Abraham Part 4: God is laughed at, Abraham pleads for Sodom, and Sarah is taken by a king just before being blessed with baby Isaac

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“Abraham Greeting the Angels,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel.

O P I N I O N


About this series: A narrative exploring the stories behind the paintings of late artist Herbert Mandel as explained in the context of the Biblical texts they’re derived from, by his son-in-law, Jim Robidoux. Click here for more of Pop’s Art.

Related posts

⇒ Read Pop’s Art: Abraham, the key figure of the Bible; Father of religions? Not so much, Part 1

Read Pop’s Art: The call of Abraham, Part 2

Read Pop’s Art: How Abraham Got his Name, Part 3


The Three Visitors

Yahweh appeared to Abraham when looking up from his tent door, he saw three men standing in front of him. Abraham ran from the door to meet them and bowed himself to the earth. “Oh God, if I have found favor in your sight, don’t pass by your servant.” Abraham then offered God and his angels food and water and quickly went back in the tent to Sarah. “Make cakes for our guests,” he said as he ran to his herd to get a calf prepared quickly.

Abraham stood by them under a shady tree, in the heat of the day as they ate. They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” Yahweh said to Abraham, “I will return to you this time next year and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him and Sarah laughed to herself saying, “After I am worn out and Abraham is old, shall I have pleasure?” Then God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh…Is anything too hard for Yahweh?” But Sarah denied it, for she was afraid, and God said, “No, but you did laugh.”

Then the men set out from there, and looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do … as all the people of the earth shall be blessed by him? For I have chosen him and all his decedents and his household after him that he would teach them the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness and justice. Then I may bring to Abraham all that I have promised him.” Then God said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry or not, and I will know.”

Then the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood in front of God. “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?  To put the righteous to death with the wicked … Far be that from you. Shall not the judge of all the earth do what is just? And God said if I find righteous people in the city… even just 10, I will not destroy it.” And Yahweh went on his way when he was finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place. (Genesis, Chapter 18)

The two angels came to Sodom in the evening and Lot was sitting in the gate. “My lords please turn aside to your servant’s house and spend the night, then you can go your way in the morning refreshed,” Lot said. The angels answered no, and said they would sleep in the town square instead. But Lot convinced them to stay with him and they went and were fed at Lot’s house.

“One Night in Sodom,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel

Before Lot’s guests lie down for the night, all the men of the city surrounded the house. All the people to the last man there called out to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may have sex with them.” Lot went out to them and said, “I beg you my brothers don’t act so wickedly,” … but they said, “Stand back!”… Now we will deal worse with you than we will with them.” Then they pressed hard against Lot and moved to break down his door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot into his house and shut the door. And they struck with blindness the men outside so that they wore themselves out trying to find the door. The men then told Lot to get all of his people out of the city because they were about to destroy it.

When morning came the angels said to Lot, “Up! Take your wife and your daughters lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his daughters by the hand, God being merciful, and they brought them out of the city. “Escape for your lives and don’t look back or stop anywhere. Escape from here quickly because I can do nothing until you are safe.”

Lot Leads His Family from Sodom,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel

Then God rained on Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire out of heaven. But Lot’s wife behind him stopped and looked back and she became petrified and was overtaken also. So it was when God destroyed the cities of the valley he remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of their midst. (Genesis Chapter 19, 1-29)

Abraham continued to move about with all that he had and his herds when he came upon Abimelech the king of Gerar. “She is my sister,” said Abraham of his wife and the king sent for her and took Sarah. God then came to the king in a dream and said, “Behold you are a dead man because you have taken another man’s wife.” The king had not yet approached her and said, “Will you kill an innocent man?”  And God said “Return this man’s wife for he is a prophet and he will pray for you that you might live.”

After returning Sarah the king paid much tribute to Abraham even 1,000 pieces of silver as a sign of her innocence. Abraham then prayed to Yahweh to spare the king and heal the king’s household. (Genesis Chapter 20)

“Sarah Gives Birth to Isaac,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel

Finally, God kept his promise to Abraham and Sarah and Isaac was born to them. Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 when God gave them their miracle child. Sarah would wonder at her ability to birth and nurse Isaac the child of the covenant and next leader of God’s own family.

“Abraham Sends Hagar Away,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel

And the child grew and was weaned. They celebrated with a great feast the day Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw Ishmael laughing at Isaac, the son born to Abraham through Hagar her servant. “Cast out this slave woman and her son because he will not be heir with Isaac my son,” Sarah said to Abraham.

And after they were on their own God protected them and Ishmael grew up to be a great hunter and took care of his mom and made a name for himself. (Genesis Chapter 21, 1-21)

“Abraham Stopped by an Angel,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel

NEXT: Part 5 : Abraham is called to sacrifice Isaac: Laughter becomes slaughter, the most controversial act of Abraham.

Abraham Prepares to Sacrifice Isaac,” oil on canvas by Herbert Mandel

Previous posts from “Pop’s Art”


Jim Robidoux is father of four, lives and works in Manchester, and writes about life in The Life Section – specifically, his own. He enjoys bicycling to work, urban gardening, exploring his Christian faith, and watching the Phillies at Billy’s. And he happens to be married to Manchester Ink Link editor Carol Robidoux. He can be reached at jrmetalman@comcast.net.