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Vayeira in a Nutshell

Vayeira in a Nutshell

Genesis 18:1–22:24


G‑d reveals Himself to Abraham three days after the first Jew’s circumcision at age ninety-nine; but Abraham rushes off to prepare a meal for three guests who appear in the desert heat. One of the three—who are angels disguised as men—announces that, in exactly one year, the barren Sarah will give birth to a son. Sarah laughs.

Abraham pleads with G‑d to spare the wicked city of Sodom. Two of the three disguised angels arrive in the doomed city, where Abraham’s nephew Lot extends his hospitality to them and protects them from the evil intentions of a Sodomite mob. The two guests reveal that they have come to overturn the place, and to save Lot and his family. Lot’s wife turns into a pillar of salt when she disobeys the command not to look back at the burning city as they flee.

While taking shelter in a cave, Lot’s two daughters (believing that they and their father are the only ones left alive in the world) get their father drunk, lie with him and become pregnant. The two sons born from this incident father the nations of Moab and Ammon.

Abraham moves to Gerar, where the Philistine king Abimelech takes Sarah—who is presented as Abraham’s sister—to his palace. In a dream, G‑d warns Abimelech that he will die unless he returns the woman to her husband. Abraham explains that he feared he would be killed over the beautiful Sarah.

G‑d remembers His promise to Sarah, and gives her and Abraham a son, who is named Isaac (Yitzchak, meaning “will laugh”). Isaac is circumcised at the age of eight days; Abraham is one hundred years old, and Sarah ninety, at their child’s birth.

Hagar and Ishmael are banished from Abraham’s home and wander in the desert; G‑d hears the cry of the dying lad, and saves his life by showing his mother a well. Abimelech makes a treaty with Abraham at Beersheba, where Abraham gives him seven sheep as a sign of their truce.

G‑d tests Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah (the Temple Mount) in Jerusalem. Isaac is bound and placed on the altar, and Abraham raises the knife to slaughter his son. A voice from heaven calls to stop him; a ram, caught in the undergrowth by its horns, is offered in Isaac’s place. Abraham receives the news of the birth of a daughter, Rebecca, to his nephew Bethuel.

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Discussion (17)
November 13, 2016
G-d of the living
The miracle of Isaac is not so much the testing of Abraham, although our faith is tested from time to time, it's the point where G-d destinguishes himself from the false and pagan gods who require child sacrifice. In this instance G-d is G-d of the living, the true and only G-d.
November 10, 2015
Re: Hahn
Technically, you are correct; the term "Jew" would not have applied to Abraham. Nevertheless, Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish people and the first to enter into a personal covenant with God.
See our article here for more details.
Shaul Wolf
October 30, 2015
Akeidat Yitzhak
The word is "נער" translated as "lad". How old would Isaac have been at the Binding ?
Johnny /Yochanan Gutierrez
October 29, 2015
How is Avraham the first Jew? To be a Jew, one must be the legacy of Judah. Avraham came before Judah. Therefore Avraham was not Jewish.
December 6, 2014
Hinduism vs Judaism
Hinduism first started in 3000 BCE. This year is 5775 in the Jewish Calendar and 2014- almost 2015 in the Gregorian calandar. This means that Judaism started in 3760 BCE, meaning that Judaism is actually the oldest religion. Judaism also believes to an extent in astrology and nature. However, we also believe that its important to make a good faith effort in everything that we do in our lives as well.
November 7, 2014
So since Hinduism has Brahma and Saraswati, and their tradition is older than Judaism....Why does Judaism say they have true story of Abraham? Also, since it's all from Astrology and Nature, why are people still materializing the matters....Natures forces are being personified as people and we argue over who's right....uummm ??
November 3, 2014
Not the 1st Jew...
@ Gabriel. You're absolutely right. Abraham was not the first Jew or Yahudi, as a Jew (Yahudi) is simply one of twelve tribes. He was the first Hebrew. Hebrew means one who crossed over. Of course in the physical Abraham crossed over into the promised land, but in the spiritual he crossed over by leaving his fathers and his communties pagan traditions behind and becoming heavenly minded. Thus he was the 1st. Ibri (Hebrew).
October 20, 2013
To Edgar
Human sacrifice was practiced in those days.We know this because G-d forbids in in the Torah. He never actually wanted Abraham to go through with it in the first place. He was just testing Abraham's devotion, seeing if he was willing to sacrifice his son.
Menachem Posner
October 20, 2013
Why did Lot's wife look back?
I don't understand why Lot's wife looked wife looked back and if there's any significance in turning in to a pillar of salt instead of some other type of punishment. Is there a reason or a teaching in this part of the tale that we should know about?
david k.
October 19, 2013
How can you believe that Abraham was the first Jew--he was not even from the tribe of Judah--they weren't even formed yet. He is also the father of many nations.