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Parashat Vayera

The Promise of a Son

18 Then Adonai appeared to him at Mamre’s large trees while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day. When he lifted up his eyes to see, suddenly, three men were standing right by him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed down to the ground. Then he said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass by your servant. Please let a little water be brought so you can wash your feet, and make yourselves comfortable under the tree. And let me bring a bit of bread so that you can refresh yourselves—then you can pass on—since you have passed by your servant.

They said, “Do just as you have said.” So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Knead three measures of fine flour and prepare bread loaves!” Then to the herd Abraham ran and took a young ox, tender and good, and he gave it to the servant, who prepared it quickly. Then he took butter and milk and the young ox that he had prepared and set it before them. While he was standing by them under the tree, they ate.

Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?”

“There, in the tent,” he said.

10 Then He said, “I will most surely return to you in about a year’s time, surprisingly, Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind Him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years—Sarah had stopped having the way of women. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I’ve grown decrepit, can I have desire—and my lord so old?”

13 Then Adonai said to Abraham, “Why is it that Sarah laughed, saying, ‘Can I really give birth when I am so old?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for Adonai? At the appointed time I will return to you—in about a year—and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah denied it saying, “I didn’t laugh!” For she was afraid.

But He said, “No—for you did laugh.”

Abraham Intercedes

16 Then the men got up from there and looked down over Sodom. Abraham was walking with them to send them off, 17 when Adonai said, “Should I keep secret from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham will most certainly become a great and mighty nation and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19 For I have made myself known to him so that he will command his sons and his household after him to keep the way of Adonai by doing righteousness and justice, so that Adonai may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” 20 Then Adonai said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great indeed, and their sin is very grievous indeed. 21 I want to go down now, and see if they deserve destruction, as its outcry has come to Me. And if not, I will know.”

22 Then the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before Adonai. 23 Abraham drew near and said, “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing—to cause the righteous to die with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked share the same fate! Far be it from You! Shall the Judge of the whole world not exercise justice?”

26 Then Adonai said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous people within the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Look, pray, I have decided to speak to my Lord, though I am dust and ashes. 28 Suppose the fifty righteous people are lacking five. Will You destroy the whole city for lack of five?”

And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”

29 So he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Perhaps forty will be found there?”

And He said, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”

30 Then he said, “Please, let my Lord not be angry, so I may speak. Perhaps thirty will be found there?”

And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 Then he said, “Look, pray, I have decided to speak to my Lord: Perhaps twenty will be found there?”

And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”

32 Then he said, “Please, let not my Lord be angry, so I may speak once more. Perhaps ten will be found there?”

And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”

33 Now when He had finished speaking to Abraham, Adonai left, and Abraham returned to his place.