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In Gen 18:1-2 the Lord appeared to Abraham, who then looked up and saw 3 visitors.

When they began to leave, visitors turned and walked toward Sodom while the Lord remained to talk with Abraham.

Gen 18:22 (KJV) And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Gen 18:22 (NASB) Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.

Gen 18:22 (NLT) The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the LORD remained with Abraham.

In reading most Bibles, it might be assumed that all 3 visitors turned to walk toward Sodom.

However, in quite a few Bibles it specifically shows that 2 turned and left. (e.g. AMP, GNT, TLB, NET, DHH).

Gen 18:22 (AMP) Now the [two] men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord.

Gen 18:22 (NET) The two men turned and headed toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before the LORD.

Gen 18:22 (DHH) Dos de los visitantes se fueron de allí a Sodoma, pero Abraham se quedó todavía ante el Señor.

[Note: It does not show where or when a third visitor (other than the Lord) left. What is written by Gen 18:33 is that, after their talk, the Lord departed and Abraham returned home].

Did Abraham lose track of a visitor, or could he account for a trinity of visitors?

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Is this question about how many "men" there were, or is it about who the "men" were? – Mark Edward Jul 4 '14 at 15:17
@MarkEdward Both. It's about how many individuals of any type arrived to see Abraham & Sarah, and then how many left, accounting for every one. Thanks. – John Martin Jul 4 '14 at 16:11
The very fact that the LORD, is not, has never been, and never will be addressed as a "man" or "human". – Blessed Geek Jul 4 '14 at 20:55
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The "two" in some translations is an interpretative addition. It does not exist in the Hebrew of Gen 18:22, which is simply הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים ("the men"). The word "two" is added in those translations for "clarity" (which clarity can inadvertently create confusion, such as evidenced in your question).

The idea is added because it is understood by many commentators that one of the "three men" of Gen 18:2 is "the LORD" who "appeared" to Abraham (v.1), and that One remained behind with Abraham as the other two "turned away from there and went toward Sodom" (v.22), which two are the "two angels" who "came to Sodom" and dealt with Lot (19:1).

So the three visitors are fully accounted for no matter which translation is consulted, it is just that some add "two" to clarify that only two of the three visitors left for Sodom at that precise moment in v.22, while the LORD remained to speak with Abraham (v.26).

Such a physical manifestation of the LORD is called a theophany (or Christophany if one holds that it is pre-incarnate Christ, as some Christians might hold to).

So the idea of the Christian Trinity is not generally understood to be in view with the three visitors (and certainly was not in view by Jewish interpreters, but neither by many Christian interpreters). Rather, the one visitor is God and the other two that move on are merely angels accompanying Him, and who do the actual work of investigating Sodom and saving Lot.

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I was wondering what the Greek &/or Hebrew might say, so thanks. – John Martin Jul 4 '14 at 13:25
@JohnMartin Yes, the Hebrew is (as I noted) merely "the men," which could be two or more. That it is just the two is understood by the context of what is occurring, and thus added by some of the translations. – ScottS Jul 4 '14 at 13:29
While I have a couple more questions, I'd rather not post them in comments. Would you join me in the library to talk? – John Martin Jul 4 '14 at 13:37
Sure we can go to the Library – ScottS Jul 4 '14 at 13:46

The Bible does not explicitly say "two men" at Gen. 18:22, simply saying "the men" (האנשים). The translators, like the rabbis, infer that two men were there because of the transition at Gen. 19:1 ("And the two angels came to Sodom..."). Rashi, citing the Jewish tradition recorded in the Babylonian Talmud at Bava Metzia 86b) reflects that there were three angels, Raphael, Michael and Gabriel, because they had three general missions. Raphael (whose name means to heal) was there to heal Abraham and save Lot; Gabriel's mission was to announce the pregnancy of Sarah, and Michael's role was to destroy Sodom. So, after Gabriel's job was completed he returned to his Heavenly position by God's throne, and the other two went on to Sodom.

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Thanks for the translating. – John Martin Jul 17 '14 at 23:10

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