Weekly Bible Reading



Parashat Vayera | Gen. 18:1-22:24

Listen!
Listen!
The Promise of a Son
1Then Adonai appeared to him at Mamre’s large trees while he was sitting in the entrance of his tent during the heat of the day.
2When he lifted up his eyes to see, suddenly, three men were standing right by him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed down to the ground.
3Then he said, “My Lord, if now I have found favor in your eyes, please do not pass by your servant.
4Please let a little water be brought so you can wash your feet, and make yourselves comfortable under the tree.
5And let me bring a bit of bread so that you can refresh yourselves—then you can pass on—since you have passed by your servant. They said, “Do just as you have said.”
6So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick! Knead three measures of fine flour and prepare bread loaves!”
7Then to the herd Abraham ran and took a young ox, tender and good, and he gave it to the servant, who prepared it quickly.
8Then he took butter and milk and the young ox that he had prepared and set it before them. While he was standing by them under the tree, they ate.
9Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” “There, in the tent,” he said.
10Then He said, “I will most surely return to you in about a year’s time, surprisingly, Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, which was behind Him.
11Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years—Sarah had stopped having the way of women.
12So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I’ve grown decrepit, can I have desire—and my lord so old?”
13Then Adonai said to Abraham, “Why is it that Sarah laughed, saying, ‘Can I really give birth when I am so old?’
14Is anything too difficult for Adonai? At the appointed time I will return to you—in about a year—and Sarah will have a son.”
15Sarah denied it saying, “I didn’t laugh!” For she was afraid. But He said, “No—for you did laugh.”
Abraham intercedes
16Then the men got up from there and looked down over Sodom. Abraham was walking with them to send them off,
17when Adonai said, “Should I keep secret from Abraham what I am about to do,
18seeing that Abraham will most certainly become a great and mighty nation and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
19For I have made myself known to him so that he will command his sons and his household after him to keep the way of Adonai by doing righteousness and justice, so that Adonai may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”
20Then Adonai said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great indeed, and their sin is very grievous indeed.
21I want to go down now, and see if they deserve destruction, as its outcry has come to Me. And if not, I will know.”
22Then the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham was still standing before Adonai.
23Abraham drew near and said, “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
24Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of fifty righteous who are in it?
25Far be it from You to do such a thing—to cause the righteous to die with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked share the same fate! Far be it from You! Shall the Judge of the whole world not exercise justice?”
26Then Adonai said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous people within the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
27Then Abraham answered and said, “Look, pray, I have decided to speak to my Lord, though I am dust and ashes.
28Suppose the fifty righteous people are lacking five. Will You destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
29So he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Perhaps forty will be found there?” And He said, “I will not do it for the sake of the forty.”
30Then he said, “Please, let my Lord not be angry, so I may speak. Perhaps thirty will be found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”
31Then he said, “Look, pray, I have decided to speak to my Lord: Perhaps twenty will be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”
32Then he said, “Please, let not my Lord be angry, so I may speak once more. Perhaps ten will be found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
33Now when He had finished speaking to Abraham, Adonai left, and Abraham returned to his place.

Chapter 19

Sodom and Gomorrah
1Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, while Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to meet them, and bowed down with his face to the ground.
2Then he said, “Here, please my lords, please turn aside to your servant’s house, spend the night and wash your feet. Then you can get up early and go on your way.” But they said, “No. We will spend the night in the open plaza.”
3But he urged them strongly, so they turned aside to him and they came into his house. He prepared a feast for them and baked matzot , and they ate.
4They had not yet lain down when the men of the city (the men of Sodom) surrounded the house—from youth to elderly, all the people without exception.
5And they called out to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have relations with them!”
6But Lot went out to them at the doorway and shut the door behind him,
7and said, “Please, my brothers, don’t act wickedly.
8Look, I have two daughters who haven’t been intimate with a man. Please let me bring them out to you—do to them whatever is good in your eyes! However, do nothing to these men—since they have come under the protection of my roof.”
9“Get out of the way!” they said, and they said, “This one came as an outsider and dares to judge! Now we’ll treat you worse than them!” So they strongly pressed against the man, Lot, and moved in close to break the door down.
10But the men reached out their hands, brought Lot into the house with them, and shut the door.
11Then they struck the men at the doorway of the house with blindness—from youth to elderly—so that they gave up trying to find the doorway.
12Then the men said to Lot, “Who else related to you is still here? A son-in-law, your sons and your daughters, whoever else is related to you in the city—bring them out of the place!
13For we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before Adonai that Adonai has sent us to destroy it.”
14So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law who were going to marry his daughters, “Get up!” he said, “Get out of this place! For Adonai is about to destroy the city!” But in the eyes of his sons-in-law, he was like a joker.
15So when morning dawned the angels rushed Lot, saying, “Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or else you will be swept away with the city’s iniquity!”
16But he hesitated. So the men grabbed his hand, his wife’s hand and his two daughters’ hands—because of Adonai’s compassion for him—and they brought him out and left him outside the city.
17When they brought them outside, one said, “Flee for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stop anywhere in the surrounding area! Escape to the hills, or else you’ll be swept away!”
18But Lot said to them, “No, my Lord, please!
19Look, please, your servant has found favor in Your eyes and You have magnified Your merciful loyalty, which You have shown me by letting me live. But I can’t escape to the hill country—for the disaster will overtake me and I’ll die!
20Look, please, this city is close enough to flee there, and it’s little. Please let me escape there. Isn’t it small? And let me live!”
21So He said to him, “Behold, I will grant your request concerning this matter too—not to demolish the city of which you have spoken.
22Hurry! Flee to safety there, because I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” (This is why the town is named Zoar.)
23The moment the sun rose upon the land, Lot entered Zoar,
24and Adonai rained sulfur and fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from Adonai out of the sky.
25So He demolished these cities and the whole surrounding area, all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground.
26But his wife looked behind him and she turned into a pillar of salt.
27Now Abraham rose early in the morning to the place where he had stood before Adonai,
28and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward the entire land of the surrounding area, and saw, behold, the smoke of the land ascended like smoke from a furnace.
29So it was, as God destroyed the cities of the surrounding area, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the upheaval, when He demolished the cities where Lot had dwelt.
Lot Fathers Moab and Ammon
30Then Lot went up from Zoar and dwelled on the mountain, his two daughters with him, because he was afraid to dwell in Zoar. So he lived in a cave—he and his two daughters.
31Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man in the land to come to us as is the custom of the whole land.
32Come on! Let’s make our father drink wine so that we can lie with him and keep the seed from our father alive.
33So they made their father drink wine that night, and the firstborn came and lay down with her father. Yet he did not know that she lay down and got up.
34On the following day, the firstborn said to the younger, “See! I slept with my father last night. Let’s make him drink wine tonight as well. Come on! Sleep with him so that we’ll keep the seed from our father alive.”
35So they made their father drink wine that night as well, and the younger got up and lay down with him and he did not know that she lay down and got up.
36So Lot’s two daughters become pregnant by their father.
37Then the firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab: he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day.
38The younger also gave birth to a son and named him Ben-Ammi: he is the ancestor of the sons of Ammon to this day.

Chapter 20

Sarah Renewed
1Then Abraham journeyed from there to the land of the Negev and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he was dwelling as an outsider in Gerar,
2Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So King Abimelech of Gerar sent for and took Sarah.
3But God came to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “Behold, you are as good as dead, because of the woman whom you have taken—since she is a married woman.”
4Now Abimelech had not come near her. So he said, “My Lord, will You slay a nation, even though innocent?
5Didn’t he say to me, ‘She’s my sister’? And she herself even said, ‘He’s my brother.’ I did this with integrity of my heart and guiltlessness of my hands.”
6Then God said to him in a dream, “Yes, I myself knew that you did this with integrity of your heart, so I, yes I Myself prevented you from sinning against Me. That is why I did not allow you to touch her.
7So now, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet. And let him pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, know that you will surely die—you and all who are yours.”
8Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants and spoke all these words in their ears—and the men were very frightened.
9Then Abimelech called to Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us, and how have I sinned against you, that you brought great sin upon me and my kingdom? You’ve done to me things that should not be done!”
10Abimelech also said to Abraham, “What motivated you to do this thing?”
11Abraham said, “Because I thought, ‘There is certainly no fear of God in this place, so they’ll kill me, because of my wife.’
12And besides, she really is my sister. She’s my father’s daughter, though not my mother’s daughter. Then she became my wife.
13So when God made me wander away from my father’s house, I said to her, ‘This is your loyalty that you must show me: in every place we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother.’”
14Then Abimelech took sheep, cattle, male slaves and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and returned his wife Sarah to him.
15Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you. Dwell wherever it pleases you.”
16At the same time he said to Sarah, “Look, I’ve given a thousand shekels to your brother. Look, it is compensation for everything that happened—so to everyone with you, you are vindicated.”
17Then Abraham prayed to God and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his female slaves so that they could bear children.
18For Adonai had completely locked up every womb in Abimelech’s household because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

Chapter 21

Birth of Isaac
1Then Adonai visited Sarah just as He had said, and Adonai did for Sarah just as He had spoken.
2So Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time that God had told him.
3Abraham named his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore for him—Isaac.
4Then Abraham circumcised Isaac, his eight-day-old son, just as God had commanded him.
5Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac his son was born to him.
6So Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me! Everyone who hears will laugh with me.”
7She also said, “Who would have said to Abraham, ‘Sarah has nursed children’? For I have given birth to a son in his old age!”
Ishmael Banished, Yet Delivered
8The child grew and was weaned—Abraham made a big feast on the day Isaac was weaned.
9But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian whom she had born to Abraham—making fun.
10So she said to Abraham, “Drive out this female slave and her son, for the son of this female slave will not be an heir with my son—with Isaac.”
11Now the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s eyes on account of his son.
12But God said to Abraham, “Do not be displeased about the boy and your slave woman. Whatever Sarah says to you, listen to her voice. For through Isaac shall your seed be called.
13Yet I will also make the son of the slave woman into a nation, because he is your seed.”
14So Abraham got up early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar, putting them on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away. She went and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.
15When the water from the skin was finished, she abandoned the child under one of the bushes.
16Then she went and sat herself down opposite, about a bowshot away, for she had said, “I can’t bear to see the child dying!” So she sat down opposite and lifted up her voice and wept.
17Then God heard the boy’s voice and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and He said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid, because God has heard the boy’s voice where he is.
18Get up! Lift the boy up, and hold on to him with your hand, for I will make him a great nation.”
19Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the water skin, and gave the boy a drink.
20God was with the boy and he grew. He dwelled in the wilderness and became an archer.
21He dwelled in the wilderness of Paran, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.
Covenant of Abimelech and Abraham
22Now it came about at that same time that Abimelech—with Phicol the commander of his army—said to Abraham, “God is with you in all that you do.
23So now, make a pledge to me here, by God, that you will not violate your word with me or with my descendants or with my offspring. As I have shown loyalty to you, show the same to me, and to the land in which you have lived as an outsider.”
24Abraham said, “I make a pledge.”
25Now Abraham had rebuked Abimelech because of the well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized.
26So Abimelech said, “I don’t know who did this thing. Nor did you tell me, nor did I hear about it until today.”
27Then Abraham took a flock of sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech, and the two of them made a covenant.
28Abraham set seven young ewe-lambs apart from the flock of sheep by themselves.
29Abimelech said to Abraham, “What do these seven ewe-lambs that you’ve set by themselves mean?”
30He said, “You are to accept the seven ewe-lambs from my hand, so that they may be a witness for me that I dug this well.”
31That is why that place is named Beer-sheba, because there both of them made a pledge,
32and they made a covenant in Beer-sheba. Then Abimelech got up, with Phicol the commander of his army, and they returned to the land of the Philistines.
33Then he planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba and called there on the Name of Adonai, the Everlasting God.
34He lived as an outsider in the land of the Philistines for many days.

Chapter 22

The Binding of Isaac
1Now it was after these things that God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham.” “Hineni,” he said.
2Then He said, “Take your son, your only son whom you love —Isaac—and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains about which I will tell you.”
3So Abraham got up early in the morning, saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. He split wood for the burnt offering, and got up and went to the place about which God had told him.
4On the third day, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from a distance.
5Abraham said to his young men, “Sit yourselves down here with the donkey. As for me and the young man, we’ll go over there, worship and return to you.”
6Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and put it on Isaac his son. In his hand he took the fire and the knife. So the two of them walked on together.
7Then Isaac said to Abraham his father, “My father?” Then he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Look. Here’s the fire and the wood. But where’s the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8Abraham said, “God will provide for Himself a lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” The two of them walked on together.
9Then they came to the place about which God had told him, and Abraham built the altar there, laid out the wood, bound up Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.
10Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.
11But the angel of Adonai called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” He said, “Hineni!”
12Then He said, “Do not reach out your hand against the young man—do nothing to him at all. For now I know that you are one who fears God—you did not withhold your son, your only son, from Me.”
13Then Abraham lifted up his eyes and behold, there was a ram, just caught in the thick bushes by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
14Abraham named that place, Adonai Yireh,—as it is said today, “On the mountain, Adonai will provide.”
15The angel of Adonai called to Abraham a second time from heaven
16and said, “By myself I swear—it is a declaration of Adonai—because you have done this thing, and you did not withhold your son, your only son,
17I will richly bless you and bountifully multiply your seed like the stars of heaven, and like the sand that is on the seashore, and your seed will possess the gate of his enemies.
18In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed—because you obeyed My voice.”
19Then Abraham returned to his young men and they got up and went together to Beer-sheba. Then Abraham dwelled in Beer- sheba.
20Now it was after these things that it was told to Abraham, “Look, Milcah has also borne sons to Nahor your brother:
21Uz his firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel the father of Aram,
22Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Yidlaph and Bethuel.”
23Then Bethuel fathered Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.
24His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.