Saturday, February 28, 2015

Genesis 18:1-3,22,33; 19:1,18 - Three Men Who Visit Abraham

Several scriptures are being presented in Genesis 18 and 19 that are claimed to present, or being speaking of, the trinity. The first is Genesis 18:1-3:
(1) And Jehovah appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre. And he was sitting at the door of the tent in the heat of the day.[2] And he lifted up his eyes and looked; and, behold, three men were standing by him. And he saw, and he ran to meet them from the entrance of the tent. And he bowed to the ground.[3] And he said, My Lord, if now I have found favor in Your sight, I beg You, do not leave from near Your servant. - (Genesis 18:1-3, Green's Literal)
It is claimed that there are three person who appear to Abraham, and that they are identified as being Jehovah (singular).

Jehovah, of course, may make appearances through as many of his angels as he wishes. There is nothing in these verses about Jehovah being three persons in one Supreme Being. The idea that there is something here about a triune God has to be imagined beyond what is written, assumptions have to be formulated beyond what is written, and then those assumption have to added to, and read into, what is stated.

As to statements given in Genesis 18 and 19, I will say that some reasoning is involved if one is to come to some conclusion regarding what is stated. One could simply let the scripture lie without seeking any conclusion, but since some have added their trinitarian dogma into it, it has become somewhat incumbent upon the non-trinitarian to also reach a conclusion regarding these angels. Such reasoning should be harmony with the entire Bible. It still remains that the default reasoning is that Jesus is not Jehovah, as I have shown in the study: Jesus is Not Jehovah (Yahweh).

The context establishes that these "men" were not actually human beings, but angels who spoke the words of Jehovah. Genesis 19:1,15, establishes that these "men" were angels. Genesis 19:13 establishes that they were sent by, and representing, Jehovah. With this established in the context, it should be understood that these men could be spoken of as "Jehovah", with the contextual understanding that they were angels of Jehovah, representing Jehovah.

The next scripture is Genesis 18:22:
And the men faced around from there and went toward Sodom. And Abraham was still standing before Jehovah. - (Genesis 18:22, Green's Literal)
It is claimed the man who remained identifies the first Jehovah, and that the other "theophanies" got on their way to Sodom.

Jehovah, of course, can certainly make an appearance by means of his angel; this does not mean that His angel is actually Jehovah. Nevertheless, the idea that these angels of Jehovah were not actually angels, but Jehovah himself (Jehovah theophanies) has to be imagined beyond what is written, and contrary to what is actually written in Genesis 19:13.

That these angels, messengers, of Jehovah represent Jehovah is more in harmony with the rest of the Bible. However, since angels of Jehovah are referred to as ELOHIM (gods -- Psalm 8:5; Hebrews 2:7), the appearance of an angel in physical form could be referred to as a theophany, although that is not the way the word "theophany" is generally used.

Nothing is said, however, to the effect that any one of these angels was the prehuman Jesus (although it is possible that Jesus could have appeared as such an angel of Jehovah), or that any one of these angels was Jehovah's Holy Spirit. See my study: The Hebraic Usage of the Titles for "God"

Nevertheless, the scriptures show that there is only one Jehovah:

There is only one Jehovah: Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. -- Deuteronomy 6:4, American Standard Version.

Along with this is presented Genesis 18:33:
And when Jehovah had left off speaking to Abraham, He was finished. And Abraham returned to his place. - (Genesis 18:33, Green's Literal)
It claimed that here we see Jehovah #1, who was standing before Abraham left and went back to heaven.

While it is reasonable to conclude that this angel of Jehovah returned to heaven, that is not specifically stated. At any rate, an angel of Jehovah is a messenger who relates the words of Jehovah.

Genesis 19:1:
And the two angels came to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot saw them, and rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face to the earth. -- American Standard.
It is claimed that "The other two men who appeared as angels (theophanies) and went to Sodom and later identified themselves too as Jehovah in Gen 19:18.

Genesis 19:1 actually identifies the "men" as "angels". An angel is a messenger, one who delivers a message for another who is not himself. However, it is not clear that Lot himself knew that these men were angels until later.

Related to this however, we should also note:
Genesis 19:12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son-in-law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whomsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of the place:
Genesis 19:13 for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxed great before Jehovah: and Jehovah hath sent us to destroy it.
Here these angels tell us that it was "Jehovah" who had sent them. Of course, one may imagine, assume and add to the scripture that it was the alleged first person of Jehovah who had sent the two alleged two other person of Jehovah, but that is not what is stated.

Genesis 19:18 is given from the JWs' New World Translation as:
Then Lot said to them, "not that, please, Jehovah"
However, let us read it from the American Standard Version:
And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my lord.
I am not with the Jehovah's Witnesses, and I rarely ever use their translation.

In Genesis 19:18, however, based on Ginsburg's list in which he claimed the Sopherim changed the Holy Name to a form of adon, the NWT puts "Jehovah" into Genesis 19:18.

As I have shown in my study, "Adonay, The Tetragrammaton, and the Great Isaiah Scroll", some of these places are validated by the Great Isaiah Scroll, but many are not. Thus, it appears that Ginsburg may have been over zealous in his claims. Additionally, he may have been biased by the trinity dogma in some of his claims.

Nevertheless, I do not believe that Lot addressed the angels as "Jehovah", as the NWT would have it. One should note that the original Hebrew -- which has no written vowels -- does not distinguish between the words often transliterated as "Adoni" (my lord) and "Adonai" (my lords, or, when used as plural intensive, superior/supreme lord). In other words, there was actually no written distinction between the plural or singular form of this word.

The vowel points that are now present in the Biblical Hebrew were added by the Masoretes almost 500 years after the first century. The Masoretes have the word in the plural here, which has led many to think Lot was referring to the angels as being Jehovah. There is nothing in the scriptures however that say that the plural form has to only be used as a plural intensive of Jehovah. Just as the plural form of the word transliterated as ELOHIM is used of the sons of the Most High in Psalm 82:6, so the plural form transliterated as ADONAI may be used of the angels.

Since the context indicates that there are two angels, it should be understood that Lot spoke of them in the plural, adonai, "my lords".

Finally, Genesis 19:24 is presented with the claim we see two Jehovahs raining fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
Then Jehovah rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Jehovah out of heaven. -- American Standard Version.
Yes, it was Jehovah who made it rain, and the rain came from Jehovah. This is not speaking of two different Jehovahs.

There is only one Jehovah:
Hear, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. -- Deuteronomy 6:4.
The one Jehovah is shown to be distinct from Jesus in Isaiah 61:1.

Jesus declared the one Jehovah of Isaiah 61:1 as being the only true God. -- John 17:1,3.

The default reasoning is still that the Jesus is not Jehovah, the only true God.

Thus seen, none of these scriptures actually present anything about a triune God, or that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is more than one person.

See also the following related studies:
Abraham and the Three Angels

Jehovah Rained Fire From Jehovah