Verse

Genesis 18:28

ESV Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
NIV what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?" "If I find forty-five there," he said, "I will not destroy it."
NASB Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the entire city because of five?' And He said, 'I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.'
CSB suppose the fifty righteous lack five. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?" He replied, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
NLT Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?' And the Lord said, 'I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.'
KJV Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.
NKJV Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?” So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”

What does Genesis 18:28 mean?

Abraham begins bargaining with the Lord in earnest now. In the previous verses, Abraham declared that the Lord could not, in good character, sweep away the city of Sodom if some of the residents were righteous. We know Abraham's nephew Lot lived in the city (Genesis 14:12). Abraham started by asking, what if 50 righteous people live in the city? The Lord stated flatly that He would not destroy the city if He found 50 righteous people.

This "negotiation," of course, is merely for the benefit of Abraham and the rest of mankind. God has no obligation to discuss this decision with anyone. However, like a patient teacher, God allows Abraham to "talk out" the situation. When all is said and done, this will only go to prove how truly justified God's wrath against Sodom truly is.

After getting a positive answer from God about sparing the city for the sake of a few people, Abraham continues to work a strategy to talk the Lord down to the smallest number of people possible. Here the Lord agrees not to destroy the city if He finds 45 righteous people. Abraham's intent, most likely, is to plead for the rescue of his nephew, Lot, who lives in Sodom.

It's important to note here that the word "righteous," as used by Abraham, does not mean sinlessly perfect people. In an Old Testament context, this term refers to those who don't participate in the grave sins openly practiced in Sodom and Gomorrah. Those sins included rape, sexual immorality including homosexuality, gluttony, and not caring for or helping the poor (Genesis 19; Ezekiel 16:49–50).
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