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Genesis 18:27-30

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 18:27
  • Genesis 18:28
  • Genesis 18:29
  • Genesis 18:30

Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.

In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).

After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.


In Genesis chapter 18 God appears to Abraham again. The promise of a son born by Sarah is renewed, and the time is set for the birth. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is announced. Abraham, the friend of God, makes a plea for Sodom.


Abraham humbly continues to question God. What if there is 45, 40, or even 30 righteous? God replies that He would not destroy the city if there are 30 righteous.

Abraham speaks to God very humbly and in reverence, noting that he is but dust and ashes. However, like any good trader, Abraham endeavors to strike a better “deal.” In fact, four times during their conversation Abraham shows his respect, recognizing that he is  speaking to God about the fate of Sodom. Abraham clearly recognizes he has no trading leverage. But he does know the character of God, and that is what he appeals to. If God is willing to spare the city for fifty, would He spare it for forty-five? God answers in the affirmative. 

Abraham continues. It is a reasonable progression. Abraham continues to bargain to spare Sodom in increments of five. The Lord’s response is always affirmative each time Abraham offers a successive proposal: Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five? Suppose forty are found there?” When Abraham gets to forty, he shifts to increments of ten. Suppose thirty are found there? With each question, God assures Abraham that he will not destroy the city if that many righteous people are found. 

Abraham shows humility and reverence toward God. Twice he asks that God not be angry with him (verses 30, 32). He humbly describes himself as unworthy to question God so directly (verse 27). Of course God knows how many are righteous. But He does not reveal that to Abraham. He allows Abraham to intercede, and play a role in the outcome of Sodom. By involving Abraham, God is teaching him and providing a lesson he can pass along to his descendants. 

Biblical Text

27 And Abraham replied, “Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. 28 “Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?” And He said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 He spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose forty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it on account of the forty.” 30 Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?” And He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

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