Daily Word

Middle Eastern hospitality  | Genesis 18:1-8

1 Now the Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. 2 When he raised his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed down to the ground, 3 and said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, please do not pass Your servant by.

4 Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and make yourselves comfortable under the tree; 5 and I will bring a piece of bread, so that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do as you have said.”

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it, and make bread cakes.” 7 Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf and gave it to the servant, and he hurried to prepare it. 8 He took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate.

Genesis 18:1-8 (NASB) 

Middle Eastern hospitality

Within three months of Abraham receiving the covenant of circumcision, this incident occurs. Remember he had quite a few people in his household so he probably lived in a small tent city. These three men come purposely to his tent and I presume Abraham knows that. In true Middle Eastern hospitality, Abraham graciously invites the strangers to rest and have a meal. “This was an evidence of intimate fellowship in Abraham’s culture. On the basis of that close relationship, God guaranteed the soon arrival of the promised heir.” (planobiblechapel.org)

Two things

Two things are communicated to Abraham in this chapter. First is the announcement of a specific timing of Isaac’s birth (v 9-15). It has been many years and six previous promises and we finally get to a specific timing that Abraham can sink his teeth into, strengthening his faith (and Sarah’s).

The second is the looming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16-21, Gen 19). We will see God bring Abraham into His confidence and tell him what His plans are regarding these cities. And we’ll see an amazing interaction, a heavenly negotiation, between Abraham and God (22-33).

Who are they?

Who are these three men? Abraham runs to them, bows before them and appeals to one as “My Lord”. As you continue reading the chapter, it becomes obvious that these are Heavenly beings and one is the Lord (v17). Most scholars agree that this was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. “It appears that in Old Testament times God came in the form of a man, while in the incarnation He actually became man.” (planobiblechapel.org quoting J. Oswald Sanders)


  • Isn’t it amazing that very God, Elohim, the Creator of the Universe and the Heavens, would condescend to meet with a man? Or, that He would even become man, as we celebrate at Christmas!
Bedouin hospitality. Image from israel.travel *

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