Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. the Lord appeared--another manifestation of the divine
presence, more familiar than any yet narrated; and more like that in
the fulness of time, when the Word was made flesh.
plains of Mamre--rather, terebinth or oak of Mamre; a
tall-spreading tree or grove of trees.
sat in the tent door--The tent itself being too close and sultry
at noon, the shaded open front is usually resorted to for the air that
may be stirring.
2. lift up his eyes . . . and, lo, three
men--Travellers in that quarter start at sunrise and continue till
midday when they look out for some resting-place.
he ran to meet them--When the visitor is an ordinary person, the
host merely rises; but if of superior rank, the custom is to advance a
little towards the stranger, and after a very low bow, turn and lead
him to the tent, putting an arm round his waist, or tapping him on the
shoulder as they go, to assure him of welcome.
3. My Lord, if now I have found favor--The hospitalities offered
are just of the kind that are necessary and most grateful, the
refreshment of water, for feet exposed to dust and heat by the sandals,
being still the first observed among the pastoral people of Hebron.
5. for therefore are ye come--No questions were asked. But
Abraham knew their object by the course they took--approaching directly
in front of the chief sheik's tent, which is always
distinguishable from the rest and thus showing their wish to be his
6. Abraham hastened . . . unto Sarah . . . make
cakes upon the hearth--Bread is baked daily, no more than is
required for family use, and always by the women, commonly the wife. It
is a short process. Flour mixed with water is made into dough, and
being rolled out into cakes, it is placed on the earthen floor,
previously heated by a fire. The fire being removed, the cakes are
laid on the ground, and being covered over with hot embers, are soon
baked, and eaten the moment they are taken off.
7. Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf--Animal food is
never provided, except for visitors of a superior rank when a kid or
lamb is killed. A calf is still a higher stretch of hospitality, and it
would probably be cooked as is usually done when haste is
required--either by roasting it whole or by cutting it up into small
pieces and broiling them on skewers over the fire. It is always eaten
along with boiled corn swimming in butter or melted fat, into which
every morsel of meat, laid upon a piece of bread, is dipped, before
being conveyed by the fingers to the mouth.
8. milk--A bowl of camel's milk ends the repast.
he stood by them under the tree--The host himself, even though
he has a number of servants, deems it a necessary act of politeness to
stand while his guests are at their food, and Abraham evidently
did this before he was aware of the real character of his visitors.
An inquiry about his wife, so surprising in strangers, the subject of
conversation, and the fulfilment of the fondly cherished promise within
a specified time, showed Abraham that he had been entertaining more
than ordinary travellers
10. Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him--The
women's apartment is in the back of the tent, divided by a thin
partition from the men's.
12. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself--Long delay seems to
have weakened faith. Sarah treated the announcement as incredible, and
when taxed with the silent sneer, she added falsehood to distrust. It
was an aggravated offense
and nothing but grace saved her
16. the men rose . . . Abraham went with them--It is
customary for a host to escort his guests a little way.
17. the Lord said, Shall I hide--The chief stranger, no other
than the Lord, disclosed to Abraham the awful doom about to be
inflicted on Sodom and the cities of the plain for their enormous
21. I will go down . . . and see--language used after
the manner of men. These cities were to be made examples to all future
ages of God's severity; and therefore ample proof given that the
judgment was neither rash nor excessive
23. Abraham drew near, and said, &c.--The scene described is
full of interest and instruction--showing in an unmistakable manner the
efficacy of prayer and intercession. (See also
Abraham reasoned justly as to the rectitude of the divine procedure
(Ro 3:5, 6),
and many guilty cities and nations have been spared on account of God's
(Mt 5:13; 24:22).
33. the Lord . . . left communing . . . and
Abraham returned unto his place--Why did Abraham cease to carry his
intercessions farther? Either because he fondly thought that he was
now sure of the cities being preserved
or because the Lord restrained his mind from further intercession
(Jer 7:16; 11:14).
But there were not ten "righteous persons." There was only one, and he
might without injustice have perished in the general overthrow
But a difference is sometimes made, and on this occasion the grace of
God was manifested in a signal manner for the sake of Abraham. What a
blessing to be connected with a saint of God!