What does Genesis 18:4 mean?
ESV: Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree,
NIV: Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree.
NASB: Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and make yourselves comfortable under the tree;
CSB: Let a little water be brought, that you may wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree.
NLT: Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet.
KJV: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
NKJV: Please let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.
Verse Commentary:
Abraham, sitting in the door to his tent in the heat of the day, is startled to see three men standing not far from him. One of the men was the Lord in human form, an event referred to as a theophany. The other two are angels. In prior verses, Abraham ran out to greet them, bowed low with great respect, and asked the Lord not to pass by.

Here, Abraham urges them to rest under the shade of the tree, to have some water and have their feet washed. Foot washing was not only a sign of politeness and respect, but also of hospitality. Depending on who did the actual washing—usually a servant—it could also carry a sense of submission.

Abraham's eager hospitality may have been representative of the common attitude towards strangers in his culture, but he was also showing appropriate hospitality to the Lord who had given him the covenant promises and commands of the previous chapter.
Verse Context:
Genesis 18:1–8 describes Abraham's initial reaction to three unexpected guests at this tent. These men are actually God, in a temporary human form, and two similarly-formed angels. Abraham rushes to offer an extravagant meal of bread, meat, and cheeses. Whether Abraham is merely expressing common Bedouin hospitality, or knows that he is in the presence of God, his actions are both humble and gracious. In the next passage, the identity of his visitors will become clear.
Chapter Summary:
Abraham hurries to offer respect and hospitality to three men who appear near his tent. Over the course of the chapter, the men reveal themselves to be the Lord and two angels in human form. As He had told Abraham in the previous chapter, the Lord now reveals to Sarah that she will have a son within the year. Later, the Lord poetically says He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham's nephew Lot lives. Abraham asks, and the Lord agrees, not to destroy Sodom if God finds 10 righteous people there.
Chapter Context:
God appeared to Abraham in the previous chapter revealing, in part, that Sarah would bear Abraham a son within a year's time. Now the Lord appears again, this time in human form and accompanied by two disguised angels. He reveals to Sarah the same promise. She laughs, and the Lord insists that even her age isn't too hard for Him to overcome. Next the Lord reveals to Abraham that He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham receives the Lord's promise not to destroy Sodom (where Abraham's nephew lives) if He finds 10 righteous people in the city. Unfortunately, the city is beyond saving, and the next chapter details its utter destruction.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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