Torah Portion Vayera: Abraham intercedes for Sodom

Open Heart

Active member

טז
וַיָּקֻמוּ מִשָּׁם הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיַּשְׁקִפוּ עַל-פְּנֵי סְדֹם; וְאַבְרָהָם--הֹלֵךְ עִמָּם, לְשַׁלְּחָם.
16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked out toward Sodom; and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
יז וַיהוָה, אָמָר: הַמְכַסֶּה אֲנִי מֵאַבְרָהָם, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי עֹשֶׂה.17 And the LORD said: 'Shall I hide from Abraham that which I am doing;
יח וְאַבְרָהָם--הָיוֹ יִהְיֶה לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וְעָצוּם; וְנִבְרְכוּ-בוֹ--כֹּל, גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ.18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
יט כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו, לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת-בָּנָיו וְאֶת-בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו, וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט--לְמַעַן, הָבִיא יְהוָה עַל-אַבְרָהָם, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר, עָלָיו.19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'
כ וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, זַעֲקַת סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה כִּי-רָבָּה; וְחַטָּאתָם--כִּי כָבְדָה, מְאֹד.20 And the LORD said: 'Verily, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and, verily, their sin is exceeding grievous.
כא אֵרְדָה-נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה, הַכְּצַעֲקָתָהּ הַבָּאָה אֵלַי עָשׂוּ כָּלָה; וְאִם-לֹא, אֵדָעָה.21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know.'
כב וַיִּפְנוּ מִשָּׁם הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיֵּלְכוּ סְדֹמָה; וְאַבְרָהָם--עוֹדֶנּוּ עֹמֵד, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה.22 And the men turned from thence, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
כג וַיִּגַּשׁ אַבְרָהָם, וַיֹּאמַר: הַאַף תִּסְפֶּה, צַדִּיק עִם-רָשָׁע.23 And Abraham drew near, and said: 'Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
כד אוּלַי יֵשׁ חֲמִשִּׁים צַדִּיקִם, בְּתוֹךְ הָעִיר; הַאַף תִּסְפֶּה וְלֹא-תִשָּׂא לַמָּקוֹם, לְמַעַן חֲמִשִּׁים הַצַּדִּיקִם אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבָּהּ.24 Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
כה חָלִלָה לְּךָ מֵעֲשֹׂת כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה, לְהָמִית צַדִּיק עִם-רָשָׁע, וְהָיָה כַצַּדִּיק, כָּרָשָׁע; חָלִלָה לָּךְ--הֲשֹׁפֵט כָּל-הָאָרֶץ, לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט.25 That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?'
כו וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אִם-אֶמְצָא בִסְדֹם חֲמִשִּׁים צַדִּיקִם בְּתוֹךְ הָעִיר--וְנָשָׂאתִי לְכָל-הַמָּקוֹם, בַּעֲבוּרָם.26 And the LORD said: 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive all the place for their sake.'
כז וַיַּעַן אַבְרָהָם, וַיֹּאמַר: הִנֵּה-נָא הוֹאַלְתִּי לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אֲדֹנָי, וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר.27 And Abraham answered and said: 'Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, who am but dust and ashes.
כח אוּלַי יַחְסְרוּן חֲמִשִּׁים הַצַּדִּיקִם, חֲמִשָּׁה--הֲתַשְׁחִית בַּחֲמִשָּׁה, אֶת-כָּל-הָעִיר; וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא אַשְׁחִית, אִם-אֶמְצָא שָׁם, אַרְבָּעִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה.28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous; wilt Thou destroy all the city for lack of five?' And He said: 'I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five.'
כט וַיֹּסֶף עוֹד לְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו, וַיֹּאמַר, אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, אַרְבָּעִים; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה, בַּעֲבוּר הָאַרְבָּעִים.29 And he spoke unto Him yet again, and said: 'Peradventure there shall be forty found there.' And He said: 'I will not do it for the forty's sake.'
ל וַיֹּאמֶר אַל-נָא יִחַר לַאדֹנָי, וַאֲדַבֵּרָה--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, שְׁלֹשִׁים; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה, אִם-אֶמְצָא שָׁם שְׁלֹשִׁים.30 And he said: 'Oh, let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak. Peradventure there shall thirty be found there.' And He said: 'I will not do it, if I find thirty there.'
לא וַיֹּאמֶר, הִנֵּה-נָא הוֹאַלְתִּי לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אֲדֹנָי--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, עֶשְׂרִים; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אַשְׁחִית, בַּעֲבוּר הָעֶשְׂרִים.31 And he said: 'Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD. Peradventure there shall be twenty found there.' And He said: 'I will not destroy it for the twenty's sake.'
לב וַיֹּאמֶר אַל-נָא יִחַר לַאדֹנָי, וַאֲדַבְּרָה אַךְ-הַפַּעַם--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, עֲשָׂרָה; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אַשְׁחִית, בַּעֲבוּר הָעֲשָׂרָה.32 And he said: 'Oh, let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there.' And He said: 'I will not destroy it for the ten's sake.'
לג וַיֵּלֶךְ יְהוָה--כַּאֲשֶׁר כִּלָּה, לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אַבְרָהָם; וְאַבְרָהָם, שָׁב לִמְקֹמוֹ.33 And the LORD went His way, as soon as He had left off speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place.

It is written that Noah walked with God, but Abraham walked BEFORE God. What does this mean? Noah obeyed God, but that is where it ended. Nowhere do we hear about Noah trying to save anyone on earth. But Abraham argues with God to save the innocent. Some might say he has chuzpah to argue with God. But what it really means is that he has a well developed conscience. His compassion for others, so great that he is willing to even stand up to God, puts him ahead of even Noah. Is it any surprise then, that God chose Abraham with whom to make his covenant?

This odd trait of standing up to God out of conscience is something Jews hold in regard. It is not just Abraham who is our example, but also Moses and Job who argue with God. And God in fact invites this -- "Come let us reason together." It is not that we are to do this disrespectfully. One doesn't get the sense at all that Abraham is rebelling against God. But compared to, say, Islam, where submission is the most valued trait, it is quite different to have a religion like Judaism, where a person can rightfully stand up to God out of conscience.
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member

טז
וַיָּקֻמוּ מִשָּׁם הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיַּשְׁקִפוּ עַל-פְּנֵי סְדֹם; וְאַבְרָהָם--הֹלֵךְ עִמָּם, לְשַׁלְּחָם.
16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked out toward Sodom; and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.
יז וַיהוָה, אָמָר: הַמְכַסֶּה אֲנִי מֵאַבְרָהָם, אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי עֹשֶׂה.17 And the LORD said: 'Shall I hide from Abraham that which I am doing;
יח וְאַבְרָהָם--הָיוֹ יִהְיֶה לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וְעָצוּם; וְנִבְרְכוּ-בוֹ--כֹּל, גּוֹיֵי הָאָרֶץ.18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
יט כִּי יְדַעְתִּיו, לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר יְצַוֶּה אֶת-בָּנָיו וְאֶת-בֵּיתוֹ אַחֲרָיו, וְשָׁמְרוּ דֶּרֶךְ יְהוָה, לַעֲשׂוֹת צְדָקָה וּמִשְׁפָּט--לְמַעַן, הָבִיא יְהוָה עַל-אַבְרָהָם, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּר, עָלָיו.19 For I have known him, to the end that he may command his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice; to the end that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him.'
כ וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, זַעֲקַת סְדֹם וַעֲמֹרָה כִּי-רָבָּה; וְחַטָּאתָם--כִּי כָבְדָה, מְאֹד.20 And the LORD said: 'Verily, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and, verily, their sin is exceeding grievous.
כא אֵרְדָה-נָּא וְאֶרְאֶה, הַכְּצַעֲקָתָהּ הַבָּאָה אֵלַי עָשׂוּ כָּלָה; וְאִם-לֹא, אֵדָעָה.21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know.'
כב וַיִּפְנוּ מִשָּׁם הָאֲנָשִׁים, וַיֵּלְכוּ סְדֹמָה; וְאַבְרָהָם--עוֹדֶנּוּ עֹמֵד, לִפְנֵי יְהוָה.22 And the men turned from thence, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.
כג וַיִּגַּשׁ אַבְרָהָם, וַיֹּאמַר: הַאַף תִּסְפֶּה, צַדִּיק עִם-רָשָׁע.23 And Abraham drew near, and said: 'Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
כד אוּלַי יֵשׁ חֲמִשִּׁים צַדִּיקִם, בְּתוֹךְ הָעִיר; הַאַף תִּסְפֶּה וְלֹא-תִשָּׂא לַמָּקוֹם, לְמַעַן חֲמִשִּׁים הַצַּדִּיקִם אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבָּהּ.24 Peradventure there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep away and not forgive the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
כה חָלִלָה לְּךָ מֵעֲשֹׂת כַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה, לְהָמִית צַדִּיק עִם-רָשָׁע, וְהָיָה כַצַּדִּיק, כָּרָשָׁע; חָלִלָה לָּךְ--הֲשֹׁפֵט כָּל-הָאָרֶץ, לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה מִשְׁפָּט.25 That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from Thee; shall not the Judge of all the earth do justly?'
כו וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה, אִם-אֶמְצָא בִסְדֹם חֲמִשִּׁים צַדִּיקִם בְּתוֹךְ הָעִיר--וְנָשָׂאתִי לְכָל-הַמָּקוֹם, בַּעֲבוּרָם.26 And the LORD said: 'If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will forgive all the place for their sake.'
כז וַיַּעַן אַבְרָהָם, וַיֹּאמַר: הִנֵּה-נָא הוֹאַלְתִּי לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אֲדֹנָי, וְאָנֹכִי עָפָר וָאֵפֶר.27 And Abraham answered and said: 'Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, who am but dust and ashes.
כח אוּלַי יַחְסְרוּן חֲמִשִּׁים הַצַּדִּיקִם, חֲמִשָּׁה--הֲתַשְׁחִית בַּחֲמִשָּׁה, אֶת-כָּל-הָעִיר; וַיֹּאמֶר, לֹא אַשְׁחִית, אִם-אֶמְצָא שָׁם, אַרְבָּעִים וַחֲמִשָּׁה.28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous; wilt Thou destroy all the city for lack of five?' And He said: 'I will not destroy it, if I find there forty and five.'
כט וַיֹּסֶף עוֹד לְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו, וַיֹּאמַר, אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, אַרְבָּעִים; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה, בַּעֲבוּר הָאַרְבָּעִים.29 And he spoke unto Him yet again, and said: 'Peradventure there shall be forty found there.' And He said: 'I will not do it for the forty's sake.'
ל וַיֹּאמֶר אַל-נָא יִחַר לַאדֹנָי, וַאֲדַבֵּרָה--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, שְׁלֹשִׁים; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֶעֱשֶׂה, אִם-אֶמְצָא שָׁם שְׁלֹשִׁים.30 And he said: 'Oh, let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak. Peradventure there shall thirty be found there.' And He said: 'I will not do it, if I find thirty there.'
לא וַיֹּאמֶר, הִנֵּה-נָא הוֹאַלְתִּי לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אֲדֹנָי--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, עֶשְׂרִים; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אַשְׁחִית, בַּעֲבוּר הָעֶשְׂרִים.31 And he said: 'Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD. Peradventure there shall be twenty found there.' And He said: 'I will not destroy it for the twenty's sake.'
לב וַיֹּאמֶר אַל-נָא יִחַר לַאדֹנָי, וַאֲדַבְּרָה אַךְ-הַפַּעַם--אוּלַי יִמָּצְאוּן שָׁם, עֲשָׂרָה; וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אַשְׁחִית, בַּעֲבוּר הָעֲשָׂרָה.32 And he said: 'Oh, let not the LORD be angry, and I will speak yet but this once. Peradventure ten shall be found there.' And He said: 'I will not destroy it for the ten's sake.'
לג וַיֵּלֶךְ יְהוָה--כַּאֲשֶׁר כִּלָּה, לְדַבֵּר אֶל-אַבְרָהָם; וְאַבְרָהָם, שָׁב לִמְקֹמוֹ.33 And the LORD went His way, as soon as He had left off speaking to Abraham; and Abraham returned unto his place.

It is written that Noah walked with God, but Abraham walked BEFORE God. What does this mean? Noah obeyed God, but that is where it ended. Nowhere do we hear about Noah trying to save anyone on earth. But Abraham argues with God to save the innocent. Some might say he has chuzpah to argue with God. But what it really means is that he has a well developed conscience. His compassion for others, so great that he is willing to even stand up to God, puts him ahead of even Noah. Is it any surprise then, that God chose Abraham with whom to make his covenant?

This odd trait of standing up to God out of conscience is something Jews hold in regard. It is not just Abraham who is our example, but also Moses and Job who argue with God. And God in fact invites this -- "Come let us reason together." It is not that we are to do this disrespectfully. One doesn't get the sense at all that Abraham is rebelling against God. But compared to, say, Islam, where submission is the most valued trait, it is quite different to have a religion like Judaism, where a person can rightfully stand up to God out of conscience.
Nice! If I could add a point. I believe that Abraham could stand before God and mediate because he followed the commands he had been given without question, v19.
 

Stephen

Active member
It is written that Noah walked with God, but Abraham walked BEFORE God. What does this mean? Noah obeyed God, but that is where it ended. Nowhere do we hear about Noah trying to save anyone on earth. But Abraham argues with God to save the innocent. Some might say he has chuzpah to argue with God. But what it really means is that he has a well developed conscience. His compassion for others, so great that he is willing to even stand up to God, puts him ahead of even Noah. Is it any surprise then, that God chose Abraham with whom to make his covenant?

This odd trait of standing up to God out of conscience is something Jews hold in regard. It is not just Abraham who is our example, but also Moses and Job who argue with God. And God in fact invites this -- "Come let us reason together." It is not that we are to do this disrespectfully. One doesn't get the sense at all that Abraham is rebelling against God. But compared to, say, Islam, where submission is the most valued trait, it is quite different to have a religion like Judaism, where a person can rightfully stand up to God out of conscience.

I think God is expecting us to put the principles he teaches into action. And he certainly accepts counter arguments and will alter his plan based upon them.

In Abraham's case, the persons being argued for should somehow be worthy of it. Abraham stopped at 10 people realizing that if there were fewer than 10, then God should probably do what he intended to do. Likewise with Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah that his prayers would not be answered even if Samuel and Moses were doing the praying (Jer 15:1) because the people were not salvageable.

As for Noah, he did leave the door open for all to come in until God closed it. I'm sure the Rabbi's have debated that over the ages.

It is a most wonderful god that is willing to take input from his children.
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member
I think God is expecting us to put the principles he teaches into action. And he certainly accepts counter arguments and will alter his plan based upon them.

In Abraham's case, the persons being argued for should somehow be worthy of it. Abraham stopped at 10 people realizing that if there were fewer than 10, then God should probably do what he intended to do. Likewise with Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah that his prayers would not be answered even if Samuel and Moses were doing the praying (Jer 15:1) because the people were not salvageable.

As for Noah, he did leave the door open for all to come in until God closed it. I'm sure the Rabbi's have debated that over the ages.

It is a most wonderful god that is willing to take input from his children.
Nice input.
 

rakovsky

Active member

FWIW, I guess that Abraham being before God doesn't refer to him arguing.

God essentially affirms Abraham’s way of serving God – continue to walk before me – trailblaze, initiate, and be the protagonist of justice, but at the same time be whole, add the dimension of submission. ... Upon hearing the good news, Abraham says to Elohim: If only Ishmael would live before you (Gen. 17:18), noted by Rashi as an allusion to God’s statement to Abraham in Gen. 17:1, walk before me. Abraham hopes that Ishmael will be part of his moral legacy.
From Jewish Bible Quarterly.
 

rakovsky

Active member
He argues for others, for their justice. I don't think you'll find him arguing for himself.
I understand that you mean this. However, I don't think that this is what "before" here means. I don't think that walking "before" God means specifically to be in an arguing relationship with him, even if that means arguing on others' behalf, and even though Abraham was doing the latter.
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member
I understand that you mean this. However, I don't think that this is what "before" here means. I don't think that walking "before" God means specifically to be in an arguing relationship with him, even if that means arguing on others' behalf, and even though Abraham was doing the latter.
Like I said previously in an earlier post, I believe Abraham is able to stand before God because he follows the commandments and instructs his household accordingly.
 

rakovsky

Active member
Like I said previously in an earlier post, I believe Abraham is able to stand before God because he follows the commandments and instructs his household accordingly.
Sure.
I thought that Open Heart in the OP was saying that being "before" God meant "standing up" to God, which I took to mean arguing with God. Open Heart wrote:
But what it really means is that he has a well developed conscience. His compassion for others, so great that he is willing to even stand up to God, puts him ahead of even Noah. Is it any surprise then, that God chose Abraham with whom to make his covenant?

This odd trait of standing up to God out of conscience is something Jews hold in regard. It is not just Abraham who is our example, but also Moses and Job who argue with God.
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member
Sure.
I thought that Open Heart in the OP was saying that being "before" God meant "standing up" to God, which I took to mean arguing with God. Open Heart wrote:
I think it's two separate points. Standing for justice for others, and being able to stand before God for oneself because he obeys God.
 
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Jewjitzu

Well-known member
I don't see the term walking "before" God as specifically alluding to the former, # 1.
God is justice. Torah speaks of justice for all. So, a person interceding for the rights and mercy of others, is walking with God, in His steps, examples, so to say.
 

rakovsky

Active member
God is justice. Torah speaks of justice for all. So, a person interceding for the rights and mercy of others, is walking with God, in His steps, examples, so to say.
OK, but you are going into logical allusions that I don't see as specifically directly in the expression of standing "before" God.
If you had some kind of citations to back up that the term standing BEFORE God specifically meant interceding for mercy, then you would have a stronger case.

The thread's first post asks: "It is written that Noah walked with God, but Abraham walked BEFORE God. What does this mean?"
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member
OK, but you are going into logical allusions that I don't see as specifically directly in the expression of standing "before" God.
If you had some kind of citations to back up that the term standing BEFORE God specifically meant interceding for mercy, then you would have a stronger case.

The thread's first post asks: "It is written that Noah walked with God, but Abraham walked BEFORE God. What does this mean?"
I think it's answered in Genesis 18:23, "Abraham stepped forward and said, “Will You really sweep away the righteous with the wicked?".

Also, Genesis 17:1, "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty. Walk before Me and be blameless."
 
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rakovsky

Active member
Yeah, I am just not seeing how the expression of Abraham's walking before God specifically refers to Abraham "standing up" for others, as opposed to all the other things Abraham did with God. If you had some commentaries agreeing with you, it would help to persuade me.
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member
Yeah, I am just not seeing how the expression of Abraham's walking before God specifically refers to Abraham "standing up" for others, as opposed to all the other things Abraham did with God. If you had some commentaries agreeing with you, it would help to persuade me.
The verses themselves don't prove it to you? I think the context is clear.

From Rashi:

And Abraham approached and said: We find [the expression]“ approaching” for war (II Sam. 10:13): “And Joab drew forward, etc.” ; and “approaching” for placating (below 44:8): “And Judah approached him” ; and “approaching” for prayer (I Kings 18:36):“And Elijah the prophet came near.” For all these, Abraham approached: to speak harshly [i.e., when he requested justice], to placate, and to pray. — [from Gen. Rabbah 49:8]
 

rakovsky

Active member
The verses themselves don't prove it to you? I think the context is clear.

From Rashi:

And Abraham approached and said: We find [the expression]“ approaching” for war (II Sam. 10:13): “And Joab drew forward, etc.” ; and “approaching” for placating (below 44:8): “And Judah approached him” ; and “approaching” for prayer (I Kings 18:36):“And Elijah the prophet came near.” For all these, Abraham approached: to speak harshly [i.e., when he requested justice], to placate, and to pray. — [from Gen. Rabbah 49:8]
I think you are quoting a different verse than the one where the writer said that he walked before God. Abraham approached to have those discussions, but this doesn't specifically necessarily mean that the word "before God" in another verse references that approaching.

In other words, the phrase standing before God could mean something different than approaching him for a specific discussion. A child can be said to stand before a parent in the sense of being under the parent's watch, which is the kind of explanation that I read about Abraham being before God, and the child can also approach the parent to have various discussions. The phrase "Walked BEFORE" need not refer to one of those specific discussions for which he approached God. Standing before someone, eg. 5 feet away, does not mean the same as approaching them for a specific purpose.

For a linguistic study of the word BEFORE here, see:
The Hebrew language here is unusual. The word translated "before me" is panyim, basically meaning "the face." This is the term used in the first commandment where we are told to "have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3).

In Genesis 17:1, the phrase could well be translated "walk, looking at my face." The first commandment, could also be translated "don't let any other god get between your face and my face."

The implication is obvious. God expects us to live in such a way that His "face" (Person, Character, Presence) is always "before" us so that our "walk" (lifestyle, behavior) is "perfect" (complete, whole, healthy), with nothing inhibiting the relationship "of him with whom we have to do" (Hebrews 4:13).
 

Jewjitzu

Well-known member
I think you are quoting a different verse than the one where the writer said that he walked before God. Abraham approached to have those discussions, but this doesn't specifically necessarily mean that the word "before God" in another verse references that approaching.
Genesis 18:23
In other words, the phrase standing before God could mean something different than approaching him for a specific discussion. A child can be said to stand before a parent in the sense of being under the parent's watch, which is the kind of explanation that I read about Abraham being before God, and the child can also approach the parent to have various discussions. The phrase "Walked BEFORE" need not refer to one of those specific discussions for which he approached God. Standing before someone, eg. 5 feet away, does not mean the same as approaching them for a specific purpose.

For a linguistic study of the word BEFORE here, see:

If you don't like it, that's fine. The previous verses and context stand on their own.
 
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