[Gen 18:21 YLT] (21) I go down now, and see whether according to its cry which is coming unto Me they have done completely -- and if not -- I know;'

We know that the men of Sodom did in fact attempt violence against the angels of the LORD:

[Gen 19:1-13 NLT] (1) That evening the two angels came to the entrance of the city of Sodom. Lot was sitting there, and when he saw them, he stood up to meet them. Then he welcomed them and bowed with his face to the ground. (2) "My lords," he said, "come to my home to wash your feet, and be my guests for the night. You may then get up early in the morning and be on your way again." "Oh no," they replied. "We'll just spend the night out here in the city square." (3) But Lot insisted, so at last they went home with him. Lot prepared a feast for them, complete with fresh bread made without yeast, and they ate. (4) But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. (5) They shouted to Lot, "Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!" (6) So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. (7) "Please, my brothers," he begged, "don't do such a wicked thing. (8) Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection." (9) "Stand back!" they shouted. "This fellow came to town as an outsider, and now he's acting like our judge! We'll treat you far worse than those other men!" And they lunged toward Lot to break down the door. (10) But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. (11) Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside. (12) Meanwhile, the angels questioned Lot. "Do you have any other relatives here in the city?" they asked. "Get them out of this place--your sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone else. (13) For we are about to destroy this city completely. The outcry against this place is so great it has reached the LORD, and he has sent us to destroy it."

Is it possible linguistically and contextually that in Genesis 18:21 the angel of the LORD is saying that he intends to see if the men of Sodom will attack him?


2 Answers 2


I really don't think the point in your question is about anybody attacking the angel of the Lord. The following is what John Gill stated and I agree with him.

Genesis 18:21

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.

I will go down now,.... The Son of God in an human form now with Abraham, who proposes to go from the place where he was, which perhaps was on higher ground, to the plain in which Sodom and Gomorrah stood; and whither it seems certain he did go down, after he had done talking with Abraham, see Genesis 19:24, and see whether they have done altogether; committed all the sins, and in such manner, and with such circumstances as reported; or, "have made a full end" (c), have tilled up the measure of their iniquities, and so are ripe for ruin:

according to the cry of it which is come unto me; 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:

and if not, I will know: the reason of this cry, and what is proper to be done. The note of Aben Ezra is,"if they have so done (according to the cry) I will make a consumption among them (so he takes the sense of the word (d) we render "altogether"); but if not, "I will know", I will have mercy on them.''

I like what Gill said in his paragraph 3. When I read Genesis 18:21 I could not help to think that the angel of the Lord, (who is the preincarnate Jesus Christ and God) already knew the answer to his "rehtorical" question.

At Genesis 16:7 where the angel of the Lord first appears as the angel of the Lord told Hagar that He would multiply her descendants, (vs10) and them tells here at vs11, "Behold you are with child, And you shall bear a son. Plus Hagar says at vs13, "Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, "Thou art a God who sees;" for she said, have I even remained alive here after seeing Him."

In short, I think the weight of evidence confirms what John Gill had stated. And if you think about it, I think God speaks to us at our level because "He know are frame and He is mindful that we are but dust." Psalm 103:14.

  • What might he have hoped to see to verify the reports?
    – Ruminator
    Jul 6, 2021 at 17:45
  • @Ruminator As I stated in my post above, "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." The following site explains it quite well. bibleref.com/Genesis/18/Genesis-18-21.html Do you have a better explanation Ruminator?
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 6, 2021 at 20:23
  • I proposed my best guess in the original question. However, I'm open. But I think you are proposing that it was meaningless, no? [Psalm 14:2 NASB20] (2) The LORD has looked down from heaven upon the sons of mankind To see if there are any who understand, Who seek God. [Psalm 102:19 NASB20] (19) For He looked down from His holy height; From heaven the LORD looked upon the earth,
    – Ruminator
    Jul 6, 2021 at 20:27
  • @Ruminator Not so, it was "NOT" meaningless. God is "Always" logical and He has reasons for what He says and does. Sometimes God is "a logical" which means He goes beyond logic. Look at it this way. God is having in Genesis 18 an extensive conversation with Abraham as if their both old friends. God says at vs21, (paraphrasing), let me go down and see what's going on? In other words God is identifying with Abrahams concern with his nephew Lot. Abraham from vs23 on wants to know if God will actually destroy the righteous with the wicked. God is patient with him until vs33 when He departs.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 6, 2021 at 20:59
  • Okay, thanks Bond.
    – Ruminator
    Jul 6, 2021 at 21:01

Another way of looking at this passage is to understand it as the product of human story-telling that was eventually incorporated into the biblical text. Those who adhere to the doctrine of verbal inspiration will surely reject this. However the clear sense of the text is that God did not know the situation in Sodom and was going there to see from himself.

Understanding this as human story-telling rather than what actually happened is the simplest way deal with the implication of God's ignorance as expressed in the text. God did not really need to check the situation out for himself by physically traveling to Sodom. But that is how story-tellers told it around the campfires until it worked its way through the oral tradition into the pages of the biblical text.

Regarding the title question of the OP, the text does not imply that God or his Angel was going to see of the men of Sodom would try to abuse him. It says God was going to see if they were really as evil as He had heard. The text clearly portrays God as quite limited in knowledge. We need not share this belief to recognize what the text says.

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