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The Three Men of Genesis 18 Are God.

See also He is Holy Gods.

Then the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, . . . as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him. (Genesis 18:1-2a)

I. Genesis 18

Verse one says, "the Lord appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre." Verse two says, "he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him." These three Men are the Lord.

In verse three when Abraham first greets these three Men, he addresses them as Adonai, אֲדנָי 'adonây ("my lord" NKJV). This is one of the most common words used for God in the Old Testament, and it literally means, "my Lords."1 It is translated as "my lords" in the next chapter in Genesis 19:18 in the NKJV; NAS; NIV; NLT. Abraham uses this term earlier to address God in Genesis 15:2 & 8.

So, in verse three Abraham says,

My Lord [אֲדנָי], if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant. (Genesis 18:3)

Here in verse three Abraham speaks to them in the plural Adonai (אֲדנָי, literally, "my Lords"), then in the singular three times. Twice he uses the singular pronouns "Your," and once he uses the singular verb "pass on."2 In the next verse he goes back to speaking to them in the plural.

Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. (Genesis 18:4)

Here "wash" is plural, רַחֲצוּ (rachatsu); "your" is plural, רַגְלֵיכֶם (raglêykhem) "your feet." And "rest yourselves" is plural, הִשָּׁעֲנוּ (hishshâ`anu). So, Abraham speaks to the Lord, these three Men, in the plural (אֲדנָי), then in the singular, then in the plural again. Moreover, the Lord talks both in the singular and in the plural. In verse nine it says, "they said" and in verse ten it says, "He said."

Furthermore, the Lord says in verse 21,

I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.

Immediately, the next verse says,

Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.

The Lord says, "I will go down now"3 and two of the three Men go. God did not lie. He went. Yet, it says, "Abraham still stood before the Lord." Even though the Lord went (the two Men), the Lord was yet still there (one Man of the Three).

II. Genesis 19

The next chapter speaks similarly. At the beginning of the chapter the two Men are called "angels," which is not problematic. The Lord Himself is called an angel several times over (e.g. Genesis 16:7-13; 22:11-18; Exodus 3:2-6; etc.).4

In Genesis 19:13 the two Angels say,

For we will destroy this place, because the outcry against them has grown great before the face of the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.

Here God sends God to destroy the cities, just as God sent God in Isaiah 48:16; John 3:16-17; etc..

In verse 16 it says,

And while he lingered, the men took hold of his hand, his wife's hand, and the hands of his two daughters, the Lord being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.

When Genesis 18 is understood, then it becomes clear that "the Lord" in this verse is the "men" being merciful to him as they take hold of their hands. In verse 19 Lot notes the "mercy" which they had on him.

Moreover, in verse 18 Lot addresses "them" as Adonai (אֲדנָי 'adonây, "my lords" NKJV), which is the same exact word Abraham used when addressing the Three Men in Genesis 18:3. And again, Adonai (אֲדנָי 'adonây) is a very common word in the Old Testament for God. Some translations (e.g. NKJV; NAS; NIV; NLT) translate Adonai (אֲדנָי 'adonây) as "my lords" (better, "my Lords") in Genesis 19:18. This fits the context well, since it explicitly says, "Lot said to them" (plural). Yet, in the following verse (19) Lot addresses them in the singular "your." So, once again we have both the plural and the singular being used for the two Men who are God Himself.

Furthermore, in responding to Lot's plea to flee to Zoar it says,

And he said to them, "See, I have favored you concerning this thing also, in that I will not overthrow this city for which you have spoken. Hurry, escape there. For I cannot do anything until you arrive there." (Genesis 19:21-22a)

Then verse 24-25 declares,

Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.

So we see here the Men in verse 13 say they will destroy "this place" and who is noted as destoying the place? The "Lord rained brimstone and fire . . . , from the Lord."

Finally, verse 29 notes,

And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot had dwelt.

God (the two Men) destroyed the cities of the plain, and God (the two Men) sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow.

Endnotes:

1. Adonai, אֲדנָי ('adonây), is a plural noun with the singular pronominal suffix "my" at the end of it. It is usually transliterated and pronounced as "Adonai," and typically translated as "Lord" (e.g. Genesis 15:2, 8; Exodus 5:22), "the Lord" (e.g. Genesis 18:27, 30-32; 1 Kings 3:10, 15), "O Lord" (e.g. Exodus 34:9; Daniel 9:7, 15-16, 19 [3x]), or "my Lord" (e.g. Genesis 18:3; Exodus 34:9; Numbers 14:17; Psalm 16:2; 35:23; Isaiah 49:14). It is only once translated in the NKJV as "my lords" (Genesis 19:18).

Adonai (אֲדנָי 'adonây) is commonly used in the singular context (i.e. singular verbs, singular adjectives). Yet, it is found specifically in a plural context in Genesis 18:3; 19:18 (NKJV; NAS, "my lords") and Isaiah 6:8 ("Us"). Adonai (אֲדנָי 'adonây) is a very common word in the OT and is always used of God, except some may argue in Ezra 10:3. Yet, this could be translated, "advice of Adonai" or "advice of my Lords" (NKJV "advice of my master").

There is another form of this word for "my lords" which is spelled a little different. It is אֲדוֹנַי ('adonay), and it is only found in Genesis 19:2.

In the singular, "my lord" in the Hebrew is אֲדוֹנִי ('adoniy), and is found addressing men in e.g. Genesis 23:6, 11, 15; 24:12 ("my master"); Numbers 12:11; 1 Kings 3:17, 26; etc.. This same word, אֲדוֹנִי ('adoniy), is used for addressing God as "my Lord" in Joshua 5:14; Judges 6:13; Psalm 110:1; Zechariah 1:9; 4:4-5, 13; 6:4.

In addressing God, there is also "Lord," אֲדוֹן ('adon), in Joshua 3:11, 13; Psalm 97:5; Zechariah 4:14; 6:5; Micah 4:13. In all of these passages אֲדוֹן ('adon) is with the phrase כָּל־הָאָרֶץ (kol hâ'ârets). The NKJV translates these as "the Lord of all the earth," or "the Lord of the whole earth," but the definite article ("the") before "Lord" is not there in the Hebrew. For אֲדוֹן ('adon) with the definite article, "the Lord" הָאָדוֹן (hâ'âdon), this is found in Exodus 23:17; 34:23; Psalm 114:7; Isaiah 1:24; 3:1; 10:16, 33; 19:4; Malachi 3:1.

2. In the Hebrew it reads, בְּעֵינֶיךָ (be`êyneykhâ) "Your sight"; תַעֲבר (ta`avor) "pass on"; עַבְדֶּךָ (`avdekhâ) "Your servant."

3. The Hebrew word translated "now," נָא (nâ'), can mean "now" (as here) or "please." For example, in 2 Kings 5:15 it is used for both "now" and "please."

4. Zechariah 12:8 definitively calls the Angel of the Lord God by the phrase, "like God, like the Angel of the Lord." Besides the Scriptures already given, elsewhere, it can be seen the Angel of the Lord is indeed the Lord Himself. See Numbers 22:22-35; Judges 2:1-5; 5:23; 6:11-22; 13:3-23; 2 Samuel 24:16-18 (1 Chronicles 21:12-30); 1 Kings 19:4-8; 2 Kings 1:2-4, 15; 19:35 (Isaiah 37:36); Psalm 34:7; 35:5-6; Hosea 12:4; Zechariah 1:7-20; 3:1-10.

Moreover, not all angels are God. There are wicked angels (e.g. Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6; Revelation 12:7-9), and angels who are clearly not God (e.g. Hebrews 2:16; Revelation 22:8-9 [22:16]).

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