Torah Genesis 18:1 – 22:24
Haftorah ll Kings 4:1-37
The appearance of Yahweh to Abraham seems to have had in it more of freedom and familiarity, and less of grandeur and majesty, than those we have hitherto read of; and therefore more resembles that great visit which, in the fullness of time, the Son of YHVH was to make to the world, when the Word would be flesh, and appear as one of us. Observe here, How Abraham expected strangers, and how richly his expectations were answered (Genesis 18:1 And YHVH appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamr’e, while he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.): He sat in the tent-door, in the heat of the day; not so much to repose or divert himself as to seek an opportunity of doing good, by giving entertainment to strangers and travelers, there being perhaps no hotels to accommodate them. We are likely to have the most comfort of those good works to which we are most free and forward. Yahweh graciously visits those in whom he has first raised the expectation of him, and manifests himself to those that wait for him.
When Abraham was thus sitting, he saw three men coming towards him. These three men were three spiritual heavenly beings, now assuming human bodies, that they might be visible to Abraham, and conversable with him. Some think that they were all created angels, others that one of them was the Son of Yahweh, the angel of the covenant, whom Abraham distinguished from the rest (Genesis 18:3, and said, “YHVH, if I have now found favor in Your eyes, please do not pass Your servant by.) and who is called YHVH. The apostle improves this for the encouragement of hospitality, (Hebrews 13:2, Do not forget to receive strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained messengers.) Those that have been forward to entertain strangers have entertained angels, to their unspeakable honor and satisfaction. Where, upon a prudent and impartial judgment, we see no cause to suspect ill, charity teaches us to hope well and to show kindness accordingly.
How Abraham entertained those strangers and how kindly his entertainment was accepted. The Set-Apart Spirit takes particular notice of the very free and affectionate welcome Abraham gave to the strangers. He was very complaisant and respectful to them. Forgetting his age and gravity, he ran to meet them in the most obliging manner, and with all due courtesy bowed himself towards the ground, though as yet he knew nothing of them but that they appeared graceful respectable men. Belief in Yahweh does not destroy, but improve good manners and teaches us to honor all men. In all cases decent civility is a great ornament to piety. He was very earnest and importunate for their stay, and took it as a great favor, It becomes those whom Yahweh has blessed with plenty to be liberal and open-hearted in their entertainments, according to their ability, and (not in compliment, but cordially) to bid their friends welcome. We should take a pleasure in showing kindness to any; for both Yahweh and man love a cheerful giver. Who would eat the bread of him that has an evil eye? Those that would have communion with Yahweh must earnestly desire it and pray for it. Yahweh is a guest worth entertaining. His entertainment, though it was very free, was yet plain and homely, and there was nothing in it of the gaiety and niceness of our times. His dining-room was an arbor under a tree; no rich table-linen, no side-board set with plate. His feast was a slice or two of veal and some matzo baked on the hearth and both hastily dressed up. Here were no dainties, no varieties, no forced-meats, no sweet-meats, but good, plain, wholesome food, though Abraham was very rich and his guests were very honorable. We should be determined in our diet to be fit or kosher. Let us be thankful for food convenient, though it is homely and common; and not be desirous of dainties, for they are deceitful meat to those that love them and set their hearts upon them.
Proverbs 23:1-7, When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Look well what is before you; (2) And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite. (3) Do not desire his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. (4) Don’t labor to be rich. Cease from your own understanding! (5) Do you set your eyes on that which is nothing? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle to the heavens. (6) Don’t eat the bread of one having an evil demeanor, nor desire his delicacies; (7) for as he reckons in his life, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
He and his wife were both of them very attentive and busy, in accommodating their guests with the best they had. Sarah herself is cook and baker; Abraham runs to fetch the calf, brings out the milk and butter, and thinks it not below him to wait at table, that he might show how heartily welcome his guests were. Those that have real merit need not take state upon them, nor are their prudent condescension’s any disparagement to them. Hearty friendship will stoop to anything but sin. Yahshua himself has taught us to wash one another's feet, in humble love. Those that thus abase themselves shall be exalted. Here Abraham's faith showed itself in good works; and so must ours, else it is dead, (James 2:21-26, was not Abraham our father declared right by works when he offered Yitzhak his son on the altar? (22) Do you see that the belief was working with his works, and by the works the belief was perfected? (23) And the Scripture was filled which says, “Abraham believed Yahweh, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness.” And he was called, “Yahweh’s friend.” (24) You see, then, that a man is declared right by works, and not by belief alone. (25) In the same way, was not Rahab the whore also declared right by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? (26) For as the body without the spirit is dead, so also the belief is dead without the works.) The father of the faithful was famous for charity, and generosity, and good house-keeping; and we must learn of him - to do good to others - and to communicate. Job did not eat his morsel alone, (Job 31:17, or eaten my piece of bread by myself, and the fatherless did not eat of it).
These messengers, it is likely, were two of the three that had just before been with Abraham, the two created messengers that were sent to execute God's purpose concerning Sodom. There was but one good man in Sodom, and these heavenly messengers soon found him out. Wherever we are, we should enquire out those of the place that live in the fear of God, and should choose to associate ourselves with them. (Matthew 10:11, “And into whatever city or village you enter, ask who is worthy in it, and stay there until you leave.), Enquire who is worthy, and there abide. Those of the same country, when they are in a foreign country, love to be together. Lot sufficiently distinguished himself from the rest of his neighbors, at this time, which plainly set a mark upon him. He that didn’t act like the rest must not fare like the rest. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom at the evening. When the rest, it is likely, were carousing and drinking, he sat alone, waiting for an opportunity to do good. He was extremely respectful to men whose demeanor and aspect were sober and serious, though they did not come in state. He bowed himself to the ground, when he met them, as if, upon the first view, he discerned something divine in them. He was hospitable, and very free and generous in his invitations and entertainments. He courted these strangers to his house, and to the best accommodations he had, and gave them all the evidences that he could of his sincerity; for, when the messengers, to try whether he was hearty in the invitation, declined the acceptance of it, at first (which is the common usage of modesty, and no reproach at all to truth and honesty), their refusal did not make him more importunate; for he pressed upon them greatly (Genesis 19:3, But he urged them strongly, and they turned in to him and came into his house. And he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.), partly because he would be no means have them to expose themselves to the inconveniences and perils of lodging in the street of Sodom, and partly because he was desirous of their company and converse. He hadn’t seen two such honest faces in Sodom this great while. Those that live in bad places should know how to value the society of those that are wise and good, and earnestly desire it. When the messengers accepted his invitation, he treated them nobly; he made a feast for them, and thought it well-bestowed on such guests. Good people should be (with prudence) generous people.
Here is the trial of Abraham's faith, whether it continued so strong, so vigorous, so victorious, after a long settlement in communion with Yahweh, as it was at first, when by it he left his country: then it was made to appear that he loved Yahweh better than his father; now that he loved him better than his son. Observe here,
The time when Abraham was thus tried (Genesis 22:1, and it came to be after these events that Elohim tried Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”): After these things, after all the other exercises he had had, all the hardships and difficulties he had gone through. Now, perhaps, he was beginning to think the storms had all blown over; but, after all, this encounter comes, which is sharper than any yet. Many former trials will not supersede nor secure us from further trials; we have not yet put off the harness. (1 Kings 20:11, and the sovereign of Yisra’El answered and said, “Speak, ‘Him who girds on his armor should not boast like him who lays it down.’ ”
Psalms 30:6-7, as for me, I have said in my ease, “Never would I be shaken!” (7) Yahweh, in Your good pleasure You have made my mountain to stand strong; You hid Your face, and I was troubled.)
The author of the trial: Yahweh tempted him, not to draw him to sin, so HaSatan tempts (if Abraham had sacrificed Yitzhak, he would not have sinned, his orders would have justified him, and borne him out), but to discover his graces, how strong they were, that they might be found to praise, and honor, and glory, (1 Peter 1:7 in order that the proving of your belief – much more precious than gold that perishes, and proven by fire – might be found to result in praise and respect and esteem at the revelation of Yahshua Messiah). Thus Yahweh tempted Job that he might appear not only a good man, but a great man. Yahweh did tempt Abraham; he did lift up Abraham, so some read it; as a scholar that improves well is lifted up, when he is put into a higher form. Note, Strong faith is often exercised with strong trials and put upon hard services.
The trial itself. Yahweh appeared to him as he had formerly done, called him by name, Abraham, that name which had been given him in ratification of the promise. Abraham, like a good servant, readily answered, “Here am I; what says my Elohim unto his servant?” Probably he expected some renewed promise like those. But, to his great amazement, that which Yahweh has to say to him is, in short, Abraham, Go kill your son; and this command is given him in such aggravating language as makes the temptation abundantly more grievous. When Yahweh speaks, Abraham, no doubt, takes notice of every word, and listens attentively to it; and every word here is a sword in his bones: the trial is steeled with trying phrases. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty that he should afflict? No, it is not; yet, when Abraham's faith is to be tried, Yahweh seems to take pleasure in the aggravation of the trial, (Genesis 22:2, And He said, “Take your son, now, your only son Yitzhak, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriyah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I command you.”).
The person to be offered. “Take your son, not your bull and your lambs;” how willingly would Abraham have parted with them by thousands to redeem Yitzhak! (Psalms 50:9, “I do not take a bull from your house, Nor goats out of your pens). I must have your son: not your servant, no, not the steward of your house, that shall not serve the turn; I must have your son.” Jephthah, in pursuance of a vow, offered a daughter (Judges 11:30, And Jephtah made a vow to Yahweh, and said, “If You give the children of Ammon into my hands, Judges 11:31, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall belong to Yahweh, and I shall offer it up as a burnt offering.”); but Abraham must offer his son, in whom the family was to be built up. “Elohim, let it be an adopted son;” “No, Your only son; your only son by Sarah.” Ishmael was lately cast out, to the grief of Abraham; and now Yitzhak only was left, and must he go too? Yes, “Take Yitzhak, him, by name, your laughter, that son indeed,” (Genesis 17:19, And Yahweh said, “No, Sarah your wife is truly bearing a son to you, and you shall call his name Yitzhak. And I shall establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him). Not “Send for Ishmael back, and offer him;” no, it must be Yitzhak. “But, Yahweh, I love Yitzhak, he is to me as my own soul. Ishmael is not and will you take Yitzhak also? All this is against me:” YES, That son whom you love. It was a trial of Abraham's love to Yahweh, and therefore it must be in a beloved son, and that string must be touched most upon: in the Hebrew it is expressed more emphatically and I believe, might very well be read thus: Take now that son of yours, that only one of yours, whom you love, Yitzhak. Yahweh's command must overrule all these considerations.
The place: In the land of Moriyah, three days' journey off; so that he might have time to consider it, and, if he did it, must do it deliberately, that it might be a service the more reasonable and the more honorable. The manner: Offer him for a burnt-offering. He must not only kill his son, but kill him as a sacrifice, kill him devoutly, kill him by rule, kill him with all that pomp and ceremony, with all that sedateness and composure of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt-offerings.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Let us hear the conclusion of the entire matter: Fear Yahweh and guard His command, for this applies to all mankind! (14) For Yahweh shall bring every work into right-ruling, including all that is hidden, whether good or whether evil.