Monday, February 23, 2009

Abraham Haggles with God to Save Sodom

<= = = Hello Sir, did you get your cheeseburger?

I did Izzy and thank you for asking. More important, how was your Seder? I hope you read ahead, it has been a while since I was able to come and this is a very important part of the story of Abraham.

<= = = Yes Sir, I did, but I am confused about some things.

That is fine Izzy, ask any question you like, but let's begin the story. After eating the meal that Abraham and Sarah prepared, the men got up from their meal and started on toward Sodom. Abraham went with them part of the way. "Should I hide my plan from Abraham?", asked one of the three men who was called Jehovah. "For Abraham will become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed through him. I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the LORD and do what is right and just. Then I will do for him all that I have promised."

Now as I have said before Izzy, when God asks a question, it is not because He does not already know the answer. Is He going to tell Abraham what He is going to do? Of course he is going to tell Abraham what He was going to do. So the LORD told Abraham, "I have heard that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah are extremely evil, and that everything they do is wicked. I Am going down to see whether or not these reports are true. Then I will know."

The two other men went on toward Sodom, but the LORD remained with Abraham for a while. Abraham approached him and said, "Will you destroy both innocent and guilty alike? Suppose you find fifty innocent people there within the city--will you still destroy it, and not spare it for their sakes? Surely you wouldn't do such a thing, destroying the innocent with the guilty. Why, you would be treating the innocent and the guilty exactly the same! Surely you wouldn't do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" And the LORD replied, "If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake."

<= = = Fifty people doesn't seem like that many?

Oh no Izzy, it is not and yet God would have spared Sodom for fifty righteous. Then Abraham spoke again. "Since I have begun, let me go on and speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. Suppose there are only forty-five? Will you destroy the city for lack of five?" And the LORD said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five." Then Abraham pressed his request further. "Suppose there are only forty?" And the LORD replied, "I will not destroy it if there are forty." "Please don't be angry, my Lord," Abraham pleaded. "Let me speak--suppose only thirty are found?" And the LORD replied, "I will not destroy it if there are thirty." Then Abraham said, "Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue--suppose there are only twenty?" And the LORD said, "Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty."

<= = = How likely is it that God will get angry, Abraham seems concerned.

God loves spending time with Abraham and negotiation is a part of Abraham's culture. He loves to haggle, but there is another important point. Abraham is serving as an intercessor, standing between the people of Sodom and God and pleading for them. Later, Ezekiel will prophesy of Abraham's children, Israel, "I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap in the wall so I wouldn't have to destroy the land, but I found no one." Izzy even though you are young, God wants you to intercede for the tribes of Israel, because a time of wrath is coming, more than Israel has ever seen.

Finally, Abraham said, "Lord, please do not get angry; I will speak but once more! Suppose only ten are found there?" And the LORD said, "Then, for the sake of the ten, I will not destroy it." The LORD went on his way when he had finished his conversation with Abraham, and Abraham returned to his tent.

@AbrahamWanderer I think I should have negotiated harder for G-d to spare Sodom, but you would think they could come up with 10 righteous.

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