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One time it was hot and Abraham was taking a nap in his tent. He stirred awake and saw Yahweh with two sidekicks standing outside. Abraham ran out there, bowed to the ground, and begged them to stay long enough for him to bring refreshments. Then he told his woman to hurry up and make three cakes while he went out and fetched a calf for his servant to fry up real quick to be served with the cakes, and some butter and milk. And Abram stood there and watched them eat. Yahweh told Abraham that the next time he came around, Sarah would have a son.

Sarah laughed to herself when she heard this, and said, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (this being the days before Viagra). It was one thing to have Abraham laugh when promised this, but now Sarah too? Yahweh complained about this, and Sarah realized with fear that this was the Creator of heaven and earth she was laughing at, and she denied laughing. “Did not laugh!”

“Did too!”

Then Yahweh and his two companions started walking towards Sodom, and Abraham went along with them. They were great friends, you see, God and Abraham. And the LORD was a little troubled, because he was investigating whether or not he should destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, and he debated with himself whether he should hide this thing from Abraham, because it might come across to Abraham as an injustice. “For I know him, the LORD thought, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment…”

Finally God told Abraham what he intended to do, if the reported wickedness of the cities turned out to be true. First the omniscient God had to go down there and check it out to make sure.

What follows is an astonishing episode of negotiation, where Abraham dances right up to the edge of God’s forbearance. God agrees that if he can find just ten righteous men in Sodom, he will spare the whole city on their account. Abraham was concerned for the safety of his nephew Lot, but this was also a case of man reining in the apparent bloodthirstiness of God. So in a way, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was also a test of Abraham, to see his qualities of “justice and judgment”. And it is also a test of the qualities of justice and judgment of the reader, depending on whether they see Abraham or God as the hero of the story.

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Strangers In Paradise