Vayerah
Genesis 18:1-22:24
©2002 Rabbi David Markel Hall

Genesis 18:1 

And appeared to him YHWH in the plane of Mamre as 
he sat in the door of the tent in the heat of the day.


And lifted his eyes and beheld three **extraordinary men over him appeared  
and he ran
to meet them from the tent door and bowed to the earth.

“**extraordinary men over him appeared

Other translations render this “standing next to him, and he saw” but if this were the case, why would he have to run to them? My Hebrew lexicon says of the root, To be set, placed or appointed, with or over any one.” It seems to me that these men were, to Avraham, obviously superiors which were at the very least representatives of YHWH. One of them seems to be YHWH Himself (notice verse 22 and compare with 19:1). Two of the men were angels of YHWH and one of them was the fleshly manifestation of YHWH, i.e. a pre-birth manifestation of Yeshua. It is likely that the other two were Gabriel and Michael manifesting in human flesh as well. They came to test the people of S’domah to see if their actions were as bad as reported by the messengers (18:21).

The cry against S’domah was so strong that HaShem had to judge them to see if their hearts were truly as bad as their actions. HaShem does not judge based on actions alone, Baruch HaShem! He judges based on the knowledge and intentions of the heart (James 4:17 To him therefore who knows how to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.)

Another significant event that took place here is the promise that the “whole world” would be blessed in Avraham. This is considered by Jew and gentile alike to be a messianic prophecy. It is most significant that this was the pre-advent Yeshua Himself, who spoke this (See Proverbs 30:4). He then told Avraham that Sarah would bear a son within the normal gestation period for a woman. This means that Sarah and Avraham conceived Isaac right away.

Abraham was also told of HaShem’s plans to test S’domah. Avraham was not only concerned about his nephew Lot, but about the welfare of kings and peoples he had come to know. He questioned the L-rd about His intentions to know how He would decide the fate of S’domah. His questions are very interesting and reveal the complete respect He had for HaShem. Starting with fifty and working his way down to ten, he asked HaShem if the city would still be destroyed if so many righteous men could be found. Stopping at ten was wise because Lot and his wife and two daughters make four.  Only six more were needed to make the minyan. Surely six righteous could be found in S’domah.

In the next chapter the two angels come to S’domah and find Lot, who immediately invited them to his home getting them off the streets. Lot’s heart was tested and found to be tzadik (righteous). His nature was to protect the strangers from the men of that horrible city. The wickedness of that place was truly manifested when they began to harass Lot, threatening to break into his home to “know” them. Rashi tells us that the men wanted to “sodomize” them and this seems to be apparent from the context. Lot even tried to get them to leave the men alone and take his own virgin daughters instead, but these wicked men were not interested in Lot’s daughters. They wanted to do wickedness with these new strangers who were guests of Lot. Lot’s daughter’s fiancées (i.e. his sons-in-law) would not leave the city with Lot, but rather treated him chim’tzachek as one who makes a joke.

Another interesting point is made in verse 18. “Lot said to them: ‘Please no! My Lord… I cannot escape to the mountain fen-teed’bakanee harah vamatee: “lest the evil attach itself to me and I die.” (The Stone Edition Tanakh) Lot was concerned that he would be able to make it to the mountain fast enough, however a deeper meaning is revealed as well. The evil that destroyed S’domah was something that could attach itself to someone bringing destruction. This is how Lot’s wife received the destructive force and was turned to a pillar of salt. The angel seems to have checked and decided to spare Tzoar, the small city for the sake of Lot and his family.

Contrary to the misconception that they were climbing a mountain, as they were trying to get to Tzoar Lot’s wife looked back for a moment and saw the destruction, the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) tells us that they had arrived at Tzoar. While they may not have had time to settle in and find a nice home, they were no longer traveling toward the destination. It should have been easy to occupy oneself with the chore of reestablishing residence so that looking back would not be a problem. However, Lot’s wife managed to find a place to view the destruction and was punished for doing so. This had to be a willful act on her part as she was warned by the angel not to look.

Lot moved to the mountains after the destruction and lived in a cave. After some time, the daughters, fearing the extinction of the family line, got their father drunk and each had a child by him. The son of the eldest became the ancestor of Ruth who is an ancestor of Messiah through David.

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