Genesis 18:21
I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come to me; and if not, I will know.
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(21) I will go down.—God examines before He punishes (see Note on Genesis 11:5) with the same care and personal inspection as the most conscientious earthly judge.

Altogether.—Some take this word, not as an adverb, but as a noun (comp. Isaiah 10:23), and translate “I will see whether they have done according to the cry of it: (in which case there shall be for them) utter destruction.” But the ellipse is harsh; and inquiry, the knowing and not the punishing, is the prominent thought in the words of Jehovah. Hence too the last clause, “I will know.” The two angels go to Sodom to give the people a final trial. If they meet with upright treatment, then God will know that there are limits to the wickedness of its inhabitants, and it will be spared.

Genesis 18:21. I will go down now and see — Not as if there were any thing concerning which God is in doubt; but he is pleased thus to express himself after the manner of men, and to show that he ascertains the criminal’s guilt before he passes sentence.18:16-22 The two who are supposed to have been created angels went toward Sodom. The one who is called Jehovah throughout the chapter, continued with Abraham, and would not hide from him the thing he intended to do. Though God long forbears with sinners, from which they fancy that the Lord does not see, and does not regard; yet when the day of his wrath comes, he will look toward them. The Lord will give Abraham an opportunity to intercede with him, and shows him the reason of his conduct. Consider, as a very bright part of Abraham's character and example, that he not only prayed with his family, but he was very careful to teach and rule them well. Those who expect family blessings must make conscience of family duty. Abraham did not fill their heads with matters of doubtful dispute; but he taught them to be serious and devout in the worship of God, and to be honest in their dealings with all men. Of how few may such a character be given in our days! How little care is taken by masters of families to ground those under them in the principles of religion! Do we watch from sabbath to sabbath whether they go forward or backward?The Lord now proceeds to unfold his design. There is justice in every step of the divine procedure. He comes down to inquire and act according to the merits of the case. The men now depart on their errand; but Abraham still stands before the Lord.21. I will go down … and see—language used after the manner of men. These cities were to be made examples to all future ages of God's severity; and therefore ample proof given that the judgment was neither rash nor excessive (Eze 18:23; Jer 18:7). i.e. I will inquire into the truth of the thing. God here speaks after the manner of men, and for the example and instruction of judges to search into causes ere they pass sentence.

Whether they have done altogether; Heb.

Whether they have made a consummation or accomplishment; i.e. whether they have filled up the measure of their sins. Compare Genesis 15:16 Matthew 23:32 Jam 1:15. I will go down now,.... The Son of God in an human form now with Abraham, who proposes to go from the place where he was, which perhaps was on higher ground, to the plain in which Sodom and Gomorrah stood; and whither it seems certain he did go down, after he had done talking with Abraham, see Genesis 19:24,

and see whether they have done altogether; committed all the sins, and in such manner, and with such circumstances as reported; or, "have made a full end" (c), have tilled up the measure of their iniquities, and so are ripe for ruin:

according to the cry of it which is come unto me; this is spoken after the manner of men; for otherwise God saw all their wickedness, and knew full well the nature and circumstances of it, and how general it was; but this method he proposes to take, to show the justice of his proceedings, and to instruct judges, and set an example to them, not to condemn any without thoroughly examining their cause:

and if not, I will know: the reason of this cry, and what is proper to be done. The note of Aben Ezra is,"if they have so done (according to the cry) I will make a consumption among them (so he takes the sense of the word (d) we render "altogether"); but if not, "I will know", I will have mercy on them.''

(c) "fecerint consummationem", Pagninus, Montanus, Munster, Vatablus, Drusius, Cocceius. (d) "Fecerint consumptionem", Piscator, Schmidt; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem.

I will {k} go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the {l} cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

(k) God speaks after the fashion of men: that is, I will enter into judgment with good advise.

(l) For our sins cry for vengeance, though no one accuses us.

21. I will go down] Cf. Genesis 11:5; Genesis 11:7. The Dead Sea lies in a deep depression to which there would be a continuous descent from Hebron; so that the words may be also understood quite literally. The strong anthropomorphism is in the character of J.Verse 21. - I will go down now (cf. Genesis 11:5), and see (judicial investigation ever precedes judicial infliction at the Divine tribunal) whether they have done altogether - literally, whether they have made cow, piousness, i.e. carried their iniquity to perfection, to the highest pitch of wickedness (Calvin, Delitzsch, Keil); or consummated their wickedness, by carrying it to that pitch of fullness which works death (Ainsworth, Kalisch, Rosenmüller). The received rendering, which regards כלה as an adverb, has the authority of Luther and Gesenius - according to the cry of it, which has come unto me; and if not, I will know. The LXX. render ἵνα γνῶ, meaning, "should it not be so, I will still go down, that I may ascertain the exact truth;" the Chaldee paraphrases, "and if they repent, I will not exact punishment." The entire verse is anthropomorphic, and designed to express the Divine solicitude that the strictest justice should characterize all his dealings both with men and nations. During the meal, at which Abraham stood, and waited upon them as the host, they asked for Sarah, for whom the visit was chiefly intended. On being told that she was in the tent, where she could hear, therefore, all that passed under the tree in front of the tent, the one whom Abraham addressed as Adonai (my Lord), and who is called Jehovah in Genesis 18:13, said, "I will return to thee (חיּה כּעת) at this time, when it lives again" (חיּה, reviviscens, without the article, Ges. 111, 2b), i.e., at this time next year; "and, behold, Sarah, thy wife, will (then) have a son." Sarah heard this at the door of the tent; "and it was behind Him" (Jehovah), so that she could not be seen by Him as she stood at the door. But as the fulfilment of this promise seemed impossible to her, on account of Abraham's extreme age, and the fact that her own womb had lost the power of conception, she laughed within herself, thinking that she was not observed. But that she might know that the promise was made by the omniscient and omnipotent God, He reproved her for laughing, saying, "Is anything too wonderful (i.e., impossible) for Jehovah? at the time appointed I will return unto thee," etc.; and when her perplexity led her to deny it, He convicted her of falsehood. Abraham also had laughed at this promise (Genesis 17:17), and without receiving any reproof. For his laughing was the joyous outburst of astonishment; Sarah's, on the contrary, the result of doubt and unbelief, which had to be broken down by reproof, and, as the result showed, really was broken down, inasmuch as she conceived and bore a son, whom she could only have conceived in faith (Hebrews 11:11).
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