Genesis 18 English Standard Version (ESV)

1 And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks[a] of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. 2 He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing in front of him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth 3 and said, “O Lord,[b] if I have found favor in your sight, do not pass by your servant. 4 Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree, 5 while I bring a morsel of bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.”

The above is just the beginning of the chapter, for the full story see Genesis 18;


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    In response to the Vote to Close, I do not think this question qualifies as 'systematic theology'. OP is asking how to understand an individual passage of text on its own merits. – user2910 Mar 5 '15 at 18:23

Gen 18:1 would indicate that this is a theophany.

Genesis 18:1 Then the LORD (יהוה)appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.

יהוה is Yahweh (Jehovah) see for example:

יְהֹוָה Jehovah, pr. name of the supreme God (הָאֱלֹהִים) amongst the Hebrews.

[Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (p. 337). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]


יהוה S3068, 3069, 3070, 3071, 3072, 3073, 3074 TWOT484a GK3378c. 6823 i.e. יַהְוֶה n.pr.dei Yahweh, the proper name of the God of Israel

[Brown, F., Driver, S. R., & Briggs, C. A. (2000). Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed., p. 217). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems.]

So ch 18:1 tells us that Yahweh (God) appeared to Abraham. This verse functions as a heading or introduction to the entire encounter. The narrator then describes the encounter between Abraham and God.

Consider Abraham's reactions to the appearance of these visitors

Genesis 18:3 and said, "My Lord, if I have now found favor in Your sight, do not pass on by Your servant.

Looking to verse 3 we see that Abraham addresses just one of the men and calls him Lord (אֲדֹנָ֗) singular noun and then Abraham has this individual not to pass him by (the verb is also singular). So, Abraham recognises that one of these vistors is 'the Lord'

In verse 22 we read,

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

Again then one of the visitors is identified as 'the Lord' (Yahweh). The two other men leave and travel to Sodom where they are identified as angels in Ch 19:1, 15.

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    can you provide the proof that Yahweh is being addressed by Abe, and proof of what you think, that angels (as we know them) are who is accompanying Him. Are we 'sure' that the angels who go to visit Sodom are the same two 'men' that are accompanying 'Yahweh', are we sure it is 'Yahweh', or 'an angel of the Lord'- why or why not? (I am asking for these details to also make them available on one page, for others reading the question, as well) – Hello Mar 5 '15 at 20:48
  • I don't understand what further evidence you want, repeatedly in chapter 18 the visitor is identified as Yahweh by the narrator (v1, v17 & V22). Abraham refers to him as adonay (Lord) that should be all that is needed to convince us that scripture presents this as a theophany. As for the Angel's being the same as the two men. We read of them departing for Sodom in v22 then in chapter 19:1 we read of two angel's arriving - I suppose it is possible that they are not the same two people but only if you are willing to break up the flow of the story. – Jonathan Chell Mar 6 '15 at 7:49
  • Maybe if you enlarge upon your question and explain what the issue is in more detail it will allow me to explore a more specific answer but otherwise v1, v17 and v22 answer the question asked categorically as far as I can tell :-D – Jonathan Chell Mar 6 '15 at 7:51
  • can you provide the source of proof in links, as in blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/…, ...so reader can click on source link and see proof of 'God Almighty being addressed' and angels being addressed, sep. link, w. explanation fr. Bible source books of what Bible angels are, etc. ( for a reader who may not know these things. – Hello Mar 6 '15 at 14:11
  • thankyou, is it possible for you to make it a link that people can just click on which will take them immediately to the proof text? thanks, -it's for those inquiring about this question in the future :) – Hello Mar 6 '15 at 14:59

The answer that was given "begs the question?" I know it says that the Lord God appeared to Abraham at vs1 with two other men at vs3. So how did the Lord God appear since Jesus Himself says at John 1:18 God cannot be seen. Furthermore, you have at Genesis 16:13 Hagar saying "Thou are a God who sees; for she said, "Have I even remained alive here AFTER SEEING HIM." This is backed up by Exodus 33:20.

Now, here is what Genesis 17:1-2 states, "Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD APPEARED to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walke before Me and be blameless, vs2, And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly.

What's significant about this is what the angel of the Lord says to Hagar at Genesis 16:10, "Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, "I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too many to count."

So what we have here is the fact that the angel of the Lord is the same being who multiplied Abram's descendants as well as Hagar's descendants. Now, how do I know that this is a visible physical appearance of the Lord God? Look at Genesis 17:22. "And when He/God finished talking with him/Abraham, God went up from Abraham. He went straight up due north.

Getting back to Genesis 18 at vs33, "And as soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the Lord departed; and Abraham returned to hsi place. What about the other two men/angels? Genesis 19:1, "Now the TWO ANGELS came to Sodom in the evening as Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom etc."

So what can be concluded from this? The angel of the Lord is the preincarnate Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ the Son is the only manifestation and revelation of the Father. John 14:9. Also 1 Timothy 3:16. The Father has no separate manifestation from the Son. Lastly, I can provide additional and explicit proof that the angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ) is God Almighty from Genesis 22 and Hebrews 6:13-14.


The Bible tell us the answer in the scripture, He (God) "APPEARED", not manifested Himself. Big difference. An appearance is not the same as a manifestation.

An appearances is second person, meaning through, of, by someone, or something else. As an example, or case here in point, an angel. Just as He did Moses on the Mountain. He spoke through an angel, in fire.

But, a manifestation is first person, direct, as with God manifesting himself directly in first person, in his own body. See 1 Tim 3:16 and Matt 1:23. According to Matt 1:23, the way God was with us, is just what 1 Tim 3:16 states. He (God) was manifested in the flesh, DIRECTLY, first person, he had a "BODY", not an angel body, but he took upon him the seed of Abraham. (Heb 2:16)

This is how God visited Abraham, in appearance, through an angel. But, He visited his people directly, (Manifested), in flesh. See also, John 1:10 "He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. 11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not".

  • I tend to agree with this answer because the Bible says no man may see God face to face and live. So I think God did visit Abraham but not in His almighty form but through an Angel of the Lord. In this i submit that this was Jesus the manifestation of God as a man. – Dr.Apell Aug 10 '18 at 23:28

Was not Jesus the God of the Old Testament - The Ladder in Jacob's dream - the only link between earth and heaven? John 1:51

  • Actually this event occured at Genesis 28:12-13. Jacob has a dream about a ladder which is on earth and it reaches to heaven. It is the angels of God who were ascending and descending on it. At vs13 it says, "And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord , the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie. I will give it to you and to your descendants." The angel of the Lord is "NOT" one of the angels ascending and decending on the ladder. – Mr. Bond Nov 16 '19 at 20:00
  • Welcome to BHSX, Glenn, so glad to have you with us. Please take the tour to get yourself familiar with the site. Enjoy ! hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour – sara Nov 17 '19 at 13:43

Very interesting that I just came upon this discussion as last evening I was reading Gen 18 my first thought was “ wait a minute , I always thought no man had ever seen God face to face “. Hmmmmm , then I asked the Holy Spirit “ what is going on here ? “. As I then laid in bed I said to the Holy Spirit “ I am confused “ and of course the Holy Spirit said “” God is not the author of confusion “”.So by faith I knew that very soon I would get the answer that I was looking for thus , here I am. I had not even considered that it could have been Jesus in the flesh under the tree with the two Angels and now it makes sense to me. Besides , God is pure and for him to come from his pure place and on the earth that He created His purity would be in great danger and then He would not be pure anymore . Now I understand . Thank you Holy Spirit for the way You answer my questions in Your unique way .


YHVD saith also (to Manasseh), `Thou art unable to see My face, for the undomesticated doth not see Me, and live;'


Am George from Kenya, I am 100% convinced that Abraham saw God face to face. God is sovereign, His ways cannot be questioned. He appeared to Abraham with two Angels accompanying Him, see gen 18:20, this clearly says its the LORD GOD. End of matter.

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    You are clearly convinced, yourself. But that is not sufficient for an academic site. You need to substantiate your opinion with references in an hermenetuic manner. Please see the Tour and the Help (below, bottom right) as to the purpose and the functioning of the site. – Nigel J Sep 24 '20 at 17:34

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