The Three Visitors
1 Later, the LORD again appeared to Abraham near the oak trees of Mamre. It was the hottest part of the day, and Abraham was sitting at the door of his tent. 2 He looked up and saw three men standing in front of him. When he saw the men, he ran to them and bowed before them. 3 Abraham said, “Sirs,* Sirs This Hebrew word can mean “sirs” or “Lord.” This might show that these were not ordinary men. please stay a while with me, your servant. 4 I will bring some water to wash your feet. You can rest under the trees. 5 I will get some food for you, and you can eat as much as you want. Then you can continue your journey.”
The three men said, “Do as you wish.”
6 Abraham hurried to the tent. He said to Sarah, “Quickly, prepare enough flour for three loaves of bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran to his cattle. He took his best young calf and gave it to the servant there. He told the servant to quickly kill the calf and prepare it for food. 8 Abraham brought the meat and some milk and cheese and set them down in front of the three men. Then he stood near the men, ready to serve them while they sat under the tree and ate.
9 Then the men said to Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
Abraham said, “She is there, in the tent.”
10 Then one of them said, “I will come again in the spring. At that time your wife Sarah will have a son.”
Sarah was listening in the tent and heard these things. 11 Abraham and Sarah were very old. Sarah was past the right age for women to have children. 12 So she laughed to herself and said, “I am old, and my husband is old. I am too old to have a baby.”
13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Sarah laughed and said she was too old to have a baby. 14 But is anything too hard for the LORD? I will come again in the spring, just as I said I would, and your wife Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah said, “I didn’t laugh!” (She said this because she was afraid.)
Then the Lord said, “No, I know that is not true. You did laugh!”
16 Then the men got up to leave. They looked toward Sodom and began walking in that direction. Abraham walked with them to send them on their way.
Abraham’s Bargain With God
17 The LORD said to himself, “Should I tell Abraham what I am going to do now? 18 Abraham will become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on earth will be blessed because of him. 19 I have made a special agreement with him. I did this so that he would command his children and his descendants to live the way the LORD wants them to. I did this so that they would live right and be fair. Then I, the LORD, can give him what I promised.”
20 Then the LORD said, “I have heard many times that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are very evil. 21 I will go and see if they are as bad as I have heard. Then I will know for sure.”
22 So the men turned and started walking toward Sodom while Abraham stood there before the LORD. 23 Then Abraham approached him and asked, “Will you destroy the good people while you are destroying those who are evil? 24 What if there are fifty good people in that city? Will you still destroy it? Surely you will save the city for the fifty good people living there. 25 Surely you would not destroy the city. You would not destroy fifty good people to kill those who are evil. If that happened, those who are good would be the same as those who are evil—both would be punished. As the judge of the whole world, surely you would do the right thing!”
26 Then the LORD said, “If I find fifty good people in the city of Sodom, I will save the whole city.”
27 Then Abraham said, “Compared to you, Lord, I am only dust and ashes. But let me bother you again and ask you this question. 28 What if there are five less than fifty? Will you destroy a whole city because of just five people?”
The Lord said, “If I find forty-five good people there, I will not destroy the city.”
29 Abraham spoke again. He said, “And if you find only forty good people there, will you destroy the city?”
The Lord said, “If I find forty good people, I will not destroy the city.”
30 Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me ask you this. If only thirty good people are in the city, will you destroy it?”
The Lord said, “If I find thirty good people there, I will not destroy the city.”
31 Then Abraham said, “Lord, may I bother you again and ask, what if there are twenty good people?”
The Lord answered, “If I find twenty good people, I will not destroy the city.”
32 Then Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me, but let me bother you this one last time. If you find ten good people there, what will you do?”
The Lord said, “If I find ten good people in the city, I will not destroy it.”
33 The LORD finished speaking to Abraham and left. Then Abraham went back home.
*18:3 Sirs This Hebrew word can mean “sirs” or “Lord.” This might show that these were not ordinary men.