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Genesis 18:2-4 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Abraham[a] looked up[b] and saw[c] three men standing across from[d] him. When he saw them[e] he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them and bowed low[f] to the ground.[g]

He said, “My lord,[h] if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by and leave your servant.[i] Let a little water be brought so that[j] you may all[k] wash your feet and rest under the tree.


  1. Genesis 18:2 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Abraham) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  2. Genesis 18:2 tn Heb “lifted up his eyes.”
  3. Genesis 18:2 tn Heb “and saw, and look.” The particle הִנֵּה (hinneh) draws attention to what he saw. The drawn-out description focuses the reader’s attention on Abraham’s deliberate, fixed gaze and indicates that what he is seeing is significant.
  4. Genesis 18:2 tn The Hebrew preposition עַל (ʿal) indicates the three men were nearby, but not close by, for Abraham had to run to meet them.
  5. Genesis 18:2 tn The pronoun “them” has been supplied in the translation for clarification. In the Hebrew text the verb has no stated object.
  6. Genesis 18:2 tn The form וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ (vayyishtakhu, “and bowed low”) is from the verb הִשְׁתַּחֲוָה (hishtakhavah, “to worship, bow low to the ground”). It is probably from a root חָוָה (khavah), though some derive it from שָׁחָה (shakhah).
  7. Genesis 18:2 sn The reader knows this is a theophany. The three visitors are probably the Lord and two angels (see Gen 19:1). It is not certain how soon Abraham recognized the true identity of the visitors. His actions suggest he suspected this was something out of the ordinary, though it is possible that his lavish treatment of the visitors was done quite unwittingly. Bowing down to the ground would be reserved for obeisance of kings or worship of the Lord. Whether he was aware of it or not, Abraham’s action was most appropriate.
  8. Genesis 18:3 tc The MT has the form אֲדֹנָי (ʾadonay, “Master”) which is reserved for God. This may reflect later scribal activity. The scribes, knowing it was the Lord, may have put the proper pointing with the word instead of the more common אֲדֹנִי (ʾadoni, “my master”).
  9. Genesis 18:3 tn Heb “do not pass by from upon your servant.”
  10. Genesis 18:4 tn The imperative after the jussive indicates purpose here.
  11. Genesis 18:4 tn The word “all” has been supplied in the translation because the Hebrew verb translated “wash” and the pronominal suffix on the word “feet” are plural, referring to all three of the visitors.
New English Translation (NET)

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