[b-hebrew] Fw: 2Sam24:1 v. Gen18:1-3

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Mon Aug 15 06:16:17 EDT 2005

On 8/15/05, Yigal Levin wrote:
> I doubt that the text means that one of the "men" was YHWH, accompanied by
> two angels. I'm sure that you know the midrash, that explains that since
> each angel is sent for a single mission at a time (Shoshanna referred to
> this at one point), the angel that was sent to tell Abraham that Sarah would
> have a child had done his bit and went back to heaven. The other two
> continued to Sodom, one to destroy the city and the other to save Lot.
> Of course, this interpretation also makes a lot of assumptions that are not
> in the text.

Hi.  In the above interpretation you suggested that the three men address 
Abraham as three people still yet in verse 10 they(?) suddenly address
Abraham as one person and this indicates that he realizes it is God who is 
talking.  That's how I understood you.  I could be wrong.

Even in the Midrash, it is clear that the one who is talking is one of the three
and not the three as a group.  As Shoshanna points out, this is in the Midrash
identified as Michael.   I think one cannot understand the Midrash, or Rashi,
without first understanding that a literal reading of the passage suggests that
the three "men" were two angels and another called "Yahweh".  That's the 
clearest simplest reading, if theologically problematic.  Next comes the
Midrash which identifies all three as angels.  Further midrash comments on 
$wb )$wb in 18:10, whereby the angel is simply speaking God's words.  This 
is very much a given, since 18:10 is very similar to 18:13-14 where it is made 
clear that God will return, so that 18:10 must be God talking and not the angel.
Rashi also comments on the problematic words "wylk yhwh" suggesting that
this metaphoric of a judge leaving the court.  But I think the reasoning for
the Midrash and commentaries is that a rather literal reading almost
too clearly
leads one to the interpretation that it was "yhwh" and two angels.  I generally
think one should understand what the text literally says before approaching
the Midrash to be able to know what questions the Midrash answers.  One
could also build on this suggesting that in verse 10 it is Michael who
is talking
but in verse 13-14, after the authority and/or content of the message is 
questioned, it is God talking directly so that there will be no doubts about
the content or authority.

As for do I think that this is what it originally meant? I don't know, although
the entire passage is problematic (also grammatically).  Perhaps originally
the text explicitly defined who was speaking in verse 10, and this was 
"censored."  This would explain the sudden shift while also suggesting that
the passage was already theologically problematic at an early time.  But this
is also an assumption.  So it would seem that any explanation of the passage 
requires making a lot of assumptions. 

Yitzhak Sapir

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list