I (God) Appeared [to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]
Genesis 18:1–22:24
Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary (CCAR Press)

Genesis Vayeira English translation

18:1] The Eternal appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre as he was sitting at the entrance of the tent at about the hottest time of the day. 2] Looking up, he saw: lo—three men standing opposite him! Seeing [them], he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and, bowing down to the ground, 3] he said, “My lords, if I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. 4] Let a little water be brought; then wash your feet and recline under a tree, 5] and let me bring a bit of bread and you can restore yourselves. Then you can go on—now that you have come across your servant.” And they responded: “Very well, do as you propose.”

6] Abraham then hurried toward the tent, to Sarah, and said, “Hurry, knead three measures of wheat flour and bake some [bread-]cakes!” 7] Abraham then ran to the herd and took a young calf, tender and sound, and gave it to the servant lad, who quickly prepared it. 8] He took sour milk and [sweet] milk and the calf he had prepared and set [it all] before them; and as he stood over them under the tree, they ate.

9] They then said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” “There, in the tent,” he replied. 10] One of them then said, “Rest assured that I will return to you at this time next year, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, behind him. 11] Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; the way of women had ceased for Sarah— 12] so Sarah laughed inwardly, thinking: “Now that I am withered, will I have pleasure, with my lord so old!” 13] But the Eternal One said to Abraham, “Why is Sarah laughing so, thinking: ‘Am I really going to bear a child, when I have grown so old?’ 14] Is any wonder too difficult for the Eternal? At this fixed time, next year, I will return to you, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15] Sarah, then denied it, for she was afraid, and said, “I did not laugh”; but [God] said, “Ah, but you did laugh!”

16] The men went up from there and gazed down upon Sodom, Abraham going along with them to send them off. 17] The Eternal then thought: “Should I hide from Abraham what I am doing? 18] Yet Abraham is certain to become a great and populous nation, and through him all the nations of the earth shall be blessed! 19] For I have selected him, so that he may teach his children and those who come after him to keep the way of the Eternal, doing what is right and just, so that the Eternal may fulfill for Abraham all that has been promised him.”

20] The Eternal One then said, “The outcry in Sodom and Gomorrah—how great it is; and their crime—how grave it is! 21] Let Me go down and determine whether they are wreaking havoc in equal measure to the shrieking that is coming to Me. If not, I will know.”

22] The men now turned away and went toward Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the Eternal. 23] Abraham then came forward and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the innocent along with the wicked? 24] Suppose there are fifty innocent in the city—will You indeed sweep away the place, and not spare it for the sake of the fifty innocent who are in its midst? 25] Far be it from You to do such a thing, killing innocent and wicked alike, so that the innocent and the wicked suffer the same fate. Far be it from You! Must not the Judge of all the earth do justly?” 26] The Eternal One said, “If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will pardon the whole place for their sake.”

27] Again Abraham spoke: “Look now—let me undertake to speak up to my lord, though I am but dust and ashes: 28] What if the fifty innocent are five short; will you destroy the whole city because of five?” [God] answered, “If I find forty-five there, I will not destroy it.”

29] Once more Abraham spoke up: “What if forty are found there?” And [God] answered, “For the sake of the forty, I will not do it.”

30] Then he said, “Do not be angry, my lord, and let me speak: What if thirty are found there?” “If I find thirty there,” said [God], “I will not do it.”

31] And Abraham said, “Look now—let me undertake to speak up before my lord: What if twenty are found there?” And [God] said, “For the sake of the twenty, I will not destroy it.”

32] Then Abraham said, “Let not my lord be angry, and let me speak up one last time: What if ten are found there?” And [God] said, “For the sake of the ten, I will not destroy it.” 33] Then, done speaking to Abraham, the Eternal departed; and Abraham returned to his place.

19:1] That evening, the two [divine] emissaries came to Sodom, where Lot was sitting at the Sodom gate; seeing [them], Lot got up to greet them and, bowing all the way to the ground, 2] he said, “Come now, my lords, turn to your servant’s house; stay there overnight and wash your feet; when you get up you can go on your way!” “No,” said they, “we’ll stay the night in the open.” 3] He so pressed them, however, that they followed him and entered his house, where he made them a festive meal, baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

4] They had yet to lie down when the townspeople, the people of Sodom, young and old alike, all the people, from every side, gathered around the house 5] and called to Lot, saying, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out so we can have them.” 6] Lot went out to them at the entrance and shut the door behind him. 7] He said, “Please, brothers, do no evil! 8] Look—I have two daughters who have never been intimate with a man; let me bring them out for you, and do to them as you please. But do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9] But they said, “Get out of the way!” And they said, “This fellow comes here to stay a while, and now he wants to act the judge! Well, we will make it worse for you than for them!” They pressed the man Lot hard as they advanced to break down the door, 10] but the men reached out and pulled Lot toward them into the house and shut the door, 11] striking every one of the men, large and small, who were near the entrance of the house, with a blinding light, so that they were unable to find the entrance.

12] The men said to Lot, “Whoever is still with you here—son-in-law, your sons and daughters, all your property in the city—get them out of here, 13] because we are going to destroy this place; the outcry to the Eternal against the people in it is so great, that the Eternal has sent us to destroy it.” 14] So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, his daughters’ husbands, saying, “Up! Get out of this place, because the Eternal is destroying the city”; but to his sons-in-law he appeared to be joking.

15] Just as dawn was rising the [divine] emissaries rushed Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be caught up in the city’s punishment.” 16] As he vacillated, the men, in the Eternal’s pity for him, seized his hand, his wife’s, and those of his two daughters, and took them out, setting them down outside the city.

17] Having taken them outside, one said, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you and do not stand anywhere on the plain; flee to the hills or you will be swept away!” 18] But Lot said to them, “No, please, my lords! 19] Look—your servant has found favor in your sight; the kindness with which you have treated me by keeping me alive has been great—but I cannot flee to the hills; the evil may take hold of me and I shall die. 20] Look—yonder town is near enough to escape to, and it is tiny; let me flee there and save my life—it is tiny.” 21] He replied to him, “See, now, I am showing you favor in this matter too, not overthrowing the town you have spoken of. 22] Flee there quickly, for I can do nothing until you get there.” (That is why the city is called Zoar.)

23] The sun was rising over the land as Lot was going down to Zoar, 24] and the Eternal rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire—from the Eternal—out of the heavens, 25] overthrowing these cities and the entire plain, all the cities’ inhabitants and what grew in the soil. 26] And his wife looked behind him and became a pillar of salt.

27] Abraham rose early in the morning and [went] to the place where he had previously stood before the Eternal. 28] As he gazed down upon Sodom and Gomorrah and upon the whole face of the plain, lo—fumes were rising from the earth like fumes from a furnace. 29] But when God destroyed the cities of the plain, God remembered Abraham and, when overthrowing the cities in which Lot had lived, sent Lot away from the upheaval. 30] Together with his two daughters, Lot then went up from Zoar to live in the hill country, for he was afraid to live in Zoar; so he lived in a cave, he and his two daughters.

31] The first-born now said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man left on earth to couple with us in the way of all the earth. 32] Let us give our father wine to drink and lie with him, and give life to offspring through our father.” 33] So that night they gave their father wine to drink; the first-born then went and lay with her father, who had no awareness of her lying down and getting up.

34] On the morrow the first-born said to the younger, “Seeing that last night I lay with my father, let us give him wine to drink tonight as well; then you go and lie with him, so that we can give life to offspring through our father.” 35] So that night too they gave their father wine to drink; the younger got up and lay with him, and he had no awareness of her lying down and getting up.

36] Lot’s two daughters became pregnant through their father. 37] The first-born bore a son and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the present-day Moabites. 38] The younger, too, bore a son and named him Ben-ammi; he is the ancestor of the present-day Ammonites.

20:1] Abraham then journeyed from there toward the Negev and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, settling in Gerar. 2] Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister,” and Abimelech king of Gerar sent [men] to seize Sarah.

3] God now came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, saying to him, “Look—you are a dead man because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman!” 4] Abimelech had not touched her and he said, “My lord, will you slay a completely innocent folk! 5] Did he not tell me, ‘She is my sister’? And she too said, ‘He is my brother.’ I did this with a pure heart and clean hands!” 6] In the dream God said to him, “I do indeed know that you did this with a pure heart, and it is I who held you back from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7] Now return the man’s wife—he is a prophet and will intercede for you, so that you may live. But if you do not return [her], know that you will most certainly die, you and yours.”

8] When Abimelech woke up early in the morning he summoned all his retainers and drummed the whole story into their ears, and they became filled with fear. 9] He then summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How had I sinned against you that you brought a great sin upon me and my kingdom? You did things to me that should not be done!” 10] Abimelech said to Abraham, “What were you thinking of, that you did this?” 11] Abraham replied, “I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me for my wife.’ 12] And, as a matter of fact, she is my sister, my father’s daughter, though not my mother’s daughter, so she became my wife. 13] And when God made me wander from my father’s house, I said to her: Do this kindness for me—wherever we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’”

14] Abimelech then took sheep and oxen, male and female slaves, and gave [them] to Abraham; he also restored his wife Sarah to him. 15] And Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” 16] And to Sarah he said, “Look, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; thus it testifies to your unblemished virtue to all who are with you; you are in the right with [them] all.” 17] Abraham then prayed to God and God restored Abimelech, his wife, and his female slaves, and they bore children— 18] for the Eternal had completely shut every womb of Abimelech’s household on account of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

21:1] The Eternal now remembered Sarah; the Eternal did for Sarah as promised, 2] so that she became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the exact time God had told him. 3] Abraham named his newborn son, whom Sarah had borne to him, Isaac. 4] When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded him. 5] Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born.

6] Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter; all who hear will laugh with me.” 7] And she added, “Who would have dared say to Abraham, ‘Sarah shall nurse children’? Yet I have borne a son in his old age!” 8] The child grew and was weaned, and on Isaac’s weaning day, Abraham held a great feast.

9] Now Sarah saw the son that Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham, playing. 10] She said to Abraham, “Throw this slave girl and her son out. The son of this slave girl is not going to share in the inheritance with my son Isaac!” 11] This grieved Abraham greatly, on account of his son. 12] But God said to Abraham, “Do not be grieved over the boy or your slave. Do whatever Sarah tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be called yours. 13] Yet I will also make a nation out of the children of the slave’s son, for he, too, is your offspring.”

14] Early next morning, Abraham got up and took bread and a waterskin and handed them to Hagar, placing them and the boy on her shoulder. Then he cast her out; trudging away, she wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of Beersheba. 15] When the water in the skin was all gone, she cast the child away under a bush; 16] she walked away and sat down on the other side at a remove of about a bowshot, thinking: “Let me not see the child’s death.” There, on the other side, she sat and wept in a loud voice.

17] God heard the boy’s cry, and from heaven an angel of God called to Hagar and said, “What is troubling you, Hagar? Have no fear, for God has heard the cry of the lad where he is. 18] Get up, lift the boy, and hold him with your hand, for I am going to make of him a great nation.” 19] God then opened her eyes, and she saw a well. She went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy to drink.

20] God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness and became a bowman. 21] He lived in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took him a wife from the land of Egypt.

22] At that time Abimelech and Pichol the commander of his army said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do. 23] Swear to me now that you will not be false to me, my progeny, or my posterity; do me and the land in which you have been staying as much kindness as I have done to you.” 24] Abraham replied, “I will swear.”

25] But Abraham rebuked Abimelech on account of the water well that Abimelech’s servants had stolen, 26] and Abimelech replied, “I do not know who did this; you certainly never told me, nor did I ever hear of it until today.” 27] Abraham then took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them forged a treaty. 28] Abraham then set aside seven lambs of the flock. 29] When Abimelech said, “What do these seven lambs that you have set aside signify?” 30] Abraham replied, “So that you take the seven lambs from me as my testimony that I dug this well.” 31] That is why that place is called Beersheba, for there the two of them took an oath.

32] They forged a treaty in Beersheba; then Abimelech and Pichol the commander of his army got up and returned to the land of the Philistines, 33] while Abraham planted a tamarisk and called upon the Name of the Eternal, the everlasting God; 34] he stayed in the land of the Philistines a long time.

22:1] After these things, God tested Abraham, saying to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2] [God] said, “Take your son, your only one, the one you love, Isaac, and go forth to the land of Moriah. Offer him there as a burnt-offering, on one of the mountains that I will show you.”

3] Abraham rose early, saddled his donkey, chopped wood for the burnt-offering, took Isaac his son and his two lads, and set out for the place that God had spoken of to him. 4] On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5] Abraham said to his servant lads, “Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder. We will worship and return to you.” 6] Abraham then took the wood for the burnt-offering and laid it on Isaac his son; in his own hand he held the firestone and the knife. And the two of them went on together.

7] Isaac then said to Abraham his father, “Father!” He answered: “Here I am, my son.” And Isaac said, “Here is the firestone and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt-offering?” 8] Abraham replied, “God will see to the lamb for the burnt-offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

9] They came to the place that God had shown him. There Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10] Abraham now reached out and took the knife to slay his son, 11] but out of heaven an angel of the Eternal called to him, saying, “Abraham, Abraham!” He replied: “Here I am.” 12] [The angel] then said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad; do nothing to him; for now I know that you are one who fears God, as you did not withhold your son, your only one, from Me.”

13] Abraham lifted his eyes: he now could see a ram [just] after it was caught by its horns in a thicket. Abraham went and took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son. 14] Abraham named that place YHVH Yir’eh; to this day people say: “On the mount of the Eternal, [God] will be seen.”

15] Then out of heaven an angel of the Eternal called to Abraham a second time, 16] saying, “By Myself I swear, says the Eternal One, that because you did this thing, and did not withhold your son, your only one, 17] I will bless you greatly, and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands of the seashore, and your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their foes. 18] And through your descendants the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you hearkened to My voice.” 19] Abraham then returned to his servant lads; they got up and traveled together to Beersheba, and Abraham settled in Beersheba.

20] And after all these things, Abraham was told the following: Milcah, she too has borne sons, to your brother Nahor— 21] Uz his first-born, his brother Buz, Kemuel father of Aram, 22] Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23] (Bethuel fathered Rebekah.) These eight did Milcah bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24] And his concubine—her name was Reumah—she too bore: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

Translation from The Torah: A Modern Commentary, copyright (c) 2016 by CCAR Press. All rights reserved. Translation of Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy from NJPS © 1962, 1985, 1999; CJPS © 2006. Used and adapted by CCAR Press with permission from The Jewish Publication Society and the University of Nebraska Press. No part of this translation may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, distributed, or be transmitted without express written permission from the Central Conference of American Rabbis. For permission, please contact CCAR Press.