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3 At Abraham’s Table: Early Jewish Interpretations of Genesis 18:8

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Chapter Summary

It is common knowledge that for both ancient Judaism and early Christianity, the Bible was God's revealed word and that implied that it was infallible and did not contain any superfluous word or even letter. It was unthinkable that what Scripture said would be at variance with commonly accepted tenets of Jewish or Christian belief systems. This chapter illustrates how such a paradigm worked in practice. It focuses on interpretation of some details of the meal scene in Genesis 18 by early Jewish exegetes. The Jewish exegetical vicissitudes of v.8, which runs as follows: "He [Abraham] took butter and milk and the calf he had prepared, set it before them, and remained standing near them himself under the tree while they ate". The chapter discusses two issues that played an important role in exegetical debates: that of the eating angels and that of kosher nature of the meal Abraham served.

Keywords: Abraham's table; Christian belief systems; eating angels; Genesis; Jewish exegetes; kosher nature



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