1The Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre. Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent as the day became really hot. 2He looked up and all of a sudden he saw three men standing there. As soon as he saw them, he ran over to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3He said, “Sir,#18:3. It seems Abraham was addressing just one of them, perhaps seeing him as their leader. if you please, don't continue your journey without spending some time here with me, your servant. 4Let me have some water brought so you can wash your feet and rest under the tree. 5Also let me bring some food so you can get your strength back before you go on your way, now that you've come to visit me here.”
“That would be fine,” they answered. “Please do as you've suggested.”
6Abraham hurried back to the tent and told Sarah, “Quick! Make some bread using three large measures#18:6. “Large measures”: literally “seahs,” variously estimated as 20 quarts or 44 pounds. of the best flour. Knead the dough and bake the bread.” 7Then Abraham ran to the cattle herd and chose a good, young calf and gave it to his servant who quickly killed and cooked it. 8Then he took some yogurt, milk, and the cooked meat, and placed the food in front of them. He stood nearby under a tree while they ate.
9“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.
“Over there, inside the tent,” he replied.
10Then one said, “I promise you that I will come back to visit you about this time next year, and your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening, hiding just inside the entrance to the tent behind him.
11Abraham and Sarah were old, getting on in years. Sarah was well past the age of having children. 12Sarah was laughing inside, saying to herself, “Now that I'm old and worn out, how would I experience pleasure? My husband is old too!”
13The Lord asked Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and ask, ‘How could it possibly be true that I'll have a child now I'm so old?’ 14Is anything too difficult for the Lord to do? I will come back next year when I said I would, in the spring, and Sarah will have a son.”
15Sarah denied it because she was afraid, claiming, “I didn't laugh.”
“Yes, you did laugh,” the Lord replied.
16Then the men left. They looked down on Sodom#18:16. Clearly they could see Sodom in the valley below from their viewpoint higher up. and headed in that direction. Abraham accompanied them part of the way.
17Then the Lord said, “Should I keep from Abraham what I'm going to do? 18Abraham will definitely become a great and powerful nation, and all the nations on earth will be blessed through him. 19I've chosen him so that he will teach his sons and their families to follow the way of the Lord by doing what is right and good, so that I, the Lord, can do for Abraham what I promised.”
20Then the Lord said, “There are many complaints made against Sodom and Gomorrah because they sin so blatantly. 21I'm going to see if these complaints that have reached me are completely true. I'll know if they're not.”
22The two men turned and went towards Sodom, but the Lord stayed there with Abraham.
23Abraham came to him and asked: “Are you really going to wipe out the good people along with the wicked? 24What if there are fifty good people in the town? Are you still going to wipe it out despite the fifty good people there? 25No, you can't do something like that! You can't kill the good with the wicked, otherwise you would be treating the good and the wicked in the same way. You can't do that! Isn't the Judge of all the earth going to do the right thing?”
26“If I find fifty good people in Sodom, I'll spare the whole town because of them,” the Lord replied.
27“Since I've started, let me go on speaking to my Lord, even though I'm nothing but dust and ashes,” Abraham continued. 28“What if there are forty-five good people, just five less? Are you still going to wipe out the whole town just because there are five fewer people?”
“I won't destroy it if I find forty-five,” the Lord replied.
29Abraham spoke up again and he asked the Lord, “What if only forty can be found?”
“I won't do it for the sake of the forty,” the Lord replied.
30“My Lord, please don't get angry with me,” Abraham went on. “Let me ask this—what if only thirty were found?”
“I won't do it if I find thirty,” the Lord replied.
31“I admit I've been very bold to speak to my Lord like this,” Abraham said. “What if only twenty are found there?”
“I won't do it for the sake of the twenty,” the Lord replied.
32“Please don't get angry with me, my Lord,” Abraham said. “Just let me ask one more thing. What if only ten are found there?”
“I won't destroy it for the sake of the ten,” the Lord replied.
33The Lord left once he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham went home.