The Three Men

Who visited Avraham Avinu

© By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman*

The account of the three angels visiting Avraham Avinu prior to the destruction of Sodom in Bereshit (Genesis) chapter 18 is sometimes used as a twisted "proof text" by Christian missionaries as evidence of Jesus' supposed divinity.

This Scripture twisting requires a lot of imagination! There are two main forms of this misinterpretation. The first is just silly and not worth much consideration, the second needs a bit of explanation. The Hebrew text says three ish (ִישׁ), "men" (Gen 18:2) approached Avram. These "men" are accepted as angelic messengers by the rabbis based on the context of the account. Rashi, the celebrated literal interpreter, explains that each of the men were angels disguised in the image of men in order to perform their service. All three are referenced with honorifics.

Note verse 3: ... And he said, My lords, if only I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass on from beside your servant...

Many Protestant versions, such as the KJV, are dishonest on this point. While verse one refers to the Holy One by His Sacred Name, translated as "the Lord," verse three does not use the Name of Four Letters. It uses the Hebrew word for "lords" or "masters" (adonai). While the Sacred Four Letter Name is read as "Adonai" (Lord) to honor the Name, "Adonai" itself is not that Name. Verse three is not referring to HaShem or it would use the Sacred Name again. It is referring to the three angels as lords or masters, each of whom have a specific assignment.

As Rashi explains:

"...and behold, three men" (18:2):
One to bring the news [of Isaac’s birth] to Sarah, and one to overturn Sodom, and one to heal Abraham, for one angel does not perform two errands (Gen. Rabbah 50:2). You should know that [this is true] because throughout the entire chapter, Scripture mentions them in the plural, e.g., (below verse 8): "and they ate" ; (ibid. verse 9): "and they said to him." Concerning the announcement, however, it says (ibid. verse 10): "And he said: I will surely return to you." And concerning the overturning of Sodom, it says (below 19:22): "For I will not be able to do anything"; (ibid. verse 21): "I will not overturn" (Gen. Rabbah 50:11). And Raphael, who healed Abraham, went from there to save Lot. This is what is stated: "And it came to pass when they took them outside, that he [the angel] said, ‘Flee for your life.’" You learn that only one acted as a deliverer.

All three of the angels are referenced as lords because all three represented HaShem as His messengers, and Avram accepted them as such. Malach Michael was sent to Sarah Imeinu with news of Isaac's impending birth. Malach Refael was sent to heal Avraham Avinu after his circumcision. Malach Gavriel was sent to destroy Sodom and the cities of the Plains. Of these three malachim, Raphael took the lead position. It is clear in the text that all three were servants (מלאכים) of God, not HaShem Himself. Raphael did not go down to Sodom with the other two.

All three were angels. HaShem is not like the Pagan gods. He does not incarnate.

Shemot (Exodus) 33:20 And [HaShem] said, "You will not be able to see My face, for man shall not see Me and live."
Lots of people saw Yeshua/Jesus.

Believe HaShem
Reject His Words.
    Its Your Choice!

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* Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © May 29, 2016

Be the Blessing you were created to be
Don't let the perfect defeat the good

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