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The Visit to Abraham

Genesis 18:1-14 as translated by James L. Kugel

January-February 2004

The Lord appeared to him [Abraham] at the oak-trees of Mamre, as he was sitting near the door of his tent during the hot part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the tent-door to meet them, and bowed to the ground. "Gentlemen," he said, "if you please, do not, I pray, just pass your servant by. Let a little water be brought so that you can wash your feet and rest underneath this tree. Then I will fetch a bit of bread so that you may satisfy your hunger before resuming your journey—after all, you have come this way to your servant's place." They replied, "Do just as you have said."

Then Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said: "Quick! Knead three seahs of choice flour and make some loaves." Next, Abraham ran to the cattle and chose a calf, nice and tender, which he gave to the servant boy to prepare quickly. After that, he took curds and milk, along with the calf that had been prepared, and set them out before them. Then he stood by under a tree while they ate.

They said to him, "Where is your wife Sarah?" and he answered, "In there, inside the tent." Then one said, "I will be back this time next year, and your wife Sarah will have a son." Sarah had been listening at the door of the tent, which was in back of him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; Sarah had stopped having the periods that women have. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I am all used up will I still have relations—not to mention that my husband is old too!" Then the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Can I really give birth, old as I am?' Is anything too much for the Lord? I will be back this time next year, and Sarah will have a son."