of a lewd housewife, that "her feet abide not in her house". [Proverbs 7:11] Among the Grecians, the bride was carried through the streets in a chariot, the axle spokes was burnt, to signify that she must keep home.


Verse 10

Genesis 18:10 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.

Ver. 10. According to the time af life.] That is, when this time shall return again; this time twelve month. {See Trapp on "Genesis 18:14"}

Sarah heard it in the tent-door.] She was listening out of womanish curiosity. Yet some think, the angel asked for her on purpose, that she hearing her name mentioned might listen.


Verse 11

Genesis 18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah [were] old [and] well stricken in age; [and] it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

Ver. 11. Now Abraham and Sarah were old.] So, when we were altogether "without strength," according to the time of life, "Christ died for the ungodly". [Romans 5:6]


Verse 12

Genesis 18:12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

Ver. 12. Sarah laughed.] God’s promises seem absurd and ridiculous, many of them, to human reason, which therefore must be silenced, and shut out, as Hagar was; for it will argue carnally, as that unbelieving lord [2 Kings 7:2] storms at God’s offers, as Naaman at the message [2 Kings 5:11] looks upon God’s Jordan with Syrian eyes, as he, and after all, cries out with Nicodemus, "How can these things be?" [John 3:4] measuring God by its own model; and casting him into its own mould.

After I am waxed old, shall I lust?] Old and cold, is our English proverb; and the Greek word for an old body signifies one in whom natural heat is extinct. (a) It is a most undecent thing to see the pleasure of youth prevailing in times of age, among old decrepit goats. Were it not monstrous to behold green apples on a tree in winter?

My lord being old also?] This was the only good word in the whole sentence: God takes notice of it, and by St Peter records it to her eternal commendation; [1 Peter 3:6] yea, he was so well pleased with her subjection to her husband, whom she here in her heart calleth Lord, that he is content to forgive her great sin of unbelief.


Verse 13

Genesis 18:13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

Ver. 13. Said to Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh?] The wife’s sin reflects upon the husband. But Solomon shows that some wives are so intemperate and wilful, that a man may as well hide the wind in his fist, or oil in his hand, as restrain them from ill doing. [Proverbs 27:15-16] Liberum arbitrium, pro quo tantopere contenditur, viri amiserunt, uxores arripuerunt , saith one (a) wittily.


Verse 14

Genesis 18:14 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.

Ver. 14. Is anything too hard for the Lord?] He can do all things possible and honourable. He cannot lie, die, deny himself, for that implieth impotency. "He could do no mighty work" in his own country "because of their unbelief." [Mark 6:5-6] He could not, because he would not. He can do more than he will, as "of stones raise up" churches, [Matthew 3:9] call for "legions of angels," [Matthew 26:53] create more worlds in an instant. But whatsoever he willeth, that he doeth in heaven and earth, and none can say, what doest thou? "Our God can deliver us". [Daniel 3:17] "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean". {Matthew 8:2, &c.}

I will return to thee, according to the time of life.] He returned not personally, that we read of; but virtually he did, by making good his promise at the appointed time. That of Dr Sands, afterwards Bishop of Worcester, is wonderful, and worth relating. He, departing the land for fear of Queen Mary, took his leave of his host and hostess, who was childless, and had been married eight years. When the wind served, as he went toward the ship, he gave his hostess a fine handkerchief, and an old royal of gold in it, thanking her much, and said, Be of good comfort; ere that one whole year be past, God shall give you a child, a boy. And it came to pass, that day twelve months later, lacking one day, God gave her a fair son. (a)


Verse 15

Genesis 18:15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

Ver. 15. I laughed not: for she was afraid.] And well she might; for as everybody hath its shadow, so hath every sin its fear. Her sin she saw was detected, and her conscience she felt was troubled; hence her fear.

Nay, but thou didst laugh.] A lie must be roundly reproved, and the truth asserted. She laughed but within herself, but as good she might have laughed out aloud; for God searcheth the heart. "I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was in my country? [Jonah 4:2] No, Jonah, it was not thy saying, it was only thy thinking: but that is all one before him who understandeth thy thoughts afar off". [Psalms 139:2]


Verse 16

Genesis 18:16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

Ver. 16. To bring them on the way.] A special piece of courtesy, and much spoken of in Scripture. [3 John 1:6 Acts 20:38; Acts 21:5 Romans 15:24 1 Corinthians 16:11 Titus 3:13]


Verse 17

Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

Ver. 17. Shall I hide from Abraham?] My bosom friend. He shall be both of God’s court, and his council. His "secret is with them that fear him". [Psalms 25:14] The kings of Israel had some one courtier, called the king’s friend by a specialty, to whom they imparted arcana imperii , state secrets. Such an office had Abraham about God, who calls him "Abraham my friend." See what our Saviour saith to all his, John 15:15. "This honour have all his saints."


Verse 18-19

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

Ver. 18, 19. Seeing that Abraham, &c.] God’s first motive here is, from his own antecedent love to Abraham, as the second from his consequent.


Verse 19

Genesis 18:19 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.

Ver. 19. For I know him.] God hath a quick eye to see our good works. He weighs and rewards every circumstance. Christ could tell, that the people had come from far to hear him; that they had fasted three days; that they were in a wilderness, where they could not cater for themselves; that if they should be sent home so, they would faint by the way. [John 6:5-14] What was it that he took not knowledge of? "I know thy works, and thy labour" in doing them. [Revelation 2:2]

That he will command his children, &c.] A good householder, whatsoever he gets abroad, he brings home to his family, as bees bring all their honey to the hive. "The lips of the righteous feed many"; [Proverbs 10:21] those under his own roof especially. Well fare Popery for that. Old folks will tell us that, when in those days they had holy bread given them at church, they would bear a part thereof to those that did abide at home. The way to get more, is to share what we have, according to that, Habenti dabitur .{ Luke 8:18} No man hath received aught from God for private use: neither is any one born for himself, much less newborn. He that hid his talent was soon loose it.


Verse 20

Genesis 18:20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Ver. 20. Because their sin is very grievous.] Or, very heavy; such as the very ground groans under; the axle of the earth is ready to break under it. Sin is a burden to God. [Amos 2:13] It was so to Christ; he fell to the ground when he was in his agony. It was so to the angels, who sunk into hell under it. It was so to Korah and his company; the earth could not bear them. It was so to the Sodomites; they were so clogged with this excrement of naughtiness, (a) as St James calleth it, [James 1:21] that God came from heaven to give their land a vomit.


Verse 21

Genesis 18:21 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.

Ver 21. I will go down now, and see, &c.] The Sodomites sinned as freely and securely as if God knew nothing. Now therefore he is come to know, that is, to give them to know that he knew all, as well as if he had been in their bosoms.


Verse 22

Genesis 18:22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Ver. 22. Abraham stood yet before the Lord.] And without such to stand and pray, the world could not stand: they bear up the pillars of it. Oh, the price with God, and profit to men, of praying persons! God will yield something to such, when most of all enraged [Matthew 24:20] or resolved. Lot was saved for Abraham’s sake, when all the rest perished.


Verse 23

Genesis 18:23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Ver. 23. And Abraham drew near.] A privilege proper to such as have "a true heart," "full assurance of faith," and "a good conscience". [Hebrews 10:22] "The hypocrite shall not come before him" [Job 13:16] He must stand without as a vagrant at the gate, that knows not whether the master is providing for him an alms, or a cudgel. But the upright comes into the parlour; yea, "dwells in God’s presence," [Psalms 140:13] in the light of his countenance.

Wilt thou also destroy the righteous?] Single suits speed not: we must back them with sound arguments, and reason the case with God concerning his judgments. [Jeremiah 12:1]


Verse 24

Genesis 18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that [are] therein?

Ver. 24. Peradventure there be fifty righteous.] Charity presumes the best, hopes the best. The disciples could not imagine that Judas was so very a traitor: each one suspects himself sooner than him. And when our Saviour said, "What thou doest do quickly"; they thought he had meant of making provision, or giving something to the poor. [John 13:27-29]


Verse 25

Genesis 18:25 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?

Ver. 25. Shall not the Judge, &c.] He "fills his mouth with arguments". [Job 23:4] Let us also: this will increase faith and fervency.


Verse 26

Genesis 18:26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

Ver. 26. If I find fifty righteous.] The saints are the salt of the earth, that keep the rest from rotting and putrifying.


Verse 27

Genesis 18:27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which [am but] dust and ashes:

Ver. 27. Which am but dust and ashes.] Gnaphar veephar , χονις et cinus ; none so humble as they that have nearest communion with God. The angels that stand before him, cover their faces with two wings as with a double scarf. [Isaiah 6:2]


Verse 28

Genesis 18:28 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].

Ver. 28. Peradventure, &c.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 18:29"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 18:30"}


Verse 29

Genesis 18:29 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.

Ver. 29. And he spake unto him yet again.] Cum in colloquium descendimus cum Deo, replicemus licet, duplicemus, triplicemus, et quadruplicemus .{ a} The bolder we make, the better welcome.


Verse 30

Genesis 18:30 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.

Ver. 30. I will not do it, &c.] If God so yielded to Abraham interceding for wicked Sodom, will he not hear us for his labouring Church? Joab never pleased David better, than when he sued to him for Absalom. What shall we think of God in like case? How angry is he with those that "help forward" the anger! [Zechariah 1:15] How ready to answer those that speak to him for his Church, "with good words, and comfortable words!" [Zechariah 1:13] Yea, should there be no praying Christians among us (as there are many thousands), yet there is hope, if any of another kingdom make intercession for us, as Abraham here did for Sodom, to the which he was a stranger.


Verse 31

Genesis 18:31 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.

Ver. 31. Behold now, I have taken upon me.] {See Trapp on "Genesis 18:29"} {See Trapp on "Genesis 18:30"}


Verse 32

Genesis 18:32 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.

Ver. 32. Peradventure ten shall be found there.] Lo, all the slavery and misery they had sustained hath not yet made ten good men in those five bad cities. Till God strike the stroke, and work upon the heart, afflictions, God’s hammers, do but beat upon cold iron. The wicked are no whit better by them, but much the worse; as water becomes more cold after a heat, and naughty boys more stubborn and stupid after a whipping.


Verse 33

Genesis 18:33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

Ver. 33. And the Lord went his way.] Abraham bargined with the Lord so long, till he had brought him down from fifty to ten: and mark, that he stopped begging ere God stopped lessening. Let us find praying hearts, and he will find a pitying heart.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Genesis 18:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/genesis-18.html. 1865-1868.

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