Genesis 18 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Genesis 18 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

(18:1-8) "The Lord appeared unto him."
Abraham feeds God and three angels.
Can God be seen?
God himself cannot be seen, but his Son can. This was Jesus Christ, appearing in human form.

2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

(18:8) "He took butter, and milk, and the calf ... and they did eat."
Not a very kosher meal for God and Abraham to eat! (See Exodus 23:19)
The ‘kosher’ laws were given only 400 years after this.

9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

(18:9) "Where is Sarah thy wife?"
Does God know and see everything?
God was having a conversation with Abraham. As John Gill explains:

the question here put by him was not out of ignorance, for he who knew the name of Abraham's wife, knew where she was; but this was asked in order to lead on to say something more concerning her, and that, hearing her name, she might draw nearer and listen to what was said of her.

10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

(18:10-15) "Therefore Sarah laughed."
Sarah, who is about 90 years old and has gone through menopause, laughs at God when he tells her that she will have a son. She asks God if she will "have pleasure" with her "lord" [Abraham], when both are so very old. God assures her that he will return and impregnate her at the appointed time.
Did Sarah have faith that she would conceive?
The reading by the author of the SAB of this verse is surreal. God does not “impregnate” Sarah. The verse simply says that she will become pregnant the usual way.
On if Sarah had faith, not right here and now. But in Heb. 11:11 it refers to the time she had.

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

(18:14) "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"
Can God do anything?
Yes, God can do anything. See the verses where the author of the SAB reads something different, see Heb. 6:18.

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

(18:17) "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?"
God, who is planning another mass murder, is worried that Abraham might try to stop him. so he asks himself if he should hide his intentions from Abraham.
Does God know everything?
This verse says exactly the opposite: the phrase “Shall I hide” is typical Hebrew for “I shall not hide.” God is saying that he will do the opposite of hiding, but make know to Abraham what he will do.

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

(18:21) "And the Lord said ... I will go down now, and see."
Does God know everything?
Yes, God knows everything. Why would God go to this place if he didn't know about it? But John Gill explains:

this is spoken after the manner of men; for otherwise God saw all their wickedness, and knew full well the nature and circumstances of it, and how general it was; but this method he proposes to take, to show the justice of his proceedings, and to instruct judges, and set an example to them, not to condemn any without thoroughly examining their cause.

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

(18:23-25) "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?"
Abraham begs God not to kill everyone in Sodom and Gomorrah. [Which is odd, since later (Gen.22:2-10) Abraham doesn't even question God's request that he kill his own son.] He asks God two good questions: "Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked?" and "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (The answers are "yes" and "no", respectively.)
God didn't request Abraham to “kill his son” as the author of the SAB has it. Abraham viewed that request very differently. So in this case Abraham had his eye on Lot, and expected Lot would not be the only one:

having in his mind righteous Lot, who dwelt in Sodom, whom he knew to be a just man, though he had departed from him, and was dwelling in such a wicked place; and he might charitably hope there were more in so large a city and in the parts adjacent, at least that were not so flagitious and abominably wicked as the greater part were, and who, in comparison of them, were sober and moral people.

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake.

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

(18:32) "I will not destroy it for ten's sake."
I guess God couldn't find even ten good Sodomites because he decides to kill them all in Genesis 19. Too bad Abraham didn't ask God about the children. Why not save them? If Abraham could find 10 good children, toddlers, infants, or babies, would God spare the city? Apparently not. God doesn't give a damn about children.
There were indeed not even ten in Sodom. Children are not eligible, because they are the responsibility of their parents, i.e. just like parents today can make bad choices.
There might have been good children, so perhaps the author of the SAB wants to have a solution where the children are saved, separate from their parents. First, children are never separated from their parents in the Bible. But secondly, how would that have worked? All these toddlers, saved but separate from their parents? And thirdly, although these innocent children might have been in the punishment of their parents, this judgement isn't the final one. The final judgement is before the throne of God and there God will judge them according to their works, if they have been bad or good, and not according to what their parents had done.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake.

33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

(18:33) "And the Lord went his way."