Complete Jewish Bible
Parashah 4: Vayera (He appeared) 18:1–22:24
18 Adonai appeared to Avraham by the oaks of Mamre as he sat at the entrance to the tent during the heat of the day. 2 He raised his eyes and looked, and there in front of him stood three men. On seeing them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, prostrated himself on the ground, 3 and said, “My lord, if I have found favor in your sight, please don’t leave your servant. 4 Please let me send for some water, so that you can wash your feet; then rest under the tree, 5 and I will bring a piece of bread. Now that you have come to your servant, refresh yourselves before going on.” “Very well,” they replied, “do what you have said.”
6 Avraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quickly, three measures of the best flour! Knead it and make cakes.” 7 Avraham ran to the herd, took a good, tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 Then he took curds, milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it all before the men; and he stood by them under the tree as they ate. 9 They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” He said, “There, in the tent.” 10 He said, “I will certainly return to you around this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah heard him from the entrance of the tent, behind him. 11 Avraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years; Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “I am old, and so is my lord; am I to have pleasure again?” 13 Adonai said to Avraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and ask, ‘Am I really going to bear a child when I am so old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for Adonai? At the time set for it, at this season next year, I will return to you; and Sarah will have a son.” (ii) 15 Sarah denied it, saying, “I didn’t either laugh,” because she was afraid. He said, “Not so — you did laugh.”
16 The men set out from there and looked over toward S’dom, and Avraham went with them to see them on their way. 17 Adonai said, “Should I hide from Avraham what I am about to do, 18 inasmuch as Avraham is sure to become a great and strong nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by him? 19 For I have made myself known to him, so that he will give orders to his children and to his household after him to keep the way of Adonai and to do what is right and just, so that Adonai may bring about for Avraham what he has promised him.”
20 Adonai said, “The outcry against S’dom and ‘Amora is so great and their sin so serious 21 that I will now go down and see whether their deeds warrant the outcry that has reached me; if not, I will know.” 22 The men turned away from there and went toward S’dom, but Avraham remained standing before Adonai. 23 Avraham approached and said, “Will you actually sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Maybe there are fifty righteous people in the city; will you actually sweep the place away, and not forgive it for the sake of the fifty righteous who are there? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing — to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Shouldn’t the judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 Adonai said, “If I find in S’dom fifty who are righteous, then I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”
27 Avraham answered, “Here now, I, who am but dust and ashes, have taken it upon myself to speak to Adonai. 28 What if there are five less than fifty righteous?” He said, “I won’t destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
29 He spoke to him yet again: “What if forty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of the forty I won’t do it.”
30 He said, “I hope Adonai won’t be angry if I speak. What if thirty are found there?” He said, “I won’t do it if I find thirty there.”
31 He said, “Here now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to Adonai. What if twenty are found there?” He said, “For the sake of the twenty I won’t destroy it.”
32 He said, “I hope Adonai won’t be angry if I speak just once more. What if ten are found there?” He said, “For the sake of the ten I won’t destroy it.” 33 Adonai went on his way as soon as he had finished speaking to Avraham, and Avraham returned to his place.
19 (iii) The two angels came to S’dom that evening, when Lot was sitting at the gate of S’dom. Lot saw them, got up to greet them and prostrated himself on the ground. 2 He said, “Here now, my lords, please come over to your servant’s house. Spend the night, wash your feet, get up early, and go on your way.” “No,” they answered, “we’ll stay in the square.” 3 But he kept pressing them; so they went home with him; and he made them a meal, baking matzah for their supper, which they ate.
4 But before they could go to bed, the men of the city surrounded the house — young and old, everyone from every neighborhood of S’dom. 5 They called Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to stay with you tonight? Bring them out to us! We want to have sex with them!” 6 Lot went out to them and stood in the doorway, closing the door behind him, 7 and said, “Please, my brothers, don’t do such a wicked thing. 8 Look here, I have two daughters who are virgins. Please, let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them what seems good to you; but don’t do anything to these men, since they are guests in my house.” 9 “Stand back!” they replied. “This guy came to live here, and now he’s decided to play judge. For that we’ll deal worse with you than with them!” Then they crowded in on Lot, in order to get close enough to break down the door. 10 But the men inside reached out their hands, brought Lot into the house to them and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they couldn’t find the doorway.
12 The men said to Lot, “Do you have any people here besides yourself? Whomever you have in the city — son-in-law, your sons, your daughters — bring them out of this place; 13 because we are going to destroy it. Adonai has become aware of the great outcry against them, and Adonai has sent us to destroy it.” 14 Lot went out and spoke with his sons-in-law, who had married his daughters, and said, “Get up and leave this place, because Adonai is going to destroy the city.” But his sons-in-law didn’t take him seriously.
15 When morning came, the angels told Lot to hurry. “Get up,” they said, “and take your wife and your two daughters who are here; otherwise you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 But he dallied, so the men took hold of his hand, his wife’s hand and the hands of his two daughters — Adonai was being merciful to him — and led them, leaving them outside the city. 17 When they had brought them out, he said, “Flee for your life! Don’t look behind you, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain, but escape to the hills! Otherwise you will be swept away.” 18 Lot said to them, “Please, no, my lord! 19 Here, your servant has already found favor in your sight, and you have shown me even greater mercy by saving my life. But I can’t escape to the hills, because I’m afraid the disaster will overtake me, and I will die. 20 Look, there’s a town nearby to flee to, and it’s a small one. Please let me escape there — isn’t it just a small one? — and that way I will stay alive.”
(iv) 21 He replied, “All right, I agree to what you have asked. I won’t overthrow the city of which you have spoken. 22 Hurry, and escape to that place, because I can’t do anything until you arrive there.” For this reason the city was named Tzo‘ar [small].
23 By the time Lot had come to Tzo‘ar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then Adonai caused sulfur and fire to rain down upon S’dom and ‘Amora from Adonai out of the sky. 25 He overthrew those cities, the entire plain, all the inhabitants of the cities and everything growing in the ground. 26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a column of salt.
27 Avraham got up early in the morning, went to the place where he had stood before Adonai, 28 and looked out toward S’dom and ‘Amora, scanning the entire plain. There before him the smoke was rising from the land like smoke from a furnace! 29 But when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Avraham and sent Lot out, away from the destruction, when he overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.
30 Lot went up from Tzo‘ar and lived in the hills with his two daughters, because he was afraid to stay in Tzo‘ar. He and his two daughters lived in a cave. 31 The firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there isn’t a man on earth to come in to us in the manner customary in the world. 32 Come, let’s have our father drink wine; then we’ll sleep with him, and that way we’ll enable our father to have descendants.”
33 So they plied their father with wine that night, and the older one went in and slept with her father; he didn’t know when she lay down or when she got up. 34 The following day, the older said to the younger, “Here, I slept last night with my father. Let’s make him drink wine again tonight, and you go in and sleep with him, and that way we’ll enable our father to have descendants.” 35 They plied their father with wine that night also, and the younger one got up and slept with him, and he didn’t know when she lay down or when she got up. 36 Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father.
37 The older one gave birth to a son and called him Mo’av; he is the ancestor of Mo’av to this day. 38 The younger also gave birth to a son, and she called him Ben-‘Ammi; he is the ancestor of the people of ‘Amon to this day.
20 Avraham traveled from there toward the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. While living as an alien in G’rar, 2 Avraham was saying of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister”; so Avimelekh king of G’rar sent and took Sarah. 3 But God came to Avimelekh in a dream one night and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, since she is someone’s wife.” 4 Now Avimelekh had not come near her; so he said, “Lord, will you kill even an upright nation? 5 Didn’t he himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And even she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In doing this, my heart has been pure and my hands innocent.” 6 God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in doing this, your heart has been pure; and I too have kept you from sinning against me. This is why I didn’t let you touch her. 7 Therefore, return the man’s wife to him now. He is a prophet, and he will pray for you, so that you will live. But if you don’t return her, know that you will certainly die — you and all who belong to you.”
8 Avimelekh got up early in the morning, called all his servants and told them these things; and the men became very afraid. 9 Then Avimelekh called Avraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? How have I sinned against you to cause you to bring on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done things to me that are just not done.” 10 Avimelekh went on, asking Avraham, “Whatever could have caused you to do such a thing?” 11 Avraham replied, “It was because I thought, ‘There could not possibly be any fear of God in this place, so they will kill me in order to get my wife.’ 12 But she actually is also my sister, the daughter of my father but not the daughter of my mother, and so she became my wife. 13 When God had me leave my father’s house, I told her, ‘Do me this favor: wherever we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’”
14 Avimelekh took sheep, cattle, and male and female slaves, and gave them to Avraham; and he returned to him Sarah his wife. 15 Then Avimelekh said, “Look, my country lies before you; live where you like.” 16 To Sarah he said, “Here, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver. That will allay the suspicions of everyone who is with you. Before everyone you are cleared.” 17 Avraham prayed to God, and God healed Avimelekh and his wife and slave-girls, so that they could have children. 18 For Adonai had made every woman in Avimelekh’s household infertile on account of Sarah Avraham’s wife.
21 Adonai remembered Sarah as he had said, and Adonai did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah conceived and bore Avraham a son in his old age, at the very time God had said to him. 3 Avraham called his son, born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Yitz’chak. 4 Avraham circumcised his son Yitz’chak when he was eight days old, as God had ordered him to do.
(v) 5 Avraham was one hundred years old when his son Yitz’chak [laughter] was born to him. 6 Sarah said, “God has given me good reason to laugh; now everyone who hears about it will laugh with me.” 7 And she said, “Who would have said to Avraham that Sarah would nurse children? Nevertheless, I have borne him a son in his old age!”
8 The child grew and was weaned, and Avraham gave a great banquet on the day that Yitz’chak was weaned. 9 But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom Hagar had borne to Avraham, making fun of Yitz’chak; 10 so Sarah said to Avraham, “Throw this slave-girl out! And her son! I will not have this slave-girl’s son as your heir along with my son Yitz’chak!”
11 Avraham became very distressed over this matter of his son. 12 But God said to Avraham, “Don’t be distressed because of the boy and your slave-girl. Listen to everything Sarah says to you, because it is your descendants through Yitz’chak who will be counted. 13 But I will also make a nation from the son of the slave-girl, since he is descended from you.”
14 Avraham got up early in the morning, took bread and a skin of water and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child; then he sent her away. After leaving, she wandered in the desert around Be’er-Sheva. 15 When the water in the skin was gone, she left the child under a bush, 16 and went and sat down, looking the other way, about a bow-shot’s distance from him; because she said, “I can’t bear to watch my child die.” So she sat there, looking the other way, crying out and weeping. 17 God heard the boy’s voice, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What’s wrong with you, Hagar? Don’t be afraid, because God has heard the voice of the boy in his present situation. 18 Get up, lift the boy up, and hold him tightly in your hand, because I am going to make him a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. So she went, filled the skin with water and gave the boy water to drink.
20 God was with the boy, and he grew. He lived in the desert and became an archer. 21 He lived in the Pa’ran Desert, and his mother chose a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
(vi) 22 At that time Avimelekh and Pikhol the commander of his army spoke to Avraham. They said, “God is with you in everything you do. 23 Therefore, swear to me here by God that you will never deal falsely with me or with my son or grandson; but according to the kindness with which I have treated you, you will treat me and the land in which you have lived as a foreigner. 24 Avraham said, “I swear it.”
25 Now Avraham had complained to Avimelekh about a well which Avimelekh’s servants had seized. 26 Avimelekh answered, “I don’t know who has done this. You didn’t tell me, and I heard about it only today.” 27 Avraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Avimelekh, and the two of them made a covenant. 28 Avraham put seven female lambs from the flock by themselves. 29 Avimelekh asked Avraham, “What is the meaning of these seven female lambs you have put by themselves?” 30 He answered, “You are to accept these seven female lambs from me as witness that I dug this well.” 31 This is why that place was called Be’er-Sheva [well of seven, well of an oath] — because they both swore an oath there. 32 When they made the covenant at Be’er-Sheva, Avimelekh departed with Pikhol the commander of his army and returned to the land of the P’lishtim. 33 Avraham planted a tamarisk tree in Be’er-Sheva, and there he called on the name of Adonai, the everlasting God. 34 Avraham lived for a long time as a foreigner in the land of the P’lishtim.
22 (vii) After these things, God tested Avraham. He said to him, “Avraham!” and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitz’chak; and go to the land of Moriyah. There you are to offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will point out to you.”
3 Avraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, together with Yitz’chak his son. He cut the wood for the burnt offering, departed and went toward the place God had told him about. 4 On the third day, Avraham raised his eyes and saw the place in the distance. 5 Avraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey. I and the boy will go there, worship and return to you.” 6 Avraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on Yitz’chak his son. Then he took in his hand the fire and the knife, and they both went on together.
7 Yitz’chak spoke to Avraham his father: “My father?” He answered, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “I see the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Avraham replied, “God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son”; and they both went on together.
9 They came to the place God had told him about; and Avraham built the altar there, set the wood in order, bound Yitz’chak his son and laid him on the altar, on the wood. 10 Then Avraham put out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.
11 But the angel of Adonai called to him out of heaven: “Avraham? Avraham!” He answered, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Don’t lay your hand on the boy! Don’t do anything to him! For now I know that you are a man who fears God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 Avraham raised his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. Avraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Avraham called the place Adonai Yir’eh [Adonai will see (to it), Adonai provides] — as it is said to this day, “On the mountain Adonai is seen.”
15 The angel of Adonai called to Avraham a second time out of heaven. 16 He said, “I have sworn by myself — says Adonai — that because you have done this, because you haven’t withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will most certainly bless you; and I will most certainly increase your descendants to as many as there are stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will possess the cities of their enemies, 18 and by your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed — because you obeyed my order.”
19 So Avraham returned to his young men. They got up and went together to Be’er-Sheva, and Avraham settled in Be’er-Sheva.
(Maftir) 20 Afterwards, Avraham was told, “Milkah too has borne children, to your brother Nachor — 21 ‘Utz his firstborn, Buz his brother, K’mu’el the father of Aram, 22 Kesed, Hazo, Pildash, Yidlaf and B’tu’el. 23 B’tu’el fathered Rivkah. These eight Milkah bore to Nachor Avraham’s brother. 24 His concubine, whose name was Re’umah, bore children also: Tevach, Gacham, Tachash and Ma‘akhah.
Haftarah Vayera: M’lakhim Bet (2 Kings) 4:1–37 (A); 4:1–23 (S)
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Vayera: Luke 17:26 –37; Romans 9:6 – 9; Galatians 4:21–31; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 6:13–20; 11:13–19; Ya‘akov (James) 2:14–24; 2 Kefa (2 Peter) 2:4–10