Yahweh Visits Abraham and Sarah

In Genesis 17, 18 and 19 we have the remarkable accounts, where YHWH actually visits Abraham, as a “Personal” Being, Who would have looked like another normal “man”.

It is interesting that the early Jews, in their translations of the Hebrew Bible, in the Targums, acknowledge that there is more than one Person Who is God, and distinct from one another.

In chapter 17:1, we read: “And when Abram was ninety and nine years old, the LORD appeared (ראה) to Abram”.

The Palestinian Targum reads in verse 5, “And I will bring food of bread, that you may strengthen your hearts, and give thanks in the Name of the Word of the Lord”. And in verse 17, “And the Lord said, with His Word, I cannot hide from Abraham that which I am about to do” (as does the The Jerusalem Targum)

Some will argue, that this “appearing” by the Lord, is no different to when the Lord “appears” to Isaac, in Genesis 26:24, “And the LORD appeared (ראה) unto him the same night”, which is in a “dream or vision”. However, when trying to understand correctly what the Bible is saying, the context is very important, and not simply the meaning and use of words. In verse 22 it is clear that this was not a “dream or vision”, where it says: , “when He finished to speak with him, He went up God from upon Abraham”. As did God appear to Jacob, “Then God appeared (ראה) to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him” (Genesis 35:9). Where we read in verse 13, “Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him”. “בַּמָּקוֹם, that is, “in the standing place”, where God talked with Jacob.

In chapter 18, verses 1 and 2 we read “And the LORD (יהוָה,YHWH) appeared to him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men stood in front of him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground”

In this chapter, One of the “Men” who visited Abraham, and is the Speaker, is none other than “יהוָה, YHWH, in English Versions like the King James, written as “LORD”, which is used ten times in this chapter.

The three “men (אֲנָשִׁים masculine, plural)” stood by Abraham, and he runs out to “meet” them, and “bowed himself toward the ground”. In verse 3 Abraham says, “And said, My Lord (אֲדֹנָי, Adonay) if now I have found favor in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant”. At this time Abraham did not know the Identity of YHWH, Who was Speaking to him. In verses 4-8, we read of a meal that was given to the three men. In verse 8 we read: “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”. This is conclusive that this is no “dream or vision” that Abraham was having, as YHWH was with him, and actually partake of the food and drink.

In verse 16 we read, “And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way”. Evident that they were “physically” with Abraham. And, in verses 22 and 23 we read, “So they turned from there the men and they went towards Sodom, but Abraham still him standing before (לִפְנֵי, lit, “at the face, or front of) YHWH, then He came near Abraham, and he said, Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”

Two of the three “men”, departed from being with Abraham, and YHWH, remained with Abraham. For this verse we have an interesting variant reading, known as “Tikkun Sopherim, or “Corrections of the Scribes.”. The Masoretic note on this verse says that the original reading was, “and YHWH stood yet before Abraham,” and that this was altered because it was not deemed right that Yahweh should stand before a created being. In the 1984 edition of the New World Translation, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they adopted this reading in the text, not in a footnote!: “At this point the men turned from there and got on their way to Sodʹom; but as for Jehovah, he was still standing before Abraham” Also interesting is that they give three references with “Jehovah” here, Genesis 31:11; 32:30, and Judges 6:11. In each case it is The Angel of the Lord”, Who is spoken of, which means that the reference of Jehovah in Genesis 18:22, it that of “The Angel of the Lord”, according to the Bible produced by the Jehovah’s Witnesses! This reading was changed in their 2013 edition, “but Jehovah remained with Abraham”. Probably after it was pointed out that their 1984 edition, makes Jesus Christ YHWH!

And, in verse 33 we read, “And He went YHWH as He had finished to speak to Abraham, and Abraham he returned to his place”.

In chapter 19, we read of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In verses 13 and 14 it says:

“For we are about to destroy this place; because the outcry against them before the LORD has become so great that the LORD has sent us to destroy it." So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law as one who jests.”

Then in verse 24 and 25a, we read:

Then YHWH He made to rain, on Sodom and on Gomorrah, sulfur and fire, with YHWH out of the heaven. And He overthrew the Cities…”

“Then the Eternal caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Eternal out of heaven” (Dr A Benisch; Jewish School and Family Bible, Vol.I)

The Jerusalem Targum reads:

And the Word of the Lord Himself had made to descend upon the people of Sedom and Amorah showers of favour, that they might work repentance from their wicked works. But when they saw the showers of favour, they said, So, our wicked works are not manifest before Him. He turned (then), and caused to descend upon them bitumen and fire from before the Lord from the heavens

The Septuagint reads,

“και κυριος εβρεξεν επι σοδομα και γομορρα θειον και πυρ παρα κυριου εκ του ουρανου”

And the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.”

“παρα κυριου”, = from the Lord, where the preposition “παρα”, can mean, “along with”, as the Hebrew “מֵ”, = with.

Then, in verse 27 we read:

“And he did early, Abraham in the morning to the place where he had stood there together with face of YHWH”

It is also very clear from the many references in the Old Testament, to “The Word of YHWH”

In Genesis 1:27, The Jerusalem Targum reads:

“And the Word of the Lord created man in His likeness, in the likeness of the  presence of the Lord He created him, the male and his yoke-fellow He created  them”