Gen. 18:1 – 22:24
The Three Strangers
HaShem appeared to Abraham in the Plains of Mamre while Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day.
The strangers got up to leave and Abraham got up to see them on their way.
HaShem said, “Should I hid from Abraham what I am going to do? Through him there will be a mighty nation.” Then HaShem said, “The outcry against Sodom is great and their sin is grave. I shall go and see if it is true.” The strangers departed for Sodom. HaShem and Abraham talked on.
“Will you destroy the innocent and the guilty alike? Suppose there are fifty good people in the city would you destroy it?” Abraham asked.
HaShem answered, “If there are fifty good people in Sodom I will spare it.”
Abraham asked, “Suppose there are five missing from the fifty good people. Will you destroy the entire city because of five?”
HaShem said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five good people there.”
Abraham spoke to him again, “Suppose there are forty?”
HaShem answered, “I will not act for the sake of forty.”
Abraham asked, “What if there are thirty?”
HaShem answered, “I will not act if I find thirty there.”
Abraham asked, “What if there are only twenty?”
HaShem answered, “I will destroy it for the sake of those twenty.”
Abraham asked, “Suppose there are only ten good people there?”
HaShem answered, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.”
When he finished speaking with Abraham, HaShem left him and Abraham walked home.
Lot was sitting outside of the city when two angels walked up in the evening. Lot asked them to stay at his house and after talking they agreed.
They had not yet gone to bed when the men of Sodom asked about the strangers. “Where are they? Bring the strangers out so we can know them.”
Lot went to the front entrance of his home and begged them not to take the strangers. After all, they were under his roof and his protection for the night.
They said Lot is an immigrant and now he wants to judge our ways. What we do to them will be less than what we do to you.
The strangers pulled Lot inside the house and they struck the people outside with blindness so they could not find the door.
The strangers said to Lot, “HaShem has send us to destroy the city. Get your daughters, son-in-laws and the rest of your family out of here.”
Lot went to his daughters and sons-in-law and told them. His sons-in-law thought it was a joke and did nothing.
As dawn drew near the strangers grabbed Lot, his wife and his two daughters by the hand and lead them to the outskirts of the city. One of the strangers said, “Run for your life! Do not look back! Do not stop anywhere in the valley. Flee to the hills, so that you are not swept away.”
Lot said to them, “I can’t reach the hills in time to escape and we will die. There is a city that is close enough let us go there.” The stranger replied, “I will give you special consideration and I will not overturn the city you mentioned. Hurry, because I can do nothing until you are there.”
The sun had risen by the time Lot arrived in Tzoar. HaShem made sulfur and fire rain down on Sodom and Gimorrah. Lot’s wife looked behind her and turned into a pillar of salt.
Abraham woke up early in the morning, hurrying back to the place that he and HaShem had talked. He saw the ruined cities of Sodom and Gimorrah and the smoke rising from them.
Lot went up from Tzoar, and settled in the hills together with his daughters. They all lived in a cave in the hills.
The older girl said to the younger, “Our father is getting old and there is no other men around for us to marry. Let’s get him drunk and have his children.”
That night they got Lot drunk on wine and he was not aware of what he had done. The next day the younger daughter got him drunk also. The two daughters became pregnant from their father. The older girl had a son and named him Moab. The younger girl had a son and named him Ben-Ami.
Sarah and Abimelekh
Abraham went to the land of the Negev, and he settled between Kadesh and Shur. He would often visit Gerar. There he announced that his wife Sarah was his sister. Abimelekh, king of Gerar, took Sarah. HaShem came to Abimelekh in a dream that night. “You will die because of the woman you took. She is already married.” Abimelekh was afraid and said, “Will you kill an innocent nation? Why didn’t her husband tell me? If I did anything it was with a clean heart and clean hands.”
HaShem replied in his dream, “I know that you did this with an innocent heart, that is why I prevented you from sinning against me. Return the man’s wife for he is a prophet. He will pray for you and you shall live. If you do not, then you will die.” Abimelekh got up early the next morning and summoned his servants. He told them of his dream and they were frightened. Abimelekh summoned Abraham to him and asked how he did such a terrible thing to him. Abraham said to him, “I realized the one thing missing here is the fear of HaShem. I could be killed because of my wife. She really is my sister, she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother. I asked her that when we wander that she should tell people I was her brother.”
Abimelekh took sheep, cattle and slaves and gave them to Abraham. He returned Sarah to him and told them that they could choose anywhere in his kingdom to settle. He also gave a thousand silver pieces to Abraham for any wrongs he might have made to Sarah. Abraham prayed to HaShem and healed Abimelekh as well as his wife and slaves, and they were able to have children.
HaShem remembered Sarah as he said he would, and Sarah gave birth to Abraham’s son in his old age. It was the exact time that HaShem had promised. Abraham called his son Isaac. When Isaac was eight days old Abraham circumcised him as HaShem had commanded.
Abraham accuses Abimelekh and his general, Pihol, of stealing his wells. They resolve the argument and swear never to fight over the wells again. They call the place where they made the pact, Beer Sheba, the well of oath.
The Binding of Isaac
HaShem tells Abraham to take his only son, Isaac, to a mountain in the land of Moriah and sacrifice him. Without a word of protest, Abraham makes the needed preparations and sets off on the journey. When he gets to the mountain he leaves his servants behind.
Isaac asks, “Where is the sacrifice we are bringing to HaShem?”
Abraham answers, “HaShem will provide the sacrifice.”
When they reach the top of the mountain, Abraham sets up an altar and binds Isaac on it. Abraham raises his knife, but just as he is about to strike an angel calls to him and tells him not to touch Isaac. This was only a test from HaShem. Abraham sees a ram whose horns are caught in a bush, and sacrifices it instead of Isaac. The angel praises Abraham and his children.
II Kings 4.1-37
(Sephardi Tradition: II Kings 4.1-23)
The angels tell Abraham “Just as you are alive today, you will be alive next year…” The same phrase is used in the Haftarah by the prophet Elisha. When he was passing through Shunam, a woman saw him and invited him in. He wanted to pay her for her kindness, but the woman wanted only one thing in life – a child.He told her, “Just as you are alive today, you will will be alive next year and embrace a child.”
- Fourth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on 252 lines in the Sefer Torah
- 147 P’sukim (verses)
- 2,085 words
- 7,862 letters
Next week’s Parashat: Chayay Sarah