Genesis 16-19 Common English Bible (CEB)
Hagar and the Ishmaelites’ origins
16 Sarai, Abram’s wife, had not been able to have children. Since she had an Egyptian servant named Hagar, 2 Sarai said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from giving birth, so go to my servant. Maybe she will provide me with children.” Abram did just as Sarai said. 3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took her Egyptian servant Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she became pregnant. But when she realized that she was pregnant, she no longer respected her mistress. 5 Sarai said to Abram, “This harassment is your fault. I allowed you to embrace my servant, but when she realized she was pregnant, I lost her respect. Let the Lord decide who is right, you or me.”
6 Abram said to Sarai, “Since she’s your servant, do whatever you wish to her.” So Sarai treated her harshly, and she ran away from Sarai.
7 The Lord’s messenger found Hagar at a spring in the desert, the spring on the road to Shur, 8 and said, “Hagar! Sarai’s servant! Where did you come from and where are you going?”
She said, “From Sarai my mistress. I’m running away.”
9 The Lord’s messenger said to her, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her harsh treatment of you.” 10 The Lord’s messenger also said to her,
“I will give you many children,
11 The Lord’s messenger said to her,
“You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son.
13 Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El Roi”[c] because she said, “Can I still see after he saw me?”[d] 14 Therefore, that well is called Beer-lahai-roi;[e] it’s the well between Kadesh and Bered. 15 Hagar gave birth to a son for Abram, and Abram named him Ishmael. 16 Abram was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael for Abram.
God’s covenant with Abraham
17 When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am El Shaddai.[f] Walk with me and be trustworthy. 2 I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants.” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, 4 “But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of many nations. 5 And because I have made you the ancestor of many nations, your name will no longer be Abram[g] but Abraham.[h] 6 I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. 8 I will give you and your descendants the land in which you are immigrants, the whole land of Canaan, as an enduring possession. And I will be their God.”
9 God said to Abraham, “As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants in every generation. 10 This is my covenant that you and your descendants must keep: Circumcise every male. 11 You must circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it will be a symbol of the covenant between us. 12 On the eighth day after birth, every male in every generation must be circumcised, including those who are not your own children: those born in your household and those purchased with silver from foreigners. 13 Be sure you circumcise those born in your household and those purchased with your silver. Your flesh will embody my covenant as an enduring covenant. 14 Any uncircumcised male whose flesh of his foreskin remains uncircumcised will be cut off from his people. He has broken my covenant.”
15 God said to Abraham, “As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her.”
17 Abraham fell on his face and laughed. He said to himself, Can a 100-year-old man become a father, or Sarah, a 90-year-old woman, have a child? 18 To God Abraham said, “If only you would accept Ishmael!”
19 But God said, “No, your wife Sarah will give birth to a son for you, and you will name him Isaac.[i] I will set up my covenant with him and with his descendants after him as an enduring covenant. 20 As for Ishmael, I’ve heard your request. I will bless him and make him fertile and give him many, many descendants. He will be the ancestor of twelve tribal leaders, and I will make a great nation of him. 21 But I will set up my covenant with Isaac, who will be born to Sarah at this time next year.” 22 When God finished speaking to him, God ascended, leaving Abraham alone.
23 Abraham took his son Ishmael, all those born in his household, and all those purchased with his silver—that is, every male in Abraham’s household—and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that same day, just as God had told him to do. 24 Abraham was 99 years old when he circumcised the flesh of his foreskin, 25 and his son Ishmael was 13 years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised. 26 That same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised. 27 All the men of his household, those born in his household and those purchased with silver from foreigners, were circumcised with him.
Isaac’s birth announced
18 The Lord appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre while he sat at the entrance of his tent in the day’s heat. 2 He looked up and suddenly saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from his tent entrance to greet them and bowed deeply. 3 He said, “Sirs, if you would be so kind, don’t just pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought so you may wash your feet and refresh yourselves under the tree. 5 Let me offer you a little bread so you will feel stronger, and after that you may leave your servant and go on your way—since you have visited your servant.”
They responded, “Fine. Do just as you have said.”
6 So Abraham hurried to Sarah at his tent and said, “Hurry! Knead three seahs[j] of the finest flour and make some baked goods!” 7 Abraham ran to the cattle, took a healthy young calf, and gave it to a young servant, who prepared it quickly. 8 Then Abraham took butter, milk, and the calf that had been prepared, put the food in front of them, and stood under the tree near them as they ate.
9 They said to him, “Where’s your wife Sarah?”
And he said, “Right here in the tent.”
10 Then one of the men said, “I will definitely return to you about this time next year. Then your wife Sarah will have a son!”
Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were both very old. Sarah was no longer menstruating. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, I’m no longer able to have children and my husband’s old.
13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Me give birth? At my age?’ 14 Is anything too difficult for the Lord? When I return to you about this time next year, Sarah will have a son.”
15 Sarah lied and said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was frightened.
But he said, “No, you laughed.”
Abraham pleads for Sodom
16 The men got up from there and went over to look down on Sodom. Abraham was walking along with them to send them off 17 when the Lord said, “Will I keep from Abraham what I’m about to do? 18 Abraham will certainly become a great populous nation, and all the earth’s nations will be blessed because of him. 19 I have formed a relationship with him so that he will instruct his children and his household after him. And they will keep to the Lord’s path, being moral and just so that the Lord can do for Abraham everything he said he would.” 20 Then the Lord said, “The cries of injustice from Sodom and Gomorrah are countless, and their sin is very serious! 21 I will go down now to examine the cries of injustice that have reached me. Have they really done all this? If not, I want to know.”
22 The men turned away and walked toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing in front of the Lord.[k] 23 Abraham approached and said, “Will you really sweep away the innocent[l] with the guilty?[m] 24 What if there are fifty innocent people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not save the place for the sake of the fifty innocent people in it? 25 It’s not like you to do this, killing the innocent with the guilty as if there were no difference. It’s not like you! Will the judge of all the earth not act justly?”
26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom, I will save it because of them.”
27 Abraham responded, “Since I’ve already decided to speak with my Lord, even though I’m just soil and ash, 28 what if there are five fewer innocent people than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city over just five?”
The Lord said, “If I find forty-five there, I won’t destroy it.”
29 Once again Abraham spoke, “What if forty are there?”
The Lord said, “For the sake of forty, I will do nothing.”
30 He said, “Don’t be angry with me, my Lord, but let me speak. What if thirty are there?”
The Lord said, “I won’t do it if I find thirty there.”
31 Abraham said, “Since I’ve already decided to speak with my Lord, what if twenty are there?”
The Lord said, “I won’t do it, for the sake of twenty.”
32 Abraham said, “Don’t be angry with me, my Lord, but let me speak just once more. What if there are ten?”
And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it because of those ten.” 33 When the Lord finished speaking with Abraham, he left; but Abraham stayed there in that place.
Lot leaves Sodom
19 The two messengers entered Sodom in the evening. Lot, who was sitting at the gate of Sodom, saw them, got up to greet them, and bowed low. 2 He said, “Come to your servant’s house, spend the night, and wash your feet. Then you can get up early and go on your way.”
But they said, “No, we will spend the night in the town square.” 3 He pleaded earnestly with them, so they went with him and entered his house. He made a big meal for them, even baking unleavened bread, and they ate.
4 Before they went to bed, the men of the city of Sodom—everyone from the youngest to the oldest—surrounded the house 5 and called to Lot, “Where are the men who arrived tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may have sex with them.”
6 Lot went out toward the entrance, closed the door behind him, 7 and said, “My brothers, don’t do such an evil thing. 8 I’ve got two daughters who are virgins. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them whatever you wish. But don’t do anything to these men because they are now under the protection of my roof.”
9 They said, “Get out of the way!” And they continued, “Does this immigrant want to judge us? Now we will hurt you more than we will hurt them.” They pushed Lot back and came close to breaking down the door. 10 The men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house with them and slammed the door. 11 Then the messengers blinded the men near the entrance of the house, from the youngest to the oldest, so that they groped around trying to find the entrance.
12 The men said to Lot, “Who’s still with you here? Take away from this place your sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, and everyone else you have in the city 13 because we are about to destroy this place. The Lord has found the cries of injustice so serious that the Lord sent us to destroy it.”
14 Lot went to speak to his sons-in-law, married to his daughters, and said, “Get up and get out of this place because the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.
15 When dawn broke, the messengers urged Lot, “Get up and take your wife and your two daughters who are here so that you are not swept away because of the evil in this city.” 16 He hesitated, but because the Lord intended to save him, the men grabbed him, his wife, and two daughters by the hand, took him out, and left him outside the city.
17 After getting them out, the men said, “Save your lives! Don’t look back! And don’t stay in the valley. Escape to the mountains so that you are not swept away.”
18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please. 19 You’ve done me a favor and have been so kind to save my life. But I can’t escape to the mountains since the catastrophe might overtake me there and I’d die. 20 This city here is close enough to flee to, and it’s small. It’s small, right? Let me escape there, and my life will be saved.”
21 He said to Lot, “I’ll do this for you as well; I won’t overthrow the city that you have described. 22 Hurry! Escape to it! I can’t do anything until you get there.” That is why the name of the city is Zoar.[n]
Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed
23 As the sun rose over the earth, Lot arrived in Zoar; 24 and the Lord rained down burning asphalt from the skies onto Sodom and Gomorrah. 25 The Lord destroyed these cities, the entire valley, everyone who lived in the cities, and all of the fertile land’s vegetation. 26 When Lot’s wife looked back, she turned into a pillar of salt.
27 Abraham set out early for the place where he had stood with the Lord, 28 and looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah and over all the land of the valley. He saw the smoke from the land rise like the smoke from a kiln.
Origin of Moab and Ammon
29 When God destroyed the cities in the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot away from the disaster that overtook the cities in which Lot had lived. 30 Since Lot had become fearful of living in Zoar, he and his two daughters headed up from Zoar and settled in the mountains where he and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 The older daughter said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there are no men in the land to sleep with us as is the custom everywhere. 32 Come on, let’s give our father wine to drink, lie down with him, and we’ll have children from our father.” 33 That night they served their father wine, and the older daughter went in and lay down with her father, without him noticing when she lay down or got up. 34 The next day the older daughter said to the younger, “Since I lay down with our father last night, let’s serve him wine tonight too, and you go in and lie down with him so that we will both have children from our father.” 35 They served their father wine that night also, and the younger daughter lay down with him, without him knowing when she lay down or got up. 36 Both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. 37 The older daughter gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the ancestor of today’s Moabites. 38 The younger daughter also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-ammi.[o] He is the ancestor of today’s Ammonites.