CONTEXT: Chapter 13 reports that Abram and Lot became sufficiently affluent that "the land was not able to bear them, that they might live together" (13:6), so they agreed to separate. Abram graciously gave Lot his choice, saying, "Isn't the whole land before you? Please separate yourself from me. If you go to the left hand, then I will go to the right. Or if you go to the right hand, then I will go to the left" (13:9). Lot saw that the plain of "the Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere, before Yahweh destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, like the garden of Yahweh" (13:10), so he went there. "Abram lived in the land of Canaan, and Lot lived in the cities of the plain, and moved his tent as far as Sodom" (13:12). However, the narrator inserts an ominous note, "Now the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinners against Yahweh" (13:13).
In chapter 18, Abraham showed effusive hospitality to three men (Yahweh and two angels see 18:22; 19:1). One of them, identified by the text as the Lord (18:13), reiterated the earlier promise that Sarah would have a son (18:10), at which Sarah laughed (18:12). At the conclusion of that visit, Abraham escorted his visitors as they began their journey to Sodom (18:16). The Lord asked, "Will I hide from Abraham what I do, since Abraham has surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed in him?" (18:17 - 18). The Lord decided not to keep Abraham in the dark, because "For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of Yahweh, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that Yahweh may bring on Abraham that which he has spoken of him" (18:19). These words "righteousness and justice," which God charged Abraham with doing, are important to our text. Abraham will argue that God, too, must be righteous and just, and that to do so he must spare these cities based on the presence of a few righteous people.
GENESIS 18:20-21. I WILL GO DOWN AND SEE
20 And the Lord said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done entirely as the outcry, which has come to Me indicates; and if not, I will know."
"Yahweh said, 'Because the cry (za'aqa) of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous'" (v. 20). The text does not specify whether God is talking to himself or Abraham, but God's decision not to keep Abraham in the dark (v. 19) suggests that God is addressing these words to Abraham. God has heard the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah - presumably from those who have suffered at the hands of the residents of those cities - perhaps also from those who have not been victimized but were offended by the immorality that they witnessed there. God does not specify the nature of the sin that was reported, but does say that it is grave.
"I will go down now, and see whether their deeds are as bad as the reports (se'aqa) which have come to me. If not, I will know" (v. 21). God surely knows the truth about Sodom and Gomorrah, but addresses these words to Abraham to reassure him that God will not act hastily or without just cause. God will conduct an investigation to determine the true situation in the two cities. The implication is that God plans drastic action if the situation is as bad as reported and doesn't want Abraham to wonder if drastic action was justified.
GENESIS 18:22-26. WILL YOU CONSUME THE RIGHTEOUS
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before
the Lord. 23 Abraham approached and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous people within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
"The men turned from there, and went toward Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before Yahweh"(v. 22). Verse 19:1 specifies that these "men" are in fact angels.
"Abraham drew near, and said, 'Will you consume the righteous with the wicked?'" (v. 23). Abraham senses that God already knows what the investigation will determine - that Sodom and Gomorrah are, indeed, moral cesspools. Abraham has surely heard reports about those cities and may well have known people who were victimized there. When God tries to reassure Abraham that he will conduct a thorough investigation, Abraham is not reassured. He sees the handwriting on the wall. He can imagine what God is about to do.
"Will you consume the righteous with the wicked?" (v. 23b). Abraham boldly raises an ethical dilemma. Seldom is there a place so thoroughly wicked that there are no righteous people sprinkled among the wicked. If there are righteous people living in Sodom and Gomorrah, can God justify inflicting the same punishment on them that he inflicts on the guilty? In war we call it "collateral damage" and find the idea highly repugnant. In war, some collateral damage might be inevitable - wars, after all, are fought by fallible humans - but God is not fallible and ought to hew to a higher standard. Abraham, in his concern for Lot and his family (as well as other righteous people who might live in these cities) raises the ethical question. Perhaps the prospect of hurting innocent people might cause God to change his plans.
"What if there are fifty righteous within the city? Will you consume and not spare the place for the fifty righteous who are in it?"(v. 24). Abraham acts as a defense lawyer here. He has introduced the ethical dilemma and now makes it specific. He picks a number - fifty in this case - and asks God if he will fail to forgive the cities for the sake of fifty righteous people. By raising the issue of fifty righteous people, he draws a line in the sand. Will God cross that line and commit the injustice of destroying fifty righteous people? Will he not spare the city for the sake of the righteous fifty?
"Be it far from you to do things like that, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be like the wicked. May that be far from you. Shouldn't the Judge of all the earth do right?"(v. 25). Abraham has introduced the ethical dilemma and has raised the possibility that there might be righteous people living in Sodom and Gomorrah - perhaps as many as fifty. Now he takes the next step, reminding God who God is - "the Judge of all the earth" - the one who loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Psalm 45:7). Will the one who requires righteousness and justice from others fail to act righteously and justly himself?
"Shouldn't the Judge of all the earth do right?" (v. 25c). Abraham's question anticipates the giving of the law, which will say, "Keep far from a false charge, and don't kill the innocent and righteous: for I will not justify the wicked" (Exodus 23:7). The writer of the book of Proverbs has the Lord saying, "He who justifies the wicked,
and he who condemns the righteous, both of them alike are an abomination to Yahweh" (Proverbs 17:15).
EW Commentary - Gen. 18:20-25; 19:12-16
2. (18:20-21) God tells Abraham He will see if Sodom and Gomorrah are worthy of judgment.
20 And the Lord said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know."
3. (18:22-25) Abraham asks an important question: Will God destroy the righteous with the wicked?
22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the Lord. 23 Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
B. The angels' deliverance of Lot.
1. (19:12-14) The angels warn Lot; Lot warns his family.
12 Then the two men said to Lot, "Whom else have you here? A son-in-law, and your sons, and your daughters, and whomever you have in the city, bring them out of the place; 13 for we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the Lord that the Lord has sent us to destroy it." 14 Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, and said, "Up, get out of this place, for the Lord will destroy the city." But he appeared to his sons-in-law to be jesting.
2. (19:15-16) The angels try to hurry Lot and his family.
15 When morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up, take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city." 16 But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city.
NOTE - 19:12-16 - The angels warned Lot to rescue his family, but Lot was unable to convince his sons in law to flee with him. When Lot hesitated, the angels physically brought him outside the city. This emphasizes the Lord's clear intention on rescuing Lot. The narrator reminds the reader that Lot's rescue was due to "the Lord being merciful to him."
Gen. 18:2-25; 19:12-16 - EXTRA COMMENTARY
Genesis 18:20 "And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;"
"The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great": The iniquity of the two cities, by then complete (15:16), had reached the point of no return before the Lord, who demonstrated before Abraham how justly He assessed the time for judgment (verse 21). Their sins cried out for punishment (4:10; Hosea 7:2; Jonah 1:2).
Genesis 18:21 "I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know."
"I will go down" (11:7), indicates that God's justice moved Him to demonstrate that He had full possession of the facts. Actually, the two angels went to Sodom and the Angel of the Lord stayed with Abraham. Abraham expressed concern for the people (13:8-9).
The LORD was going to investigate this terrible situation which was going on. We will find out a little later that this city's iniquity was homosexuality. The LORD was explaining to Abraham about the sin and its consequences.
Genesis 18:22 "And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD."
"And the men turned their faces": That is, the two angels who accompanied Jehovah were now sent towards Sodom; while the third, who is called the Lord, remained with Abraham for the purpose of teaching him the great usefulness and importance of faith and prayer.
I guess it is time to deal with the two that were with the LORD when He first came to Abraham. My own personal opinion (I have no Scripture to back this up), is that the two with the LORD were two very important angels (ministering spirits carrying out their orders from the throne). These could even have been Gabriel, and some other angel of great importance. The word men was loosely used, because they were in that form. The LORD remained with Abraham to discuss the problem, and sent the two angel men on to Sodom.
Genesis 18:23 "And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"
"Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" The intercession for the two wicked cities began with a question that portrayed Abraham's acute awareness of God's mercy toward the righteous and the distinction He made between the good and the bad (verse 25).
Genesis 18:24 "Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that [are] therein?"
Here is the first solemn prayer upon record in the Bible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham prayed earnestly that Sodom might be spared, if but a few righteous persons should be found in it. Learn from Abraham what compassion we should feel for sinners, and how earnestly we should pray for them.
We see here that the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Abraham, indeed, failed in his request for the whole place, but Lot was miraculously delivered. Be encouraged then to expect, by earnest prayer, the blessing of God upon your families, your friends, your neighborhood. To this end, you must not only pray, but you must live like Abraham.
He knew the Judge of all the earth would do right. He does not plead that the wicked may be spared for their own sake, or because it would be severe to destroy them, but for the sake of the righteous who might be found among them. And righteousness only can be made a plea before God.
How then did Christ make intercession for transgressors? Not by blaming the Divine law, nor by alleging aught in extenuation or excuse of human guilt; but by pleading HIS OWN obedience unto death.
This was very presumptuous of Abraham to question the LORD. The number 50 pertains to jubilee. This number indicates setting the captives free. Abraham was pleading for this city. This LORD, spoken of here in the next verse, is the Judge of all the earth. This indicated that this was the same Spirit as the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the LORD of all the earth.
Genesis 18:25 "That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
"Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Abraham's clear understanding of God's character being able only to do what is good and totally above reproach was affirmed with this rhetorical question.
Abraham was saying, LORD, You are righteous; this is not like You as You are a perfect Judge. Notice, in the Scripture above, that Judge was capitalized. This also tells us that this was the LORD, not an angel. I would be absolutely scared to death to speak to the LORD like this. Abraham was almost scolding the LORD.
Genesis 19:12 "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring [them] out of this place:"
The visitors now take steps for the deliverance of Lot and his kindred before the destruction of the cities. All that are related to him are included in the offer of deliverance. There is a blessing in being connected with the righteous, if men will but avail themselves of it. The mercy of the Lord prevails. The angels use a little violence to hasten their escape.
"And the men said unto Lot": When they had got him into the house again, they began to make themselves known unto him, and to acquaint him with the business they came to do. "Hast thou here any besides?" Which they ask not as being ignorant, though angels don't know everything relative to men, but to show their great regard to Lot.
"Son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters": It should be rendered either "son-in-law, or thy sons, or thy daughters". If thou hast any son-in-law that has married a daughter of thine, or any sons of thine own that live from thee; or grandsons, the sons of thy married daughters, as Jarchi interprets it; or any other daughters besides those two we here see.
And whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place. That is, whatsoever relations he had,
whether more near or remote. For as for his goods, whether in his own house, or in any other part of the city,
there was no time for saving them.
Genesis 19:13 "For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it."
"The Lord hath sent us to destroy it": With the wickedness of the city so graphically confirmed (verses 4-11), divine judgment was the only outcome, but Lot's family could escape it (verses 12-13. Jude 7).
Sudden destruction was to fall on this city. God would not put up with this sin. These angels had orders from God to call down fire from heaven. These angels were warning Lot and his family to get out.
Genesis 19:14 "And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law."
"Seemed as one that mocked": Lot's warning of imminent judgment fell within the category of jesting, so concluded his sons-in-law (or perhaps his daughters' fiancés).
Evidently Lot's testimony had degenerated to the point where even his family did not believe he was serious.
His sons-in-law had reprobate minds. They were so caught up in these sins themselves that they had never slept with their wives. (They were virgins). They did not know God, so why would they believe a warning from God? When this city of men was struck blind, it was not only physical blindness, but spiritual, too.
Genesis 19:15 "And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city."
"And when the morning arose": When it was break of day, for as yet the sun was not yet risen, nor did it rise until Lot got to Zoar (Genesis 19:23). He had now returned from his sons-in-law, and by this time it began to be light.
"Then the angels hastened Lot": urged him to get out of his house as fast as he could.
"Saying, arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here": Aben Ezra, and others, have concluded, it has been observed, that he had other daughters elsewhere, which they suppose were married to men of Sodom. But the phrase, "which are here", or "are found", or "are present" relates to his wife, as well as his daughters, and only signifies, that he should take all his relations that were present.
Genesis 19:16 "And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city."
"The Lord being merciful unto him": This reason, elsewhere described as God having remembered Abraham (verse 29), is why, in the face of Lot's seeming reluctance to leave ("hesitated"), the angels personally and forcefully escorted him and his family beyond the city's precincts.
I cannot believe that Lot and his family were slow to leave, and had to be led away from this evil city by these two angels. The girls went without their husbands. They were better off without them, if they were caught up in homosexuality. I do not find where Lot had made a stand for God in this city; the Lord showed mercy to him probably because of Abraham, and also, because he befriended the angels.
Gen. 18:20-25; 19:12-16 - PULPIT COMMENTARIES
Genesis 18:20: Verse 20. - And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great. Literally, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Genesis 4:10), because it is (not, it is indeed, Baumgarten, Keil) multiplied; the place of emphasis being conceded to the subject of discourse, viz., the cry of Sodom s wickedness. And because their sin is very great. Literally, and their sin, because it is heavy, i.e. abundant and heinous.
Genesis 18:21 Verse 21. - I will go down now (cf. Genesis 11:5), and see (judicial investigation ever precedes judicial infliction at the Divine tribunal) whether they have done altogether - literally, whether they have made cow, piousness, i.e. carried their iniquity to perfection, to the highest pitch of wickedness (Calvin, Delitzsch, Keil); or consummated their wickedness, by carrying it to that pitch of fullness which works death (Ainsworth, Kalisch, Rosenmüller). The received rendering, which regards כלה as an adverb, has the authority of Luther and Gesenius - according to the cry of it, which has come unto me; and if not, I will know. The LXX. render ἵνα γνῶ, meaning, "should it not be so, I will still go down, that I may ascertain the exact truth;" the Chaldee paraphrases, "and if they repent, I will not exact punishment." The entire verse is anthropomorphic, and designed to express the Divine solicitude that the strictest justice should characterize all his dealings both with men and nations.
Genesis 18:22: Verse 22. - And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom (i.e. two of the three proceeded on their way towards the Jordan valley, while the third was detained by the patriarch, probably on the heights overlooking the plain, for a sublime act of intercession which is thus briefly but suggestively described): but Abraham stood yet before the Lord. According to the Masorites the text originally read, "And the Lord stood before Abraham, and was changed because it did not seem becoming to speak of God standing in the presence of a creature. This, however, is a mere Rabbinical conceit. As Abraham is not said to hays stood before the three men, the expression points to spiritual rather than to local contiguity.
Genesis 18:23: Verse 23. - And Abraham drew near. I.e. to Jehovah; not simply locally, but also spiritually. The religious use of יִגַּשּׁ as a performing religious services to God, or a pious turning of the mind to God, is found in Exodus 30:20; Isaiah 29:13; Jeremiah 30:21; and in a similar sense ἐγγίζω is employed in the New Testament (cf. Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 10:22; James 4:8). The Jonathan Targum explains, "and Abraham prayed." And said. Commencing the sublimest act of human intercession of which Scripture preserves a record, being moved thereto, if not by an immediate regard for Lot (Lange), at least by a sense of compassion towards the inhabitants of Sodom, "communis erga quinque populos misericordia" (Calvin), which was heightened and intensified by his own previous experience of forgiving grace (Keil). Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? The question presupposes that God had, according to the resolution of Ver. 17, explained to the patriarch his intention to destroy the cities of the plain. The object the patriarch contemplated in his intercession was not simply the preservation of any godly remnant that might be found within the doomed towns, but the rescue of their entire populations from the impending judgment, - only he does not at first discover his complete design, perhaps regarding such an absolute reversal of the Divine purpose as exceeding the legitimate bounds of creature supplication; but with what might be characterized as holy adroitness he veils his ulterior aim, and commences his petition at a Point somewhat removed from that to which he hopes to come. Assuming it as settled that the fair Pentapolis is to be destroyed, he practically asks, with a strange mixture of humility and boldness, if Jehovah has considered that this will involve a sad commingling in one gigantic overthrow of both the righteous and the wicked.
Genesis 18:24: Verse 24. - Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city. A charitable supposition, as the event showed, though at first sight it might not appear so to Abraham; and the bare Possibility of Sodom's - not Sodom alone (Kalisch), but the Pentapolis - containing so many good men was enough to afford a basis for the argument which followed. Wilt thou also destroy and not spare - literally, take away (sc. the iniquity) i.e. remove the punishment from - the place (not the godly portion of the city merely, but the entire population; a complete discovery of Abraham s design) for the fifty righteous that are therein?
Genesis 18:25: Verse 25. - That be far from thee - literally to profane things (be it) to thee - nefas sit tibi = = absit a te! an exclamation of abhorrence, too feebly rendered by μηδαμῶς (LXX.) - to do after this manner (literally, according to this word), to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked (literally, and that it should be - as the righteous, so the wicked), that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? The patriarch appeals not to Jehovah's covenant grace (Kurtz), but to his absolute judicial equity (Keil). It does not, however, follow that the Divine righteousness would have been compromised by consigning pious and wicked to the same temporal destruction. This must have been a spectacle not infrequently observed in Abraham's day as well as ours. Yet the mind of Abraham appears to have been perplexed, as men's minds often are still, by the magnitude of the proposed illustration of a common principle in Providence. Though prepared to admit the principle when its application is confined to solitary cases, or cases of no great amplitude, yet instinctively the human mind feels that there must be a limit to the commingling of the righteous and the wicked in calamity, though it should be only of a temporal description. That limit Abraham conceived, or perhaps feared that others might conceive, would be passed if good and bad in Sodom should be overwhelmed in a common ruin; and in this spirit the closing utterance of his first supplication may be regarded as giving expression to the hope that Jehovah would do nothing that would even seem to tarnish his Divine righteousness. Abraham of course regarded this as impossible, consequently he believed that Sodom might be spared.
Genesis 19:1-13: Verses 12, 13. - And the men said unto Lot, - after the incident recorded in the preceding verses. Lot by this time had doubtless recognized their celestial character; accordingly, the Codex Samaritanus reads "angels" - Hast thou here any besides? (i.e. any other relatives or friends in the city in addition to the daughters then present in the house) son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever (not of things, but of persons) thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: for we will destroy this place (literally, for destroying this place are we, i.e. we are here for that purpose), because the cry of them - not "the outcry on account of them," i.e. which the men of Sodom extort from others (Gesenius), but the cry against them which ascends to heaven, the cry for vengeance on their iniquities (cf. Genesis 4:10; Genesis 18:20 - is waxen great before the face of the Lord (cf. Genesis 6:11; Genesis 10:9); and the Lord (Jehovah) hath sent us (language never employed by the Maleaeh Jehovah) to destroy it.
Genesis 19:14: Verse 14. - And Lot went out (obviously that same evening), and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, - literally, those taking his daughters, meaning either those who had taken them (LXX., Targums, Knobel, Delitzsch), or more probably those intending to take them, their affianced husbands (Josephus, Vulgate, Clericus, Rosenmüller, Ewald, Keil, Kalisch) - and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the Lord (Jehovah) will destroy this (literally, the) city. But (literally, and) he seemed as one that mocked - as one that made laughter; from the same root as the word Isaac (Genesis 17:19; cf. Judges 16:25) - unto his sons in law.
Genesis 19:15-16: Verses 15, 16. - And when the morning arose, - literally, as soon as the dawn (from שָׁחַר, to break forth as the light) went up, i.e. on the first appearance of the morning twilight - then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; - literally, which are found; not implying the existence of other daughters (Knobel), but contrasting with the sons in law (Keil, Kalisch) lest thou be consumed in the iniquity (or punishment, as in Isaiah 5:18) of the city. And while he lingered, - Lot's irresolution would have been his ruin but for his attendant. His heart manifestly clung to the earthly possessions he was leaving. The angels made no mention of his attempting to save a portion of his great wealth - the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lord being merciful to him: - literally, in the mercy, or gentleness, of Jehovah to him; the primary idea of the verb from which the noun is derived being that of softness (cf. Isaiah 63:9) - and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.
Gen. 18:20-25; 19:12-16 - Bible Ref
CONTEXT: Genesis 18:16-21 is an example of God using human language, and human behavior, to more clearly explain His will. Taking on a temporary human form, God speaks with Abraham about the impending destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. This process reveals that God not only intends to keep His promises-all His promises-but that His judgment on Sodom is well-deserved. God does not need to justify His actions to mankind, but in this passage, He does exactly that, for our benefit, and for our learning. Genesis 18:22-33 describes Abraham's negotiation with the Lord for the city of Sodom, where his nephew Lot and his family live. Previously, God spoke from a poetic human perspective, saying that He would judge Sodom and Gomorrah if their sins were as awful as they seemed. Here, Abraham recoils at the idea that the Lord would annihilate righteous people along with the wicked, beginning a sort of negotiation with God. Of course, God does not need to negotiate with man, and already knows how depraved Sodom is. This conversation with Abraham has nothing to do with changing God's mind; it has everything to do with proving, beyond all doubt, that God's actions here are just. God says He will spare Sodom for the sake of just ten righteous people; later passages show the city fails that test. In Chap. 19, two angels, disguised as men, visit Abraham's nephew, Lot, in the city of Sodom. After the men of Sodom attempt to rape the angels in Lot's home, the angels rescue Lot and his family, forcibly removing them from the city. Then God sends fire and sulfur from heaven. This destroys all of the land and people in and around the cities. As stated in earlier verses, this is the result of their great and ongoing wickedness. Lot's wife is turned to a pillar of salt when she disobeys the angels by looking back on the destruction. Lot and his daughters flee first to Zoar, then to a cave in the hills. There, Lot's confused and frightened daughters get him drunk, have sex with him, and each become pregnant. Genesis 19:1-22 describes what happens following the Lord's assurance to Abraham that He will not destroy Sodom if He finds ten righteous people there. Despite such a low standard, Sodom fails the test. Every man in the city attempts to rape two of the Lord's angels who are in human form. The angels intervene, eventually removing Lot and his family from the city by force, and out of God's mercy. The angels instruct the family to run to the hills, but Lot asks if they can flee to the tiny town of Zoar instead. The angels allow this.
Gen. 18:20: Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, - Having explained why He will reveal His plans for Sodom to Abraham, the Lord now begins to do so. Apparently, Abraham was unable to hear the Lord's words in the previous verses. Now the Lord speaks directly to him.
v. 21: I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. - The Lord continues explaining to Abraham His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah. In the previous verse, God states that outcry over the sins of those cities had reached His ears. Now the Lord says that He intends to go down to the cities to see for Himself if such an outcry is justified. Both of these are examples of God using human terminology to more clearly explain His message. The Lord already knows exactly what sins have occurred. He intends to visit the cities to make the case for executing His judgment on them, much as a parent who already knows exactly what a child has done says they are going to "go look" at the situation.
v. 22: So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the LORD. - In the previous verses, the Lord in human form had revealed to Abraham His plans for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. As they stood at a high vantage point overlooking Sodom in the distance, with two angels standing nearby, the Lord told Abraham that the sin of the people of those cities was very great. The outcry of their victims had reached His ears. The Lord was preparing to go and see the city for Himself to confirm what He had heard and, by implication, proceed with executing His judgment against it. All of these are stated in human terms, in order to highlight God's point. Like a parent who already knows what has happened, God asks rhetorical questions and speaks of "investigation" for the sake of His children.
v. 23: Then Abraham drew near and said, "Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? - The Lord has revealed to Abraham His plans to investigate the sinfulness of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and, by implication, execute judgment upon them if they are guilty. This is entirely for man's benefit, since God already knows what is happening. Rather, by speaking of "investigation," and conversing with Abraham, God is teaching mankind by giving us a clear, unmistakable justification for what He is about to do.
v. 24: Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? - The Lord has revealed to Abraham his plan to investigate and, by implication, bring judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their great sinfulness. This is a poetic device on God's part, meant to highlight His just handling of the situation. God already knows everything He needs to know about Sodom, so His words here are for the sake of our understanding. Abraham, standing with the Lord as two angels walk toward Sodom, is asking the Lord some hard questions.
v. 25: Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?" - The Lord has revealed to Abraham His plan to investigate and, by implication, bring judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their great sinfulness. Abraham, standing with the Lord as two angels walk toward Sodom, is asking the Lord some hard questions. Abraham's nephew Lot lives in Sodom, so Abraham seems to be angling for the city to be spared on Lot's account.
Gen. 19:12: Then the men said to Lot, "Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. - The angels have subdued the violent and rapacious mob seeking to break Lot's door down. Now they turn to Lot and those safe inside the house for the moment. The question asked by the two angels reveals that a greater danger is coming. They ask Lot if there is anyone else in town beside his wife and two daughters that he would hope to get out of the place. They list possibilities: sons, daughters, sons-in-law, anyone at all.
v. 13: For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it. - Finally, the two angels disguised as humans reveal their full mission to Lot and his family. They have been sent by the Lord, who intends to destroy Sodom (Genesis 19:24-25). Later verses credit the action to God, while the angels here use the expression "we" when referring to Sodom's impending ruin. This might refer to the combined actions of God and His messengers, much the same way a player on a team might say "we will..." when discussing an activity. Or, it might mean that God's destruction will be accomplished through the agency of these same angels. Either way, their role is to move forward God's plans for Sodom's judgment.
v. 14: So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, "Up! Get out of this place, for the LORD is about to destroy the city." But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting. - Given the opportunity by the angels to warn any of those close to him to flee the city before God's judgment came, Lot steps outside again. Given how recently an angry mob had been trying to break down his door, Lot is taking another risk. He is willing to risk his own life if he might save others.
v. 15: As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city." - During the prior night, two angels disguised as men had arrived in Sodom. Lot offered to protect them in his house, knowing they would not be safe in the streets overnight. A mob arrived at Lot's home, demanding these strangers be sent out so they could be raped. When this same crowd attacked Lot for interfering, the strangers pull Lot back into the house and supernaturally blind the attackers. They warn Lot to go and call anyone else he wishes to save from death to leave Sodom immediately. Lot does so, but nobody listens.
16: But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. - Lot lingers. Even with a mob out to destroy him and those with him, Lot lingers. Even with powerful angels telling him to run to escape the wrath of God, Lot lingers. Why? We're not told, but lingering seems to be what has gotten Lot into this danger in the first place. He could have taken his family and left Sodom long ago, but he stayed. He waited. The wickedness grew worse and worse all around him, and he just didn't leave. Even in these last moments before judgment fell, Lot finds it difficult to force himself to leave behind the evil place he called home.